Boasting Excluded:
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 16a of 83

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:27-31).

The apostle Paul is painting a picture entitled the “Just shall live by faith.” He had painted a very dark background. He has informed us that there is none righteous no not one. But in the previous tranche of articles, we saw the first burst of light on the canvas.

He was painting in the righteousness of God without the law. He painted it with seven rays of light. He tells us that this righteousness is:

(1) Apart from the deeds of the law—for by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified.

(2) It is witnessed by the law and the prophets—It is an eternal truth taught in the Bible since the beginning. It is no something new.

(3) It is obtained by faith in Christ—justification is by faith in Christ alone, but this faith is not alone. It produces good works.

(4) It is provided for anyone who believes in Christ—there is no difference. The pastor and the murderer are both sinners who need God’s righteousness for salvation.

(5) It is given freely—we do not qualify for it, we may not pay for it.

(6) It was paid for by the blood of Christ—Christ took our sins upon himself, and gave us His righteousness instead.

(7) It is given in the context of God’s righteous justice—God does not violate justice when he forgives us. He forgives only those whose sins are paid for in Christ!

Here then, are the seven sunbeams breaking out upon the darkness of human depravity. But did you noticed? We talked about sunbeams. But where is the Sun? Well, if you have listened carefully, I am sure you would have caught it. The Sun from which the sunbeams radiate is none other than the Sun of Righteousness! It is Malachi who spoke about the Sun of Righteousness in the last chapter of the Old Testament. Who is the Sun of Righteousness? He is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

The righteousness of God which is acceptable to God himself is centred upon Christ himself. This is why we use the illustration of sunbeams to describe Paul’s summary of the doctrine of justification.

But what should we do with this doctrine? We have considered a couple of applications as we concluded the previous study. But let us consider now Paul’s own interim conclusion. This conclusion has 4 points. There is a point of application (v. 27), a point of reiteration (v. 28), a point of restatement (v. 29-30) and a point of clarification (v. 31).

The Lord helping us, we want to look at these 4 points in our present exposition. Let us begin with verse 28 and look at the point of reiteration.

1.  Reiteration

Verse 28 reads:

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

This is really a reiteration of what we have already seen. No man can obtain righteousness by the deeds of the law. This is so because we all fall short of the glory of God.

Therefore, if any man is to be justified or to appear righteous in God’s sight, God has to give him the righteousness God will accept. This righteousness,—as we saw,—must be received by faith. And this faith is a gift of God. Faith is knowing, believing and trusting in Christ Jesus. We are able to know, believe and trust in Christ because God first changes our hearts.

The fact that we are justified by faith does not mean that God is pleased with our faith and count us righteous for our act of faith. No, even our act of faith is tainted with sin and cannot be counted for righteousness. By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified. Believing and trusting are deeds of the law. We are justified not on account of our faith, but on account of Christ.

Now, it is because of what Christ has done for us that God changes our hearts, gives us spiritual ears to hear the call of the Gospel and spirituals eyes to see the truth. And He also gave us spiritual hands so that we may receive the righteousness which Christ purchased for us. This pair of spiritual hands is faith.

To be justified by faith, in other words, is to be justified by Christ. Faith is the instrument to receive the righteousness of Christ. And this faith is given to us on account of what Christ has done for us, and not on what we deserve.

Let me put it this way: Christ did not die for us because we have faith. Rather we have faith because Christ died for us in the first place.

Let me illustrate. Suppose a king is having a banquet. Now, because this banquet is given in honour of his son, the king allows the son to name those he wishes to be invited for it. A few days later, the invitation cards are sent out. They are sent to the list that the king’s son has made up. Those invited must bring the invitation card in order to gain admission into the castle. On the day of the banquet, the guests begin to appear. Each of them produces the invitation card and then enters the banquet hall. Now, the question is: do these guests enjoy the banquet because they show their invitation card? Or do they enjoy it because the Prince had included them in the guest-list?

When we put it this way: the answer is obvious isn’t it? They enjoy the banquet not because they show the invitation card, but because of what the Prince did for them. So too in our salvation. We enjoy justification not because of our faith but because of what Christ has done for us. We must be justified by faith. But we have faith because Christ died for us in the first place. We are justified not because God is pleased with our faith, for by the deeds of the law, which include our acts of faith, no flesh shall be justified. “A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

…to be Continued Next Issue

JJ Lim