“God’s Righteousness Revealed” (Pt. 3)
February 5, 2017
This is the third week that we’ve looked at this passage that one commentator said “is possibly the most important single paragraph ever written.” [Morris, 173.] Why are we taking so much time and going so slowly through this passage?
Because this may be the single clearest passage on the biblical doctrine of justification — how God declares sinners to be righteous. And as Phil Johnson has rightly noted, the doctrine of justification is unique among all doctrines in Scripture because —
A person can affirm the doctrines of the virgin birth of Christ, have a solid grasp on the incarnation, believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, and yet be one…who—rather than trusting in Christ alone for justification—[is] seeking to establish a righteousness of [his] own by works.
In other words, you can be basically sound on Christology or theology proper and unsound on the gospel. And that error, Paul says, will damn you without remedy.
But the converse is not true. I have never met anyone who truly understood and affirmed justification by faith and the principle of sola fide who was unsound on other fundamental doctrines.…the principle of justification by faith works only if you affirm the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. Stay sound on the principle of sola fide, and you will also be basically sound in your understanding of the atonement.
In the same way, all the fundamental doctrines of Christianity—the incarnation, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the truth of a Trinitarian Godhead, the doctrines of grace, and even the authority of Scripture—are all linked in one way or another so that the better you understand this doctrine of justification by faith, the more sound you will be in all of your theology.
That’s why we’re going slowly and that’s why we are savoring these verses that describe God’s eternal and infinite grace in saving us.
So what does Paul say in these verses? He teaches that:
When man had no means to save himself, God justly provided a declaration of righteousness through Christ.
Here, then, are seven statements about the nature of justification:
- What Justification Is (v. 21)
- How Justification is Appropriated (v. 22a)
- Who Needs Justification? (v. 22b)
- Why Justification is Necessary (vv. 22b-23)
- Who Accomplished Justification? (v. 24)
- When Justification was Accomplished (v. 25a)
- How Justification Really is Just (vv. 25b-26)
Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 3:24-25.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.