March 1, 2020
All Scripture from NIV unless otherwise documented.
“21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3: 21 – 24
One of my favorite actors is Tom Hanks. He was brilliant in Castaway. I loved him in Saving Private Ryan. One of Becky and my favorite love stories is Sleepless in Seattle. Another one of my favorite Tom Hanks movies is “Forrest Gump.” There is one line in that movie that really reaches into the heart and speaks more truth to us than most of us really understand. Does anyone know what line I’m talking about? “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is!”
We’ve been talking about love for the past five Sundays, and like I said last week, we have only begun to touch on it. Love is a universal language that we all understand. We might not always be able to verbally express just how much love we have for someone, but we know what it is and what it feels like to us. As Christians I believe that we sometimes struggle when it comes expressing our love to God, at least I know that I do. One reason I believe that to be true is because of the recognition that we are not worthy of the kind of love that God offers us. When I look deeply at myself, when I really take a hard look at my life, I don’t see someone who is worthy of the love and forgiveness that God has so freely given to me. If I could rephrase Forrest Gump’s words as it relates to how I feel about myself and God’s forgiveness it might sound something like this: “I may not be a righteous man, but I know what grace is!”
The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “There is no one righteous, not even one;” (Romans 3: 10) That incudes you and me.
In the rest of Romans 3 and in chapter 4, Paul argued that righteousness is available to all men, to Jew and Gentile alike. But the righteousness that Paul was speaking about couldn’t be obtained by keeping the law, whether the commandments given to Moses by God or commandments that are simply a matter of the internal consciousness of God and an understanding of what is right and wrong. Romans 1: 18 – 20 According to James 2: 10, if you don’t keep 100% of the law, you are guilty of breaking it all. Did you hear that? It doesn’t matter how good you think you are or someone else is, the Bible says that if you break any part of the law, you break it all. So, where does this righteousness come from? Romans 3: 22 says that “this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Righteousness comes from God to those who put their faith in Jesus, believing the Gospel message concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
I believe one reason, so few Christians actively live out their faith, especially in the area of serving Christ in His church, is that they don’t feel like they are good enough to serve. Do you know what I mean? I know I used to feel that way. How could God ever use someone like me? When I considered my own life, knowing who I was and some of the things that I have done, I felt unworthy to stand before God’s people and preach and teach the His word. Who am I to speak God’s word to you? Who am I to instruct you as to how you should live according to His Word? Who am I to be a servant of the Almighty God?
I’m a sinner! But I am a sinner saved by grace. In Romans 4: 7 & 8 Paul wrote: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven; whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Paul was talking about me. And Paul was talking about those of you who are in Christ through faith. I know that I’m not righteous in my own merit, but by the grace of God my sins are not counted against me. I stand before you today and preach, not because of who I am in my own merit, but because of who I am in Christ Jesus. I stand here and preach because God has called me to serve Him by telling you and others about His forgiveness and grace. I’m living proof that God can take a sinner and change him into a saint. Paul wrote concerning this change “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”. 2 Corinthians 5: 17
The only righteousness that I stand in is the righteousness that God has given to me through His Son Jesus, and although I feel unworthy, God has counted me as worthy through what Christ has done on the cross. When Jesus began His ministry on earth, He didn’t go the synagogues or the temple and seek out the scribes and Pharisees, the religious elite of that day. He called fishermen and tax collectors. He called common men and women who didn’t consider themselves to be righteous in their own merit. He didn’t call the religious elite, no, He chastised them because of their self-righteous attitudes and behavior.
Today, Jesus calls people just like you and me to be fishers of men. He calls people just like you and me to share the good news of the Gospel. You can do that overtly by becoming a pastor or teacher like I have been called to do, or you can do it by exampling Christ every day in your life to those around you.
Paul writing to Timothy gave him some sound advice that we should all consider as we think about the ministry that God has called us to today.
Paul wrote: “Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.” 2 Timothy 1: 8 and “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1: 7
As you live your faith let the light and life of Jesus live in and shine through you. You and I may not measure up to the righteousness of God in our own eyes, but we should not let that keep us from serving Christ. The righteousness that we must stand on is a righteousness that comes from God through Jesus. When we recognize that, then and only then, will can we to serve God through His strength and love.