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Expound: Romans 3-4 - Part A

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June 3, 2022 6:00 am

Expound: Romans 3-4 - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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June 3, 2022 6:00 am

The gospel was the apostle Paul's life mission, and nothing would stop him from sharing it with as many people as possible. In this message, Skip shares how Paul answered objections to the good news of Jesus.

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He's been making his case in chapter one and chapter two, and as he does, and as he writes to the antagonist and the moralist and the spiritualist, he anticipates, especially from the religious Jew, a list of objections. He imagines detractors who are listening to what he has to say and would pose some objections, pose some questions to Paul. The Apostle Paul was all about the good news of Jesus, and today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares how Paul answered objections to the Gospel, and his answers will reinforce your faith. But before we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that will deepen your knowledge of God's Word even more. Joy in the midst of hardship is a hallmark of the Christian life, but is it really possible?

Here's Lenya Heitzig. Sometimes what starts out as a happy trail turns into a really daunting road, and we have to figure out how to navigate. A lot of times, God's purpose in allowing trials is to give us opportunities to grow to the point where we genuinely experience joy in the midst of trials. Learn how to face trials with courage, wisdom, and yes, joy with Lenya's booklet, Happy Trials. And when you give $20 or more today to help keep this Bible teaching ministry on the air, we'll send you a special bundle of three booklets by Lenya, Happy Trials, Don't Tempt Me, and Speak No Evil. Get your bundle of three booklets for a gift of $20 or more by calling 800-922-1888, or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer.

That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Now, we're in Romans chapter three, as Skip Heitzig gets into today's message. It was Mark Twain who said, having spent a considerable amount of time with good people, I can understand why Jesus loved to be around tax collectors and sinners. I think those are the people that the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote part of Romans, those who were self-satisfied, very, very religious good folks who looked to and boasted in and trusted in their own track record of good works, good deeds.

He definitely has that in mind in chapter two. He speaks in chapter one to the pagan. He speaks to the Gentile unbeliever, what you might call the antagonist toward monotheism, things of God. And then after the antagonist, he speaks to the moralist, the person who has some kind of belief system higher than an unbeliever, maybe a Jew, maybe not necessarily, but a moralist person who would look down upon the behaviors that Paul mentioned in chapter one. And then the third group is the religionist, the Jewish person.

And he mentions those people by name in chapter two. He says, indeed, you call yourself a Jew, and that's a good thing, and you boast in certain things. But Paul, as we noted last week, and we kind of continue doing that until a certain point in our text tonight, Paul is making his case that the entire human race is in really bad shape. Before a holy God. And thus they need something they can never procure or produce on their own, and that is a right standing before God that is conferred upon them, that is given to them, that is a gift for them.

It's nothing that they can produce on their own. The theme of Romans is the gospel. He introduces that theme at the very beginning in chapter one, and the gospel is all about how people can be made right before God.

And the way they are made right before God is imputation. He gives or imputes something that is not yours, but he puts it on your account, and because of that he makes a declaration. That's called justification. He justifies you. He makes a declaration that you are just, that you are righteous, that you are accepted the way you are.

Now that is monumental, and it can never be overstated. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, it is the truth of Romans that revolutionized Martin Luther's whole life, because he thought that the righteousness of God was the place from which God judged the world. He was absolutely righteous, absolutely just, and therefore had every right to condemn unrighteous human beings. But he didn't understand the meaning of God in his righteousness is that he is willing to give or to impute, to freely place over your life, the life of his Son, and look at you as if you had never sinned.

And when Martin Luther discovered that, everything changed. Well, he's been making his case in chapter one and chapter two, and as he does, and as he writes to the antagonist and the moralist and the spiritualist, he anticipates, especially from the religious Jew, a list of objections. He imagines detractors who are listening to what he has to say and would pose some objections, pose some questions to Paul. And so Paul gives a list of these questions beginning in chapter three, verse one.

They're rhetorical questions. It is a method that was familiar to the rabbis. The rabbis would often ask a question and then answer the question. By the way, that is also the Socratic method, the method taught by Socrates or used by Socrates to pose a question.

And then once the question is raised, to provide answers in order to take the student from ignorance to knowledge of the truth. Now, I am thinking my belief, it seems to me that the questions that Paul raises here were questions that Paul had heard when he went from town to town and he would first go to the synagogue and then he would go to the marketplace. It was to the Jew first and then also to the Greek. So as he would go to the synagogue and preach Christ from the Old Testament as the fulfillment of messianic promise, he probably heard all sorts of questions, all sorts of objections, all sorts of rebuttals, and so he brings them up here in the letter. Not only that, but I'm guessing that they were objections Paul himself once had, being a rabbinical Jew, being a Pharisee. When Jesus got a hold of his life in Acts chapter 9, I'm sure he had a lot of yeah, but moments with God. Well, yeah, but what about and what about? And so he had reasoned through the Old Testament and the understanding of Judaism when he asks and answers these questions and there'll be a few of them that are mentioned in chapter 3. Now let me just give a little bit of a piggyback on that. For those of you who are teachers, those of you who have some kind of a ministry, a Bible study class, some kind of a format or a forum in which to share truth, that what Paul does here, you should do.

We should all do. That is, when you are preparing for a teaching, preparing for a message, to be able to think through the objections of people who may be listening. The young Christian, the older seasoned believer, the skeptic and the unbeliever, the teenage girl, the business guy, you know, the advanced doctor. You all want to think of all the different people who might be in your audience who would hear the words that you would have to say and you reason through it that way.

It helps in making the presentation. So verse 1, first question, what advantage then has the Jew or what profit is there in circumcision? Paul, you've spent an entire chapter talking down circumcision, it would seem, disregarding the Jewish law, it would seem. Now, you are Jewish, you're a rabbi, Paul, and yet you say that the law isn't enough to save a person.

So the question would be, what advantage then has the Jew or what is the profit of circumcision? Here's the answer, much in every way, chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. There are several advantages, Paul would say to them, of being Jewish, having that as your background, but of all of the advantages, he begins with the most obvious. The most obvious advantage is that you guys have a spiritual edge, God committed to you the oracles, the revelation, the prophets, the law. All of God's written revelation was deposited in times past to the Jewish nation. So you guys were steeped in this stuff, you were raised in the synagogue, you were raised with the law.

We don't have to convince you that there's a God, we don't have to convince you that the Bible is inerrant, you got that, you understand that. So you have an edge, much like it's an advantage to be raised in a church, to be able to, I mean, think of the incredible advantage we have of being able to every week go through chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and have a broad and deep understanding of God's will. An incredible advantage, but having the truth is not the same thing as heeding the truth. James will make that abundantly clear. It's not hearers of the word, it's those who do it.

What advantage? Much in every way, because to them were committed the oracles of God. Next question, for what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?

Certainly not. Let God be true, but every man a liar, as it is written that you may be justified in your words and may overcome when you are judged. The history of the Jewish nation was a history of abject failure. God made covenants with them, some of them unconditional, some of them very conditional, and they failed on all of their part to keep their conditions. So they went into captivity, they were chased by their enemies, they lost land, they lost lives, they cried out to God, God brought them back, we studied that in the book of Judges. Their whole history is a history of failure from the golden calf when they first got delivered out of Egypt all the way through, and especially when it came to the Messiah. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because his people did not understand the day of their visitation, the things that made for their peace, that they failed in all aspects but especially in the aspect of the identity of Christ. So does that negate the promise, the promises that God made to the Jewish people and the Jewish nation?

Not at all. Because though we see a hardness and though we see a turning, that's just temporary. And Paul is going to make this abundantly clear when we get to chapter 9, 10, and 11, where he talks about the relationship of the Jewish nation to God and the promises that God has made to the nation. And he will say in chapter 11, brethren I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery or wise in your own opinion, but hardness or blindness in part has happened unto Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles are come in, and then all Israel will be saved. So what he is saying here is just because you have people who have largely pushed away the promises that God made and disbelieved in the Messiah, the fulfillment of all of the promises that God made to the Jewish nation is only on pause. It's just a not yet scenario.

It's paused but not prevented. It is going to come, and Paul will make that clear as we get through. And he is quoting in verse 4, that you may be justified in your words and may be overcome when you are judged. That's a quote out of Psalm 51. You know that when Paul wrote, he quoted a lot of the Old Testament.

He should. I mean, that's what he was raised with, right? That's his frame of reference. And if he's writing to Jewish people, it would be their frame of reference. It's interesting that the Psalm, Psalm 51, was written by David after David sinned with Bathsheba.

And he was eventually heartbroken because of it. And he wrote two Psalms, Psalm 32 and Psalm 51. And in Psalm 51 he says, against you and you only have I sinned and committed this great wickedness in your sight. And then this verse, that you may be justified in your words and you may overcome when you are judged.

In other words, you are right in your judgments. Next question, verse 5. But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust?

Who inflicts wrath? I speak as a man. Certainly not. You know, certainly not is sometimes translated to God forbid. A better translation would be perish the thought or even nonsense.

So certainly not. Nonsense. For then how will God judge the world? For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to his glory, why am I still judged as a sinner? Follow the rebuttal.

Think of the argument here. The objector might be thinking, wait a minute, Paul. If my badness makes God look good, then how can God judge me for my badness? I'm a bad person. You're saying we're all bad, but all we're doing is making God look really good.

So for God to judge us for our bad behavior is wrong. It's incongruent. It's sort of like a jeweler who pulls out the most beautiful diamonds. He'll show them to you not on a white background, but a dark background. Dark velvet, man. You put out the black velvet. Then you put those diamonds on it and like, wow.

And the wow comes from not just the diamonds, but the contrast, the brilliance of that sparkling diamond against the dark black background of that velvet. So my life, like black velvet, just makes God look really, really good. That's the argument. So is God unjust who inflicts wrath?

Certainly not. For how then will God judge the world? In other words, if God condones sin, then he has no basis to judge at all. God has to be fair. God has to be consistent. So God has a standard by which he judges all mankind. And if God condones sin and winks at sin and says, yeah, you're right.

You know, your black background just makes me look good, so I won't judge you because of it. After all, you're circumcised and you have the law of Moses as well. Then how can God judge at all?

He wouldn't have a right standard. It continues in verse 8. And why not say, let us do evil that good may come, as we are slanderously reported and as some have affirmed that we say their condemnation is just. So the next argument, you know, if I'm bad, and my badness makes God look good, the next question is, if my badness makes God look good, then I should be as bad as possible.

And this is where Paul says their condemnation is just. In other words, that's so stupid, I'm not going to even answer that question. It's called argument ad absurdum, or argumentum ad infinitum, or something like that.

Reductio, that's it. It's just, you come to a place in trying to reason, where it's like, okay, what you just said, Mr. Smart Guy, is just really stupid. So he said their condemnation is just. Now, there are sometimes people who have this sort of thinking, believe it or not. They think, you know, if I really am a rotten sinner, by the time I come to Christ, I'm going to have a really great testimony.

Truth is, you could choose a practice that gets you killed, and you have no testimony. I remember a young man who was very, very talented. His name was Johnny. He was a young kid when he came to Christ, a teenager. And it was in the height of the Jesus movement, and in those days, a lot of really raunchy people were saved. A lot of people with drug pass, human trafficking pass, just all sorts of street thugs, and I knew a lot of them.

They were good friends of mine. Came to Christ, radical transformation, radical conversion, and you hear their testimonies, and you go, wow, that guy was bad. And sometimes people tell their testimony to make you think, wow, they were really bad.

Yeah, I used to do this and that, and people go, may you really were bad. And then Jesus saved me. But they spent 20 minutes talking about how bad they were, and only one minute about the fact that Jesus saved them from all that crud. So what that does, it gets young people like Johnny listening to that, going, I don't have that kind of a testimony. Here's my testimony. I was raised in a Christian home by believing parents, and I never blew it.

I never rebelled. And so I remember him distraught about that. He's thinking, you know what?

I'm thinking, I think I need to sow some wild oats, he said. I need to do some bad things so that I also have a good testimony. I said, Johnny, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Because right now you're one of the wisest young men I've ever met. You have a better testimony than any of us.

He goes, how so? I said, the keeping power of Jesus. You were saved at a young age, you stayed true to his promises, and he has kept you all the way through without going off the deep end. Your testimony is much better than mine. He goes, well, I never thought of it that way. That's why Paul says to the group of slanderers, their condemnation is just. Then in verse 9, he says, what then? Or what then?

Well, or what shall we conclude then? He's giving a summary statement of all that he has said up to this point. He's talked about the raunchy people. He's talked about the religious people. He's talked about the so-called righteous folks. He's talked about the self-righteous folks. What shall we conclude then? How shall we make a summary statement? Are we better than they?

Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. Now, before we read on, I just want to give you a preview. Paul is going to lay down an indictment in the courtroom. He wants to prove once and for all that all groups are guilty before God. Before he gets to the grace of God, before he pulls out the diamond, he wants you to see how bad that black velvet really is. So he pulls out several verses out of the book of Psalms and Isaiah, quote after quote after quote, a 14-count indictment, and then he rests his case.

These indictments can be divided into three categories—what a person is, what a person says, and what a person does. So he's making his concluding argument to say the whole world is guilty before God. Verse 10, as it is written, here comes the prosecutor, as it is written, there is none righteous, no not one. There is none who understands. There is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way. They have altogether become unprofitable.

There is none who does good, no not one. Their throat is an open tomb. With their tongues they have practiced deceit. The poison of asps is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways. And the way of peace they have not known.

There is no fear of God before their eyes. It's not a pretty picture, but this is an x-ray of my heart. Oh, you say, this again is not an x-ray of your heart. Oh yes, it is. It's not an x-ray of your heart. Oh yes, it is. And yours.

Oh, you look beautiful on the outside, don't get me wrong. But this is the true you, man. This is the real photograph, the x-ray of the human heart. That's Skip Heitzig with a message from his series Expound Romans. Now, here's Skip to share how you can keep this broadcast going strong, connecting you and others around the world with the Gospel.

It's a great comfort to me that no matter where we go or what we do, God is ever present in our lives. Our whole ministry is based on the desire to connect friends like you with God and with His Word. But we need your help to keep these teachings going out to you and to others. We'd be so grateful if you shared a gift today to keep this radio ministry going strong. Here's how you can do that right now. To give today, simply call 800-922-1888.

That number again is 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Your generosity helps keep this biblical encouragement coming your way and going out around the world to help change more lives with the Gospel. And did you know there's an exciting biblical resource available right at your fingertips through your mobile device? You can find several of Skip's Bible reading plans in the YouVersion Bible app.

Simply download the app and search Skip Heitzig. Next week, Skip Heitzig shares how Jesus advocates for you before God the Father. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on His Word. Make a connection, a connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-09 10:46:05 / 2023-04-09 10:55:00 / 9

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