Righteous By Faith
Good morning. I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you all again and our passage today is Romans 1:16-17. In 1980 an Australian man walked into a leather goods store in Los Angeles, California and he struck up a conversation with the store owner whose name was [can’t understand word] and he began to tell the Australian, who happened to be an author, about the story that had happened decades earlier. It was a story of great, great mercy about how Mr. [same name] and his wife, Mrs. Mila [same name] and 1200 other Jews had been spared from the gas chamber by a very unlikely deliverer, by a very unlikely savior with a little s. The deliverer was a member of a Nazi party, a business man by the name of Oscar Schindler and the Australian was so mesmerized by this story of great mercy that he goes home and he writes a book named Shindler’s Ark, like Noah’s ark. Stephen Spielberg comes along some years later and turns that into a movie names Schindler’s List.
And in the account from the Schindler survivors there was one story about 300 ladies, 300 Schindler survivors that got mistaken routed to Auschwitz. They were supposed to be routed on the train to the death camp, Auschwitz, and they were terrified that they would never get out because no one ever got out of Auschwitz alive. The website Oskar Schindler [can’t understand word], records statements from many Schindler Survivors.
Anna Pearle who was one of the 300 ladies mistakenly routed to Auschwitz later said this about the event. “I knew something had gone terribly wrong, they cut our hair real short and sent us to the shower. Our only hope was Schindler would find us. Well, Schindler, who loved the Schindler [can’t understand word], that’s what they called them in German, the Schindler [can’t understand word] , he called them his children. He loved them and so he did everything he could; he used all of his resources to protect and deliver his children. He bribed, he cajoled, he persuaded the Auschwitz authorities to let them out, he said I need them in my factory as workers because I’m building things for the German war machine and I need them as my workers. And so finally he was able to persuade the Auschwitz authorities to release them. And they were loaded on a train and shipped out from Auschwitz to Shindler’s factory where they would live.
Stella Moller Madesh [sp?] one of the 300 ladies who were saved, later said this in life: What I’ll say is nothing poetic but I will repeat it to the end of my days, that the first time I was given life by my parents and the second by Auschwitz Schindler. In 1944 there were around 700 women transported from Glasgow, (that was the work camp where they were working) 300 of whom were on his list. He fought for us like a lion because they did not want to let us out of Auschwitz. He was offered better and healthier (she puts in quotes) “material” from new transports, unlike us who had spent several years in the work camp. But he got us out, he saved us. When the ladies arrived at Schindler’s factory they were cold and hungry and frail. And they were greeted by the silhouette of a man standing in the courtyard. It was Oscar Schindler and he said now you are finally with me, you’re safe now, don’t be afraid of anything, you have nothing to worry about.
A male Schindler survivor by the name of Abraham Zuckerman put these events this way. “Can you imagine what power it took for him to pull out from Auschwitz 300 people? At Auschwitz there was only way you got out we used to say, through the chimney. Understand? Nobody ever got out of Auschwitz but Schindler got out 300. Well, the Schindler Jews appreciated, the Schindler survivors appreciated the gift that Schindler gave them, the gift of physical deliverance, physical salvation from the Nazis. He could have taken his money from war profiteering and just slid out to Latin America or some other remote part of the world like many of the Nazis did. But he didn’t, in an act of mercy he did everything he could to save the Schindler [can’t understand word]. And the Schindler Jews, the Schindler survivors loved him for it for the rest of their lives.
Now God has given us a gift far more valuable than the gift that Schindler gave to his children. As amazing as that was God has given us a gift that is everlasting, that is eternal, and my question to you and to me today is do we value that gift at least as much as the Schindler survivors valued the gift that Schindler gave them… at least as much! Of course, we should value it much more because the gift that God has given us is eternal life and the sacrifice that God did is infinitely more than what Schindler did for his children.
My question is do we care about our salvation? Do we value it? Or have we become so accustomed to is, so used to it, we’ve heard it so many times, and eehhh, it’s kind of blasé to it. Is that where we are, OR have we become so enamored… enamored by what we can see and touch and feel by our 401K’s and our IRA’s and our houses and out TV’s and everything that we can see and touch? Is that more valuable? Are we more amazed by those delicious things than we are about our salvation? I think sometimes Satan creeps into the church and gets us accustomed to our salvation.
Now this is just an analogy, right, it’s just an illustration, and every analogy falls apart at some point, right? I mean, the Schindler survivors were innocent victims before the Nazis where we are guilty rebels, for that matter, all of humanity is guilty sinners before a holy righteous God. And Schindler certainly was not divine. But I make the illustration, I make the analogy because I want to make the point of how great our salvation is. This morning I want to take us back, I want to take us back to when we were born from above, when we were born into the family of God. And I want us to understand how great our salvation is, how God in His rich, RICH mercy saved us from the eternal condemnation of the Lake of Fire, of the torments of hell which is where we were headed, in a great act of mercy.
And so our passage today is Romans 1:6-17 and these verses are actually the theme of the whole Book of Romans so they’re just jam-packed with divine truths. And what we are going to see are five main principles. We’re going to see that we’re not supposed to be ashamed of the gospel. I’m kind of embarrassed that I have to be told not to be ashamed of the gospel but that’s what we’re going to see here, don’t be ashamed of the gospel.
Number two, don’t be ashamed of it because “it is the power of God.” Number three, we’re going to see that in salvation there are negative consequences of sin, because that’s what we need to be saved from, our sin. There are negative consequences that are taken away, subtraction. And then there’s the addition in salvation of these positive blessings, these positive benefits that we receive. Number four, we’re going to see the righteousness of God revealed by faith. And then finally we’re going to see it’s not just salvation that is accomplished by the power of God but he preserves our salvation. He doesn’t just save us but He preserves us in that saved condition by His power.
Now this passage, Romans 1:16-17 is the passage that the Lord used to save Martin Luther 500 years ago. He was a dutiful Catholic Monk in Germany and Luther was troubled by the message of the church, the only church at that times was the Roman Catholic church, and he was troubled by their message of salvation, which was faith plus works… NOT faith alone, faith plus works. And the Lord used this passage to open Luther’s eyes that salvation is by faith alone, or to use Luther’s words, “justification by faith.” We’re justified, that’s another way of saying we’re made righteous, we’re declared righteous by faith, faith alone! And we’ll see that in a little bit.
So our first principle here is don’t be ashamed of the gospel, chapter 1, verse 16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel,” Paul says. Well, what’s the gospel? It’s pretty straightforward, it’s pretty simple, it’s not complicated at all. The gospel is what Paul said to the Philippian jailor in Acts 16, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. “ [Acts 16:31] And who’s Christ? Christ is the one who died for our sins, was buried and was raised from the dead, 1 Corinthians 15. That’s the gospel. It’s not complicated; it’s simple! And Paul knows that the world is hostile to the gospel; the world thinks that the gospel is stupid and that it’s foolishness. In the words of 1 Corinthians 1:21. [1 Corinthians 1:21, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”]
I like what C.E.B. Cranfield says about why the world sees the gospel as foolishness. Cranfield says, “The gospel is not impressive in the way the world has impressive things; it’s not impressive as compared to the world’s impressiveness.” Right. I mean, God doesn’t write in the sky “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” with music and the trumpets of God and flashing lights. That’s the impressiveness of the world; the world wants something flashy. That’s not how God delivers the gospel. God delivers the gospel through human messengers, through words, spoken or written.
So God doesn’t deliver the gospel in obvious might and majesty; instead He delivers it in Cranfield’s words, in a failed way because He leaves, the gentleman that He is, He leaves people room to exercise faith, room to make a free choice of faith as opposed to forcing someone to believe. And so as a result the world is bound to look at the gospel as weakness and foolishness. So Paul knows of the constant temptation to be ashamed of the gospel, because the world is hostile to it. He knows that believers will be afraid of being ridiculed and persecuted for speaking the gospel. So Paul addresses this head-on. He says okay, let’s talk about that!
So he says in the passage, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation.” You see what he just did? He’s making a contrast here, he’s saying on the one hand there’s the fear of being persecuted and ridiculed for speaking the gospel and on the other hand there is the power of God, and power is a great cure for fear. Right? What was the cure for the Schindler 300, they were huddling there in Auschwitz, the ladies? The power of Schindler to show up with his cash and get them out of Auschwitz. Power is a great cure for fear.
And so Paul says he’s snot relying on human power, he’s relying on the absolute infinite power of God. He says the reason I don’t give in to the temptation to be ashamed, to cower over here in the corner when I get persecuted or I get ridiculed with the gospel, the reason I don’t do that is because of the power of God. When we think of the gospel we often think of the grace of God as we should. Ephesians 2:8-9, right. [Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”]
We’re saved by His grace, we’re not saved by giving money to charity, we’re not saved by doing our best or by attending a church. It’s not like the conversation that the mom had with her four year old daughter where she is talking to her about salvation and what do you have to do to be saved? What does someone do to be saved? And the little girls says well, momma, they have to go to our church every Wednesday night and every Sunday. And the mom says no one gets saved by going to our church. And so the little girl looks up to mommy and she says well mommy, we’d better find another church then. [Laughter] It’s not like that. Salvation is by grace, it’s a free gift from God.
But in addition to grace being part of the salvation package there’s another aspect of God that’s involved, and that’s the power of God, the absolute power of God. Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 1:18 where he says, “For the Word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it’s the power of God.” So to the culture the gospel is stupid, it’s foolishness, it’s a fairy tale for the weak minded. But to those who are being saved the gospel is the absolute power of God. And there’s always been power, infinite power in God’s word, even from the beginning. In Genesis 1, when God created the heavens and the earth He did it with a word. That’s power. “Let there be light” and boom, there was light. “Let there be an expanse between the waters from above and below,” in other words, let there be a sky and there was a sky. Let there be animal life… boom.! Let there be plant life… boom! He just made these things with a word. That’s POWER!
And so we’re tired into that power, we are connected to that power through salvation, that infinite power. And so in our passage we see, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation,” what’s the salvation that Paul’s talking about? Is it a salvation for money problems? From health problems? From family problems? NO, that’s what the prosperity gospel is out there selling, which is no gospel at all. But that’s not what Paul is talking about. Paul is talking about salvation, deliverance from the horror that will come in the day of the Lord. That’s the future day where Jesus settles accounts. That’s the future day of reckoning. The one who is saved in the day of the Lord is the one who is delivered from the wrath of God which is executed by the God-Man, Jesus.
We often don’t hear the words wrath and Jesus in the same sentence. Right? Because the world wants to think of Jesus as the sweet baby cuddling Jesus in the manger. And it’s true that Jesus came meek and mild, as the lamb to be slaughtered for the world. That is true. But when He comes again He won’t come as a lamb; He’ll come as a lion, as the warrior king who slaughters His enemies to such a degree that in Revelation 14 it’s described that the blood reaches up to the bridal of the horse. Or in Revelation 20 it is that Jesus, the One who was in the manger who will sit on the Great White Throne Judgment and cast His enemies, who are unbelievers, into the Lake of Fire for torments forever. That’s the Jesus that we’re talking about, the Lamb and the Lion.
And the salvation that Paul is referring to here in Romans 1:16 is salvation from that wrath, from that wrath that will be inflicted by Jesus. And Paul lays this out a few chapters later in Romans 5:9-10 where he says, “Much more than having now been justified” that’s just another way of saying having now been declared righteous, “Much more than having now been justified by His blood we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” We’re justified by Jesus’ blood and we’re saved from the wrath of God through Jesus, that’s the “Him” here in verse 9.
Verse 10, “If while we were enemies…” enemies, that’s you, that’s me, enemies of God. That was our condition before we were saved. It’s not very flattering. Do you look at yourself in the mirror and you say “enemy of God!” I don’t like that, but that’s what the Scripture calls me and you before we were saved. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life,” by Jesus’ life. The wrath of God in verse 9 is the lake of fire. It’s hell, where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth as Jesus describes in Matthew 8.
Jesus put it this way in John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not believe in the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Now many in Christianity are embarrassed today about hell. They’re ashamed about that part of the gospel message and I submit that that is part of the gospel message, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’re going to heaven, don’t believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and my friend, you’re going to hell. And so many in Christianity today are embarrassed by the idea of hell even though it’s in the Scriptures. They’re afraid that they’re going to be called a bigot or intolerant if they say to their Muslim friend or their atheist friend or their Hindu friend hey man, I love you, but if you don’t believe in Christ you’re going to hell; I don’t want you to go to hell, I want you to be in heaven. And so many Christians are like whooo, whooo, whooo, whooo, I’m not going to say that? Somebody is going to call me a bigot for talking like that.
Well, that’s how the Bible talks. I’m not saying we should be jerks for Jesus, I’m not saying that we should present the gospel in an offensive way. We should present it in love but we should be honest about it, we should be truthful about the consequences of belief AND the consequences of unbelief. Hell is real and hell is horrible and personally I wish there was no hell. I wish there was no hell! I’ve given the gospel to my unbelieving friends and they’ve ehh, and so it hurts me to know that they’re headed to hell but I don’t get to make that call, whether there’s a hell or not. God has established it as a punishment, the eternal punishment for His enemies. And His enemies are those who have rejected His Son. And so I declare it because the Scripture declares it. God warns us that hell does exist and is the place of eternal punishment and torment for those who refuse to believe in His Son.
So our salvation is so precious, it’s so precious, I ask again, do we value it? Do you value it! Do I value it? Or has our comfort and ease become so delicious to us that we’re blasé about our salvation, that salvation is kind of eeehhh ho-hum. Other Christians around the world are being beheaded for their salvation, as Paul was beheaded for his, for the gospel. I think sometimes we get too casual about our salvation.
Now we can’t understand how great our salvation is if we don’t understand our need. Right. The Schindler 300 understood their need for deliverance; the Schindler 300 who were mistakenly routed to Auschwitz, they had no question in their mind that they had a need to get out, to be delivered. They knew they had to get out. Well, our need is much greater than theirs, for that matter, all of humanity’s need, for eternal salvation, is much greater than theirs.
Now the world is not going to tell people about their need for eternal salvation, right? But the Bible does, and what does it say? It says that we were the enemies of God subject to His wrath. Why? Because of our sin; it’s our sin that puts us in this terrible condition and we have three areas of sin where we are condemned: Adam’s original sin, when Adam sinned we sinned; his sin is imputed to us and that’s laid out in Romans 5:12. Many say hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, no, no, no. No no God, that’s not fair. I wasn’t there when he sinned, it’s not fair for me to be responsible for his sin.
Well, that fairness argument goes out the window with the second reason why we’re condemned because of our sin, that’s our own personal sins that we commit every day, either in thought or in deed. And so we do our own sin so we can’t get high and mighty and say God, that’s not fair that you’re going to impute Adam’s original sin to me. We do our own sins, Romans 3:23, because “all have sinned and fall short. That’s the glory of God. And then number three, the third reason of sin that condemns us is our sin nature, Romans 8:12-13. You don’t have to teach a baby to say no to mamma, right? There’s a reason why we call them the terrible twos; and when a two year old says no to mamma we don’t say who taught you to say no; we expect it, that’s why we call them the terrible twos, we expect it, it’s natural, now that we’re infected by sin, since the fall in Genesis 3.
And so we’re condemned by sin for three reasons; (1) because Adam’s original sin is imputed to us. (2) because we do our own personal sins, and (3) because of our sin nature. And then there’s a penalty for that, there’s a penalty for sin; it’s death, judgment and wrath. And you may be saying to yourself well wait a second, is there any good news that you have for us today Garcia? I’ll get to the good news in a minute but the penalty for sin is death, judgment and wrath. Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death,” that’s spiritual death AND physical death. Spiritual death was right there in the beginning, right there in Genesis. In Genesis 2 God said, “In the day that you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will die.” That’s Genesis 2.
Genesis 3, Adam and Eve sinned, He didn’t die for a thousand years so did God make a mistake, I means, was He just off by a thousand years? No, of course not, He’s perfect in all things. Adam died instantly and Eve died instantly spiritually; that’s why the first thing they did is they went and covered themselves up; they got some fig leaves and covered themselves up because Genesis 2 they were naked and not ashamed. Genesis 3, the first thing they did was cover themselves up and then hide in the trees when God came into the garden. Why? Because they were spiritually dead, they were separated from God spiritually; physically alive but spiritually dead.
And then that led ultimately to their physical death. And so their spiritual death and physical death that is the penalty of sin. Everybody in this room in a hundred years everybody is going to be dead; everybody is going to be dead in this room in a hundred years. We’re going to be gone; every human being dies and frankly that’s what proves the Scripture. That’s what proves that “the wags of sin is death.” So the penalty of sin—death! Number 1.
Number 2, it’s the judgment of God. Sin puts people under God’s judgment, John 3:18. A righteous holy God can’t just say eeehh, you know what, I’m not going to worry about [can’t understand word], because I like you all and I’m just going to blow off your sin. God can’t do that because He’s righteous and holy. We can’t think of God in terms of human standards, we have to think of Him as the Bible describes Him, as the Scripture describes Him, which is the righteous judge, Psalm 7:11.
And finally, the penalty for sin is wrath, the wrath of God. Our sin puts us under His wrath, Romans 5:9 that we saw earlier. We deserve to be cast into hell with the other rebels; when I say “the other rebels” I mean Satan and his fallen angels. They’re all rebels; we’re rebels like the rest of them. But then God, in His rich, rich mercy offers us deliverance. He sends the train to Auschwitz and He says won’t you come in, won’t you accept My salvation. What did our passage say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation,” and so there are negative consequences of sin that God removes I salvation. We’re not subject to those any more, AND He gives us positive blessings in salvation. The negative that’s removed is the wrath of God; we’re not subject to that any more. We’re not subject to the condemnation of judgment of God.
Number two, we’re not subject to spiritual death; we’re delivered from spiritual death. And then number four, He even delivers us from physical death. Well how does that work? Two minutes ago I said we’re all going to die. We will, but God, in His rich mercy undoes our physical death, like taking this flesh and these bones, which not long from now will be in the ground as dust, and reconstituting them so they’re fit for heaven. In other words, He resurrects us, gives us a resurrection body. So those are the negative things that are the consequences of sin that God removes, the subtraction.
The addition are the positive things, the positive blessing, the benefits that He gives us: eternal life, He gives us His righteousness as we’ll see in Romans 1:17, He will glorify us, Romans 8:30, and then He adopts us into His heavenly family. So Paul’s point is that the gospel is the power of God that breaks into this fallen world to save God’s enemies from their fallen state, from their sinful state of condemnation.
And then we get to the end of the verse in Romans 1:16, it’s salvation “to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” As you all know the Jews are the chosen race, God has chosen them for a special purpose. He’s chosen them to be the pipeline through which He blesses all of humanity. It’s not an accident that the author of all 66 books of the Bible were Jews, except Luke and maybe the author of Job. It’s not an accident that all of the apostles of Jesus (apostle means sent one) it’s not an accident that all the apostles were Jews. It’s not an accident that the Savior of the world is a Jew, Jesus. It’s not an accident that the one who will bring worldwide prosperity, the only one who can, and worldwide peace, the only one who can, in the millennium is a Jew, Jesus of Nazareth. It’s not an accident that Jesus will rule the world from the city of the Jews, Jerusalem, during the thousand year reign.
So the Jews have priority in this matter. Now although the Jews, since the time of Christ mostly have rejected Messiah they’re still chosen because the gifts and the calling are irrevocable, Romans 11. One day they will believe but in their status as chosen they have priority so the gospel was given to them first. Paul’s modus operandi, his procedure, what he would do every time he’d go into a new city in his missionary journey, where would he go first? The synagogue and then he’d go to the Gentiles. Paul’s point is the gospel is available to anyone who is willing to believe. Now in salvation we are utterly helpless; we’re helpless before our righteous God. Like the Schindler 300 were helpless in Auschwitz, they needed someone to come in and save them, we are helpless. Again, as I say, that illustration is not perfect because the Schindler survivors were innocent victims before the Nazi’s where we’re, and all of humanity for that matter, sinful rebels before God.
Because we’re sinful the Bible describes us as helpless and ungodly, Romans 5:6, “For while we were still helpless at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” That’s not very flattering is it? Helpless, enemies, ungodly, that’s how I’m described, that’s how you’re described in the Scripture. Our righteousness are tainted, they’re infected, everything about us is infected with this virus called sin. And so even our righteousness is disgusting before God. What did the prophet Isaiah say in Isaiah 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean and our righteous deeds are like filthy garments.” He Hebrew there is [sounds like: beged-edeem] which means menstruation garment. That’s how God views our righteous deeds; he views them as a filthy garment and so we’re helpless before Him.
When you add this up, when you add up our personal sins, when you add up Adam’s original sin being imputed to us, when you add up our sin nature, we get total depravity, we get the doctrine of total depravity. Now total depravity doesn’t mean that we’re as wicked as we potentially could be; it doesn’t mean that every human being is murdering everybody else. It doesn’t mean that your neighbor sitting right next to you… you don’t need to worry that he’s going to slide his hand in your pocket and try and grab your wallet. Right. I mean, total depravity doesn’t mean that we’re as bad as we potentially can be. It means that in relationship to a perfect holy God we can’t do anything to please Him, we can’t do anything to please Him! Now the world they say come on, we’re pretty good. The world flatly rejects this idea of total depravity.
I like the way Dwight Pentecost describes it; he says, “We are the heirs of generations of the teachings of evolution which sees man in an ever sinning spiral rising higher and higher from the depth from which he has sprung until finally he will reach the stars. So widely accepted is that concept that we have come somehow to feel that there is so much good in the worst of us that man is not so bad off after all. Well, as Pentecost points out in his book and that the Scripture points out, yeah we are, the reality is that in relation to a perfect holy righteous God we are sinful broken and helpless and we need God to step in for us.
Verse 17, “For in it,” the “it” here is the gospel, “for in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, “but the righteous man shall live by faith.” This verse is just jam packed with divine truths. Remember what Paul said in verse 16 where he said that the gospel is the power of God to salvation. Why is that? Why is the gospel of God the power of God for salvation? It’s because in the gospel God reveals His righteousness. He shows it, He exhibits it, He shows His righteousness in the gospel and that’s our fourth point here.
The phrase, “the righteousness of God” really means two things: it means who God is and what He does. Who is God? He’s the only one who’s righteous; all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3. So God’s the only one who’s righteous. That’s His attribute that’s being described there, His characteristic, He is righteous. But it’s not just about who He is, it’s what He does. The righteous one declares the unrighteousness as righteous, so He is righteous and then He does something He declares us, He gives us a new status, a new legal status in heaven. I am no longer the enemy of God, I become righteous; He declares me as righteous. It’s kind of like a Governor who pardons a criminal; the criminal committed the crime, the criminal is the enemy of the state, the criminal is subject to the punishment of the state, but the governor comes in and says I’m going to pardon you, you now have a new legal status, you’re no longer the enemy of the state, you’re no longer under the punishment of the state. You’re pardoned now.
Like every other analogy I say it’s not perfect because what’s happening here in salvation is it’s true, our sins are forgiven, God doesn’t remember our sins any more, that’s the negative that’s removed but He’s doing more than a governor can do, right. The governor just says all right, you’re forgiven. Here God says you’re forgiven plus, AND I’m going to give you these things; I am going to make you, I’m going to declare you righteous, I’m going to give you My righteousness. And so the righteousness of God is who God is and what He does.
Notice this word revealed, “for in it the righteousness of God is revealed.” The verb here is in the present tense, it’s happening right now. He’s exhibiting His righteousness right now. How does He do that? He sends someone to preach the gospel. Right. A mom to give the gospel to her child. A worker to give the gospel to a co-worker. A preacher to preach the gospel. Take Billy Graham for example, he preaches the gospel all around the world, I used to tell this funny story where he went to this little town in South Carolina and he was going to preach in the evening and it’s the middle of the day and he’s looking for a post office and he goes to a little boy he sees in the street and he asks the little boy for the directions to the post office. The little boy gives him directions to the post office and Billy Graham says well thank you son, I want you to know that I’m going to be preaching tonight and I’m going to be giving people directions of how to heaven, I’m going to be telling them how to get to heaven, and you’re invited. So the little boy looks up at Mr. Graham and he says well, no thank you sir, you don’t even know how to get to the post office. [Laughter]
The point is God uses human messengers to reveal His righteousness. You see, God’s not just out there detached from His creation in heaven. No, He engages Himself intimately in His creation and He exhibits or reveals His righteousness through spoken by human messengers.
And then we get to the human side of salvation. Faith! You see that in the language there, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” That’s a curious phrase, “from faith to faith.” It’s saying, to use Jim’s words, the whole enchilada is about faith, it’s all faith. Okay. Don’t show up with your good works because God says I don’t want them because they’re as filthy rags before Me. It’s all FAITH!. That’s the means by which God has chosen to save us.
Now one thing I should point out is the power is not in the faith the power is in the God who does the saving. The power is in God who saves us; it’s not the faith that technically saves us, we need to believe, we are required to have faith, but faith is just a means that God has chosen, the power is in God who does the saving. So when I trust in Christ, when I rely on Christ for the forgiveness of my sins, for my access to heaven, for my access to the Father, I’m putting all the glory on Him, all the praise on Him because when I don’t have any works, when I don’t bring my works to the conversation, to the transaction, and I say Father, it’s all… I rely on Christ for my salvation, now I don’t get any of the glory. God has chosen a means by which He gets all the glory, He gets all the praise. Why? Because He did it all. We didn’t do anything and so none of the glory goes to us. In that act of faith I can’t very well say ha-ha, look at me, I relied on Him. Well, that doesn’t make any sense, right? How can I be bragging if I put all my faith on Christ.
Now the unbelieving world would say look, I’m not going to worship a God who’s an egomaniac. Have you ever heard that argument? The unbelieving world says God needs glory, He’s got the bighead; He’s an egomaniac. That’s the way the argument from the atheist goes. What’s fundamentally missing from that argument is an understanding of who God is. There’s only one who is holy; there is only one who is righteous. See, what that argument means, what that argument is saying is putting God on an equal par with humanity; there’s only one who’s holy, there’s only one who’s righteous, and that’s God, and so God demands glory. Why? Out of an interest of honesty because there’s no one like Him. That’s why the angels declare in Isaiah 6, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” because He is utterly other, and so out of an interest of honesty, of truth, He demands glory because there’s no one else worthy. So in faith we put all the glory on God and on Christ.
Then at the end of the verse you see this quote from the Old Testament. At the end of the verse Paul says, “As it is written, the righteous man shall live by faith.” This statement is a quote that the Lord gave to the prophet, a statement that the Lord made to the prophet Habakkuk in Habakkuk 2:4. [Habakkuk 2:4, “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” And there Habakkuk was very concerned because the Lord had just told him look, the Babylonian army is coming and Israel is going to be destroyed by the Babylonians. So Habakkuk is very concerned and the Lord reassures Habakkuk and He says these words to Habakkuk. What’s the Lord is saying is Habakkuk, look, some are righteous, some are righteous and they will be delivered from the wrath of the Babylonians because of their faith in me.”
So Habakkuk 2 is dealing with deliverance or salvation, physical deliverance, physical salvation from the wrath of the Babylonian army. In Romans 1:17, our passage this morning, Paul unpacks this a little more, unpacks what’s going on here a little more. Paul reads the prophet’s words in light of the power of the gospel. So Paul tells us that the phrase, “the righteous man shall live by faith” doesn’t just mean physical deliverance of physical salvation from the wrath of the Babylonian army; it also means eternal deliverance, eternal salvation from the wrath of God that is to come.
Paul’s point is that the people who have been declared righteous by God because of their faith, it’s those who are going to live. In other words, it’s those who are going to be saved and salvation really involves three things for the believer. Salvation is immediate deliverance, number one from the judgment of God; that’s what we’ve been talking about, immediate deliverance from the wrath of God.
Number two, it’s ongoing deliverance from the power of sin to enslave us in our daily choices. We don’t have to submit to sin anymore because we’ve been liberated, Romans 6:12-14. And then finally, our salvation from sin is that there will be a future deliverance from the presence of sin in heaven; there won’t be any sin in heaven. While this verse, Romans 1:17, this is the verse that God used to save Martin Luther 500 years ago. Martin Luther was this dutiful Catholic monk; he was a Catholic monk in Germany and the idea of the righteousness of God just scared Luther to no end. He was terrified by the righteousness of God. Here’s what he said 500 years ago.
“My situation was that, although an impeccable monk,” Luther said, “I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him.…Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith.…whereas before the ‘justice of God’” when he says “justice of God” he means the righteousness of God, same thing, “whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love.” [Martin Luther quoted in Roland H. Bainton’s Here I Stand, page 51.]
This is the doctrine of justification by faith; we are justified (or declared righteous) by faith in an instant of time, in a moment of faith in Christ where God imputes His righteousness, He transfers His righteousness to us. He declares us as righteous. This is where Luther and the Roman Catholic Church parted ways and vehemently disagreed. They disagreed on this concept of justification by faith. The Roman Catholic Church, at the Council of Trent, which was their response to the Reformation, condemned the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The Council of Trent was made up of Catholic clergy and they said no, no, no, no, justification doesn’t happen in an instant of time, it happens gradually over someone’s life; it’s a lifelong process they said, where a person becomes righteous over time by a combination of faith plus works, not by faith alone.
Here’s what they said at the Council of Trent, ““If any one shall say, that by faith alone the impious [i.e., the sinner] is justified;” declared righteous, same thing, “so as to mean that nothing else is required to co-operate in order unto the obtaining the grace of justification… ; let him be anathema [i.e., accursed].” [T.A. Buckley: The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, pg. 46]
They’re saying no, no, no, no, you can’t say that it’s faith alone. That’s their point there. You’ve got to have more, is what they’re saying. And they unpack this a little more in Canon 34, where they say, “Canon XXXIV. “If any one shall say, that the justice received is not preserved, and also increased in the sight of God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of justification received, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.” Let him be accursed. They’re saying you’re not declared righteous, you’re not made righteous by God in an instant of faith. They’re saying you need God to declare you as righteous and you need good works as part of it, you need both, you need faith and good works and then through that you become righteous.
Well, praise God, that through Martin Luther, these views from the Council of Trent, were shown as false because the Scripture makes clear that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. And praise God that Martin Luther, that God through Martin Luther unpacked the doctrine of justification by faith for us.
The final thing that I’d like to talk about today is eternal security. Eternal security is something that is so important to us and it’s laid out in the Scripture, the logical result of the Council of Trent’s position is that you can’t know that you’re saved. That’s what they say here in chapter 9 of the Council of Trent: ““. . . no one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to mistake, that he has obtained the grace of God.” [T.A. Buckley: The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, pg. 36.]
That’s the logical result of a position of the only way you’re saved is faith plus works; that’s a false position. That’s their position, you need faith plus works. Well, the logical result of that is you can’t know for sure if you’re ever saved and that’s what they say clearly in chapter 9 here of the Council of Trent. You can’t know.
Well, let me be crystal clear on this: the Bible makes absolutely certain clear that you can know if you’re saved because salvation is NOT our power, it’s God’s power, He does it all. If it were our power then I’d agree with you, I’d say I don’t know, I don’t know, how many good works are enough, is it 1005 or 1007, how many good works are enough? So our salvation is protected by God’s power. He preserves our salvation, He doesn’t just save us by his power but He preserves our salvation by His power.
And the Apostle Peter lays this out for us in 1 Peter where he says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy” that’s a word that just runs through the Scripture, “mercy.” Well, I don’t need no mercy if I’ve got good works, because then I can get the glory. And God says no, I save through My mercy because I, as God, do it all! So, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope protected by the power of God through faith for his salvation to be revealed in the last time.”
Our salvation is not revealed right now. No one sees it; you can’t touch it and feel it. But in the last time, in the day of the Lord, when His wrath is revealed on His enemies and we are not there that’s when this salvation is revealed. That’s what Peter is talking about, it’s revealed in the last times when there is the day of the Lord, the day where the Lord settles accounts. But the believer’s salvation is actually doubly secure because Jesus promised that no one could snatch us out of His hand or the Father’s hand in John 10:28-29. [John 10:28-29, “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”]
I love how the Apostle Paul describes our eternal security, how we can know in fact that we are saved. He does that in Romans 8:38-39, where he says: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God,” “the love of God,” not the wrath of God, “the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And so I ask again, do you care about your salvation? Do you value it? Do I? Have we become so enamored by what we can see and touch and feel that our salvation is eehh, it’s interesting, yeah. Do we value it at least as much as those Shindler survivors valued the gift of physical salvation, physical deliverance that Shindler gave them? We should value our salvation much more, right, because ours is eternal, it’s eternal everlasting salvation. If our attitude is that salvation is really no big deal then I submit we should confess that to God; we should confess that and we should ask Him to humble us. We should ask Him to remind us of the great, great mercy that He has given us, undeserved mercy. And we should ask Him to challenge us to appreciate the salvation, give us an attitude of gratitude.
Now if there’s anybody here today who’s without Christ, without hope and without eternal life we want you to know that Jesus died for you, that Jesus longs for you to come to Him. The Father sacrificed His only begotten Son, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the God-man, for YOU, and if you trust Him, if you believe and rely on Him for your access to the Father, you believe on Him, He is the one who died for your sins, He was buried and was raised from the dead, in an instant of time God declares you as righteous and you become the daughter or the son of God; you become the child of God and you go from being His enemy subject to wrath, the wrath that is to come, subject to the eternal lake of fire, you go from being His enemy to being His child. And so we urge you to do that in an instant of time; it just takes a prayer, a second in your mind, and you’re transformed from being the enemy of God to being His child.
Father, we thank You for our time together this morning and we ask that You would challenge us by these principles. We thank You for Your mercy and we thank You for Your grace and we thank You for the clarity of Your word, and we thank You for what You revealed to Martin Luther 500 years ago and we praise You for it. We ask that You humble us, and remind us that You love us and that You are in control and we’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. In Jesus name we pray, and God’s people said… Amen!