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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Good News That Is Good... But Not New - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Good News That Is Good... But Not New - Part 1


Robert Jeffress - Good News That Is Good... But Not New - Part 1
Robert Jeffress - Good News That Is Good... But Not New - Part 1
TOPICS: Grace-Powered Living, Salvation, Grace, Gospel

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In the days of Moses, God gave the Israelites a long list of rules to follow, not only in life but in worship as well. Perhaps you skim through the book of Leviticus once and felt overwhelmed by the strange requirements. It's natural to wonder, why aren't modern Christians bound by a similar set of rules? Well, today I'm going to explain why salvation has always been based on God's grace, rather than our own efforts. My message is titled, "Good News That Is Good... But Not New" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

One thing we preachers learned sooner hopefully, rather than later, is the importance of illustrations in our messages. You know, long after people forget the content of the message, they still remember the illustrations. I say that all the time somebody will call the church requesting a message of mine, and they'll say, "No, we don't remember the title. We don't remember the scripture reference, and we're not even sure what the pastor was talking about". But we want that sermon, and then they'll give an illustration I used. "That sermon", somebody asked recently, "What was that sermon where the pastor talked about the man who had the birthday party for all the prostitutes in town"? That's the message we were on.

Somebody asked me about that last week. I couldn't remember what the message was. But they remembered the illustration. A preacher of yesteryear said, "Illustrations are like windows that throw light on another wise, dark subject". That's why it's important to use illustrations. The apostle Paul was a master communicator. He understood the importance of illustrations. And that's why we're right in the middle of this section of Romans, which is a theological treatise. He uses illustrations to drive home his point. And we see two of those illustrations in today's passage. If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn Romans 4. As we begin looking at good news that's good, but it's not new.

Now remember last time, we came to that second major division in the book of Romans. For the first two and a half chapters Paul has been talking about our unrighteousness before God. The fact is all of us are unrighteous. We do not have a right standing with God. But beginning chapter three, verse 21, Paul is going to explain how we can have a right standing righteousness from God. Now, remember the hinge verses chapter three, verse 21. "But now apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been manifested being witnessed by the law and the prophets". Paul is going to talk about how we can have a right standing with God. Now let me summarize what we looked at last time in those 11 verses from verse 21, to the end of chapter three.

You all remember everything I said last week, don't you? Well, just in case you don't write down these three comments or statements that Paul makes. First of all, he said, "God's righteousness or right standing with God is offered as a gift". It's a gift, not a reward. Paul says it's a gift. Secondly, God's righteousness is based on the work of Jesus Christ. Contrary to what a lot of people think. God's forgiveness does not mean that he simply turns his back and plays like we never sinned. Doesn't mean he looks away. Yes, it takes work to earn a right relationship with God. It's just not our work, it's Christ work. And our righteousness is based on what Christ has done for us.

Remember those three words we looked at last week in this section that describe what Christ's death accomplished for us? It resulted in our redemption, buying us out of the slave market of sin. Remember that word, redemption? It resulted secondly in propitiation. The satisfaction of God's requirements. When Christ died, he not only redeemed us. Remember the triangle? He also propitiated, satisfied God the Father. And thirdly, it resulted in our justification. God because of what Christ did for us has justified us. He's declared us not guilty in the great courtroom of heaven. God's righteousness is based on the work of Christ. Number three, God's righteousness or right standing with God is received through faith. Now, we are not saved by faith, we are saved through faith and there's a big difference. Remember the illustration I will use last week of the television cable? That cable in and of itself can never produce a picture. It is a channel from the transmitter to the receiver. It's the same way with faith. It doesn't matter how much or little faith you have, faith is not what saves you, were saved by the work of Christ. Faith is the channel by which I received God's forgiveness into my life.

The key verse is in chapter three, verse 28. Paul says, "For we maintain that a man is justified that is declared not guilty by faith, apart from the works of the law". I can tell by looking at you what some of you are thinking. "Okay pastor, tell us something we don't know. Tell us something new". I mean, if you've grown up in an evangelical home or an evangelical church, you've heard that all of your life, haven't you? That salvation is based on grace and not works. But you need to understand you and I are in a minority in believing that. The majority of the world today, the majority of the religious world does not accept that. They believe that we are declared righteous before God, not by grace, but through our works. And that's not only true today, it's always been that way. Most people believe that. Most people in Paul's day believe that. The Jews believed that to whom Paul was writing. That was a novel concept to them, that salvation was through grace and not works.

Now, as we'll see in a moment it's always been that way. That's always been God's plan, even in the Old Testament. But the Jews had perverted that to believe that somehow they played a role in their justification. And so when Paul comes along saying, "Well, no. God's righteousness is not a reward but it is a gift based on the work of Christ". They thought that was heresy. To give you an illustration of what that was like to them, just imagine that I stood up today and said, "I have a new revelation from God. For 2000 years you've heard that people are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, but I'm here to tell you God has revealed to me a new way to be saved. Today, if you want to be saved, you don't need to trust in Christ to Savior instead, go stand on your head in the corner for 30 minutes and say abracadabra 100 times, and you'll be right with God". How would you respond to that message? That new message?

About the same way that the Jews were responding to Paul's message of righteousness being by grace, and not by works. And so Paul says, "Salvation, justification is not a reward, it is a gift for those who trust in Christ". And to illustrate that truth, Paul goes back to the Old Testament and use those two illustrations with which his readers would be very familiar. First of all he says, "Consider the life of Abraham". Look at verses one and two of chapter four. Remember, there's no chapter division in the original text. This is all part of the same sermon. Paul is presented the truth and now he's going to illustrate that salvation is through grace and not works. He says in verse one, "What shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, according to the flesh, has found. For if Abraham was justified by works he has something to boast about, but not before God"?

Let me say a word about Abraham's importance to the Jews. Abraham was to the Jews what George Washington is to those of us who are Americans. He was the father of their nation. There was no one more righteous or important than Abraham. Remember that when Jesus started questioning the righteousness of the pharisees, what did they say? They said, "Well, don't question us. Are we not descendants of Abraham? Is there anyone greater than Abraham"? They revered Abraham. And one reason they revered Abraham was because of his righteousness, his obedience to God. His life was the testimony of obedience to God. If anybody could earn salvation, surely it was Abraham. Just consider what he did. In Genesis 12 God called him to leave everything and everyone familiar to go to a new land. And Abraham uproot his family and everything he knew and he went straight to this country that God promised to show him. Or think about in Genesis 13, in order to keep peace in his family he gave the greater land to a lot and allowed him to dwell in the choice land. Or think about in Genesis 18, when God announced his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. It was righteous Abraham who prayed for God's intervention.

But the greatest example of Abraham's obedience was in chapter 22 of Genesis, when God said, "I want you to take your son. The son whom you love, Isaac, and I want you to offer him as a burnt sacrifice". By the way, you know the Muslims have changed that. The muslim said, "It really was an Isaac, it was Ishmael". They have a way of changing the text. But the text says it was Isaac. Isaac was the one who Abraham was willing to offer. At the last moment God provided the sacrifice. If any man could be saved by righteousness, his righteous acts, surely it was Abraham. And many Jews believed that's exactly how Abraham was made right with God. In the Jewish apocryphal book called Ecclesiasticus, it said that Abraham became right with God because of his obedience. In the book of the jubilees the writer says, "Abraham was perfect in all of his deeds with the Lord, and well pleasing and righteousness all the days of his life".

So Paul says, if you doubt me, that salvation is by grace and not works, let's consider the story of Abraham. He says in verse two of Romans 4, "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about". Paul is saying if indeed Abraham was made right with God by his works, then my argument goes to pot. That's what it says in the original Greek, it goes to pot. That's the idea. So what does the scripture say about the way Abraham was justified? Look at verse three, "For what does the scripture say? And Abraham believed God, and it his belief was reckoned to him as righteousness". Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

But that word reckon, let me say a word about it. That's a Texas word, isn't it? I reckon it's going to rain this afternoon. We record things all the time in Texas. But that's not the way the word is used here. It's not a slang term. The word reckon is an accounting term, it literally means to place to the account of. The scripture says, "And Abraham when he believed God, Abraham's belief was deposited in his spiritual bank account as righteousness". Now, what is he talking about? When did Abraham believe and it was counted him as righteousness? We're going to talk about this more next week. But let me give you the summary version of it. Turn back for just a second, hold your place here and turn to Genesis 15, "This is the account of how Abraham was justified, made right with God".

You remember the setting. Abraham had just had a successful war against the kings of the east in which he rescued is no good nephew lot, and risked his own life to do so. But after the successful win over the kings of the east, Abraham begin to fear that they would come back against him and retaliation. And so God gives him this word of reassurance in chapter 15:1, "After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, do not fear Abraham. I am a shield to you. Your reward shall be very great". What reward is that? It is the reward of a great nation, that God had promised Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. In Genesis 12 remember God said, "I'm going to make you the father of a great nation". And he said, "Don't worry, Abraham". In chapter 15, "I'm still going to keep my promise to you". And Abraham begin to argue with God said, "How are you going to do that? I'm an old man, my wife is an old woman. How am I going to be the father of anything, much less a great nation"? So God said to Abraham, "Come outside with me".

He took Abraham outside. He pointed into the heavens and God said, "As numerous as the stars in heaven are, so numerous will be your descendants". And what was Abraham's response? Verse six of chapter 15, "Then Abraham believed in the Lord and God counted it to him as righteousness". Abraham believed that God would fulfill his promise and the moment he believed in God's promise, God took that faith of Abraham and in the great accounting room of heaven, he exchanged it for righteousness. Now, as we're going to see next week, when did this event occurred? The timing is important. It happened 13 years before Abraham was circumcised. It happened 400 years before God gave the law to Abraham, which means Abraham was declared righteous before his circumcision, that is before he went through a religious ritual. He was declared righteous before there was even a law to obey 400 years later. It was through faith that Abraham was declared not guilty before God.

I want you to notice two things I observe about Abraham's, salvation or justification. Write this down. First of all, "Abraham's salvation was received through faith". It was received through faith. Again like us, it wasn't based on faith, but it was received through faith. Faith in what? Well, the immediate context is Abraham believed God's promised that he would be the father of a great nation. But I think Abraham's faith was in something more than just the fact that he would be the father of a lot of people one day. In that promise of descendants was the promise of a deliverer. Someone who would deliver humanity from their sin. Abraham believed that. Abraham believed that one of his descendants would be the deliverer who would forever end the curse of mankind. It was that same deliverer that Adam and Eve were looking forward to. They mistakenly thought Cain was the deliverer. Remember, after their sin Cain was born and Adam and Eve said, "Here he is at last, the deliver". But the deliver was not Cain. It was the same deliver that Jacob talked about on his deathbed while he was in Egypt. It's the same deliver that Daniel talked about when he talked about the anointed one. It was the same deliver that John the Baptist declared when he saw Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world".

Abraham was looking for that same deliverer. And he believed that one of his descendants would be that deliverer. You say, "Pastor, how do you know that? How do you know Abraham was looking for a deliverer, a Messiah"? I know it by reading the Bible. Turn over to Galatians 3 for just a moment. Paul was writing to a group of people who believed that justification was a mixture of grace and works. And so again to these people in Galatians Paul writes this word using the example of Abraham. Look at Galatians 3 beginning with verse six. "Even so, Abraham believed God and that belief was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture". This is the key verse, "And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, all the nation shall be blessed in you".

Would you notice this? The scripture preached the Gospel to Abraham. "What do you mean the scripture preached to Abraham? There was no scripture during Abraham's day. Hadn't been written down yet. What do you mean"? The scripture preach to Abraham. The scripture. That term is a personification. It takes something that is not even an existence and refers to it as a person. It's God who preached the Gospel that Abraham. Ladies and gentlemen the Bible says, "God and his word are the same thing". You can't separate God from his word. When it says, the scripture preached this to Abraham, it's saying God preach the Gospel to Abraham. Abraham believed in a deliverer who would nullify the curse of mankind. Abraham, salvation was received through faith. Secondly, notice that Abraham salvation was based on the death of Christ, Abraham's salvation was based on the death of Christ.

Have you ever been asked this question before? I get it all the time, "How were people in the Old Testament saved? How were Adam and Eve saved? How were the people who lived during the time of Noah saved? How were people during the time of Moses saved? How were gentiles and Ninevites us saved? How were people before Christ saved"? The answer is they were saved the very same way you and I are saved. And that is by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are saved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ for our sins. Were all saved the same way. We said, "Well, wait a minute. People in the Old Testament, they lived before Christ made his sacrifice. How could they be saved by the blood of Christ if it hadn't been offered yet? Was it through the offering of animal sacrifices that they were saved"? No. There's nothing about an animal sacrifice the can save anyone. The writer of Hebrew said in Hebrews 9:13-14, "For it the blood of goats and bulls and ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the sin, how much more will the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God"?

The blood of an animal was absolutely worthless in and of itself to secure salvation. But in the Old Testament, it was the offering of those animal sacrifices that demonstrated faith through which salvation was secured. But it was always on the basis of the death of Christ. Now we're in some heavy theology right now. How about an illustration. Ready for an illustration? Let me illustrate exactly how the Old Testament saints were saved. Let's suppose you're in the market for a new television set. And so you go to target, you see a flat screen on sale for $995. So you put the flat screen under your arm, you go to the checkout counter. And the most amazing thing happens at the checkout counter. The clerk says, "That will be $995". And so you whip out your MasterCard. And you give that clerk that little piece of plastic, she does a swipe with it gives it back to you. And you're able to walk out of the store with $1.000 television set.

Why does she allow you to do that? I mean, that plastic in and of itself is absolutely worthless. But it's what that plastic represents that has value. That piece of plastic represents a promise to pay. Even though you're able to walk out with a television set immediately for something worthless, 30 days later when the bill comes due you have to pay the price, don't you? Now, it's the same way with the death of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. The saints, people who wanted salvation would offer an animal sacrifice. Those animal sacrifices were as worthless as that piece of plastic. But they were sufficient to obtain salvation right then because the offering of a sacrifice represented a promise to pay. And hundreds of years later when the bill came due we didn't pay the price, Jesus Christ paid the price for us.
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