One Gospel

Oct 11, 2020 | Dr. Jamie Dew

Salvation By Grace Through Faith

*Will you go to heaven when you die?

*Suffice it to say, everyone wants to go to heaven, and thus we should care a lot about what the Bible says regarding salvation.

*Throughout chapters 1-3, Paul has been making the case that none of us are saved by our works.

*In chapter 4, Paul makes this abundantly clear.

Works give false confidence before God.

In vs. 1-2, Paul notes that people who think they can approach God via their good works have false confidence before God. He says, “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” In response to those that think that Abraham is an example of one who earned salvation by the works of the Law, Paul mocks such a notion by saying that this would indeed give Abraham.

Throughout chapters 1-3, or any man for that matter, the ability to boast before God. But in vs. 2, he makes it very clear that such a notion is absurd. There is no boasting before God.

Romans 3:10-27: As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues, they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes. . . Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.

Galatians 6:14: But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Therefore, we must all check ourselves before God. There is no place for boasting in ourselves.

Works count against us, not for us.

In vs. 4, Paul points out that for those that trust in their own work, their work is counted against them, not for them. He says, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.” This is a striking verse, one that we should make sure that we note and remember, perhaps even memorizing. The world believes, and virtually all other religions teach, that we earn our salvation by the good things we do. The image here is of a set of cosmic scales that we will be weighed and measured by when all is said and done. If, in this view, our good outweighs our bad, then God will give us salvation. But contrary to the popular way of thinking, Paul says the exact opposite. The good that I do, if I trust int hat good to save me, will count against me, not for me.

Romans 2:21. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” The logic here is simple. If you could get to heaven on your own by your own works, then Jesus died for absolutely no reason. But he did die, which means you cannot get their on your own.

  • Christ in Gethsemane. Imagine Him as he cried, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” If there were another way, why wouldn’t God have let Him off the hook here?

So despite what we might be inclined to think, our trust in our deeds works against us, not for us.

Grace and righteousness come through faith in Christ.

In vs. 3, and vs. 5-8, Paul makes the Gospel known to us. He says, “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” . . . But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered;  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” Here Paul shows us that Abraham was not righteous because of his works of the law. Rather, he was righteous because he believed God. From this, Paul makes clear that “to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”

There is an interesting and important debate here amongst theologians. What comes first: Faith or regeneration (Ordo Salutis).

  • Faith leads to regeneration. Some hold that faith precedes regeneration. The natural reading of several verses here seems to suggest that.
  • Regeneration leads to faith. But others suggest that regeneration precedes regeneration. There seems to be a major problem in the previous view. How could one trust or believe when spiritually he is dead in sin?

Might I simply suggest that we live with the tension and insist that (1) it is only by the grace of God that we are saved, and (2) we are called to place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. In the same way that I might not be able to comprehend what a surgeon does to heal my body while I’m unconscious, we may not ever be able to solve such riddles. I can and must, however, insist on the fact that it is God alone who saves and that we receive that gracious salvation through faith.

Romans 3:23-26: “or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

In the end, we are told that God’s righteousness is given to those who believe and have faith, and we are called to believe.

Grace and Righteousness are for all people who believe.

In vs. 16-18, Paul makes it clear that God’s salvation is not just for the Jews who “keep the law.” Rather, it is for all—from every tribe and tongue—who believe! He says, “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” Here we see that God fulfills His promise to Abraham (Gen. 12) through grace to all who believe, not through the law to the Jews who keep it. Salvation is for people of every tribe and tongue. Those who believe are made righteous by God.

Romans 3:21-22. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference.

Romans 3:28-31. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

Therefore, we trust God and preach Christ to all people.


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