Everyone Needs the Gospel

Dr. Steve Viars February 9, 2020 Romans 3:1-20
Outline

1 John 4:1-3 - Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is…

1. The immoral are lost – 1:18-32

2. The moral are lost – 2:1-16

3. The religious are lost – 2:17-29

3 reasons the gospel is our only hope

I. We Need the Gospel because of the Perfect Character of God – vv. 1-8

Q: Paul, are you saying there is no advantage to biblical religion (v1)?

A: No, I’m not saying that. There is great value in having and knowing the words of God (v2).

Q: Yes, but those words have failed, haven’t they, because so many haven’t believed the gospel of righteousness revealed in God’s Son Jesus. What has happened to the promises (v3a)?

A: Despite his people’s failure to believe, God’s promises to save are advancing. Our faithlessness only reveals how committed to his truth he is (think of what he’s done in order to be faithful to his promises!) (v3b-4).

Q: But if unrighteousness is necessary for God’s righteousness to be seen, how is it fair for him to judge us (v5)?

A: On that basis, God would not judge anyone in the world. And we (i.e.: Paul and religious Jews) all agree God should judge (v6).

Q: Well then, if me sinning makes God look better, that means that I should sin more, shouldn’t I, so that His glory is more clearly seen (v7-8)?

A: I’ve been accused of thinking this, and I certainly don’t. And saying you’re sinning so that God will love you is an attitude that is absolutely worthy of judgement (v8).

A. His proven faithfulness

Romans 2:27 - And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?

Romans 3:1 - Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?

Romans 3:2 - Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

1. By entrusting His people with His Word

Luke 24:27 - Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

2. By offering forgiveness through the gospel even when they disbelieved

Romans 3:3 - What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?

Romans 3:4 - May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, and prevail when You are judged.”

B. His impeccable righteousness

II. We Need the Gospel because of the Sinful Nature of Man – vv. 9-18

“Righteousness is a major theme of the book of Romans, appearing in one form or another more than thirty times. Other terms from the same Greek root are usually translated ‘justified,’ ‘justification,’ or the like. Together they are used more than sixty times in the book of Romans. It is not surprising, therefore, that the first charge Paul makes in his indictment is that of mankind’s unrighteousness. Paul is using the term righteous in its most basic sense of being right before God, of being as God created man to be. Obviously, people are able to do many things that are morally right. Even the most vile person may occasionally do something commendable. But the apostle is not speaking of specific acts or even general patterns of behavior, but of man’s inner character. His point is that there is not a single person who has ever lived, apart from the sinless Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21), whose innermost being could be characterized as righteous by God’s standard. To prevent some people from thinking that they might be exceptions, Paul adds, not even one. As already noted, there are obviously vast differences among people as to their kindness, love, generosity, honesty, truthfulness, and the like. But not even one person besides Christ has come remotely close to righteous perfection, which is the only standard acceptable to God. God’s standard of righteousness for men is the righteousness that He Himself possesses, which was manifest in Christ. ‘You are to be perfect,’ Jesus declared, ‘as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ (Matt. 5:48) In other words, a person who is not as good as God is not acceptable to God. As Paul makes clear later in the epistle, and as the New Testament teaches throughout, men can become perfectly righteous, when the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them. The very truth that makes the gospel the ‘good news’ is that God has provided a way for men to become perfect, divinely perfect. But that perfection comes entirely by God’s grace in response to faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. John MacArthur, p. 182

A. Not one of us is righteous

Romans 3:10-12 - …as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, Together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”

v. 10b – none v. 10c – not even one v. 11a – none

v. 11b – none v. v12 c – none v. 12d – not even one

B. Our speech shows we are evil

Romans 3:13-14 - Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep Deceiving, The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness…

James 3:2 - For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.

C. Our actions reveal our sinfulness

Romans 3:15–17 - Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace they have not known.

“If you know God loves you in Christ, and that there is nothing you can do or need to do but accept His perfect righteousness, then you can feed the hungry, visit the sick, and clothe the naked, and all of it will be done as a gift to God. But if you think you are going to get or keep your salvation by doing these good deeds, it is really yourself you are feeding, yourself you are clothing, yourself you are visiting. It is who we are serving in our hearts that matters, not how we are serving with our hands. Without faith in Christ, good deeds are not truly done for God, but for ourselves—and thus are not truly good. This is why any goodness we have becomes sour. If we do good to gain God’s favor, blessing and salvation, and do well, we will be smug, superior, and complacent; if we do badly, we will anxious, self-pitying, and angry. The ‘good-deeds’ done outside trusting the gospel will make a soul go sour. All of us have to understand this to be saved Christians, rather than unsaved-but-religious people. The main difference between a Christian and a religious person is not so much their attitudes to their sins, but toward their ‘good-deeds.’ Both will repent of their sins; but only the Christian will repent of wrongly-motivated good works, while the religious person will rely on them.” Tim Keller, pp. 73-74

“Our best duties are as so many splendid sins…you must not only be made sick of your…sin, but you be sick of your righteousness, or all your duties and performances. There must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness. It is the last idol taken out of your heart.” Sermon 58, from J.C. Ryle, The Select Sermons of George Whitefield

Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

D. All because we don’t fear God

Romans 3:18 - There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Psalm 111:10 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.

Psalm 130:3-4 - If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.

III. We Need the Gospel because of the Binary Nature of Salvation – vv. 19-20.

Romans 3:19 - Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God…

“So the effect of knowing the law should not be a proud claim that I am a good law-keeper, that I stand right with God. Its effect should be that: ‘every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God’ (v. 19). The law is not given to us so that, in observing it, we can ‘be declared righteous’ (v. 20) because we are all sinful. The law is not a checklist we keep; it is a benchmark we fail.” Keller, Romans, p. 75

Romans 3:20 - …because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

“Paul is using the term righteous in its most basic sense of being right before God, of being as God created man to be.” John MacArthur

“It is in Jesus Christ that God affirms all of his promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). At the center of all the truly effective counseling is Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus is at the center of biblical counseling because he occupies the center of Christian theology. He is at the center of Christian theology because he is at the center of all of life. We cannot talk about the theology of counseling without talking about Jesus, who is the glorious epicenter of all existence. He is the Savior with whom all people must reckon. For good or ill, every person who has ever drawn breath will one day bow their knee as they stare agape at this exalted King. Knowing him is foundational to life, and so it is foundational to counseling.” Heath Lambert, The Theology of Biblical Counseling

“He [Paul] knows that we cannot appreciate the good news until we thoroughly understand the bad news.” Douglas Moo, Encountering the Book of Romans (Baker: Grand Rapids:2002), 56

- one of the interesting dynamics about the sports world – whether we’re talking about collegiate, or Olympic, or professional – is the number of players, coaches, owners and other personnel who are very outspoken about their faith…

- when the Lord gives someone such a significant platform of influence, and then they use it to be an ambassador for Christ…that is a marvelous blessing to behold…

- I’m sure its not easy to take such a public stand because then the spotlight is shining brightly for sure…but what a great opportunity that can produce significant fruit…

- sometimes that door swings the other way…where people in the sports world use their notoriety to undermine God’s Word or belittle people of faith…

- a recent example of that was a podcast between Aaron Rogers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers and Danica Patrick, his girlfriend who is an outstanding race car driver…

- they are both very accomplished in their respective sports…there’s no question about that…but if you are going to use your platform of influence to speak about theological matters…followers of Jesus Christ are required to carefully evaluate what you have to say…that’s why John told his readers…

- 1 John 4:1–3 - Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

- Aaron Rogers was raised in a Christian home…he even attended Young Life when he was in high school…

- Danica - When you were a kid, you went to church all the time, and then went through questioning and have arrived where you’re at right now. So maybe it will be interesting for people to understand kind of where you started.

- Aaron – Ya, I accepted Christ when I was 4 ½ years old, did the on your knees say a prayer go to church and that’s what you do on Sundays…At some point in HS they always say (they being the church), you know its gotta become your own religion… the church uses all this language and code words and phrases…

- Danica – Like what?

- Aaron - like born again,

- Danica - is the born again the 4-year-old accepting Christ situation?

- Aaron – Ya, but I think there had to be another one as well.

- a little later he explained…

- Aaron - Then when I…moved on to college…I started questioning things and had some good friendships along the way to help me figure out exactly what I wanted to believe in. Ultimately it was that rules and regulations and binary systems don’t really resonate with me. I slowly moved away from a lot of that stuff and enjoy learning about other religions, meeting the Dalai lama, it’s been a fun path to a different type of spirituality which to me has been more meaningful.

- Danica - Would you separate the two – spirituality and religion? Like you were religious and now you’re spiritual?

- Aaron - I think both can work for people. Some people just need structure and tradition, and stuff and that works for them. I don’t have a problem with it--it just doesn’t resonate with me…For many people it can be a crutch, can be something people have to have to make themselves feel better, because it’s binary. It’s us and them, it’s saved and unsaved, it’s heaven and hell, it’s enlightened and heathen, it’s holy and righteous and that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves.

- then later…

- Danica - What is heaven and hell to you?

- Aaron - I think it’s just a separation of that source of energy. So, if you’re separated from that source of energy you’re living in some sort of hell.

- Aaron raises an interesting question, doesn’t he?...should any proposed source of truth be “binary”…in this context, the notion that there is absolute right and wrong?...

- let’s apply his logic to his chosen profession…

- so, let’s say the Bears and Packers are playing their last regular season game…and the winner is going to go to the playoff’s…the loser’s season is over…

- the game is up at Lambeau Field in Green Bay – it’s 20 degrees outside…you couldn’t ask for better conditions for a die hear football fan…

- the game has gone back and forth…both have scored 2 touchdowns, but the Packers missed one of their extra points…

- so, they were down 14-13 until Aaron Rogers just led his team down the field close enough to kick a field goal…

- so now they’re up 16-14 – there’s 2 minutes left in the game…

- so, the Packers kick off to the Bears…all the Packers have to do is hold them scoreless for a win…

- the Bears run a couple of terrible plays…it’s third down…then Bears quarterback Mitchel Trubisky throws a 40-yard pass to his receiver who’s right in front of the Packers bench…he catches the pass, but his foot is clearly half-way out of bounds…Aaron Rogers is right there…and the ref calls it a completed pass…

- Rogers goes crazy…his foot was out of bounds…to which the ref says…let’s not be so binary about this…the receiver showed really good effort, so we’re just going to give it to him…

- of course, Rogers is going crazy, but the Bears run two more plays…and get nowhere…so it’s third and long…all the Packers have to do is hold them…

- then all of a sudden, about 10 extra Bears players run out on the field…in fact, there’s even a few Packers who run out and join the Bears on their side of the ball…

- Rogers is going nuts…stomping up and down…that’s a penalty…too many men on the field…

- to which the ref says – you know Aaron…that rule just doesn’t resonate with me…do we really have to have just two teams on the field…can’t we all just get along…

- now Rogers is beside himself…but at least there’s only a few seconds left in the game…

- so, the Bears bring out their field goal kicker…

- it’s a pretty long kick and the weather’s awfully cold…

- sure enough, the Bears kicker shanks the ball way off to the right…

- and just as Aaron is ready to celebrate his victory…the refs raise their hands, signaling a successful field goal and the Bears win the game…

- do you think that would be OK with Danica and Aaron?...

- see why is it that sports have to be binary?...there has to absolute right and wrong…because otherwise, they would be meaningless, and deep in every person’s heart, you know that to be the case…

- friends, that doesn’t just have to be true in sports…it also has to be true in theology as well…let’s open our Bibles and find out why…

- please turn this morning to Romans 3…page _____ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this year our church is Celebrating God’s Truth…and as part of that, we’re doing a verse-by-verse exposition of the book of Romans…

- we’re coming to the end of the first section of this book…and admittedly this has been challenging material…after Paul began with a hopeful and powerful introduction to the gospel…he’s spent a chapter and a half explaining why the gospel is so important…

- it’s because:

1. The immoral are lost – 1:18-32

2. The moral are lost – 2:1-16

3. The religious are lost – 2:17-29

- and you might say – that about covers it…well, not quite…because in the first half of chapter 3 – Paul concludes this part of the discussion…that everyone is lost…

- that’s why this morning we want to talk about how Everyone Needs the Gospel

- read Romans 3:1-20

- so, we’re talking about how Everyone Needs the Gospel….and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 reasons the gospel is our only hope.

I. We Need the Gospel because of the Perfect Character of God – vv. 1-8

- did any of you watch any of the final questioning during the recent presidential impeachment trial?...

- whether you would side with the Democrats…or whether you would side with the Republicans…there was practically universal agreement from all sides that some of the final questions bordered on the absurd…

- that’s what is happening in the first 8 verses of chapter 8…

- remember we saw this tendency over the last couple of weeks of people judging others so they didn’t have to admit their sin…

- that’s what the moral people did to the immoral people…

- that’s the religious people did to both groups…

- well now, man uses his final breaths of depravity to attempt to judge God…

- Tim Keller has a very helpful summary of the overall flow of thought…

Q: Paul, are you saying there is no advantage to biblical religion (v1)?

A: No, I’m not saying that. There is great value in having and knowing the words of God (v2).

Q: Yes, but those words have failed, haven’t they, because so many haven’t believed the gospel of righteousness revealed in God’s Son Jesus. What has happened to the promises (v3a)?

A: Despite his people’s failure to believed, God’s promises to save are advancing. Our faithlessness only reveals how committed to his truth he is (think of what he’s done in order to be faithful to his promises!) (v3b-4).

Q: But if unrighteousness is necessary for God’s righteousness to be seen, how is it fair for him to judge us (v5)?

A: On that basis, God would not judge anyone in the world. And we (i.e.: Paul and religious Jews) all agree God should judge (v6).

Q: Well then, if me sinning makes God look better, that means that I should sin more, shouldn’t I, so that His glory is more clearly seen (v7-8)?

A: I’ve been accused of thinking this, and I certainly don’t. And saying you’re sinning so that God will love you is an attitude that is absolutely worthy of judgement (v8).

- so, what can we learn about God’s nature from this hypothetical conversation?...

A. His proven faithfulness

- remember at the end of chapter 2 – Paul made it clear that religiosity can never save…

- if you’re proud of being a Jew, and proud of being circumcised, and proud of being able to correct the foolish with God’s Word…then you’ve become self-righteous…

- as if you don’t need a Savior…and you don’t need his righteousness credited to your account when you admit your sin and place your faith and trust in Christ…because you think you have enough righteousness of your own…

- then he made the shocking statement that an uncircumcised man – a non-Jew – is much better off if he has trusted Christ and can now obey Scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit…than a circumcised Jew who’s never come to Christ by faith…

- Romans 2:27 - And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?

- that’s why Paul anticipates their argument… Romans 3:1 - Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?

- in other words – God made promises to us and did not keep them (therefore He’s not faithful to His covenant)….

- and what’s the answer to that?

- Romans 3:2 - Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

1. By entrusting His people with His Word

- and remember what Jesus did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus with the Scripture they had received?... Luke 24:27 - Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

- that was part of God’s faithfulness to His chosen people…

2. By offering forgiveness through the gospel even when they disbelieved

- that’s in response to the question posed in verse 3 - Romans 3:3 - What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?

- and what was the answer?... Romans 3:4 - May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, And prevail when You are judged.”

- that’s a quote from Psalm 51 – David’s great Psalm of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba…

- the fact that some people had not yet chosen to believe the gospel wasn’t an indictment of God…it was proof of His faithfulness because the gospel invitation was still open to them…[if they would repent and admit their need]…

- He’s also characterized by…

B. His impeccable righteousness

- the notion in verse 5 that if our unrighteousness magnifies his righteousness, that’s his fault not ours is as absurd as some of the final impeachment questions from both sides of the aisle…

- and what’s the bottom line…there’s a problem here all right…but the problem’s not with the character of God…

- and we don’t like to admit that, do we?…[tell the electric water heater, and Bethany running her bike into the basement wall stories…]

- as human beings we are hard-wired to justify ourselves…even if we have to attempt to condemn God Himself…which leads us right into verse 9…

II. We Need the Gospel because of the Sinful Nature of Man – vv. 9-18

- beginning in verse 9, Paul gives a chilling 13 count indictment on the total depravity of man…

- this includes a chain of at least 6 different OT passages…the oldest quote of the OT anywhere in Paul’s writings…

- think about that – religious people apart from Christ can become proud of their knowledge of the Bible…so Paul [in love and grace] appeals to the Bible itself to try to bring them to a point of repentance…

- and it’s very important to note the hope that runs through this passage…because God never breaks out a window without having a superior replacement…

- it is possible to be righteous…because that is the fundamental question…how can I be right with God?...that’s what this book is all about…

Righteousness is a major theme of the book of Romans, appearing in one form or another more than thirty times. Other terms from the same Greek root are usually translated “justified,” “justification,” or the like. Together they are used more than sixty times in the book of Romans. It is not surprising, therefore, that the first charge Paul makes in his indictment is that of mankind’s unrighteousness.

Paul is using the term righteous in its most basic sense of being right before God, of being as God created man to be. Obviously, people are able to do many things that are morally right. Even the most vile person may occasionally do something commendable. But the apostle is not speaking of specific acts or even general patterns of behavior, but of man’s inner character. His point is that there is not a single person who has ever lived, apart from the sinless Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21), whose innermost being could be characterized as righteous by God’s standard. To prevent some people from thinking that they might be exceptions, Paul adds, not even one.

As already noted, there are obviously vast differences among people as to their kindness, love, generosity, honesty, truthfulness, and the like. But not even one person besides Christ has come remotely close to righteous perfection, which is the only standard acceptable to God. God’s standard of righteousness for men is the righteousness that He Himself possesses, which was manifest in Christ. “You are to be perfect,” Jesus declared, “as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

In other words, a person who is not as good as God is not acceptable to God. As Paul makes clear later in the epistle, and as the New Testament teaches throughout, men can become perfectly righteous, when the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them. The very truth that makes the gospel the “good news” is that God has provided a way for men to become perfect, divinely perfect. But that perfection comes entirely by God’s grace in response to faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. (John MacArthur, p. 182)

- in that hopeful frame of mind, let’s boil these 13 indictments down to 4 main categories…

A. Not one of us is righteous

- Romans 3:10–12 - as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, Together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”

- friends, that’s about as binary as it gets…and we have to decide – are we going to believe God’s analysis of our innate nature, or are we going to believe Aaron and Danica’s?...try playing a football game, try building an airplane, try curing a disease…without developing the ability to think antithetically – and it will result in chaos…

- and for anyone who might say – you know, I think I might be the exception…how many times do you see the word none in this passage?...

v. 10b – none v. 10c – not even one v. 11a – none

v. 11b – none v. v12 c – none v. 12d – not even one

- do you think the Lord is trying to get our attention?...

B. Our speech shows we are evil

- Romans 3:13–14 - “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep Deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;

- And some might say – wait a minute – compared to a lot of people, my speech is pretty good…

- but that’s not the standard, is it?...the standard is the white hot holiness of our perfect God…would any of us want our words judged against that standard to determine whether we can earn our way to heaven?...

- my tongue gets me in a fair amount of trouble…how about you?...

- what did James say?... James 3:2 - For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.

- would anyone here want to say – that’s me, I recognize myself in that verse…I’ve never stumbled in what I’ve said – making me a perfect man…

- of course not…and then the charges keep coming…

C. Our actions reveal our sinfulness

- Romans 3:15–17 - “Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace they have not known.”

- and someone might say – but wait a minute – I do all sorts of good things…

- that may be true…but what about the motivation?...this is why the book of Proverbs says that even the plowing of the wicked is sin…because of our mixed motivations…

- Last week I recommended Tim Keller’s short commentaries on Romans…

- Keller tells the parable of a kingdom long ago, where a gardener grew a huge carrot…so he decided to give it to the king because he loved him…

- the king discerned his love and the fact that he expected nothing in return…so as he was leaving, he gave him a parcel of land so he could grow even more crops…

- well, a nobleman saw that unfolding and thought…if that’s what a man gets for giving the king a carrot, I’m going to give him a horse…

- but the king knew his motivation…and gave him nothing in return…and he told the nobleman – “You expect me to give to the gardener. I will not. You are very different. The gardener gave me the carrot. But you were giving yourself the horse.”

- the Keller made this critical observation – “If you know God loves you in Christ, and that there is nothing you can do or need to do but accept His perfect righteousness, then you can feed the hungry, visit the sick, and clothe the naked, and all of it will be done as a gift to God. But if you think you are going to get or keep your salvation by doing these good deeds, it is really yourself you are feeding, yourself you are clothing, yourself you are visiting. It is who we are serving in our hearts that matters, not how we are serving with our hands. Without faith in Christ, good deeds are not truly done for God, but for ourselves—and thus are not truly good.

- he went on to say – “This is why any goodness we have becomes sour. If we do good to gain God’s favor, blessing and salvation, and do well, we will be smug, superior, and complacent; if we do badly, we will anxious, self-pitying, and angry. The ‘good-deeds’ done outside trusting the gospel will make a soul go sour. All of us have to understand this to be saved Christians, rather than unsaved-but-religious people. The main difference between a Christian and a religious person is not so much their attitudes to their sins, but toward their ‘good-deeds.” Both will repent of their sins; but only the Christian will repent of wrongly-motivated good works, while the religious person will rely on them (Tim Keller, pp. 73-74).

- then he quoted a sermon from the great evangelist George Whitefield – “Our best duties are as so many splendid sins…you must not only be made sick of your…sin, but you be sick of your righteousness, or all your duties and performances. There must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness. It is the last idol taken out of your heart.” (Sermon 58, from J.C. Ryle, The Select Sermons of George Whitefield).

- can I ask you this morning – are you sure you have taken this last idol out of your heart?...

- have you come to agree with God’s analysis, not only of your sin…but of any so-called righteousness that you earned of your own merit…

- and have you repented of self-righteousness and accepted the free of Christ’s righteousness available through faith in him?...

- that’s the point of those key verses back in chapter 1… Romans 1:16–17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous manshall live by faith.”

- friends – according to Romans 3:9-18, how many people can be righteous on their own?...none…no one…not even one…and what’s the final indictment in verse 18?...

D. All because we don’t fear God

- Romans 3:18 - “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

- think about the half-time show at the Super-bowl…I hope you turned it off…

- Psalm 111:10 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.

- and why is that?...sure there are many reasons to have a reverential fear of God…but here’s one we don’t always think of…

- Psalm 130:3–4 - If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.

- the reason men and women don’t seek God’s forgiveness for their sinful nature is they don’t believe they need it, or they don’t believe God would grant it if they asked…

- aren’t you glad that we don’t have to live in these verses?...

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace;

in every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, his covenant, his blood, support me in the whelming flood;

when all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.

When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found,

dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

- so can we all agree – everyone needs the gospel?...because of the perfect character of God, and because of the sinful nature of man…and lastly…

III. We Need the Gospel because of the Binary Nature of Salvation – vv. 19-20.

- Why do sports have to be binary?...there has to be a clock…there has to be a scoreboard…there have to be rules…we even have to have instant replay cameras…

- it’s because without that…there’s no justice…and without justice, our existence is chaos…

- we could say the same thing about so many areas of life…even politics

- thank the Lord that our God is just…and why did He give us His Word according to verse 19…so we would close our mouths…

- Romans 3:19 - Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;

- Keller observed…”So the effect of knowing the law should not be a proud claim that I am a good law-keeper, that I stand right with God. Its effect should be that: ‘every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God’ (v. 19). The law is not given to us so that, in observing it, we can ‘be declared righteous’ (v. 20) because we are all sinful. The law is not a checklist we keep; it is a benchmark we fail” (Keller, Romans, p. 75).

- that’s why verse 20 concludes the case against man without Christ… Romans 3:20 - because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comesthe knowledge of sin.

- please take that back to the quote we cited at the very beginning of our time together from John MacArthur - Paul is using the term righteous in its most basic sense of being right before God, of being as God created man to be.

- can anyone be right before God through his own merit?...no, everybody needs the gospel…

- please think about how this impacts our view of counseling/soul-care…and how it impacts our view of evangelism and outreach…

- first of all counseling – especially because tonight we’re beginning our BCTC…

- many secular and even some Christian counseling systems commit this two-fold error – they lead the counselee to believe that the fundamental problem lies outside of them…and the fundamental answer lies within..

- at best, those approaches will result in a person being either a moralist, or a religionist…

- the gospel calls us to something far different…even those who are suffering significantly because of the sin of others…

- the fundamental question is always our own sin…and whether we have ever repented and placed our trust in Christ…because until we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ…there is no way to handle sinning or suffering in a way that honors the Lord…

- that’s why the writer of Hebrews said -- Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please Him

- Heath Lambert wrote in his book, The Theology of Biblical Counseling, It is in Jesus Christ that God affirms all of his promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). At the center of all the truly effective counseling is Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus is at the center of biblical counseling because he occupies the center of Christian theology. He is at the center of Christian theology because he is at the center of all of life.

We cannot talk about the theology of counseling without talking about Jesus, who is the glorious epicenter of all existence. He is the Savior with whom all people must reckon. For good or ill, every person who has ever drawn breath will one day bow their knee as they stare agape at this exalted King. Knowing him is foundational to life, and so it is foundational to counseling.

- please pray that our conference will be saturated with the gospel…with no hint of moralism or religiosity (even of a biblical kind…)

- what about outreach?...

- you might say – I think I’m going to take my Bible to work Monday, and read Romans 3:9-20 to them and tell them how lost they are…

- a better approach might be to look for as many ways as possible – not to tell them how sinful they are – but to affirm that you too struggle with sin…and that Jesus Christ and his righteousness are your only hope…

- friend – are you sure that there has been a definite time in your life where you repented of your sin and exercised your faith in Christ alone?...George Whitefield was right – you must not only be made sick of you sin, you must be sick of your righteousness, of all your duties and performances…it’s the last idol taken out of your heart…

- Christian friend…I said at the beginning of this study that by the month of February, half of us might need therapy…

- this is what commentator Douglas Moo meant when he said… “He [Paul] knows that we cannot appreciate the good news until we thoroughly understand the bad news.” Douglas Moo, Encountering the Book of Romans (Baker: Grand Rapids:2002), 56.

- but aren’t you thankful that though God has demolished the window of self-righteousness, he has a far better replacement…

- we’re now prepared…unless Jesus returns in the next seven days…to study what many conservative Bible students consider the heart of the Bible…the most important paragraph ever written (Leon Morris)…Romans 3:21-31.

- I’m looking forward to getting through this little conference we have this week…so we can bask in these great verses together.

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video