The Heart of the Gospel- Romans 3:21-26

Father, I pray that as we now come to this study, that you would bring your word to our minds and to our hearts, that you would use this to further equip us to live the Christian life, use this to conform us into the image of Christ and wherever people are watching this, for those who are without Christ and without hope, I pray that you'll use this as a means by which they'll come to saving faith in Christ. Father, we ask now your blessing upon this study in Christ's name. Amen.

Take your Bible, if you would. Turn with me to Romans 3 and we're going to be in verses 21-26 and we'll see how much time we have to work our way through this. Be thinking of questions as well and I'm going to save us time at the end for us to discuss this, but of all the studies for you to come to, this has got to rank near the top. I just want to begin by reading these versus and I'm entitling this the heart of the Gospel.

Paul writes, beginning in Romans 3:21, "Now apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, for there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because in the forbearance of God, he passed over the sins previously committed, for the demonstration I say of his righteousness at the present time so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

 

I hope we can get to all of these verses today but we're going to savor them. It's really the heart of the Gospel. We’ve got a little building program going on here.


These verses, 21-26, the heart of the Gospel. Martin Lloyd Jones, the great expositor, arguably the greatest expositor of the 20th century, actually says in the entire Bible, these are the greatest verses. That's quite a statement coming from quite a man, so we really want to get down into the nuts and the bolts of this for Lloyd Jones to say this. This is all about the doctrine of justification, and to this point, beginning in 1:18 extending through 3:20, the umbrella over those verses was condemnation, the condemnation of the entire human race, that the entire human race, because of sin, is under the wrath of God, and that was a devastating case that Paul presented that brought indictment to the entire human race.

 

As we come now to Romans 3:21, there is a dramatic change, as we go from condemnation to justification, and justification is the total opposite of condemnation, and you'll note the first two words of verse 21, "But now," and Martin Lloyd Jones has said, "Praise God for the buts in the Bible." "But now," and everything pivots and hinges with those two words, "But now." It's the bridge from the condemnation of the entire human race to now, a position and a place of justification by the grace of God. This doctrine of justification, and you'll notice that it is mentioned in verse 24, "being justified as a gift by his grace." It's the first time the word justification or justified is found in the book of Romans, and everything to this point has been a ramp up to come now to this extraordinary truth of justification.

Martin Luther, who was used by God to recover this doctrine 500 years ago in the Reformation, has said that this doctrine of justification is appointed for the rise or the fall of the church, meaning every true church holds to this doctrine and any church that does not hold to this doctrine is a false church. It is outside the kingdom of God. This doctrine that we're looking at is that important. It is that pivotal. There is no room for any equivocation whatsoever in this doctrine and John Calvin said during the Reformation that this doctrine of justification is the hinge of the Gospel. In other words, it's the tipping point. It's the turning point. Everything in our understanding of salvation turns with this truth. It's that important.

 

And J. I. Packer has said that this doctrine of justification is the mighty atlas that upholds the entirety of the Gospel. Everything is held up by this singular truth, so we can't afford to be wrong, at this point. To be right here is to be right with God. To be wrong here is to be wrong with God and still be under condemnation. We cannot overstate the importance of these verses.

 

Now as we go through verses 21-26, and we'll see how our time permits us to do this, I have nine headings that I want to give you and I see that several of you are note takers, and I just want to walk through this kind of phrase by phrase and for us to dig this out. The nine truths about the heart of the Gospel which is justification, and the first is it is apart from the law.

 

JUSTIFICATION IS APART FROM THE LAW

 

He begins in verse 21, "Now apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed." When he says the righteousness of God has been revealed, he is referring to the righteousness that we desperately need that can come only from God, that gives us a place of acceptance with holy God in heaven. When he says the righteousness of God, he means the righteousness from God, what God requires, what God provides, and what He says, No. 1, it is apart from the law.

When he says apart from the law, he means apart from any works of the law that we could ever hope to perform or achieve. When he says apart from the law, he means from the keeping of the Ten Commandments, apart from the keeping of the requirements that God has already revealed in his written word. There is no way by our own efforts that we can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and meet the high mark that God has required in order for us to enter into heaven, and what God requires is absolute perfection. God will not grade on the curve. God will not look for the happy medium. God has established the standard of his own perfect holiness.

In fact, at the end of verse 23, he says, "All have sinned and fell short of the glory of God," and that is a standard of measurement which is the glory of God. We're not going to be measured against other people. We're not going to be measured even against our own selves. It is by the standard of the glory of God that we are weighed in the balances and by our attempts and our own good works to keep the law. We could never achieve the righteousness that God requires.

This is where this first begins and I know that all of us here around this table surely understand this, that it is not within us to be able to meet the standard that God has set for us, so that's where it begins. It's apart from the law. Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace, you've been saved through faith and that not of yourself." We bring nothing to the table. We have nothing to contribute to our own salvation other than the sin that was laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ. That's all that we bring to the table. In my hands, nothing I bring simply to your cross, I cling. That's No. 1. It's apart from the law.

 

JUSTIFICATION IS WITNESSED BY THE OLD TESTAMENT

 

No. 2, it is witnessed by the Old Testament. He goes on to say, "Being witnessed," at the end of verse 21, "by the law and the prophets." And when he says the law and the prophets, that is a summary term that encapsulates the entire Old Testament, what is for us the 39 books of the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi for us in the order of the books in the Old Testament canon, and he says that the entire Old Testament bore witness of the righteousness that God requires and the righteousness that God will provide in the Gospel, and Paul wants us to know this is not a new message. What he has to say is as old as the Old Testament. It is as old as the book of Genesis. This is not a new way of salvation. This is not a new way now for gentiles to come into the kingdom of God. There's only one way of salvation, whether it is the Old Testament or the New Testament, whether it is for a Jew or whether for a Gentile. There is only one saving Gospel.

 

I would refer you back to Romans 1:2 when we first began this study through the book of Romans, Paul threw his cards down on the table at the very outset of this book and told us from the very beginning that this was witnessed by the prophets and recorded in the Old Testament scripture from the very beginning. In 1:2, he says, "Which," and the which refers to the Gospel, not whom but which, an impersonal pronoun, "Which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures." The Gospel was made known in the Old Testament and the righteousness that was required.

If you would, turn back to Genesis 15 and we see a very clear statement of how Abraham was made right before God. The Gospel was preached to Abraham and in Genesis 15:6, we read this very simple statement, "Then he," Abraham, "believed in the Lord and He," referring to the Lord, "reckoned it to him as righteousness." It's crystal clear. That is the doctrine of justification by faith alone taught in the Old Testament, the righteousness that Abraham so desperately needed to find acceptance with God, it was provided by God and God himself reckoned it, meaning credited it, to the account of Abraham and it was credited exclusively on the basis of faith alone in the Lord.

And in John 8, we understand that Abraham knew that it would be in the Messiah. It would be in the one who would come in the fullness of time, the Lord Jesus Christ. Abraham had Christ preached to him and he believed and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

 

If you come to Psalm 32, just to give you another Old Testament passage in which we find this imputation of the righteousness of God. In Psalm 32:1-2, David writes, "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. God does not impute sin to the one who puts their faith and trust in him, and instead there is the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ that is imputed to them." Now the word impute is not a word that we normally use in our daily English language, but it simply means to credit to the account of, to reckon to the account of. It's a legal term in which a judge declares one who stands before his judgment bar to be the righteousness of God in Christ.

 

I'll show you one more verse, Isaiah 53:11, and as soon as I say Isaiah 53, you know that this will be a good verse. This is the summit of the entire Old Testament, Isaiah 53, and in Verse 11, Isaiah records, "As a result of the anguish of his soul," and that refers to the suffering servant of Jehovah, "the messiah who would come, he, God the father, will see it and be satisfied by his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant will justify the many as he will bear their iniquities." There is the doctrine of justification by faith alone. It was witnessed in the Old Testament and there are many other passages to which we could go.

 

Paul wants us to know, as he enters this section now on justification, that this was taught in the Old Testament, the law, referring to the first five books of the Old Testament, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and the prophets, referring to Joshua through Malachi, all bore witness of this doctrine of justification. That's the second thing that we learn here. It was witnessed by the Old Testament.

 

JUSTIFICATION WAS PROVIDED BY GOD

 

Now No. 3, it was provided by God. The beginning of verse 22, "Even the righteousness of God." When he says the righteousness of God, he is not referring to the righteousness that belongs to God. He is referring to the righteousness that comes from God. Now the righteousness that comes from God is the righteousness that belongs to God, but this is referring to the source of this righteousness. It comes from outside of ourselves, and it comes from outside of the church, and it comes from outside of this world. It is a righteousness that comes down from the thrown of God. It is what Martin Luther called a foreign righteousness, an alien righteousness. It is a righteousness that God requires that comes from God himself and only God could provide that which he requires because God's standard is absolute perfection in order to be received by Him into His presence.

We must come to God to have this righteousness. We must receive from God the righteousness that he alone can give to us. We have to do business with God to have this righteousness. We can't go to a preacher. We can't go to a priest. We can't go to a church. We can't go to a denomination. We can't go to an association. We can't go to a ministry. We have to go to God to have this righteousness that He alone can give.

Here's what we're saying. This is the heart of the Gospel, this righteousness from God. No. 1, it's apart from the law. No. 2, it is witnessed by the Old Testament. No. 3, it is provided by God. No. 4, it is received by faith.

 

JUSTIFICATION IS RECEIVED BY FAITH

 

Paul goes on to say in verse 22, "Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ." The only way to receive this righteousness is by exercising saving faith in God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and faith is only as good as its object, and it is only a faith that is in Jesus Christ that will give to us the righteousness of God. If you put faith in anything else or in anyone else, there will be no righteousness from God. God will only deal with us on the basis of faith in his Son.

 

Now just to remind you what faith is, faith is the commitment of your life to Jesus Christ. It is nothing less. It is more than mere head knowledge. It is more than warm feelings. It is the exercise of your will to entrust your life to Jesus Christ, to cross the line, to enter through the narrow gate, to entrust all that you are to all that He is, and a half trust will not get you there. There must be the reliance of your entire life upon Jesus Christ. You cannot hold back any part and try to contribute through your own good works a right acceptance before God. True faith is only when you come all the way to Jesus Christ and there are some people who try to straddle the fence and they want to have faith in Christ and baptism, faith in Christ and church membership, faith in Christ and good works in order to commend themselves before God, and it's not until you burn all your other bridges behind you, and you turn away from anything else that you would rely upon, and turn exclusively to Jesus Christ alone, and put your full confidence in him do you receive this righteousness from God.

You can't play all ends into the middle, "I believe in Jesus. I believe in religion. I believe in the church. I believe in this and that, and this and that." That's not faith. Faith is when you take that decisive step of faith, and you leave the world system, and you commit your life to Jesus Christ. You leave behind the world of religion and self-righteousness and you entrust yourself to Jesus Christ. It is the decisive step. It begins with the mind to know the truth, the truth of the Gospel, the truth about yourself, the truth of the fact that you're under the wrath of God and that salvation is found exclusively in Jesus Christ. You have to know this or you cannot be saved.

 

You also, in your heart, must be convinced of your need for this and convinced of the truthfulness of this message, and the Holy Spirit has come into the world to convict men of sin, and righteousness, and judgment, and then as an act of your will, on the basis of what you know to be true and the word of God and on the basis of the conviction of the Holy Spirit and your own heart and soul, you take that step of faith and you come all the way to Jesus Christ and you embrace him as your Lord and Savior.

It is received by faith and Paul will belabor this point throughout the rest of this section, the emphasis upon faith and I want to add the word alone, faith alone, not faith and, faith alone, sola fide, by faith alone. You'll notice throughout the rest of this section in verse 25 he says, "It is in his blood through faith." At the end of verse 26, "The one who has faith in Jesus." verse 27," Know but by a law of faith." verse 28, "A man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law." In verse 30, "God will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith." verse 31, "Do we nullify the law through faith? May it never be." Faith, faith, faith, faith, and the word believe and the word faith are synonymous terms.

 

In 5:1, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace, you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves is the gift of God and as a result of works, lest any man should boast." This is the distinguishing mark of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every other religious message in the world is a message of salvation in which man makes some contribution to his own righteousness. It is Christianity alone that is a message of pure grace that is received by faith alone. What we're saying, No. 4, is what Paul is saying. It is received by faith, by the empty hand of faith."

 

JUSTIFICATION IS NEEDED BY ALL

 

Now No. 5, it is needed by all. Verse 23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Every single person in the history of the world, and in this present moment, and until the end of the age, has sinned and falls short of the glory of God, and that is a wonderful definition of what sin is. There are many different definitions that are used in the Bible of sin. This is just one of those. It is to fall short of the divine standard of absolute moral holiness. I want to say again, God is not comparing us to our neighbor, to someone we went to school with, to the expectations we would have of ourselves.

 

If you can picture a set of scales and on one side of the scales is placed the entirety of your life. On the other side of the scales is the glory of God and the glory of God here refers to the sum and the substance of all of the attributes of God and that starts with his perfect holiness, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, and we have been weighed in the balances and measured against the absolute infinite unvarnished holiness of God, the glory of God, and we have sinned and fallen short when measured against that standard.


Every single person in the world desperately needs the righteousness that only God can give in order to give them a right standing before him. Whether you live in the United States, whether you live in China, whether you've heard the Gospel, whether you've never heard the Gospel, whoever you are, wherever you are, whether you grew up in church, whether you grew up outside of church, whether you're religious, whether you're not religious, whether you're male, female, whoever you are, wherever you are, you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

 

I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and so this righteousness of God is desperately needed by all. You will never meet a person the rest of your life who does not need the righteousness of God that is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So that's No. 5. It is needed by all.

 

JUSTIFICATION IS DECLARED BY GOD

 

Now No. 6. It is declared by God. At the beginning of verse 24, we read, "Being justified." We are passive. Someone else is active. Someone else is justifying us. We cannot justify ourselves. We are passive. Someone else is active. Someone else is the justifier. We are the one who is justified, who is being justified. Who is this one who alone can justify us? And the answer is stated for us very clearly in verse 26, "So that He, God, would be just and the justifier." You see that in verse 26? It is God and God alone, and when we say God here, we're referring to God the Father. It is God the Father who alone can bring the gavel down and declare us to be the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, and all that matters is what does God have to say on this matter.

 

It is declared by God. Justification is what we call a forensic declaration and the word forensic meaning a legal declaration. God the judge declares the guilty sinner to be righteous before his judgment bar on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done on our behalf and this justification is immediate. It takes place in a split second. It takes place in a moment. Sanctification is progressive throughout the entirety of one's life. Glorification takes place in a moment and lasts throughout all eternity. Justification takes place the millisecond one believes in Jesus Christ.

 

You walk into a Bible study lost and under the wrath of God and condemned, and in the middle of that Bible study while the truth is being made known to you, you put your faith in Jesus Christ and before you get up out of your seat and walk out to go back to work, you are immediately justified before God. It is immediate second. It is irrevocable. It can never be reversed. What God has declared stands in the courts of heaven forever. There is no higher court that could overrule the declaration of God in heaven on this matter.

 

Third, it is complete. You can never be more justified than what you are the moment you believe in Christ and God declares you to be the righteousness of God. This justification is the reversal and the opposite of condemnation. Before you believe, you are condemned before God. The moment you believe, you are justified by God. This is the very heart of the Gospel and it is that which puts us in right standing before God.

 

Now it is more than the removal of the penalty of sin. It is more than being forgiven of your sin. That's only the removal of the negative. Justification brings the acquisition of the positive. You are given a positive righteousness before God. So please understand, all of us around this table need far more than the forgiveness of sin. All the forgiveness of sin does is bring us back to point zero and zeros do not go to heaven. Forgiveness washes away sin, but in order to have a right standing before God, we must be more than neutral. We must be more than at ground zero. There must be deposited into our account the righteousness of God.

 

In other words, what forgiveness does is it washes away the debt that we owe to God and brings us back to square zero. We have a zero balance in our checking account because of the forgiveness of sin. It removes the debt, but in order to go to heaven, there has to be a positive deposit that is made, not just the removal of the debt but the positive deposit and what must be put into our account is what only God can put into our account, his righteousness that comes from him. This takes place in the split second of justification by faith when we believe in Jesus Christ, so it is declared by God.

 

JUSTIFICATION IS GIVEN AS A GIFT

 

No. 7. It is given as a gift. As we continue in verse 24, notice he says, "Being justified as a gift by his grace." You understand the difference between wages and a gift. Wages is what you work hard for. You earn them. You deserve them because by your own efforts and your own work, your employer now gives to you what is rightfully yours because you have worked and received it. A gift, on the other hand, is the total opposite. There is nothing you can do to deserve a gift. It's freely given. You've done nothing to deserve it. It is based upon the mercy of the giver to choose to give something which you have done nothing to deserve. God gives his righteousness freely to those who have no merit of their own, who have no basis by which to make any claim on this righteousness, who have done nothing to work for it, who have done nothing to deserve it.

 

In fact, it is the very opposite. They, in their life, have done everything to deserve condemnation but God now freely chooses to give as a gift, and when he gives it as a gift, he is the one who has paid for it. It is a prepaid gift. You can't even pick up the tip. It's not like, well, God will pay for the meal and you throw down the tip, "Here, I got the tip." There's nothing you can add to it. It's all been paid for and accomplished by what we're going to look at next.

 

JUSTIFICATION IS AQUIRED BY JESUS CHRIST

 

No. 8. It is acquired by Jesus Christ. God the Father, has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to accomplish and pay for the entirety of this gift that the Father will give to those who believe. As we continue in verse 24, "Being justified as a gift by his grace," and now at the end of verse 24 and in verse 25, we see that it has been paid for in full by Jesus Christ. He says at the end of verse 24, "Through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus."

 

The word redemption here means the payment of a ransom in order to secure the release of one who is held captive under the tyranny of another, and Jesus Christ, when he entered this world, he entered into the slave market a sin. He came into the prison house of this world and through the perfection of his sinless life and through his substitutionary death upon the cross, through the shedding of his own blood, Jesus Christ has purchased in full the redemption, to pay the ransom, to secure the release from the tyranny and the mastery of sin everyone who will believe in Jesus Christ. You'll never hear any better news than that the rest of your life. Everything else is secondary. This is what is primary.

 

The entirety of this redemption, notice at the end of verse 24, it is in Christ Jesus. There's not a drop of it outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's not in the church. It's not in the pulpit. It's not in the pew. It's not in the elders. It's not in the deacons. It's not in any teacher. It's not in a denomination. It's not in any worship service. It's not in good works. It's not in the baptistery. It's not in the communion cup. It's not in the bread that we take in the Lord's Supper. It is all in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the entirety. This is why we say salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It is acquired by Jesus Christ.

 

Now in verse 25, he lets out a little bit more rope. The profundity of what he just said at the end of verse 24, the height, the depth, the breadth, and the length of it is beyond our getting our arms around it, but he lets out a little bit more rope in verse 25. He says, "Whom –" and whom is a personal pronoun referring back to the antecedent, Christ Jesus. "Whom God –" referring to God the Father, "displayed publically –" that refers to the cross, "his incarnation, his life, his death, as a propitiation in his blood through faith." Now the word propitiation means appeasement, satisfaction.

 

Now this is important. Not only did the death of Christ purchase our salvation securing our release from our bondage to sin, it also satisfied the righteous wrath and anger of God toward us. It did something toward us and it did something toward the Father. The death of Christ toward us, it bought us, and the payment was paid to the Father. It bought us out of our slavery to sin never to return to that state of slavery again. If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed, but it also did something toward God the Father, and let us not forget what it has done toward God the Father. It has placated the righteous anger, vengeance, fury, and wrath of the holy God toward all that which is violently offensive to his own holiness.

 

Psalms says God is angry with the wicked every day. God is angry with the wicked every day. God has indignation towards the wicked every moment of every day. It is the death of Christ on behalf of all who will put their faith in him that completely propitiates the righteous wrath of God towards us forever. That is why Romans 8:1 says, "There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." There is not one drop of wrath or anger that God the Father has left for you because Christ took it to himself upon the cross and when Jesus died upon the cross, God the Father transferred our sins to him and him who knew no sin God made to be sin for us, and when Jesus bore our sins, the Father unleashed the entirety of his wrath for our sins upon Jesus Christ.

 

God did not pour out his wrath into a hole in the desert and just cover it up in sand so that his wrath is now moved someplace else. God the Father unleashed the entirety of the fury of his wrath and vengeance upon his Son as his Son was made to be sin for us, and the only people who can even begin to some way comprehend what that is are damned souls in hell this moment who are suffering under the wrath of God. The entirety of all those for whom Christ died was unleashed in a moment, a tsunami of wrath, fell heavy upon his Son as he bore our sins, the unleashing of the entirety of the wrath of God upon God's Son. There is now no more wrath for you and me.

 

It was acquired by Jesus Christ, and if you want to think of a triangle, think of a triangle. At the top is God the Father, at this corner is God the Son, and in the other corner is you and me. The death of Christ is in the middle. On this line connecting God the Father and God the Son, that is propitiation. God the Son propitiated the wrath of God the Father. Propitiation had nothing to do with us. It had everything to do with God the Father. On the line connecting God the Son and you and me is redemption and Jesus Christ has redeemed us out of the slave market of sin, and on the line connecting us and God the Father is justification as God the Father declares us to be the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.

 

Understand that simple triangle and you will understand the three theological words that are found in this passage. In verse 24 is justification and redemption. In verse 25 is propitiation. Justification occurs between God the Father and the sinner. Propitiation occurs between the God the Father and God the Son. And redemption occurs between God the Son and the sinner, and in the very middle is the death of Jesus Christ that he has accomplished on our behalf. Each of those three theological words, are more than just words. They are theological realities, show something of the multidimensional value and benefit of the death of Jesus Christ on our behalf. We need more than justification. We need more than just propitiation. We need more than just redemption. We need all three, and there are even other theological words that we'll get to like reconciliation in Chapter 5.

 

Verse 25 and we'll wrap this up, "And God displayed publically as a propitiation in his blood through faith." This was to demonstrate his righteousness. You see the righteousness of God demanded that there be one who would suffer in our place if we were to be released from our sin. The righteousness of God demanded it. God could not just wink at our sin. God could not just sweep it under the carpet. Sin had to be dealt with in full because in the forbearance of God, he passed over the sins previously committed and that refers to all the saints in the Old Testament. Through the death of Christ upon the cross, God was able to pass over all their sins in Old Testament times.

 

Verse 26, "For the demonstration I say of his righteousness at the present time." The end of verse 25 refers to the past. Verse 26, at the beginning, refers to the present, so that, and here is the mystery of the Gospel, that he would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. That God is just means he must punish our sins. That he is the justifier means that he has devised the plan whereby another would stand in our place and bear our sins, and suffer our punishment, and the wrath that is deserving us so that God can justify us without sacrifying his own justice. God's justice is fully met in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. How could God be both just and the justifier? Only in the cross of Jesus Christ.

 

And he ends in verse 26 with the emphasis that he's been making, "All this is by faith in Jesus." You've got to put your trust in Christ. You must renounce your own self-righteousness. You must turn away from any efforts on your part to commend you to God. You must turn away from a life pursuit of sin and turn to God through Jesus Christ and commit your life to Christ, and when you do that, God immediately declares us to be the righteousness that Jesus Christ accomplished for us.

 

Well, I need to land this plane, but as you can tell, there is so much packed into these few verses. Understand these verses and you understand the Gospel. This is the heart of the Gospel.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

 

So, Mark?

 

Participant:                 Is Point No. 9, the just and justifier?

 

Yeah.

 

Participant:                 Okay. I just wanted to make sure I had that right.

 

Oh, okay. No, 9, I didn't even say it, declared by God. God the Father is the justifier. The basis is God the Son. The instrumentality is faith. The object of that faith is also Jesus Christ.

 

So, Jonathan, do we have anybody checking in with us?

 

Participant:                 Yes. We have Mark Lysom from Charlotte, North Carolina. He says, "Why do you think it's easier for people to believe in universal salvation rather than universal condemnation?"

 

Because they're lost, and have a fallen nature, and because they're spiritually blind and cannot see the truth, and it is only an unbeliever who would believe in a universal salvation. The natural man receives not the things the spirit for they're spiritually discerned. He cannot understand them. So in simplest terms, it's because a blind man cannot see the light. Yeah.

 

Someone else around the table? We've got just a couple of minutes here. Anyone have any insight or thought, question? An amen? Mark?

 

Participant:                 (A) I'm reminded of how much I miss this study. (B) If we were doing this, I was curious how far we'd be along, at this point.

 

[Laughter]

 

That was not a question.

 

Participant:                 That was commentary.

 

In fact, that's 15 yards for piling on.

 

Participant:                 No, as you were reading this, when someone comes to faith, you don't really understand at that moment everything that has happened.

 

That's right.

 

Participant:                 And you learn it as you go through the Scriptures looking in the rearview mirror. I think you said it earlier. You said knowledge and I would say assent would be agreement to it and total commitment, and I think I spent about 20 years of my life with knowledge and assent but no commitment. I went to church. I considered myself a believer but I didn't have a heart that was seeking obedience, and so you said total commitment. I would say trust and obedience.

 

They're synonymous.

 

Participant:                 And it isn't until I think the heart's desire is obedience. We won't fulfill that because we're sinners, but this resonates so much with me because I spent so much of my life with head knowledge but I would say without heart knowledge, and when you don't have heart knowledge, your feet and your hands don't seek to please the Lord. I think a lot of people in this country have head knowledge but they're not trusting, and I see that in your teaching but you run across people all the time that say they're believers and then there's the biggest negation, "but. I believe God, but."

                                    This past week, I was with a man and I told him I was a Calvinist and he said, "I believe God is sovereign, but –." "But what?" But I think that's where most of the church is.

 

I would agree with you. I think the broad path that's headed for destruction is the religious crowd, those who are saying, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy on your name, cast out demons in your name, perform many wondrous works." I was saying to them in that day, "Depart from me you who work inequity. I never knew you." That's the religious crowd that are saying, "Lord, Lord." And he says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

 

We're talking about essential matters here of life and death, and heaven and hell, so I just trust all of us around this table and everyone who's watching really understands the magnitude of the implications of this. This is not a peripheral issue. This is a primary issue. This is who's in and who's out. This is who's in the kingdom and who's out of the kingdom. This is who is under condemnation and who is justified by God through Christ, and saving faith means you come all the way to Christ, not just in your head and not just in emotions and assent, but as the act of your will. You make a decisive commitment of your life to Jesus Christ, so that's where it begins.

 

Well, guys, I need to wrap this up and let you go. I've so missed this.

 

[Laughter]

 

Let's close in a word of prayer. Father in heaven, thank you [interruption in audio, 0:01:53]. There are so many people around this world who have never even heard what we just looked at. You have blessed us beyond measure to open our ears, to open our eyes, to open our mind to this truth, but more than that, you've opened our heart and you've activated our will to put our trust in Christ. What a savior he is, and I just pray that throughout the rest of this day, as you would give us opportunities to talk to others about Christ, that we would seize the moment and we would tell them the greatest news there is. We pray this in his name. Amen.

 

 

[End of Audio]

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Dr. Steven J. Lawson is President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. Dr. Lawson hosts The Institute for Expository Preaching in cities around the world. Dr. Lawson is also a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. Moreover, he is Professor of Preaching and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, where he also serves on its board. Dr. Lawson is also Professor in Residence for Truth Remains, a work designed to promote and proclaim God’s written Word. Further, Dr. Lawson serves as the Executive Editor for Expositor Magazine published by OnePassion Ministries.