The Good News of the Gospel
The Good News of the Gospel Romans 3:21-26 I planned to talk about the good news of the gospel and how this good news spreads so rapidly. I was going to relate the spread of that good news with videos going viral, but we had the Corona virus erupt on the scene and it has literally shown us what it means to go viral. The virus popped up a few months ago and this past week travel bans were issued, people in cruise ships were detained, the NBA canceled its season. It remains to be seen if this is wise precaution or overreaction, but regardless the news is spreading. You may be tired of hearing bad news spread. Let's talk about the spread of good news. If you are slightly familiar with Christianity you may know that its teaching centers on the gospel, the good news. Did you know that Christianity went from about 120 people in the Acts chapter 1. By 320 A.D. it was the dominate religion of the world. Not just something that was viewed by others, but that others had believed, trusted in, and were following. This spread despite the attempts of authorities to stop it. It grew despite the martyring of christians. It grew despite the persecution: arrests and taking of properties. Why did it have such a rapid spread? Because it was powerfully good news. I want to look at the good news and remind ourselves why it is good news. I want to look at a passage that concisely states the good news so that we can better understand what we have in Christ. 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. Romans 3:21-26 The great news of the gospel is that through Jesus we can be forgiven of shortcomings and reconciled to God. I want to look at three main themes in this passage that help us see the good news.
- People Fall Short
This passage of scripture falls in a place in the book of Romans where Paul is talking about the shortcomings, failures of people. He previously said in Rom 3:10 that there is no one righteous, no one who does good, all have turned away from God. v23 is an effective summary of the biblical teaching of people, All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This is not a popular teaching of Christiainity. No one likes to hear they fell short. Your kid didn’t make the team. You didn’t have the score to get into school here. But if you read the Bible you will see this is a recurring theme. Everyone falls short. People typically don’t realize how lofty God’s commands are. We think well I have not killed anyone so I am good. God's righteous requirements are perfect obedience. In thought, word and deed. No lying. We have a fallen nature. People don’t like that, but if you believe it, then you will be helped so much in life. People will let you down. They are going to disappoint you. You are going to look your kids in the eyes and say don’t do that and they are going to do it. Your spouse is going to try as hard as he or she can but they are not going to be perfect. They are going to disappoint you. People have tried to come up with other explanations for it. Sigmund Freud called it the id. The disorganized part of the personality structure that contains a human's basic, instinctual drives. Id is the only component of personality that is present from birth. It is the source of a person's bodily needs, wants, desires, and impulses, particularly their sexual and aggressive drives. The functional importance of the ego is manifested in the fact that, normally, control over the approaches to motility devolves upon it. Thus, in its relation to the id, [the ego] is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse; with this difference, that the rider tries to do so with his own strength, while the ego uses borrowed forces. The analogy may be carried a little further. Often, a rider, if he is not to be parted from his horse, is obliged to guide [the horse] where it wants to go; so, in the same way, the ego is in the habit of transforming the id's will into action, as if it were its own. Note how the text puts it. We fall short of God’s glory. Do you know that God designs us for glory, but we turn away from that to pursue what we think is glorious. We fumble, fall short, and fail. If we fall short there are consequences. Fallen short of God’s standard. Fallen short of finding reward. Fallen short of approval. Fallen short of power. Guilt. We don’t like to hear about sin because it means we have to deal with how to get rid of guilt. We fall short. How do I make up what I messed up? We don’t like to admit we need help, but we need help. Punishment. Wrath. Destruction. Lost No difference. All is all. Doesn't matter if you are the president of the united states or a summer intern. Doesn't matter if you are the Homecoming queen or Mrs. America. It is a universal problem. Every person. Every race. Every socio economic. Righ, poor. Has fallen short. Humanity is bound together in a common. This leads to the good news of what God has done. But this leads us to what God has done. Part of the reason Christians can speak so clearly about our failures is because we believe God helps us overcome them. If your team loses the big game you don't want to talk about their mistakes. They never overcame them so they are an embarrassment. If your team makes a bunch of mistakes and then overcomes them to win the game you joke all you want about the dumb things you did. If your first attempt at the ACT you didn't even get your name right, but then you come back and get accepted to the good school you're OK. Let's talk about what God has done.
- God Redeems
Redemption, v24. Def: 1 The act of saving something from sin, evil, destruction. 2 the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt. In the Hellenistic world it was used with reference paid for prisoners of war or redemption from slavery. Because we have sinned against God we have dishonored him. We have gone against his laws and when laws are broken there is penalty. Rom 6:23 says the wages, the just payment of sin, is death. So we need redeeming from death. Our lives are subject to the power and authority of another. We need redeeming from that. Here redemption is found. In the Bible Redemption is an act. A person who is redeemed will look back on that moment of being purchased from prison and declared free. Jesus redeems us by dying for us. You redeem a prisoner by buying him with money. We need redeeming from death. Jesus gave his life for us. Death is the penalty of sin. It is paid and so we get life. We are redeemed. In Christ we are Justified. Diakaious. Righteous: 1 uprightness, just, right; 2 of the right behavior that God requires of persons righteousness, good behavior, uprightness. If you break the law you are a law breaker. You are not in line with the law. You are unrighteous. Diakaiw. But those who have done wrong can now be justified. Justified means to be made righteous. You can remember it like this. Justified means it is “Just as if I had not sinned.” This gets lost in the English. This is a legal term. We are declared righteous, even though we remain. Propitiation. Atoning sacrifice. A lot of theological ink has been spilt on how to translate this word. Propitious act of gaining or regaining the favor or goodwill of someone or something Expiation is the act of extinguishing the guilt incurred by something Why is that so important? You don’t need to propitiate someone if they are not mad at you. Many people say how could God be mad at me. I haven’t done anything that bad. I think it is comical how people want to act like they have never done anything and are appalled that Christians would consider them sinners. Then you go on facebook or twitter and see how people just rip others to shreds for things they have or have not done. If you have done something to offend your parents, spouse, etc, then you could probably imagine how you may have done something to offend God too. In Christ we are reconciled to God. Our guilt is taken away. God’s just wrath for our sin is propitiated. We are made friends with God. We have been in the theology books for a bit. Why are we talking about all this technical stuff. Because it has huge practical effects. What are you running from? What are you trying to hide? What do you hope no one learns about you? What do you hope you can make up so that no one ever sees? What confidence do you have of standing before God? Adam and Eve covering themselves with fig leaves. Poor attempt at self justification. Most people don’t go around believing they have fallen short of God. They go around believing they have done everything right and good. Only convinced of vertical failure with God when they see their horizontal failure with others. They struggle with other people forgiving them and forgiving themselves. No matter what I do I just can't get my wife to forgive me. No matter what I do I cannot get rid of the feeling that I am a failure. Given our track record forgiveness is essential. We have to find a way to get rid of guilt, offense, wrongs. If you did something wrong or hurtful, you will have to accept that you cannot change the past. But you can make amends for your behavior, if and when it’s appropriate. Do so, apologize, or make-up for the inappropriate behavior in a timely manner, but then let it go. The more we focus on believing we need to do something more, the more it will continue to bother us and interfere with our relationships with others. So much addiction, depression occurs because people don’t know how to deal with the things they have done. They feel the shame and guilt for their actions. And addiction is not just chemical dependence. We have a lot of successful people in our area and a lot of successful people are driven, and many times they are driven because they want to make up for something that was done to them, they feel shameful and want to make up for it. It's a powerful truth that if God accepts you, why will you let those other voices say you are unacceptable. If God forgives you why will you let those voices say you don't matter. If you did something wrong or hurtful, you will have to accept that you cannot change the past. But you can make amends for your behavior, if and when it’s appropriate. Do so, apologize, or make-up for the inappropriate behavior in a timely manner, but then let it go. The more we focus on believing we need to do something more, the more it will continue to bother us and interfere with our relationships with others. being seen as "weak" and saying that what the offender did is excusable. But now is emphatic, it sets off all that Paul has said earlier. Logically a solution needs to be given to the problem. Temporally, God has acted in history to take care of the greatest problem people have. He has acted to remove guilt. He has acted to remove sin. He has acted to redeem you from destruction. He has acted to bridge the gap between you and him! Jesus didn’t die just to leave us a good example. This passage says nothing about him just being an example. His death is an atoning, redeeming, life saving sacrifice for our sin. He died to redeem us. He died to make us right. He died to atone for our sin. He died to save us from our short comings, sins, mistakes, of which we all have. He died to give us something to marvel at and to set our hearts on fire. “Sin is a complex problem that salvation solves in all its complexity. The message of salvation is that God has provided everything we need in Jesus Christ. Where sin brings bondage, his salvation purchases our redemption. Where sin brings wrath, his salvation propitiates God’s anger. Where sin leads to death, his salvation raises us to eternal life. Where sin brings condemnation his salvation justifies us before a righteous God.” Phillip Ryken, 191.
- Grace is Amazing/To those who Believe
What God has done for us is a gift. We do not deserve it, but like any gift it must be received. When a friend gives you a birthday gift you receive it. You take it with your hands. God's gift of redemption must be received. God’s gift is received by faith. Faith is an internal assent. It believes what God has done. Faith is more than that, though. Faith is an allegiance and devotion. Faith in Jesus is an ongoing belief and commitment. Many people think faith is something that stems from a one-time decision. That can be an evidence of faith, but true faith is ongoing. the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:26 Believing in Jesus leads to a life of treasuring what he has done for us. Paul who wrote this letter gave his life to telling others about it. His life was consumed with this message. The gospel formed his identity, He had been crucified with Christ and it was no longer he would lived but Christ in him.” Do we treasure this news? Is it worth sharing with others? Is it even worth your time to reflect on? What has God saved you from this week? What have you done that is shameful? “The Christian glories in the cross as a spectacle, because the more he looks at the cross the more he sees the glory of God revealed to him. It displays to him the glory of the triune God, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. He sees all that shining down upon him.” Reinke 82. “From this moment on, God intended all human gaze to center on this climactic moment. It is as if God says to us: “This is my beloved Son, crucifed for you, a spectacle to capture your heart forever!” Or as Augustine said in the age of Roman spectacles ...there is nothing greater in the world to see than this: the lion vanquished by the blood of the Lamb.” By divine design, Christians are pro-spectacle, and we give our entire lives to this great spectacle, now historically past and presently visible.” Tony Reinke Competing Spectacles, p79. Do we marvel at this. The estimated number of sunning, scripted, original television series available boomed from 210 in 2009 to 455 in 2016. 500 new shows. 750 reality tv shows aired in 2015. Hundreds of movies were released each year. Spectacles that grab our attention. Cause us to ask “did you see that???” How often do we marvel at what Christ has done? The work of Christ is something that should cause us to want to turn the tv off and sit with our friends and family and say “Did you see this?” Do you know what God has done for me? That will change your parenting. Change your participation in church. It’s not just about programs and doing things. Can we sit back and simply marvel at the glory of God in Christ Jesus. Can you share with others where you have fallen short and where God has redeemed you? Confessing sin should be a regular part of your life. If you have gone weeks or months without that I'm concerned you are blind to your sin, blinded to your shortcomings, and that means blind to your need for a Savior. Blind to the amazing viral news of Jesus Christ. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25 ESV)