Romans 3:29-30 One Way for Everybody


In this second paragraph of Romans 3 which we have been studying, Paul is providing three natural conclusions or inferences from these doctrines, among which is the teaching that in terms of salvation is but one way of salvation for everybody (see verses 27-28; 29-30; 31). Today we will be studying the second point which is the one Paul develops in Romans 3:29-30. These verses teach that the fact that there is only one way of salvation follows from the fact of their being only one God. God is the God of all. So the salvation He provides is but one salvation for all. Far from being narrow or sectarian, this truth actually swings the grand door of salvation wide open for everybody.

The gospel that Paul has been expounding maintains the great high principle of monotheism, for it is the gospel of this one God. It flows from His grace. It has been accomplished by His Son, who died for us. It requires us to be like Him. At the same time, the gospel does not promote any kind of exclusiveness, for it is a gospel offered to all alike – apart from their religious advantages or disadvantages, understanding or lack of understanding, good works or very evil deeds. It presents a God as equally a God of the Gentiles as of the Jews. God deals with both classes on precisely the same principles; He pursues, with regard to both, the same plan, and offers salvation to both on exactly the same terms.

That is what I want to do (and you should too); to apply the gospel developed in Romans 3 as universally as possible. My method is simple. I want to tell you that whoever you are or whatever you may or may not have done, this gospel is for you, because it is for everybody. I want you to see that if you will come to God in the way He has appointed for you to come – He will receive you and will never cast you out.

I can only think of one thing that could possibly turn you away from this gracious, embracing, “all are welcome” gospel. And that is that you do not want to go into the Father’s house with all those other types of people. But if that is so, do not call Christianity narrow or bigoted or mean or self-righteous or sectarian. It is you who are sectarian, and Christianity is the only thing I know of that can cleanse you of that blight. Only Jesus can give you grace to place your pride aside and step through that wide door of salvation as the rebellious sinner you truly are. No one else will go through – only sinners who have confessed their sin, turned from it, and believed on Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Romans 3:29-30 Reflection Questions:

Paul says that Jesus’ faithfulness was His dealing with sin to the point of death. How does the death of Jesus show God’s willingness to deal with sin when He had earlier left it unpunished, perhaps making Him look unjust?

Did you know that the gospel is for everyone? If so, how are you showing and telling the gospel to everyone?

Romans 3:27-28 No Grounds for Boasting


This next section of chapter 3 (vv. 27-31) is a postscript to verses 21-26. The earlier verses, the first paragraph, tell of the plan God has devised to save men and women. It is by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and can be summed up in the words “justification by grace through faith alone.” The next five verses, which make up a second paragraph, present three consequences or implications of this plan. The first is that this way of salvation “by grace through faith” excludes boasting. The second is that it provides one way of salvation for everybody. The third is that, far from allowing a person to indulge in immorality or lawbreaking, as some suppose, it actually upholds the law. God’s way of salvation provides a level of morality of which mere adherents to law, apart from the grace of God in the gospel, cannot even dream.

With today’s study we will study the first implication of the doctrine of justification by faith, which concerns boasting. For boasting is related to pride – it is an expression of it – and pride is the greatest of all sins according to biblical Christianity. If pride is the greatest of all sins and God’s plan of salvation does not destroy pride – rooting it up, casting it out, and even dusting off the place where it stood – then it’s not a good plan. It has failed, and we need a faith other than Christianity. Pride was the very first sin (see Isaiah 14:13-14). Pride made Satan want to ascend into heaven to the very throne of God, but the Bible says it actually brought him “down to the grave, to the depths of the pit” (v. 15).

Where in the range of human experience and relationships is pride most evident and at the same time most clearly wrong and inappropriate? The sphere of life in which people show the most pride is religion. And there is a good reason for this. Religion – not true Christianity, but religion in the generic sense – is the ultimate setting for the very worse expressions of pride. For it is in religion alone that we are able to claim that God, and not mere human beings, sets His approval on us as superior to other human beings. Moreover, the more demanding or rigorous our “religion is, the more prideful we become. Do we need an example? The Lord Jesus Christ provided one when He compared the humility of the tax collector, who was saved by faith in the mercy of God made known in the sacrifices, with the pride of the Pharisee who boasted of his goodness (Luke 18:11-12).

The fact that the Pharisee did not see himself as a sinner in need of mercy shows that he did not know God at all. Here is the way C. S. Lewis puts it: “How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say that they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how he approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to him and get out of it a pound’s worth of Pride towards their fellow-men… Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good – above all, that we are better than someone else – I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.”*

But how can we forget about ourselves – we who are filled with pride? It’s the very nature of pride to do the opposite. The answer is that in ourselves we cannot. That is what being saved by grace means; it means that we cannot save ourselves. We are no more able to save ourselves or forget about ourselves than are other human beings. But we are enabled to forget about ourselves when God turns our attention to Jesus, who died for us and binds the whole of our hope and life to Him through faith. Which brings us to our Romans 3:27-28 text. Salvation by grace is the one doctrine that undercuts all boasting.

So let’s be done with boasting in the church of Jesus Christ – “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). Christians are all nothing but sinners saved by grace. If you do not believe that, you are not saved. You are still trusting in your own good works, your feelings, your superior religious knowledge or your faith – not in Jesus. Jesus saves! That is the message of Christianity. If you believe that, you will forget about yourself and bow low before Him.

Romans 3:27-28 Reflection Questions:

How often do you give yourself credit for doing some good works, instead of giving God the praise and credit?

Are you worshiping an imaginary god?

What do you do daily to forget about yourself?

*C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1958), p. 96, 97.

Romans 3:25-26 Faith


It’s time to talk about faith. Wonderful as the salvation that has been accomplished by Jesus Christ may be, it is of no use to us unless it becomes ours personally – and the way the work of Christ becomes ours personally is through faith. That is why the Bible says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Heb. 11:6) and why the apostle Paul speaks of faith so often in the section of Romans we are now studying – eight times in verses 21 through 31.

What exactly is faith? Of the writers on faith, John Calvin perhaps had the strongest point of view, for he found it necessary to oppose a very serious error about faith that had developed in the teaching of the medieval church. In the years before the Reformation the church had been derelict in teaching the Scriptures to the people. Consequently, most people were ignorant of the true gospel of salvation, and most clergy were ignorant of it also. Calvin argued that “the object of faith is Christ” and that “faith rests upon knowledge, not upon pious ignorance.” Calvin wrote, “We do not obtain salvation either because we are prepared to embrace as true whatever the church has prescribed, or because we turn over to it the task of inquiring and knowing. But we do so when we know that God is our merciful Father, because of reconciliation effected through Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-19), and that Christ has been given to us as righteousness, sanctification and life. By this knowledge, I say, not by submission of our feeling, do we obtain entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.” This ancient debate has bearing upon the “faith” of many persons today, for although many probably do not exercise “implicit” faith in the church or in any other authority, they seem to have implicit faith in themselves or merely “faith in faith,” which turns out to be almost the same thing.

In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin is so concerned about stressing the importance of knowledge as the first element in faith that he rightly presents it in another way, showing the necessary link between faith and the Word of God, or the Bible. Reduced to its basics, Calvin shows that: (1) faith is defined by God’s Word; (2) faith is born of God’s Word; and (3) faith is sustained by God’s Word.

The first of these points is particularly clear in Romans 3. For Paul speaks of faith after having spoken of the righteousness of God (that is the gospel) in verse 21. It is after this that he says, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (v. 22). In other words, the faith in Christ about which he is speaking is faith in that work of Christ previously revealed in and explained by the Old Testament. There cannot be any true faith without the Word of God, for it is in the Word alone that we learn what we are to believe.

The second way in which faith is linked to the Word of God is that faith is created, born, or awakened in us by that Word. Apart from the Word, we are like Lazarus – as dead in our transgressions as he was dead in his cold Judean tomb. What will awaken us from that sleep of death? Only the call of the life-giving God can produce such new life. The only place where we can hear the voice of God is in the pages of the Bible, where alone God speaks.

The third link between faith and the Bible is that it is through the Bible that faith is strengthened or sustained. Why? Because the Bible directs us to God and His promises, and only God is strong enough to support us in this matter of salvation. The conclusion is that if you wish to be strong in faith and grow in it, you must spend time studying the Bible and appropriating the promises of God that are found there.

As important as biblical content of faith is and which Calvin stressed so strongly, it is nevertheless possible to know this content and yet be lost – if it has not touched the individual personally at the heart level. Here is how Calvin put it – after a long section (forty out of fifty pages on “faith”) dealing with the element of knowledge or content: “It now remains to pour into the heart itself what the mind has absorbed. For the Word of God is not received by faith if it flits about in the top of the brain, but when it takes root in the depth of the heart that it may be an invincible defense to withstand and drive off all the stratagems of temptation.”

The third element of faith is a real yielding of oneself to Christ, which goes beyond having knowledge, however full or accurate, or even being personally moved by the gospel. (Many are moved, even to tears, but are not saved.) It is the point at which we pass over the line from belonging to ourselves (as we think) and become the Lord’s disciples. It is what was seen in Thomas when he not only believed in Jesus and his resurrection but fell at His feet in worship, exclaiming, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). It is at this point that faith joins hands with love, which it closely resembles, and hope is born from that union.

Jesus pledges Himself to us; He has already done it. We pledge ourselves to Him through the third element of faith: commitment. He died for us, demonstrating the nature of His true love and sterling character. He wooed us getting us to love Him who first loved us. Now He takes the wedding vow, saying, “I Jesus, take thee [put your name in the space], to be my wedded wife; and I do promise and covenant, before God the Father and these witnesses, to be  thy loving an faithful Savior and Bridegroom; in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, in this life and for all eternity,”

We then look up into His face and repeat the words: “I [your name], take thee, Jesus to be my loving Savior and Lord; and I do promise and covenant, before God the Father and these witnesses, to be thy loving and faithful wife: in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, and in sickness and in health, for this life and for all eternity.” God the Father (not an earthly minister) then pronounces the marriage, and you become the Lord Jesus Christ’s forever.

Have you done that? Have you believed on Jesus Christ? Do you love Him? Do you know yourself to have been made His forever? You may say, “Well, I don’t know if I have or not.” If you don’t know, settle the matter right now! Perhaps you say, “But I’m unworthy.” Of course you are. How could anybody possibly be worthy of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ? All are unworthy, but it is precisely your awareness of your unworthiness that makes it possible for you to know you need a Savior. Paul reminds us that God has shown “His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

You might say, “But my faith is so weak.” Yes, and your love and hope and everything else are weak, too. But it does not take strong faith to be saved, just faith. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The weakness of your faith will not destroy you. A trembling hand may receive a golden gift.”* Reach out your hand. Place it in that pierced hand that is stretched out to you. Clasp it to your heart, and love Jesus forever.

Romans 3:25-26 Reflection Questions:

What is your faith in; the church, some other authority, yourself, in faith, or in Christ?

How much time do you spend daily or weekly studying the Bible? Now compare that with the time you spend on your phone, the internet, or the T.V.

Has the Word of God touched your heart? How do you know?

*Spurgeon, All of Grace, p. 43.

Romans 3:21-24 Righteousness Apart from Law

For two and a half chapters of Romans, we have been looking at the sad story of the ruin of the race because of sin. Now we reach a new and glorious point in Paul’s letter. Instead of reviewing the grim story of sin and God’s wrath, we turn with relief to the wonderful news of God’s great grace to sinners through the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Romans 3:21-31 we are dealing with themes that are the very heart, not only of Paul’s letter, but of the entire Bible and therefore of reality itself. In all life and history there is nothing more important than these teachings. But who today thinks this way? Who is willing to acknowledge this in an age when abstract thought – even thinking itself – is suspect? Who even among the masses of Christian people really appreciates what Paul is saying here? Ours is an age in which people are self-absorbed and focus on immediate gratification. We tend to evaluate any religious teaching according to its apparent relevance to our present “needs” and short-term goals. No one can have success teaching basic truths about man and the universe unless our closed ways of thinking are changed. But, then, this has always been the case. It was no easier for the apostle Paul to preach the message of salvation to a generation that was busy entertaining itself by sex and circuses than for today’s Christians to minister that same word to an age that has anesthetized itself through all the media devices available to them. But we must try! We must try as Paul did! We must teach the Word of God, because it is by the Word alone that God speaks to us about what really matters.

At the beginning of Romans 3:21 we come to two tremendous words: “But now”! If we had not studied the first two and a half chapters of Romans carefully, we would not be in a position to appreciate these words, because the change they speak of would not seem to be a change at all. With no understanding of the past, we can never appreciate the present. But now we can! We have studied the past. Therefore these two words become for a cry of great joy and thanksgiving. The words “But now” indicate that something of great importance has taken place, and that this is the substance of the good news being proclaimed by Paul and other messengers of the gospel.

Here is a simple outline of this teaching: (1) God has provided a righteousness of His own for men and women, a righteousness we do not possess ourselves. This is the very heart or theme of the Word of God. Although it is new in its fulfillment, it had nevertheless been fully prophesied in the Old Testament. (2) This righteousness is by grace. We don’t deserve it. In fact, we are incapable ever of deserving it. (3) Its the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in dying for His people, redeeming them from their sins, that made this grace on God’s part possible. This is the reason for the “now” in “but now.” It is because of Jesus’ death that there is a Christian gospel. (4) This righteousness that God has graciously provided becomes ours through simple faith. Believing and trusting God in regard to the work of Jesus is the only way anyone, whether Jew or Gentile, can be saved.

We can see the importance of these teachings by noticing that they are nearly exact repetition of what Paul has already stated as the thesis of the letter. They were stated in his opening address in Romans 1:1-5. It is also what we have found in the initial statement of Paul’s thesis in Romans 1:16-17. So I repeat what I said at the beginning of this study: There is nothing in all life and history that is more important than these teachings. The issues of eternity hang on these truths, and we must be faithful to them regardless of the resistance or scorn of our contemporaries.

When a person is first presented with this pure core of Christianity, the reaction is usually revulsion. We want to save ourselves, and anything that suggests that we cannot do so is abhorrent to us. We do not want a religion that demands that we throw ourselves entirely upon the grace and mercy of God. But Christianity is not only the religion we need so desperately. It is also the only religion worth having in the long run. Let’s review why.

  • If salvation is by the gift of God, apart from human doing, then we can be saved now. We don’t have to wait until we reach some high level of attainment or pass some undetermined future test. Many people think in these terms, because they know (if they are honest with themselves) that their lives and actions are far from what they should be now and they keep striving. But this means that salvation can never be a present experience but is something always in the future. It is something such persons hope to attain, though they are afraid they may not. It is only in Christianity that this future element moves into the present. And the reason it can is that salvation in not based on our ability to accumulate acceptable merits with God, but rather on what God has already done for us. When Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” He meant what He said. His finished work is the sole grounds for our being declared righteous by God. And since it is a past accomplishment, salvation can be ours now, solely by the application of Christ’s righteousness to us as God’s gift.
  • If salvation is by the gift of God, apart from human doing, then salvation is certain. If salvation is by human works, then human works (or a lack of them) can undo it. If I can save myself, I can unsave myself. I can ruin everything. But if salvation is of God from the beginning to end, it is sure and unwavering simply because God is Himself is sure and unwavering. Since God knows the end from the beginning, nothing ever surprises Him, and He never needs to alter His plans or change His mind. What He has begun He will continue, and we can be confident of that. Paul expressed this confidence in regard to the church at Philippi in Philippians 1:6.
  • If salvation is by the gift of God, apart from human doing, then human boasting is excluded, and all the glory in salvation goes to God. The boasting of human beings is bad enough in this world, where all they have to boast of is their own good looks (for which they are not responsible), their money, their friends, or whatever. Imagine how offensive it would be if they were able to brag about having earned heaven. But it’s not going to be like that! Salvation is a gift. It is receiving God’s righteousness – apart from law, apart from human doing. It is, as Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:9). No one in heaven will be praising man. In heaven the glory will go to God only. Thank God it is that way.

Romans 3:21-24 Reflection Questions:

When have you received grace from someone when you’ve fallen short?

What does God’s fulfillment of His covenant promises to Israel reveal about Himself?

We see that the “righteousness” or “justice” referred to in Romans 3:21-24 means showing God’s faithfulness to the covenant. How does Paul say God did this inn verses 21-24?