Three Great Implications - Romans 3:27-31

We’re in the study of Romans, and today we are looking at Romans 3:27-31. If you’re a note-taker, the title of this is Three Great Implications. Just by way of reorientation, just to remind you, the apostle Paul wrote this letter and he’s never been to Rome, he’s not met the people to whom he’s writing this letter. And as you open your Bible the Book of Romans is the first epistle; it’s not the first epistle that Paul wrote, it’s the fifth epistle that Paul wrote. But it’s placed here first because it’s of first importance, it is the epistle; if you’re going to know one epistle, this is the epistle to know. It is Paul’s magnum opus, the great writing.

A simple way to remember this: on Paul’s first missionary journey, at the end of it he wrote one letter. At the, during the second missionary letter he wrote two letters. And during the third missionary journey he wrote three letters. One, two, three. At the end of the first missionary journey he wrote Galatians. During the second missionary journey he wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians, so that would be the second and third letters that he wrote. On the third missionary journey he wrote three letters: 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans.

As Paul writes this, he is in Corinth and it’s the year, it’s either at the end of 56 or the beginning of 57 just to put this in a chronological sequence. But as they pulled the Cannon of the New Testament together, they intentionally front-loaded the Book of Romans, they intentionally have placed it here first. Not because it was written first, Galatians was written by Paul first, but because it is of first importance. What we’re looking at in the book of Romans is of the most primary importance because it is all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In other letters Paul is always having to fix something that was wrong in a church and that will preoccupy much of his focus. There will be some things in the book of Romans that Paul will use or say to fix some things in the churches in Rome. So there’s a sense in which it’s because of a problem in a church, God always works for good, what has resulted is the epistles that we find in the New Testament.

Romans is all about the Gospel. And just to reduce the book of Romans to eight words, I’m going to give you eight words that will summarize, almost in a sentence, the entire book of Romans. And it goes like this: introduction, that’s 1:1-17; condemnation, 1:18-3:20; justification, 3:21- to the end of chapter 5; sanctification, chapters 7 and 8; glorification, which is at the end of chapter 8; election or predestination, chapters 9-11; and then transformation, chapter 12-16. And at the end of chapter 16 is the conclusion. Those eight words, introduction, condemnation, justification, sanctification, glorification, election, transformation, and conclusion. Voila, you have the book of Romans.

Where we find ourselves now in this study is in that third section on justification. It immediately follows condemnation and justification is the reversal of condemnation. Paul begins with the bad news, now he comes to the good news and that is in justification. We began looking at that last time. And in chapter 3:21-26, he gave us the instruction for justification. Today we will look at the implications of justification; next time we will look at the illustrations of justification. Paul is so methodical as he makes his case, as he presents the Gospel. Last time as you’ll recall, we noted that justification is apart from the Law, witnessed by the Old Testament, provided by God, received by faith, needed by all, declared by God, given by grace, purchased by Jesus, and designed by God.

Now as we come to verse 27, we come to implications. The implications of what he has just taught. Now an implication is a logical consequence, to be drawn from something else that is true. In other words, if A is true, then B, C, and D will be true. Verses 21-26 is A, and in 27-31 is B, C, and D. This is the necessary result of what he has just taught us. This is the reasonable deduction of the truth of justification by faith alone. Now there are 3 great implications to be drawn from the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The first is in verses 27 and 28. The second is in verses 29 and 30. And then the third is in verse 31. Now as Paul does this, he is so systematic, he is so orderly that there are three parts to each of these implications, to each of these three implications. It goes like this, it would be very easy to follow Paul, question, answer, explanation. Question, answer, explanation. Paul is a master teacher and this is almost like a catechism. What is the chief end of man? Question. Answer, to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. And then the supporting explanation with different text. That’s how Paul is operating here.

There are three implications, each implication has three parts. They’re all the same three parts: question, answer, explanation. Here’s the first implication of justification by faith and it’s in verses 27 and 28 and it’s this, I’m going to give it to you in four words: all boasting is excluded.

I. ALL BOASTING IS EXCLUDED

Lest any of us have kind of a smug attitude, that we’re in and others are out. That there’s something good about us that makes us better than someone else, lest we look down our long nose at others from a self-exalting position because of this doctrine, Paul reminds us the first implication is this ought to make you so humble. This ought to drop you to your knees, this ought to take the air out of your pride balloon. Notice how this goes, he begins verse 27, here is the question: where then is boasting? Now as Paul says this, boasting is looking to yourself, it’s a self-exaltation, it’s not looking to God and exalting God, it’s looking in the mirror and exalting yourself. It’s pride, it’s bragging on yourself and Paul, when he says where then is boasting, it’s in relationship to justification by faith. If justification by faith is true, then where is one drop of boasting in your heart or to ever come out of your mouth? If justification by faith alone is true, then we ought to be walking in humility and there should be no boasting or self-elevation or self-exaltation above anyone else.

All right, so that’s the question, verse 27, where then is boasting? Note the answer, he says it is excluded, all boasting is excluded. And the word boasting here is a very vivid, graphic word that means to shut something, to shut someone out, it’s the idea of slamming a door shut, it means to prevent someone from coming into a house. When Paul says it is excluded, he is slamming the door on any allowance on any boasting on our part in our salvation and pulling ourselves up above others. It is excluded, totally, completely excluded; there is a zero-tolerance policy for any boasting by any believer because of justification by faith.

Now, he gives the explanation. He says “By what kind of law? Of works?” and when he says law here, he’s not referring to the Mosaic Law, he’s referring to law meaning a principle, an operating principle. By what principle does God operate by in order to justify us? In other words, so how is it that God has justified you? He then asks the next question, “Of works?” Was it by your works that God justified you? And Paul comes down hard with a, like with a sledgehammer and he goes, “No,” and this is the most positive no you’re gonna find. “No, but by a law of faith,” and when he says law of faith, he’s talking about how God operates in salvation. Law meaning an operating principle, the basis of operation. God operates in salvation not by our works, but exclusively by faith alone.

And if it’s by faith alone, that means that therefore we had nothing to do with it. That it is all on the basis of someone else’s works, and in reality, there should be some shock statement to what I’m about to say, we are saved by works, just not our works. It’s by the works of Jesus Christ, by His sinless life and substitutionary death we are saved, not by our works. All of our righteousness is as filthy rags in His sight. It is by the perfect works of Jesus Christ imputed to us as a result of our faith in Christ, that we are justified.

How can we be boasting about what we received as a free gift? Now in verse 28 he will continue the explanation, and he will say in verse 28 for – and whenever you see the word for starting a sentence, it will generally introduce an explanation. “For we maintain,” and when he says maintain, he is saying we strongly assert, and you want a preacher, you want a teacher who, who is, as I said not just dogmatic but bull-dogmatic, that is strongly asserts. Now that’s Paul. “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith.”

What’s interesting, when Martin Luther translated the Bible into the German language in 1521 and 1522, it was published in 1522, let me just give you a historical footnote, this year is the 500-year anniversary of the start of the Reformation, 1517, October 31 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door. He was converted in 1519 in the tower of the college church there and that was 2 years later. Two years after that, 1521, he is called to the Diet of Worms. Worms is a city where he stood what became a heresy trial, and that’s where he made his great statement and his books are in the middle of the table, “Martin Luther, are these your books? And will you recant?” And he says, “How can I recant of my books, they’re filled with the Word of God. To recant my books would be to recant the Word of God itself. My conscious is bound by the Word of God, I can do no other, here I stand, God help me.”

And I’ll be standing right there in a little over a week, which is pretty cool. I’m practicing my speech, my Luther speech. With that, the death sentence was set on Luther and he had like six weeks to get his affairs in order. He leaves Worms and is kidnapped by his friends, a bag put over his head, and he’s taken to the Wartburg Castle where no one knows where he is so that the officials can’t kidnap him and kill him. Luther is sitting in the Wartburg Castle for a pretty good period of time, he is hyperactive, he decides “I’ll just translate the New Testament while I’m sitting here in this castle.” Luther translates the New Testament into the German language which is a monumental achievement, and it was published in 1522. Tyndale will then use it as he translates the Bible into English.

But when he comes to this very verse, Romans 3:28, as he is so meticulous in translating this, he actually adds a word that was not in the original text to make it clear for the German-speaking people what Paul is saying. And he added the word alone. “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith alone.” Now the word alone is not in the original text but the truth of alone is staring us right, right in our face. Because he follows up by saying apart from works of the law. Well, if it’s apart from the works of the law, it has to be by faith alone.

Solo fide is one of the five solo’s that came out of the Reformation, by faith alone, which became shorthand for justification by faith alone. And it comes from this very verse. Now justification by faith alone is taught in multiple verses; it was taught in Romans 1:16 and 17, it is taught in Galatians 3, it’s taught in numerous places. But this is the defining text for Luther as he translates the Bible into the German language, and that is one of the hallmarks of the Reformation as well, it is to give a Bible in the language of the people because previous to this, the preacher preached in Latin. The problem is the people didn’t know Latin, so they’re coming to a church service that might as well as have been in Swahili or something, they don’t even know what’s being said. Luther gives this gift to the German-speaking people while he’s sitting in this castle with nothing else to do.

Strange how sometimes God uses trials to bring about our most productive work. It’s apart from works. Now because it’s apart from works and it’s all by faith, I mean where could there be any boasting? I mean, I am what I am by the grace of God, Paul says. Let’s just look at a couple of verses. 1 Corinthians 4:7 really needs to be read as a cross-reference at this point. 1 Corinthians 4:7, and the Corinthians were cruel to Paul, I mean they were a dagger into his heart, they were a thorn into his flesh. The Corinthians were puffed up, they were arrogant, they were carnal, they were boastful, they were prideful, they have pushed the limits to the ninth degree, like how carnal can you be and still be saved, and still be in the Kingdom, I mean they pushed the fence posts out as far as they can go without falling off the cliff. And so Paul has to address them and he will quite frankly say, in verse 3, 1 Corinthians 4:3, it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you. You know, I don’t know who in the world you think you are, to be looking down your long nose at me. Paul will be put in a very awkward position of having to push back on these boastful, arrogant, self-centered Corinthians. And it’s a very small thing that I should be examined by you.

Now, you come down to verse 7, is the point that I want to make and Paul has to make it to these Corinthians. He says, “For who regards you as superior? What do you, what do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it.” Tell me one thing good in your Christian life that God has not supplied. Well, I’m waiting for the answer. You can hear the grass growing outside. Now there is nothing good in your life but that God has supplied it. Everything bad going on in your life is your deal, everything good going on in your life is God’s deal. But God is at work in your life, to work and, to will for His good pleasure.

Even the faith to believe in Jesus Christ is a gift from God. And it’s not as if God contributed the grace and I contributed the faith – no, even God gave you the gift to believe. Faith is the gift of God, not as a result of works less any man should boast. The whole package of salvation, not only redemption but even repentance and faith into redemption is a gift from God. So how in the world could we ever have any pride in us? Well, obviously the flesh is still operating within us, but Paul reminds the church in Romans, and he reminds us and he reminds me that everything good we have, we have received it from God as a gift. Thus we ought to be the most lowly of mind, humble of heart, denying of self-people on the earth. It’s our theology that should produce this; our theology doesn’t, should not puff us up, it should humble us and bring us down.

I’ll give you more verse. In John 3:27, John the Baptist is watching Jesus now come onto the scene and as Jesus’ ministry is increasing, John the Baptist’s ministry is decreasing. And that’s a bitter pill for any preacher to swallow. And so John’s disciples come to him and say “Wow, there are more disciples with him than there are with us now. What do we do about this?” And John the Baptist gave the right answer in verse 27, he said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been givn him from heaven.” Yeah, even the ministry we have is a gift from God, even the success or the result is a gift from God, even the fruit that would come from our labor as we serve the Lord is the gift of God. All of this speaks volumes that where then is boasting? There is no room for boasting and the cornerstone for this is justification by faith alone, that’s the first implication.

Great application here for us, it’s a call for humility. And let us be reminded, 1 Peter 5:5, “God is opposed to the proud and he gives grace to the humble.” Do you want a greater grace? I do. He gives it to only one person, He gives it to the humble. Do you want God opposed to you and pushing against you? I don’t. God is opposed to the proud, he gives grace to the humble, where then is boasting?

Second implication, we come now to verse 29. I’m gonna give it to you in 4 words: all distinctions are removed.

II. ALL DISTINCTIONS ARE REMOVED

If justification by faith alone is true, then there can be no different classes of believers, we’re all in one body, we’re all in one kingdom, and we’re not in different rooms, we’re all in this together, there are no distinctions. In verse 29 he begins with the question, he will answer it, and then he will explain it. And here is the question, or is God the God of Jews only? Transliterated, this question is saying is God dealing only with the Jews? Is God saving only the Jews? Is God justifying only the Jews? Is he only the God of the Jews? Paul answers the question with a question, it’s very Jewish. He answers the question with a question.

It’s like when your wife says, “You’re not gonna wear that shirt, are you?” That’s actually a statement, not a question. And you just say, “Who, me?” You answer with a question, so.

Is God the God of the Jews only? Here’s the answer, with a question, He is not the God of – is He not the God of gentiles also? That’s a rhetorical question, the answer of which is yes, He is the God of the gentiles also. For Him to be the God of the gentiles means that God is also dealing with gentiles. God is also saving gentiles, God is also justifying gentiles. In fact, the reason why God saved Jews was for them to go to the gentiles with the Gospel and to be the great evangelist to the world and to carry the Gospel to the corners of the earth and to bring the gentiles to faith in God through Jesus Christ.

But the Jews hoarded it, it was the ultimate hyper-Calvinism, they just kept the Gospel to themselves, they wanted to sit on it, and when God said to Jonah, “I want you to go to Nineveh and preach the Gospel to those gentiles there,” Jonah went in the opposite direction, he went to Tarshish, got on a ship and went to Tarshish. That’s like being in Dallas, “I want you to go to New York.” “Great,” and you get on a plane to go to Los Angeles. You’re just trying to get as far away from those gentiles as you possibly could. So God had to send, obviously you remember the storm and the fish, and reroute Jonah back to Nineveh and in forty days Nineveh is to be destroyed and the greatest revival to ever occur takes place.

What does Jonah do? He just pouts about it. He never dreamed this would happen, that the gentiles would be saved. He went there thinking “All right, this will be the final condemnation of them, they’re gonna get what they deserve.” I mean, how arrogant, how boastful, how prideful was he? And you remember in chapter 4 of Jonah he just sits under a tree and sulks and pouts and whines and complains because, because they were saved. He just wanted to keep it in house, he just wanted the holy huddle to remain the holy huddle. We’re not gonna go to the line of scrimmage and run any plays, we’re just gonna stay in the huddle, we got the best quarterback in town, we just love to hear him call plays. And just sit there in the huddle and listen to him call plays, “Would you call that play one time? In fact, come up here Wednesday night and we wanna hear you call the play again. I need a new moleskin to write down this play, this is the best play I’ve ever heard.” But to go to the line of scrimmage and reach the world for Christ, to go to the nations with the Gospel, forget that, I just wanna be in the huddle and listen to my quarterback call plays.

The implications of justification is it’s not just us being saved, it’s not just Jews being saved. God has a heart for the world, God wants to reach the world with the message of justification by faith alone. And so there is no more of these distinctions, this us and them, it’s all us together in the same boat in Christ. The answer, “Is He not the God gentiles also?” Yes, of gentiles also and so now comes the explanation in verse 30. So Paul doesn’t just say yes, he explains it, a very good teacher. In verse 30, he gives the explanations, very profound, “Since indeed God will justify the circumcision by faith,” now that’s referring to Jews who have been circumcised, the circumcision is just a label to put over the nation Israel. So how is a Jew saved? He’s justified by faith, so he then says and the uncircumcised through faith. That refers to non-Jews, that refers to the rest of the field, the rest of the world, they also are justified by faith.

Now before I look at the end of this verse with you, here again is another supporting text that there’s only one way of salvation. There’s not one way for a Jew to be saved and a different way for a gentile to be saved, both are saved by faith alone in Christ alone. Period, paragraph. Now notice the end of verse 30, is one; now, is one matches up with God, since indeed God will justify the circumcision by faith and the uncircumcision through faith is one. God is one, is what he is saying. This is an echo of the great Shammah, Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord you God is one God.” Now the point that Paul is making here, because there is only one God there is only one way by which this one God is saving sinners. God is not divided. There is the solidarity of God, the unity of God, and because there is only one God there is therefore only one way of salvation. And there is only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5.

Therefore all distinctions are removed. Jew and gentile are one in Christ, and at the cross Jesus tore down the dividing wall between Jew and gentile and there is now only one body of Christ. There’s not a Jewish body of Christ and there’s not a gentile body of Christ over there. And neither is there a Baptist body and a Presbyterian body and an independent body and a charismatic body and a Methodist body, etc, there’s only one body of Christ and that is comprised of those who are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. This is the second implication of justification by faith. There’s no other way of salvation and if there’s no other way of salvation, then there, there is no division between people because there are not two paths to God, there’s not three paths to God, there’s only one path to God.

That’s the second implication that Paul is led to stress and that is good for us to hear because we become so stinking fractured in the body of Christ, it’s just going to take some kind of global persecution or national persecution just to finally weld us back together again. I mean we are like 20,000 dots, 20,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean that are just so disconnected. And yes, there are doctrinal distinctions and we need to maintain sound doctrine but we also need to remember that we have brothers and sisters in Christ who are in other parts of the body of Christ and they’re in this with us. All distinctions are removed.

And you remember the church in Corinth, you remember how prideful they were? And they go, “Well, I’m of Paul, and I’m of Cephas, and I’m –” and then the hyper-spiritual ones said, “Well, I’m of Christ,” you know and it’s just like, you’re just divided up into all your little camps and it’s just a reflection of, of really your boasting.

All right, there’s a third implication that, that Paul wants us to have and we’re just going where Paul’s going here on this. It’s in verse 31 and to give it to you in four words: the law is established.

THE LAW IS ESTABLISHED

Where Paul is headed with this is if we are justified apart from the law as he said in verse 21, so is the law now nullified? Is the law of no effect? Is the law of no good, is the law of no purpose if we’re justified apart from the law? Paul wants to deal with this and he wants to head off this bad idea before it can spread in the minds of those in Rome. It’s going to be question, answer, explanation. Here’s the question, start of verse 31, “Do we nullify the law through faith?” And the word nullify here means to make of no effect or to cause to cease. Have we just buried the law if we are justified apart from the law? Please note Paul’s answer, “May it never be.” It’s two words in the Greek [speaking Greek], which is the strongest, most emphatic negative that can be conveyed in the Greek language. [Speaking Greek], absolutely not. It’s not just no, it’s like no, a thousand times no. May it never be.

Justification does not nullify the proper use of the law. Well, Paul, I need some explanation. Rather than giving us a full explanation he really just gives us more of a confirmation in reality. But please note, he says on the contrary, meaning it’s the total opposite of thinking that justification nullifies the law. On the contrary, we establish the law. Now this word establish is a very strong Greek word; it means to cause something or someone to stand. It was used in Acts 2 when the other 11 apostles put Peter forward to preach on the day of Pentecost, they caused him to stand before that crowd. It means to make firm or to cause a thing to keep its place. Thus we established the law.

Now, let me just say a couple things. Number one, even here in Romans 3 the law is used in four different ways, so you have to keep your eye on the ball. In verse 19, the Law refers to the entire Old Testament, the entire Old Testament. In verse 21, law refers just to the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Because it’s distinguished from the prophets in verse 21, so obviously the law referring to the first five books. Third way it’s used is what we just looked at is in verse 28 and 27, an operating principle; law is used there as an operating principle. But the fourth way that law is used is to refer to the moral law, which is succinctly summarized in the ten commandments. That is how it is used in, in verse 20 and that is how it’s used in verse 27, 28 and now in verse 31.

Obviously the ceremonial law has passed away, we’re no longer brining animal sacrifices that we hand to a priest to offer on our behalf on the day of atonement, that is over. The ceremonial law has been fulfilled. And the civil law was uniquely for Israel in the promised land. But the moral law of God is still in effect. I mean we are still to have no other gods before us, we are still not to take God’s name in vain, we are still not to have a graven image of God, we are still to honor our father and our mother, we are still not to bear false witness against our neighbor, we are still not to steal, we are still not to covet. The only one that requires some modification is the Sabbath and that’s an in-house debate within even reformed circles as to how the Sabbath relates to the present moment. We’ll set that aside for another discussion. But here in verse 31, when he says we establish the law, he’s referring to the moral law. And Paul will continue in his other, the rest of his epistles to refer to the moral law of God as basis for his teaching.

For example, in Ephesians 6 when he gives instruction, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath,” he will refer back to the moral law to make his point and quote the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother, that it may be well be with you and that you may live long here upon the earth.” The implication of justification by faith is that we are still to obey the moral commands of God. Justification by faith is not a free pass that you can live however you want to live your Christian life. Justification by faith does not mean you have liberty to anything and everything that comes into your mind to do. We are still under the moral imperatives, first of all, the New Testament but second of all, even under the Mosaic law, the ten commandments that I just walked us through. We are not antinomians, and the word antinomian means against the law. We are not hyper-grace people who can just live however we want to live. No, the word of God is still binding upon our lives and we are accountable to God to obey the commandments.

Paul feels compelled to cut off any wrong thinking that someone would assume, “Oh, well if we’re justified apart from the law therefore then I don’t have to obey God anymore; I’m forgiven, I can live however I wanna live.” And Paul goes, “Time out. Wrong.” That is no, the implication of this is we establish the law, we don’t remove the law, we don’t nullify the law, the law remains established. In fact, no one would believe in Jesus Christ were it not for some operation of the law because one of the ministries of the law, useful purposes of the law is to reveal our sin and to be a tutor to take us to Christ for salvation. Now whether that law is preached or whether it’s simply the law that’s written upon our hearts, the law brings conviction of sin because we are able to see that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. You would never know that you weren’t supposed to park in a no parking zone unless there was the law that says you cannot park there. If there was no law then you could just park in the middle of the street, I mean if there was no law you could just park in the middle of Central Expressway if you wanted to. It’s the law that shows where the violation is.

Paul will go on to say in Romans 7 that the law is actually spiritual and that the law is actually good. In Romans 7:12 he says the law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good, and in verse 14 he says “For we know that the law is spiritual,” so these are the three implications that Paul wants to establish with us to follow up immediately his teaching on justification by faith. To bring us to humility, with no boasting, it should remove all barriers and all distinctions ‘cause we’re all saved the same way, we’re all justified in the same way, brought into the same kingdom, and it establishes the law, not nullifies the law.

And as we will see in the future, justification and sanctification are inseparably bound together. Everyone who is justified is immediately sanctified and begins the lifelong process now of growing in Christ’s likeness. No one will ever be justified without immediately being sanctified and beginning this lifelong growth in grace. To put it another way, to go through the narrow gate can only lead down the narrow path. It cannot lead down the broad path; narrow gate, narrow path, broad gate, broad path. You can’t mix and match.

We have an eternity of time left. We have 12, 13, minutes left so let’s talk about this. What do you like about this, other than everything? What, what has affected your thinking today? What has had a positive effect in your life? What question do you have? Let me start around the table and we, I’m sure we’ve got, with Jonathan some people queued up as well but anyone want to go first here around the table? Someone else?

Male:                           I was thinking about what you were saying, the reference to 1 Corinthians that we’ve received everything and you made another comment that made me think about our spiritual pride. I don’t know where I read it or heard or someone said that you know some of us get enamored with our knowledge and there’s a professor, I’m not gonna say who he is, but Dr. Almand says –

Dr. who -?

Male:                           Almand.

Oh, okay.

MALE;                        He says jokingly that you know DTS men know things that most people don’t, to make a point that seminaries and people such, trade, they tend to puff up because of what we know. And there is truth in our spiritual life, we would, we just came back from south Texas and you know these, these churches over there, they don’t have a seminary of any sort around. They learn from others and it’s sometimes kind of like the blind leading the blind, and then you bring some people that have been _____, you know, great teaching all around, we have very great churches here in town. And then you know that’s when it gets real that you start thinking of how well-trained I am, and how below me these people are and that’s exactly the wrong way to think about it. We’re all one body, we’re all one kingdom, there’s no one better than the other one, and if you have more knowledge than your brother next to you –

It’s only ‘cause God gave it to you.

MALE;                        Exactly. But we, this is the issue that we do not remember, we just get caught up in our success, in our achievements if you will.

Yeah, yeah.

MALE;                        But it is not so with the Lord at all.

Yeah, amen, that’s a very good point.

MALE;                        And what is –

I am so glad you’re convicted about that.

[Laughter]

We can just pray for Alan.

[Laughter]

That he can be like us.

[Laughter]

MALE;                        Well, and that’s the other thing, you said, you know, the Lord is with the humble, but if you’re not humble the Lord is gonna push you against you; you don’t want that.

You don’t want that.

MALE;                        No.

Now here’s the deal, you’re gonna be humble one way or the other.

MALE;                        That’s true.

Either you humble yourself, or God’s gonna humble you. But I promise you, you’re gonna be humble one way or the other. And if you push back on Him making you humble, He may just take you out of this world and you’ll be humble in Heaven and just have a premature death. But you’re gonna be humble one way or the other. So that is challenging to me and convicting to me as it ought to be, and it needs to be more convicting as well.

Well, just to add a footnote to your footnote, knowledge is never an end in itself. It’s only a means to the end that God desires. And we have to have knowledge but it’s only to catapult us into what God has for us, to live, to minister, to worship, to serve, et cetera. But if it ever becomes an end in itself, then we’re done, it’s just over. I mean look at how many books I have, you know, look at what all I know, then it’s, we, in fact it’s become a curse now. It’d be better if you didn’t know so much because you used to be humble, before you knew so much. Yeah, no, thank you, Alan, for that. You know we were just kidding with you?

MALE;                        To add to Alan’s point –

Yeah?

MALE;                        And you said it earlier, the flesh is always trying to raise up and to puff up individually.

Yeah.

MALE;                        And not only is it we’ve received everything but with the, as Alan says, the knowledge –

No distinction.

MALE;                        No distinction.

MALE;                        Say bye to Alan, this is his last time here. He’s never coming again.

MALE;                        You know, rightly understood, it increases our responsibility. It’s God-given, and not only is it not from us, but you said it earlier, we have all these distinctions, and this is a point that Alan and I have talked about, we do want at times to stay in the holy huddle instead of running the play. With the, with this being enamored with knowledge, we forget that we’re supposed to go out. We’re supposed to go out and make disciples of men. And that’s where the church has failed.

MALE;                        With, you know with great, with great blessings, you’re greatly responsible.

And to whom much is given the same shall be required. The more you’re given the more you’re accountable to God. No question about it. That’s why James 3:1, “let not many of thee become teachers, my brethren,” meaning, you have greater exposure to the Word and you ought to know more because you’re freed up to study it more. “But let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing as such we shall incur a stricter judgment,” stricter judgment. I used to think about that every I’m walking into class; I didn’t think about it every day but I thought about it regularly. I’m just upping the ante on my accountability. I’m going to have more to give an answer for now. Jonathan, what question have you got down there for us? Or tell where from, you don’t have to tell who, but where are they from?

MALE;                        Well, unfortunately the first question’s from Chris Kitchens, he did not say where he’s from, maybe he’ll drop it in here in a minute.

Yeah?

MALE;                        But he has a question about Romans 3:30, where it says “Since God is one who will justify the circumcised by faith, and the uncircumcised through faith,” he’s asking is there –

The difference between by –

MALE;                        By and through? He wants to know is that intentional, is that important, or is that just -?

See, I knew someone was gonna ask that question so I studied up this morning on that. No, I mean it catches my eye as well. And I think Augustin had the best answer to that, that it’s just a rhetorical device so that you don’t repeat yourself. Sometimes in parallelism you do repeat yourself, sometimes in parallelism you say the same thing but in different words. And that’s what Paul is doing here. It’s just a rhetorical device so that you don’t use the exact same word but you’re saying that same thing. And they both mean that, it doesn’t mean that we’re saved by faith, in the sense that faith saves us; there’s only one that can save us and that is Jesus Christ. Faith is the means by which the merit of Christ is imputed to our account. So faith is that channel, that instrumentality by which God saves us in Christ. But that’s a good question, Chris, thanks for being on the ball on that.

MALE;                        He says he’s from Albertville, Alabama.

Oh, really? From the great state of Alabama. Or as it’s pronounced there, Alabama. Yeah, that’s great. Anything else you got down there, Jonathan?

MALE;                        Yeah, we got one more from Paul Meredith, also from Alabama, in Irvington. A lot of Alabama questions today.

Yeah.

MALE;                        He says he’s heard that many people have said that God provides the grace and then they provide the repentance and faith. Are they saying, is that a valid profession?

Yeah, they can be saved. I mean I was saved as an Armenian and it took me many years before I, and deeper study of the Scripture, and much soul searching before I even came to understand, oh, even faith is a gift of God, and repentance is a gift of God. But that does not mean that I was any less saved before I came to that understanding. So yes, you can still be converted to Christ. I mean I believe John Wesley is in Heaven, like Whitfield said, we won’t see him in Heaven ‘cause he’ll be so close to the throne of grace that we won’t get that close to see him. And he obviously didn’t, did not believe that faith and repentance were a gift but nevertheless saved and not everyone who believes that repentance and faith is a gift are saved. I mean there are lot of people who are orthodox but unconverted. You know, they can sign off on the Westminster Confession of Faith, but don’t know the Lord. So it’s possible, to know John Calvin but not know Jesus Christ, so.

All right, any other questions? I mean we’ve got like two minutes here before we wrap everything up.

MALE;                        I have something real quick.

Yeah?

MALE;                        When he brought up the knowledge, it made me think of, knowledge is certainly very important but I separate knowledge of something you know in your head and wisdom of the way to carry that out and sometimes, at least for myself, as knowledge increased, my wisdom decreased in a sense of, like them going down to south Texas, these people may have a lot of wisdom in the way in the way that they are to their people they love and give their times and resources. While we may have knowledge and go down and do stuff like that, pat ourselves on the back, like we did the Lord’s work while they’re really in that grind and we go back to our cush lives. And so my prayer is just that as knowledge increases, that our wisdom increases right along with it.

Yeah.

MALE;                        Because it seems to, when I first gave my life to God I felt like I had a lot of wisdom, so to speak. I was all for God and just, I would preach or minister to people and pray with people and now it’s like I’m afraid like, well, what if they have different theology than me and what if they’re not Calvinists and what if they – and so that it almost makes me pump my brakes because I don’t want to get into all this theology stuff when the bottom line is the Word of God, the sanctification, is glorification, is knowing intimately Jesus and spending eternity with him, the Gospel. But we get so caught up in that, so my prayer is just that wisdom increases with knowledge.

Absolutely. That’s well put and it’s not either, or, it’s both, and. And we have to have knowledge first, and then the wisdom is how to put this knowledge into practice and daily Christian living. And the word in the Hebrew is [speaking Hebrew], which means skill, like a carpenter would have skill to take a hammer or a saw and make something beautiful with his hands. That’s how the word wisdom is used in the Old Testament, that we would know how to take the word of God and skillfully apply it and live it on a daily basis. So that, that’s exactly what I need and what each one of us needs.

Father, you’ve given us knowledge, now we do ask for wisdom to know how to work this out in our Christian lives in a way that will honor and glorify you. Help us to put this into practice, especially this first implication on humility and this third implication on obedience to your word. So God, we need you to work in our life; apart from you we can do nothing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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.