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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - And Now For The Gospel - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - And Now For The Gospel - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - And Now For The Gospel - Part 1
Robert Jeffress - And Now For The Gospel - Part 1
TOPICS: Grace-Powered Living, Righteousness, Salvation

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. How does a person put himself in a right standing with God? Admittedly, that's not a question you hear many people asking today. But a weak answer to that question, puts our entire future at risk. During today's study, we'll open to Romans chapter three to answer the critical question on how to become right with God. My message is called "And Now For The Gospel," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

I feel like today I need to begin the message by offering a disclaimer. I need to explain to you what you are not going to hear in today's message. Today, you're not going to hear five scintillating secrets for a successful marriage. Although what you're going to hear today, is the basis for any strong relationship. Nor are you going to hear three secrets for being successful at work. In fact, today's message if anything is anti work. But what you are going to hear today, is the answer to life's most important question. It's the question, job ask, in job 9:2 when he said, "How can a man be right before God"? When you think about it, isn't that the bottom line question of all existence? How can I be in a right standing with God?

Now, admittedly that's not a question a lot of people are asking today. Most people today are more interested in short term gratification than they are in eternal salvation. By the way, that's nothing new. People's disinterest in spiritual matters has always been a part of history. When Paul wrote to his Christians at Rome, he wrote to a culture 2000 years ago, that was much more interested in sports and sex than it was spirituality. Does that sound familiar to you? Today, just look at the paper, we are saturated with sports and with sex. Very few people are interested in spiritual matters. But that spiritual disinterest, did not keep the apostle Paul from proclaiming boldly and clearly the answer to life's most important question. How can a man be right before God? And it's the answer to that question, we're going to discover today in our continued study of the book of Romans.

If you have your Bibles, turn if you would to Romans chapter three beginning with verse 21. For weeks, several months we have been in the first section of Romans in which God David, Paul talks about the problem of righteousness. What is the problem of the righteousness? The fact is, none of us has any righteousness of our own. None of us is in a right standing with God. Paul says there's not one righteous among us. No, not even one. But now we come to verse 21 of chapter three, which is the hinge, the turning point into the second major section of Romans, and that is the provision for righteousness. Those two words, but now, are the contrast between the way we were apart from Christ dead, without hope in this world and what has happened to us through Christ. And it is that provision for righteousness that we discover beginning in verse 21.

The great expositor, Donald Grey Barnhouse said these 11 verses are the most important 11 verses in all of the Bible. Because these verses answer the most important question in all of existence. How can a person be right with God? And here's what Paul's going to answer. Paul says, "God's righteousness is not a reward, but it is a gift to those who trust in the redemptive work of Christ". Lemme say it again, so you can write it down. "God's righteousness, a right standing with God is not a reward, it is a gift to those who trust in the redemptive work of Christ". Now, let's see how Paul develops that truth. First of all, beginning in verse 21 the reality of God's gift.

Now, admittedly, these first six verses, verses 21 to 26 are very complicated verses to understand. So I'm going to help unpack them for you this morning by giving you three statements that summarize these first six verses. First of all, Paul says, God's righteousness is offered as a gift. God's righteousness a right standing with God is offered as a gift. Look at verses 21 to 23. "But now apart from the law". I want you to underline that. "Apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe: for there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Remember, Paul has just said earlier in the first two and a half chapters, no one has any righteousness. None of us is in a right standing before God. And not only that, there's nothing we can do to earn a right standing before God.

Remember that word Paul used earlier in chapter three to describe our righteousness. He said it is like rancid sour milk just like that chocolate milk, I talked about last week. I had the unfortunate experience of drinking. It was putrefied. It was worthless. That is the way your righteous acts, and my righteous acts are before God. Isaiah the prophet said, our righteousness the best we can do is like a filthy rag to God. We cannot earn God's righteousness, but Paul says, God offers his righteousness as a gift. I've used this illustration before, but I'll use it again because it's a great way to explain to a non-Christian, what we mean when we say God's righteousness is a gift.

Think about it, man if you took your wife to a nice expensive restaurant here in Dallas. You'd saved up your money. You were ready for a great evening. You come to the restaurant and you see on the podium in front of a maître d' a little placard that says, "Dinner jackets required". The problem is you don't have a dinner jacket. And you're about to leave, when the maître d' says, "You're not the first person to come in with that problem. And so we've made a provision for you". And he goes back and get some molding jacket, sports jacket, they've been keeping back there since the days of the ark and he brings it out and he says, "You know what, if you would like, you can put this jacket on and you will be welcomed into the restaurant". At that point, then you have a choice. You can say, "If you don't like my stinking clothes, I'll take my business elsewhere". Or you can humble yourself. Conform to the requirements. Put the jacket on and be welcomed into the restaurant.

Then the same choice applies to us when it comes to entering into heaven. The bad news is, not one of us has the rights spiritual garments to enter into heaven. Our righteousness is like a filthy moth eaten rag to God. The good news is, God offers his righteousness. And when we trust in Christ as our Savior, God wraps us in the righteousness that belongs to Christ Jesus. And when God looks at us, he no longer sees our unrighteousness, he sees the perfection of his son. And that's why Paul prayed in Philippians verse chapter three. My prayer is that I might be found in him. Not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith in Christ. And that's what he's talking about in verse 21 here. He says, "The righteousness God offers is apart from the law". Apart from the law. It has nothing to do with keeping the law. And not only that, not only is it apart from the law, but it is a righteousness. Look at this verse 21 "That was witnessed by the law and the prophets".

One of the greatest misnomers about Christianity and the Bible is this. Some people believe what in the Old Testament people were saved by works. And in the New Testament, people are saved by faith in Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. Salvation has always been offered as a gift, not a reward. And that's what Paul was saying here. This plan is nothing new. It was witnessed too by the law and the prophets. For example, think about in the very first book of the Bible Genesis. Remember in Genesis three, after Adam and Eve sinned against God, their fellowship was broken, they felt ashamed. And so what did they do? They manufactured this inadequate covering of fig leaves and placed it on themselves, thinking that would solve the problem of their guilt.

And I remember one day, Adam and Eve were talking and Eve said to Adam, "Adam do you feel the same draft I'm feeling right now"? Is that not in your Bible? It's in mine. No, it's not in the Bible, but I imagine that's what happened. They realized their covering was inadequate, because it was. And what did God do? He killed the first animal. The first death in the Bible was the killing of that animal that God killed. And he took the skin of that animal, and he made a covering for Adam and Eve. Thereby telling them, but not them only but all of mankind that we are inadequate to prepare a covering for ourselves. We need a covering of an innocent to cover our sin for us. That was a picture of the fact that salvation would be a gift, not a reward.

We see that story in Abraham, that truth in Abraham. Remember God told Abraham to take his son, Isaac to mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice. And at the very last moment, God provided the lamb, that sacrificed for the sin. And we see that as we'll see in a moment in the mosaic law. God never meant the law to save people. It was a mirror to demonstrate our own unrighteousness and a need for a covering. And year after year, the Israelites would offer a hundreds of sacrifices as a way of saying, "We cannot atone for our sins. Someone must atone for our sins for us". What Paul is saying is, it has always been God's plan that his righteousness would never be a reward. It would be a gift from him. Secondly, notice that God's righteousness is based on the work of Christ. It's offered as a gift, but it is based on the work of Christ.

Another great misunderstanding about salvation is this. And that is people think, "Well, when God forgives you what it means is, God overlooks your sin. He turns the other way. He plays like it never happened". A holy God, ladies and gentlemen cannot do that. And God said, the soul that sins shall die. Our sin creates a debt, that has to be satisfied. You say, well, what about verse 25 here that says, "In the forbearance of God he passed over sins previously committed". That was only for a short time. Yes, God passed over sins for a while until Christ came and the full wrath of God was poured out on Christ, who had to satisfy that debt.

Now, I want you to notice in this passage there are three words that describe exactly what Christ did for us to satisfy that sin debt. Three words and you find them all in verses 24, 25 and 26. First of all, the word redemption. Look at verse 24 "Being justified as a gift by his grace through the redemption, which is in Christ Jesus". That word redemption in Greek is the word exagorazo, exagorazo. You say, well, why should I care about that? Well, the word agorazo comes from the word agora. It means the marketplace. Whether you go to Rome or you go to Philippi or any Roman or Greek city, you'll find the remnants of the agora. Think of it as an outdoor mall. That's where people went to shop. And one of the things some people went to shop for in the agora was for slaves.

Remember when Paul wrote these words, one third of the world's population was slave. And so a slave owner, if he were in the market for a new slave, he would go to the agora. Now into the agora, were brought the slaves men, women, boys and girls. They were brought in chains. And they were placed on a Wooden platform. And there, the potential buyers would look at them. They would poke them and prod them like they would an animal to see if this was an acceptable slave. And if they determined that that was the slave that they wanted, they would pay the price of the slave. They would redeem the slave and they would lead him out of the marketplace. That's what the word exagorazo means. Agora the marketplace, ex out of. To redeem something means to buy a slave and take him out of the slave market.

Now, listen to this. When the slave owner had paid the price for that man, that woman, that boy or the girl, the slave was his. And he was free to do whatever he wanted to with that slave. He could work him. He could abuse him. He could molest him or her. He could kill the slave if he wanted to. That slave belong to the slave owner. Ladies and gentlemen, the Bible tells us that when we were born into this world we were born into Satan's slave market. He was our owner. He had full rights over us. He is free to abuse, to torture, to kill whomever he wants to. And we were all in that desperate condition. But God for no other reason than the great love with which he loved us. He sent his son Jesus to be the ransom, the payment for our sins. And Jesus Christ has redeemed us. By his blood he has purchased us and delivered us out of Satan's sin market into the presence of Jesus Christ. And the Bible says because of that, because we now belong to God. We're not free to live, however we want to live. He didn't buy us just to release us and let us on our own, no.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19 "For you, do you not know you are not your own. You have been purchased with a price". That's what Christ has done for us. He has redeemed us. He has purchased us out of the slave market of sin. There's a second word he uses in this passage to describe Christ work for us. And that's the word, propitiation. Propitiation. Look at verse 25, talking about Jesus, "Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed". Now, that word propitiation, it simply means write down the word satisfaction. Christ satisfied the requirements of God. Propitiation means satisfaction or an appeasement. When Christ redeemed us, he appeased the demands of a holy God.

Now, some people find this idea offensive. They say, I don't want to think of God as some blood thirsty deity, who demands satisfaction. And they point to pagan religions in the world. And they say, "That's just like pagan religions". Pagan religions teaches that there are all these false Gods up there, who demand to be appeased, satisfied. And that's why people engage in religious ritual or throw their children to the crocodiles in some cultures. They're trying to appease an angry God. We know, we want no part of a religion like that. But here's the difference between all the other religions of the world and Christianity. And all the other religions of the world, it is man, who is trying to propitiate and appease a God. But only in Christianity, do we find the fact that we are incapable of satisfying the requirements of God. It is Christ, who satisfies the demands of God.

And we see that demonstrated so well in that picture of the holy of holies, that was in the tabernacle and later in the permanent temple. And in that holy of holies, there was a box, the Ark of the Covenant that contained among other things, the 10 commandments of God. And on the top of that box, the Ark of the Covenant, there was a lid made of gold. It was called the mercy seat. And on either side of that lid were cherubim, representatives of the angels that guarded the holiness of God. And it was thought that the presence of God dwelt between those cherubim. And the picture was, for 359 out of the 360 years in that holy of holies, God was looking down on his law in that box that man had broken. It was a continual picture of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. But remember once a year on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. The high priest after making a sacrifice for his own sin would come with the blood of an innocent animal, into the holy of holies. And he would take that blood and he would sprinkle it on the lid, the mercy seat. So that when God looked down on that box he no longer saw the law that man had broken. Instead that broken law was covered. It was atoned for, by the blood of that innocent animal.

Now here's the $64.000 question. Who provided that lamb? Did man create a lamb to be a sacrifice for his sin? No. Remember what Leviticus 17:11 says, God says "I have given it to you. That is a sacrifice on the altar to make atonement for your souls". God was the one who created that lamb to be the covering for sin. Every time I read that, I think about our gifted choir member Linda Almond, in that great song she wrote years ago, "God hath provided the lamb". It is God who provides the propitiation, the satisfaction for our sins and Christ was that perfect Lamb of God. Remember, that's why John the Baptist when he saw Jesus for the first time, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world". Jesus Christ was that perfect sacrifice. And not only was he the sacrifice for our sins, he is the one who offered the sacrifice.

Remember in the Old Testament, the high priest had to come in every year year after year after year to make the same sacrifice. Countless animals were sacrificed. The priests would die and there'd be a new high priest. But listen to what the writer of Hebrew says the perfect high priest, Jesus did for us. In Hebrews 9:11-12, the writer says, "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, he entered through a greater and more perfect tabernacle. One, not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens. And not through the blood of goats and calves but through his own blood, he entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption". That Old Testament sacrifice the temple, the tabernacle. They were just a picture of what is in heaven in the presence of God. And when Jesus died and ascended into heaven, he entered through that holy of holies, into the presence of God. And he made the internal one time sacrifice, for our redemption. And there is nothing left to add to it. That's what Jesus Christ has done for us. He has redeemed us. He has propitiated God. And number three, he has justified us.

Now, you know these words, redemption, propitiation. They aren't used that much in the New Testament. But the word justification, that is a word that is used 200 times in the Greek New Testament. What is justification? I want you to write this down. Justification is the sovereign act of God by which he declares a sinful person to be righteous. Justification is the sovereign act of God by which he declares a sinful person to be righteous. It is a legal term. Is the same term a judge uses when he slams down the gavel and says not guilty. That's what justification is. It's a legal term whereby a sovereign God, declares a sinner to be in a right relationship with himself.
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