Reformation Sunday- Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Pastor Joe Asher, 10/25/20, Germany, Office of International Mission, LCMS- *IN NOMINE JESU*
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The Righteousness of God Through Faith
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
In today’s Romans 3 reading, the apostle Paul is developing a theological argument. And for us to understand his doctrinal conclusions, we’re all going to have to “kick in” and get serious while we focus for the next fifteen minutes on Paul’s immensely important summary of how God saves believers in Christ.
I know you’ve already conquered worlds to get here. You’ve gotten dressed and ready for church in the dark. You’ve gotten everyone through breakfast and packed in the car. Most of you have driven significant miles, and now you are here on time. But here, right now is where the tough yet rewarding Reformation theology begins. And now it is time for you to give your best effort. Understanding the apostle Paul is seldom easy. He was a student under the great teacher Gamaliel. He was an expert theologian and thoroughly versed in the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures. He met Jesus personally on the road to Damascus. He spent three years searching the Scriptures (Galatians 1:18) in order to see and understand the prophecies relating to Christ. And here in the letter to the Romans, he brings all his conclusions together so that we can understand how God saves sinners in rebellion.
What you have from Romans 3 on your bulletin insert is the very end of a lengthy two chapter discussion on mankind’s sin and God’s resulting wrath because of our sin. Paul makes it very clear that God is holy, and He cannot look upon sin. Further, in His righteousness, the Lord must punish sin. He cannot look the other way, because He must be true to His own Word and Law. Otherwise, God Himself could be called “duplicitous” and “unrighteous.”
So the apostle declares, verse 19-
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
What does it mean, “every mouth be stopped?” Paul is saying that we have no grounds to complain.
We are sinners. We are accountable to God. We are condemned by God’s holy Law. We have not put God first. We have not kept the Sabbath Day holy. We constantly struggle with sinful pride. We don’t forgive others in the way that God has forgiven us. And the list of our trespasses goes on and on. We are truly by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against God in thought, word, and deed, and we justly deserve God’s present and eternal punishment.
So the question is: How can sinners be saved?
In verse 20, Paul tells us next that the works of the Law will save no one.
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight…
When we think of “works of the law,” we think of actions performed to obey the Law of Moses found in the first five books of the Old Testament. Part of God’s Law given to Moses are the Ten Commandments-
- Have no other gods before Yahweh
- Honor father and mother
- Do not murder, commit adultery, and steal… and all the rest.
And Paul’s argument is that doing works to fulfill the Law cannot save us.
It can’t save us because no one can keep the law perfectly.
Our heavenly Father’s standard is perfection. And that means that “good enough” will not pass His righteous benchmark. One sin, one transgression makes us ineligible for a life in heaven with Him. To put it another way, one sin is enough to condemn every sinner to hell. Galatians 3:10 tells us-
Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the Law.
Paul is making the case that the Law cannot save anyone. The Law is God’s holy standard. The Law shows us our sin. The apostle tells us the purpose of the Law in verse 20 of today’s reading:
…since through the Law comes knowledge of sin.
Without the Law, we would not know what sin is. The Law was given to show us our sinfulness and to reveal the perfect holiness of the Lawgiver. The Law is holy because God is holy. And Paul concludes this part of his argument by saying that no one can measure up to God’s standard.
So what is a sinner to do?
Paul gives the answer beginning in verse 21-
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
What is a sinner to do? The answer is to find righteousness where God offers it. The righteous will live by faith in God’s Son. (Romans 1:17) Jesus made payment for all sin by His blood shed on Calvary’s cross. Jesus is every sinner’s Substitute. He was born without sin. And He lived under the Law and did not commit sin. Christ went to the cross in our place and became sin for us (2nd Corinthians 5:21). He died in our place. Then He rose again for our salvation.
When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, Christ’s perfect righteousness becomes ours. This is the love
and grace of God for all sinners like you and me.
So, the works of the Law can’t save us. Trying to do the impossible and live according to the Ten Commandments can’t save us. But here is the Good News. It’s not what we do that matters. What matters is Who we know. By faith, Jesus saves us and sets us free from all slavery to sin, death, and hell. When we trust Jesus in faith, He sets us free by His cross so that cleansed of all sin, we can be the forgiven and holy people of God.
The freedom from sin which we have in Christ is summarized perfectly by Jesus’ own words concluding today’s Gospel reading. Our Lord tells us- John 8:36-
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
What does Jesus set us free from?
- The slavery of sin
- The guilt and shame of sin
- The accusations of the devil
- The belief that we need to keep the Law and save ourselves
The truth of the Christian faith—the Gospel—is that Jesus Christ rescues us from the slavery of sin and offers every believer true freedom, life, and salvation!
In Jesus’ name. Amen. +Sola Deo Gloria+
KELC Prayers- Reformation Sunday- October 25, 2020
Dear heavenly Father, On this Reformation Sunday, we rejoice in the freedom from sin, death, and hell which we have through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. By Your Holy Spirit’s power, help us to reject all dependence upon the things which cannot save us. Instead, give us true faith in Christ, and direct our hearts to rely upon Your grace which is provided through Jesus death on the cross and resurrection for us.
Lord in Your mercy……………………………………………………… Hear our prayer.
Blessed Savior Jesus Christ– we pray for all who serve as first responders- fire fighters and police officers, as well as doctors and nurses, for medical researchers and all who work to end disease. In addition we pray for all who dedicate their lives to care for people who are most vulnerable.
Lord, in Your mercy………………………………………………Hear our prayer.
Eternal Comforter, dear Holy Spirit, inspire us with Your Word, that we may love our Triune God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And let Your blessing remain with us throughout this day as we approach every task.
Lord in Your mercy………………………………………………… Hear our prayer.
Finally, Merciful Lord, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care. For all who are sick, hospitalized, unemployed, lonely, away on duty assignments, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now………………………….
Lord in Your mercy…………………………………………….. hear our prayer.
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.