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Righteousness Revealed

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 16, 2023 9:00 am

Righteousness Revealed

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 16, 2023 9:00 am

Have you ever wondered how to respond when someone asks you why you think Jesus is the only way to salvation? In this message, Pastor J.D. walks through one of the most important passages in Romans, what Martin Luther called “the very central place ... of the whole Bible.” In it, we find not only the answer to why Jesus saves but also a confidence that is found only through our justification.


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Jesus paid the full price to buy us back. He offered it to us freely. Not because it was free.

No, no, no. He paid everything. It was very costly to him. It was free to us.

It was free to us. We presented the coupon of faith and his sacrifice became ours. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and theologian, J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. So have you ever wondered how to respond when someone asks you why you think Jesus is the only way to heaven? I mean, surely I must play a part somehow in my salvation, right? Well today, Pastor J.D. walks through one of the most important passages in Romans. In it, we find not only the answer to why Jesus saves, but also a confidence that is found only through our justification. Stay with us until the end of the program today for a special offer that includes Pastor J.D. 's newest book that also walks through key teachings in the book of Romans. But for now, let's jump back into chapter three today with a message Pastor J.D.

titled Righteousness Revealed. Have you ever been to one of those Brazilian steakhouses? You ever been to one of those?

You know, they have this little system where you got a green rock and a red rock or a green red side to it and you, green means keep giving me food and red. First time I ever experienced that, and this sounds a little bit like I'm making this up, but I'm not. I actually was on a mission trip in Brazil and I was by myself in a certain area.

This was several years ago. I'd never heard of a Brazilian steakhouse. I had no idea what the concept was.

I didn't speak the language. I go in there to eat. They give me a little, you know, rock.

I have no idea what it means. I guess it's on green the whole time because the guys just keep coming by and putting food on my plate. I kid you not, there were six inches of meat placked on my plate.

I was like, I don't know how to tell you guys to stop. And he figured out what I was doing, so he flipped my rock to red. I tell you all that to say I hope that your listening rocks are on green this morning because Paul has a lot of stuff in this passage that he is going to just keep piling on. This is not exaggeration, what I'm about to say. This might be the most important passage in the book of Romans. Some scholars say it is the most important passage in the entire Bible. Martin Luther, Martin Luther said this. He said that Romans 3, 21 through 26 is the chief point and the very central place of this epistle, which just means a letter.

Another scholar named Leon Morris, Leon Morris said that this is possibly the most important single paragraph ever written in human history. In this passage, Martin Luther said is the heart of the Reformation, the heart, the central truth that he believed the church had corrupted and that the Roman Catholic church, by the way, and Protestants today still disagree about. Some of you ask, I've heard you ask me over the years, what is the major difference between what Protestants and Catholics believe? Or sometimes they'll say, I grew up in a Catholic church and what does the summit church teach that is different from what I learned in Catholic church? Well, let me first say that we're grateful for any heritage you have that taught you to know and to love God's word, but you're going to hear today the answer to that question.

What is it that we believe that would differ from what will be taught in the Roman Catholic church? Furthermore, this passage answers a couple of questions that I often get from people outside of the faith. The first of those questions is why do you Christians make such a big deal about Jesus? You probably grew up just assuming Jesus was a big deal if you grew up in a Christian context, but people outside the faith are like, I just don't get the focus on Jesus. I know that we need God. We all should commune with the divine, but what does the life of a migrant Jewish rabbi who lived more than 2000 years ago, what's that got to do with me knowing God today and why all this talk about the cross?

In fact, it sounds kind of primitive to say that some bloody sacrifice is necessary for me to relate to God, which leads to a second question that I get a lot. Why do Christians say that Jesus is the only way? Why do Christians say Jesus is the only way? People outside the faith will often say to me, well, you know, I'm really glad Jesus works for you.

I'm glad he's your happy place. I'm glad he's the missing piece that makes your life work, but why would you force that on everybody else? Why can't we all just know God in our own way? In fact, let me ask you, if you are a Christian, then you've probably heard that question. How do you respond when you get asked that question? Other than, you know, slowly trying to back out of the room and praying for the rapture, how do you respond?

How do you respond? Right now, I suppose you could just quote John 14 6. Jesus said, I'm the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the father but by me, and that would be fine, but that's just a statement that he is the only way. Romans 3 21 through 26 is the explanation for why he is the only way.

So it's not just declaration, it's explanation. When you get asked this question, Romans 3 21 through 26 is one of the places that you should turn. So let's start where we left off with last week in verse 20. Remember, in Romans, Paul is building a very careful argument layer by layer. So verse 20, for nobody, he says, is going to be justified in his sight by the works of the law because the knowledge of sin, only the knowledge of sin comes through the law.

Paul has spent nearly two chapters now explaining why the law is an insufficient answer to the universal human problem of sin. And the law, think of the law as basically what every religion puts forward as the way to be right with God. Every religion puts forward some list, some law of things that you need to do. And they say, if you will do these things and you will do them well enough, then you will live. Religion works off of the premise, I obey, I obey, therefore I will be accepted.

If I obey well enough, if I obey often enough, then I will be accepted by God. The problem with that is twofold. First, you can't change the substance of the heart simply by giving it laws any more than you could change my palate.

You could change my taste buds by commanding me to eat certain things. I use the example a couple of weeks ago of pigs eating pig slop. To keep a pig from eating pig slop, you'd have to put a barrier between the pig and the slop. And if you remove that barrier, then the pigs is going to go hog wild after the slop. But for the average human, you don't have to command them not to eat pig slop because pig slop is revolting to the average human.

So no law is required. When the same way, God doesn't want spiritual pigs in heaven who only avoid the slop of sin because they're commanded to, or because he threatens to punish them if they do touch it. He wants people in heaven who avoid sin because it is revolting to them and who pursue good because they delight in good and because they are more attracted to good than they are to sin. The second problem with the law, and this is what Paul really focuses on today, is that our sin has left us guilty before God, legally guilty. And no amount of good works can repair the damage that we've done.

Think of it like this. Imagine somebody broke into your house and destroyed some of your most valuable things. And so they get caught, they get hauled into court, and as they're in court, they begin to explain to the judge that they really are a good person. I mean, you know, they're on the PTA, their kid's school, and they volunteer in the soup kitchen and do all these wonderful things, right? You would stand up at some point and say, hey, that's great.

I'm glad this person is awesome in all these other ways. But that doesn't repay what they have destroyed of mine. Sin violates, sin destroys God's glory in the universe. Sin overturns God's justice, a justice that God tells us is the very foundation of creation. Psalm 89 14 says this.

You ought to jot this reference down. Righteousness and justice. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. What that means is that God has built the universe. It sustains on justice.

And so for creation to remain good, sustainable, justice has to be upheld. So Paul explains nobody can be justified in his sight by the works of the law because it is only the knowledge of sin that comes through the law. The law shows us, verse 23, that all of us, that means Jews and Gentiles alike, it means religious and irreligious alike, all of us have sinned.

We've all got the same heart of sin and all of us fall short of the glory of God. That word falls short in Greek. Scholars say it's a word that they would use in archery. If you're pulling back the bow and releasing the arrow and you miss the target by 20 feet, if it's 20 feet shy of a target, you would say it fell short.

It fell short of the target. The law, the law, Paul says, shows us how far we fall short of what God wants from us. The law is a precious gift to us because without the law, we end up thinking we're not that bad. You see, most of us, most of us would define sin as doing wrong things. And most of us would admit that sometimes we do wrong things. But most of us, most of us assume that what's in our hearts is basically good and that occasionally we make mistakes. The law disabuses us of that.

Without the law, we're like the man who comes home from, you know, shooting, trying archery for the first time. And his friend says, well, how'd you do? You're like, well, I did awesome. I hit the bullseye every single time.

And the friend's like, well, that's amazing. Your first time out, you got a bullseye every time. How did you do that? Well, simple.

Every time I shot, I went to where it landed in the woods and I painted the bullseye right around wherever it landed. Right? You're like, well, you can't do that. Well, that's what people do with goodness. They redefine goodness so that it corresponds to what's already in their heart. The law, particularly the 10 commandments, show us the real target, God's target, and reveal just how far our hearts have missed the mark. So Paul says nobody can be justified by the works of the law because the law's purpose is to diagnose. The knowledge of sin comes through the law. The law's purpose is to diagnose, not repair. The law, I've heard it said, is like the thermometer in your house that tells you what the temperature is.

It's not the thermostat that can change the temperature. It just reveals how messed up your heart really is. Or like we have said in another analogy, the law is like railroad tracks.

The railroad tracks point you in the direction that you're supposed to go, but the railroad tracks are powerless to move the freight along the tracks. Reading Romans 2 and 3, where Paul weaves in and out of the law, is supposed to give you this feeling of spiritually drowning. You ever had the sensation of drowning?

I've never like almost died drowning, but I have had a couple of times where I was trapped under the water for an uncomfortably long amount of time. One of them was in a white water rafting mishap that took place several years ago. It was up on the Galley River in West Virginia. Our guide, before we went through this worst part of the river, he said, okay, we've got three class four, class five rapids in a row. The most dangerous part of the river. He said, whatever you do, he says, you can't fall out of the boat in the second one. I thought, well, that's a pretty easy assignment. Don't fall out of the boat.

Got it. Thankfully, I kept his, obeyed his word to its exactness. I fell out in the first of those five rapids, but right at the end of it, where there was not enough time to get me back in the boat before we went right into the second one. So I went in there, wrathless, just through this, you know, probably lasted 45 seconds or so. And you go into this thing and just under the water and you're under for what feels like forever. And then you pop up for just a second and you would gasp breath and then back under, you had no idea what was coming. You didn't know if it was ever going to come out.

You just had this sense that every time you got a little bit of breath and you were just back down and it was, you panicked and it was, you just felt like you were suffocating. When you read Romans two and three and you go through the law, you're supposed to have this feeling of just, I don't know where to turn. I look at the bad things that I've done and I see that they're full of selfishness and rebellion and anger. And then I look at the good things that I've done, my religion. And I see that my religion is filled with pride and competitiveness and selfishness there. And you say with Paul in Romans seven, oh, wretched man that I am. Wretched, I can't turn anywhere. Like the Puritans used to say, even my tears of repentance have to be washed in the blood of the lamb.

Even when I'm sorry over my sin, even there, there is guilt and there is corruption. That is how we read when we're reading Romans two and three. Thanks for listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. I know we've all been enjoying this teaching from the book of Romans. And because of that, I wanted to let you know about our latest resource that ties in perfectly with the series. It's Pastor J.D. 's newest book called Essential Christianity. Within its pages, he offers a clear and comprehensive explanation of the Christian message using passages from Romans one to twelve.

So whether you're a new believer or if you've been following Jesus for years, we believe that essential Christianity will help you solidify your faith in a newer, deeper way, giving you words to share with those that you love as well. To get your copy, simply visit J.D. Greer dot com and give a gift of thirty five dollars or more to support this ministry. And as a special bonus, we will also include a free companion study guide to help you think more deeply about the book's message. We're so grateful to all of you who partner with us in ministry, and we hope that this resource will be a blessing to you. Now let's return to our teaching with Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. So then he gets to verse twenty one and there's this huge turn. But now, but now, but now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed. And that's been attested all along by the law and the prophets. The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. To see there's no distinction between Jew or Gentile, religious or irreligious.

They're all just sinners. And we, he says, are justified freely, freely. Some translations say by a gift, by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Now, my, my, what a bunch of important words we got in that verse that we got to start defining.

Here's the first one. Justified. Justified. This is the word that Martin Luther said launched the Protestant Reformation. You see, the Roman Catholic Church in Martin Luther's day.

Listen, I need your big boy theological pants on for a minute, okay? The Roman Catholic Church in Martin Luther's day taught that justification was a process whereby God actually made you into a righteous person by infusing his righteousness into you by means of the seven sacraments. Baptism, the Eucharist, Confirmation, Last Rites, and those kind of things. Eventually they taught through observing the sacraments and going to confession and doing good works, you would become a righteous enough person that God would declare you justified. And if by the time you died, you had not become righteous enough, you would go to purgatory where your sin would be purged from you through fire and suffering. That's where we get the word purgatory. Purge-atory.

It was going to be purged out of you. This they taught was the process of justification. God made you into a righteous person and then he acknowledged that you were righteous enough to enter into his kingdom. But Martin Luther pointed out that that's not what the word justified means. And it's certainly not how Paul talks about it in Romans three and four. Justification means a legal declaration that happens all at once. Justification is not a process whereby we become righteous. Justification is a pronouncement whereby we are declared righteous. Justification does not refer to that transformation of the heart. That is what we call sanctification.

Sanctification means you're becoming holy. Justification is a declaration of righteousness. In justification, God's righteousness is not infused into us. In justification, it is imputed to us, credited to us.

Think of it like this. If I get accused of a crime and I get hauled into court and the jury decides that I am innocent of all charges and the judge brings down the gavel and declares me not guilty, I am cleared all at once, I'm justified. He's not given me a seven-point program to go out and prove that I'm a good citizen. He declares me innocent all at once and I walk out a free man. In fact, in Sunday school, I always learned that word justified means just as if I'd never sinned, justified, just as if I had never sinned. In the gospel, because Jesus' righteousness is credited to me, imputed to me, I am declared justified at one point, one time. That's where Martin Luther's phrase, simile usus et peccator, that's where it came from.

And this is that Latin phrase I've thrown out a couple of times. It means simultaneously righteous, simultaneously justified, and even while, peccator, I'm a sinner. Simultaneously, I'm justified even while I am a sinner. It's not that I become righteous enough that God declares me righteous.

Okay, okay, you're good enough now. I'm going to call you righteous. But that while I am still sinful, God declares me righteousness because my righteousness is not my own.

My righteousness is something that is given to me that Jesus earned in my place. This was all pictured in the Old Testament process of sacrifice. Every year, each believing Jewish family would bring a lamb, a perfect spotless lamb to the temple.

They would lay it on the altar. And as the priest stood before that lamb, the father of the family, as their representative, would take his hand and he would put it on the head of that lamb. And he would begin to confess the sins of the family. And as he was doing that, the priest would take a knife and slit the throat of the lamb. The whole process was showing that the sins of this family was being transferred in effect to this lamb. The lamb was dying and the family could walk out free. In that moment, they are justified because the lamb was held responsible for sin before God.

And so the family got to walk out free. There was another part of this process that happened at the end of the day of atonement where they would take a goat, one goat, and symbolically the priest would lay his hands on the goat and transfer the sins of all of Israel onto this goat. And then he would send the goat out of the city into the wilderness, never to be heard from again.

By the way, little known thing from Jewish history is they used to station a priest right outside in the woods that as soon as the goat would leave, the priest would grab the goat, take him and throw him off of a cliff so that he could never like accidentally wander back into the camp because they thought that would be a bad omen if, you know, the goat came back in. But the point was, see, the guilt, the sin was transferred elsewhere so that righteousness is what remained for the people. This is all what Jesus fulfilled when he came. That's why John the Baptist, when the first time he sees Jesus says, behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world on the cross, the sins of the entire human race were laid on the head of Jesus. Martin Luther said, all the prophets foresaw, listen to this, that on the cross, Jesus became the greatest murderer, adulterer, thief, rebel and blasphemer that there ever was.

Our most merciful father sent his only son into the world and said to him, Jesus, you're going to become Peter the denier. You're going to become Paul the persecutor, blasphemer and cruel oppressor. You're going to become David the adulterer.

You're going to become Adam, that sinner that did eat the apple in paradise. You're going to become the husband who has neglected or abused his family. You're going to become the immoral woman who has wrecked somebody else's marriage. You're going to become the drug addict. You're going to become the teenage girl lying to her parents. You're going to become the hypocrite living a double life. You're going to become the proud, the selfish. You're going to become the apathetic. You're going to become all those things for them so that my people can be innocent of them.

Burying shame and scoffing rude in my place. Condemned he stood, sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah, what a savior. So that when I lay my hand of faith on him, my sin becomes his and his righteousness becomes mine. Simultaneously justified even while I am still a sinner. It's not that I become righteous enough through observing all these things that God says. Now you're righteous. It's that he declares me righteous at once because of what Jesus did in my place.

Seem well used to us at Pekator. By the way, if you're looking for a cool tattoo in another language to put on your body, let me suggest this one right here, okay? Because the whole gospel is right in that phrase and you can explain it every time somebody asks you about it, okay? That's the first word, justified. Second word, redemption. Redemption. To redeem means to buy something back. To bring it back from destruction. To restore it.

It's not a word we use a whole lot in common language anymore. Everybody knows that great scene from Dumb and Dumber where Lloyd Christmas trades in their van for their cross-country trip for that moped, you know, because it gets better gas mileage. Remember Harry says to Lloyd, like, just when I thought you couldn't possibly do anything dumber. You do this and totally redeem yourself, right? You have brought yourself back from this destruction and you are restored. People do use the word redeem. Again, this is not super common, but if you were to sell something to a pawn shop because you needed cash and so, you know, it's something very precious to you, but fortunes change and you get money back and you want to try to get it before this pawn shop sells it. If you were to go back to that same pawn shop and take enough money and buy back that diamond ring, we would say that you were redeeming it.

You were bringing it back so that it was not lost. Or sometimes we use the word when we talk about coupons. What do you call it when you trade in a coupon? You redeem the coupon.

You are given a cash equivalent for what would otherwise be a worthless piece of paper, right? Let me say you're at Harris Teeter and then the little receipt prints out at the checkout and it says, congratulations, you've been chosen to receive a free ham. Just present this coupon at checkout.

So what do you do? You put your groceries in the car, you go back in, you go get the ham, you bring it up, you put it back down at the checkout and the person rings it up and the cashier says that'll be $23. And you're like, huh, well, maybe for the average muck, that would be $23, but not for me because I got this little coupon.

And so you hand that coupon to her and boom, it's redeemed. You get a free ham. What did you pay? What did you pay? Nothing. What did the manufacturer pay?

Full price. Of course, the pig is the real hero in the story because the pig paid it all. The pig paid it all. Your coupon just connected you to the pig sacrifice. And that's how you get saved, okay?

You present faith in what Jesus did as yours and boom, it becomes yours. Some of you are going to get that pig part next time you're at Harris Teeter picking out a ham. Oh, I see the pig paid it all and I get it for free.

So when you get saved at Harris Teeter, you can thank me, okay? All right, Jesus paid the full price to buy us back. He paid the full price to redeem us from condemnation to sin. He offered it to us freely, not because it was free. Oh no, no, he paid everything. It was very costly to him. It was free to us.

It was free to us. We presented the coupon of faith and his sacrifice became ours. God presented him, Paul continues, as an atoning sacrifice. Some translations will say propitiation.

The Greek word is hilasterion. And what it means is that anger is assuaged. God's claim against you is settled. Today's message was titled Righteousness Revealed and it's part of a series walking through the book of Romans. Recently, I sat down with Pastor J.D. to talk about what we should expect as we walk through this study of the book of Romans. By far, Molly, the most people we've ever had in the course of one year confess faith in Christ was during this Roman series. Almost every major awakening in our country, if you trace it back, it's going back in some way to the study of the book of Romans. So whether you're struggling to know whether you stand with God or why you struggle to keep the commands of God now that you're a Christian or why you can't seem to find the spiritual power that you've heard so much about, the book of Romans is for you. To kick off our study, I want to offer you my newest book, Essential Christianity, which was written in conjunction with the series.

It's not identical to it. It's a book I wrote for believers to sort of master the core, the essentials of their faith, but also one that's written on a level that you can read it with somebody who's not a Christian. I'm very excited about this, and I do think it will be a help to you both in your own growth and in reaching somebody.

While Essential Christianity is a book that you can read to better your own spiritual health, it's also a great way to facilitate gospel conversations with your friends and co-workers. Reserve your copy today with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry by calling us anytime at 866-335-5220. Again, that's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online right now at I'm Molly Vidovitch, and I'm so glad that you joined us today. We'll see you again Wednesday right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-16 10:56:27 / 2023-05-16 11:07:42 / 11

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