From Bad News To Good News

We All Have Sinned But Are Saved By Faith In Jesus Christ

Tim Lundy
Jan 31, 2022    52m
In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul teaches us that though we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we can be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Through His work on the cross, Jesus paid the price so that we may have redemption from sin. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:55] Well, Venture, as we continue on in this Roman series, I'd encourage you to get your Bibles out, today we're going to be in Romans chapter 3, and honestly, I think it's one of the most incredible chapters in all the Bible. The turn in this chapter, from the bad news that we've been living in, to the good news, that dramatic moment of turn.

Tim Lundy: [00:01:18] I don't know about you, I like courtroom dramas, I like different movies that it's set in a courtroom. Maybe one of my favorites is A Few Good Men, you know, the Tom Cruise movie where he's defending these young soldiers in a military trial. And if you know the movie that that famous scene where he finally gets Colonel Jessup, Jack Nicholson's playing the character, and he has him on the stand, and he needs Colonel Jessup to admit that he gave the order, and these soldiers were only carrying out an order that he gave. But getting them to that moment is pretty tricky because to accuse him is going to put Tom Cruise in a place of jeopardy. And that moment, as the tensions building, and he's building the argument, and Jessup, you know, Nicholson has his famous speech of, "You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall." And finally, Tom Cruise looks at him and says, did you order the code red? And he screams it, and yes, I ordered the code red. And you feel the energy in the courtroom change, I mean, in that moment, you know, the whole thing has turned. I love that movie.

Tim Lundy: [00:02:28] And I love what Paul is doing, even in the book of Romans, maybe more than we realize. I told you, he's kind of building a legal case, we're in the courtroom and everyone in humanity is on trial. And over the last few weeks, he's been building this case of guilt, and he looked at all the immoral people in the world, they're guilty, we saw that in Romans chapter 1. Last week, he looked at even moral and religious people are guilty, and even Jewish people are guilty. And so in Romans 3, he's going to land it, he's going to make his final case for the universal guilt of humanity. But remember, this is the Gospel, it's the good news, it's not just about the bad news. And we're going to see in this chapter, in two words, this amazing turn, that's as dramatic as any movie that's out there. To do that, though, he's got to make his final case with it.

Tim Lundy: [00:03:32] So get your Bibles, Romans 3, and starting in verse 1, we're going to see in it as Paul, for the first nine chapters, he's answering some final objections. Remember, he's making the case, and so his point in this section is there are no excuses, the way God set it up, he's been fair all the way through. Read with me starting in verse 1, he says, "Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?". Remember, we left it last week where he talked about the Jews even need the gospel, and the two reasons they thought they were OK is circumcision, and they were the people that had the law.

Tim Lundy: [00:04:10] And so what you're going to see in 3, and we'll see this throughout the book, where Paul is asking these questions, and it sounds like he's picking apart his own argument. What he's doing, in this case, is he's raising the objections, it's almost like having a heckler in the room. And so he's made the case, and now this heckler is asking questions. And instead of having an actual heckler, Paul's heard all these objections before, so he raises them himself. And so look at it, he says, They said, what advantage has a Jew? He says, well, "Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God." He says, you can't raise that objection because you were the ones that had the Scriptures, so you should have known it the most. Here's another objection. Well, "What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?" So the fact that the Jews didn't obey, doesn't that just kind of nullify everything that God taught? They were faithless, I guess God wasn't able to accomplish what he wanted to.

Tim Lundy: [00:05:12] Look at this little phrase right at the beginning of verse 4 there. He says, "By no means!". If you've got a pen, I'd underlined it. Some translations have it, "May it never be!". "By no means!", it's a Greek phrase called Me genoito. And what Paul's doing, and you're going to see it show up a lot, we see a little bit here and later on. When Paul's making these arguments, he'll throw out an objection, and every so often he just says this phrase, he says, Me genoito, may it never be. It's his way of just kind of marking, that's a really stupid objection.

Tim Lundy: [00:05:49] I love Monday Night Football, you guys know, I love football and sports. And I don't know if they still do it, they used to do it on Monday Night Football, right before the game, each of the commentators had this moment where they'd show a video clip, they called it Come on, Man. And what it was, was they'd show something really stupid that a player had done that weekend, a really bad play, or why would you ever make that decision? And they showed a clip, and then the commentator would say, come on, man, what are you thinking? And that's what Paul's doing here, he'll throw out this question, questions he's heard, questions he's heard from Jews and others, that they're sitting there going, well, how could God really be fair? And he looks at him, he says, Me genoito, come on, man, did you really mean that?

Tim Lundy: [00:06:34] Look, he does another one, he says, "Let God be true though every one were a liar." He says, come on, man, God's always going to be true, even if everyone lies. "As it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”.

Tim Lundy: [00:06:48] Here's another objection, "But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us?". And notice, my Bible has a little parenthesis there, Paul says, (I speak in a human way.) He's trying to give us a clue, I really don't think this, I'm just telling you what humans have objected to. Look what he says, come on, man, "By no means! For then how could God judge the world?". One of the objections somebody threw out was, well, if in our unrighteousness we're actually showing the righteousness of God because that's what you said, his wrath being revealed is his righteousness, isn't that a good thing that we were unrighteous, to begin with? Paul says, really seriously.

Tim Lundy: [00:07:36] A couple of others that they objected with, "But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8And why not do evil that good may come?" I mean, if God's going to be glorified through the whole thing, why don't I just do evil? "As some people slanderously charge us with saying." And his comment at this point is, their condemnation is just.

Tim Lundy: [00:08:03] Now, as we go through this, and I know we went through that quick, Paul is throwing out these different objections. And part of what he wants to do, is in the objection, is answered a little bit here as we walk through the rest of Romans, he's going to hit some of these themes again. At this point, he just wants to make the case that no one has an excuse when it comes to God. No one's going to be able to look at God and say, it's not fair that you're judging me this way, it's not fair that you've declared this about me. There are no excuses, God is fair.

Tim Lundy: [00:08:36] Then he follows that up, there are no exceptions. We're all sinners, there are no exceptions. And if you look at it, this next section, he kind of, in verses 10 through 18, my Bible indents it on both sides because it's trying to show us, these are actually quotes from the Old Testament. In fact, if you notice it's a string of quotes that he's put together, almost all of them are out of the Book of Psalms, there's one quote from Isaiah. And the reason he's doing this, remember the group that's having the hardest time being called sinners were the religious people and the Jewish people. And so the Jewish people are looking at him and they're going, man, you've come up with something new here that you're accusing us of being sinners like everybody else. And Paul says, well, let me just walk you through some quotes of the Old Testament scripture of your Bible that actually agree with me.

Tim Lundy: [00:09:30] It's a form of writing called the charaz, and it's like a string of pearls, and what he's done is he's stringing together all these different verses to make one point. To just declare, finally, that God is pointing out everybody's a sinner, no one can say they're not. Read with me as he goes through it. He starts at verse 10 with it, "As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15“Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16in their paths are ruin and misery, 17and the way of peace they have not known.” 18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” And again, do you feel that, he strung all of these verses together? And remember, we're in the courtroom, so he's making his closing case, he's making his point, he's putting all the evidence together. He says, we’ve looked at it in immoral people, we've looked at moral people, we've looked at religious people, we looked at Jewish people, and as the Bible has said all along, there's nobody righteous in themselves, not one person. And if you felt that, it was like it's getting harder and harder, and what's he doing? It's like a boxer, or somebody in MMA, you know, if a boxer has his opponent on the ropes, or if you're an MMA fighter and you have them down on the mat, they tell them at that moment, you want to throw your punches in bunches. In other words, you do not want to let up, don't ever stop until they finally call the fight. And Paul, in this moment, he's making this case for all of humanity, and he's throwing his punches and bunches, and his punches actually come from the Old Testament. He's saying, I didn't come up with this stuff, God's been saying this about us, there's nobody righteous, not one person.

Tim Lundy: [00:11:36] The concept he's describing, theologians describe this, and maybe you've heard it before, its depravity, the depravity of humanity, some people talk about it as total depravity. And when you hear that term, you know, usually when we think of depravity, I always think of like a documentary about a serial killer. They'll always say, you know, the depraved mind of a serial killer, these people that do the worst things you could possibly do, they're depraved. Well, that's one use of it, but Paul, when he's using this term and when you hear the term depravity, it doesn't mean that every person on the planet does the worst sin that you could possibly do. It doesn't mean that that people can't do something that you would look at and go, well, actually, that was good, man, they're good people and they live a good life. Paul's not denying that, here's what depravity means, it means that every person on the planet has been infected by sin, every person on the planet has been infected in their life. And the problem with sin, is it then touches every part of your life. So even the best parts of me, that other people might look at and think that's good, they've still been impacted by said, and so before God, it's not declared good.

Tim Lundy: [00:13:00] One person described it this way, if you took everybody and everyone's life was a painting, and the color blue represented sin, everybody's picture, everybody's painting would have blue in it. Now, some paintings, like a serial killer, or a Hitler, or someone, I mean, you might look at that and it's just all blue it's so marked by it. But everybody's painting, if you look at the painting, you suddenly go, oh, wait, I see blue all the way through it. And so Paul says because of that, there's no one righteous, there are no excuses, and there are no exceptions.

Tim Lundy: [00:13:48] And then you add the third part with it, there's no escape. You can't get there on your own, you can't get there through religion, you can't get there even if you are a Jewish person, and you were trying to apply the law. Look at verse 19, "Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." So even if you take the best revelation of God, which was his law, every mouth is shut. Religious, immoral, righteous, because even if you tried to do it, applying God's law, you can't get there on your own, the gap is too far, the distance is too great. You know you hear that saying at times people say reach for the stars, you know, I'm going to reach for the stars. Which is kind of stupid to me, I mean think about it, the closest star is the Sun, it's about ninety-three million miles away. And as you look at it, I don't care how hard you reach, you're not going to make it, the gap is too far. You could take someone and they can climb to the highest point in this planet, they go to the top of Mount Everest, and on the summit over twenty nine thousand feet, they're above the death zone, they're way up there, and to be honest, there are about five and a half miles closer to the Sun than we are, but would anybody look at someone on Everest and go, oh, man, they are almost there, they almost made it. See, starting here, you'll never get there, you can't do it. And that's what Paul is making in this case, starting in our humanity, because we've been impacted by sin because it's infected all of us and all parts of us, man, even if you climb the Everest of morality, even if you're the most religious person, even if you try harder than anyone else, man, you're not going to get any closer because the gap is too far.

Tim Lundy: [00:16:04] And so all of us are in this place, there are no excuses left, there are no exceptions at all, and there's no escape, we're all condemned in it. And if the book ended here, man, this would be the most miserable book, there's no way you would call it the good news, the Gospel, because Paul has made this airtight legal case, man, you're guilty, every single one of us.

Tim Lundy: [00:16:43] But then remember, I told you the turns coming, I told you there's that dramatic moment. And in verse 21, this dramatic turn that happens at this point, in fact, in verse, 21, if you look at it, it says, "But now." See, up to this point, Paul, remember, I told you he's revealing how the wrath of God is being revealed, the judgment of God's being revealed, how it's deserved on every single person, and now he's going to turn, he goes, yeah, but now, let me show you how the righteousness is revealed, let me tell you about the good news that what God did.

Tim Lundy: [00:17:18] If you look at it with me, and some commentators have said this paragraph, starting in verse 21, may be the most profound paragraph in the whole Bible, may be one of the most beautiful paragraphs. Read with me, starting in verse 21, after all that bad news he says, "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law." It doesn't just have to come through the Jewish law, "Although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it." Although the whole Old Testament was pointing to it, we've been given this gospel, even if you're somebody who didn't grow up in the Jewish faith or the Jewish religion, "The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift."

Tim Lundy: [00:18:13] All right, there's so much in that we got to unpack this a little bit. This good news that's come out of it is that despite our sinfulness, we're justified by the grace of God, despite the whole case he just made against us. And remember, he was a long time getting there, I mean, we've been in weeks in it. And Paul makes an airtight case that we are sinners, but despite that, look what God's done. Now let me break down the three terms in this, the sinfulness, the justified, and the grace with it.

Tim Lundy: [00:18:46] The sinfulness, Paul says, for all have sinned, and that term, they fall short of the glory of God. And what he's pointing out is, we have this eternal deficit before God, the eternal gap. Remember, I talked about it a couple of weeks ago, like when you want to go on a ride at an amusement park and it says you've got to be this tall, and so, Paul's talking about that gap, of how tall you need to be. The problem is, the standard is, the glory of God. All have sinned, we've seen that over the last few weeks, and then he says, and have fallen short of God's glory, fallen short of his standards. So when he talks about God's glory, he's talking about God's holiness, he's talking about his purity, he's talking about the fact that he's perfect, he's talking about the fact that he's sinless, all those things, that's the standard, and that's how far we fall.

Tim Lundy: [00:19:35] In fact, if you're around church, I mean, when we talk about the gospel, really the whole story of the gospel is the whole Bible itself. And it starts with creation where we were at this standard with God, everything was perfect in him. And then Genesis chapter 3, we call that chapter, the fall, that's that moment when humanity as a whole, we fell into sin because of Adam and Eve, and we're going to see a little later in Romans, he describes that. That fall. sometimes I think we underestimate how devastating sin has been. That's one of the reasons, and maybe for you over the last few weeks, you kind of hit a point where you go, man, Paul, it feels like you're just wearing out this whole sin thing and this judgment thing, why can't we just get there? And the reason we can't is, he goes, man, you need to realize how devastating sin has been in this world and sin has been in your life, you need to realize how devastating that fall is.

Tim Lundy: [00:20:34] I mean, if you think about it, think about physically falling. And I don't know if you're scared of heights, but you know, for all of us, if you go up a step or two and you kind of look down, none of us get too scared, but if you get high enough. You know, I remember years ago the first time we were moving to California, and it really was a hard process, a hard move in a lot of ways. And especially for Lea, I'd come out here and I was already working at Venture, some. And then we had to go back, and I was supposed to go back and help, and the moving truck came early, so she had to be there with the movers and handle all that, and she was saying goodbye to all our friends, and just physically and emotionally exhausted. And then we're leaving, we're leaving one daughter there who's going to college, and so that was emotional. She, literally, was physically, emotionally spent.

Tim Lundy: [00:21:26] And then, I had this bright idea of, hey, on the drive out, why don't we make it a vacation too? And so I loaded up the family we left in the middle of the night and drove like 20 hours to the Grand Canyon, because I thought, oh great, we'll see the Grand Canyon for a couple of days and do a few stops. What I didn't take into account is, I'm loading her up and we're doing all this, and she's exhausted, this is the last thing she wants right now as we're trying to figure out some family vacation. And so we drove there, we pull up at the Grand Canyon, I'm excited about it, I'd seen it as a kid, I'm telling them about it. And we come up and look out, you know, and one of the vistas there you see the canyon. I'll never forget, she kind of walked up, now, remember she's spent. She goes, oh, great, a big hole in the ground, Ok, what's next? And I was like, oh, this is not quite having the impact I was hoping it would have.

Tim Lundy: [00:22:23] Well, let's get some pictures over here, and we came to this one spot, and you know, there are places you could take pictures and the fence was there, and I noticed there was this one place where this huge section of the fence had just been pulled back. And the reason why is everybody was going out, it went about 50 more yards out, there was a lot of rock and everything, and there was this great point out there where everybody's getting these great pictures. The problem was it was technically on the other side of the fence that the park had put up, that it said, yeah, you know, it's safe on this side. So I get all excited, come on, man, we've got to go get a picture. And Lea's like, whoa, where are you going? I said we're just going, see, a look right there, everybody is going right there, let's go take a picture. And she goes, I'm not going over there. I was like, OK, I'm going to take the kids. And she said, you're going to take my children over there...It's never a good sign when she says, my children, it's usually when I'm not doing something I should do. And so I said, well, honey, look, everybody is right there. And she said, don't you think there's a reason the fence is here? I said, but yeah, I mean, you can see where everybody standing, and look, the shot is so much more dramatic over there.

Tim Lundy: [00:23:34] Now, I'll never forget she looked at me, she said, OK, you can do this. But if something happens to one of our kids, we will remember this for the rest of our lives, and we will remember which one of us took them over there. In that moment, I was like, OK, you know what, we'll just get a picture right here, you're speaking maybe some wisdom here. And the reason she spoke that strongly to me, is the impact of a fall there, it's devastating, that's the reason there were boundaries. It's not like this little fall, it's like this would have a lifetime devastating impact if something were to happen there.

Tim Lundy: [00:24:28] And the reason I say this, and the reason Paul has spent so much time, guys, in building this case, and the reason he did all of those quotes from Psalms, is he wants us to recognize, man, when we say we fall short, it wasn't like, oh, we just barely missed it. oh, you know, almost got it. And we give ourselves a lot of credit, we say, you know, to error is human, that's just going to happen. Paul goes, no, no, no, you have sinned, and you fell short, humanity fell, and it's been devastating on all of us and on each of us.

Tim Lundy: [00:25:08] See, we fell in our sinfulness, but despite that, what did God do? God justified us; we were declared righteous by God. That even as sinners, God was willing to justify us. And that term, justify, our sometimes maybe you've heard the theological term justification, and it's part of this whole salvation that God's given, it's the turning point for every single person who comes to Christ. It's literally a legal term, and so the audience that would hear it that day, they would immediately go to a courtroom setting. When a judge justified you, there was a declaration that was made, it was a legal declaration, and that was your status from that point. And so God justifies us, he declares, as the judge, that we are righteous, that we are right, that we are good, that we're not sinners. I mean, you look at that and you go, wait, a second, God is willing to save? Paul, you just made a case that we're all sinners, you just told us that we all fell short, and God declares this. And the great news about it, is it's not just a case where he's saying not guilty. It's one thing if I'm standing before a judge and I'm decided guilty or not guilty, if he says not guilty, all that means is I'm back up to level ground, he's actually saying something positive about us.

Tim Lundy: [00:26:33] It'd be like, let's say you, in a different standard, you are being judged based on your looks. And it was determined, are you ugly? And then somebody might say, well, no, they're not ugly, now again, do you get too excited about that? If somebody was setting you up for a date, ladies, do you get real excited if they said, yeah, I want to set you up with this guy, he's not ugly. I mean does that really, you know or a girl that you go, hey, yo, man, you ought to go out with her, she's not ugly. Nobody gets excited about that, let's be honest. What do you want to hear? You want to hear, oh, he's handsome, you want to hear she's beautiful. See, that is not they’re just not ugly, it's oh, they're beautiful.

Tim Lundy: [00:27:21] And that's what Paul is declaring, see, he's been making this case for three chapters that when it comes to sin, when it comes to our lives, we're ugly. I mean, we're ugly, ugly, U.G.L.Y., you ain't got no alibi, you're ugly, that's what he's been saying about us. And then when God looks at us, though, he doesn't just declare not ugly, he says, no, actually, you're beautiful, man, actually, you're righteous, you're good. Now, now here's the thing you've got to realize, God's not doing it because he's being a nice guy, like, oh, they're really ugly, but I'll say something nice about them, hey, you're beautiful. God's not doing it because he's lying, remember, God can't lie. So when God says something about us it has to be true. And so in that moment in Christ, I was ugly, but I'm not, I'm actually beautiful because his beauty, his righteousness, his goodness is now applied to me.

Tim Lundy: [00:28:34] Now, folks, if some you could embrace this. I wish it your core you could embrace spiritually what it means that if you're in Christ, and you've been justified, and God's declared this about you, God can't lie about you and God's not doing a pep talk about you. Because see, some of you, even in Christ, man, when you look in the mirror, when you look at your life, you know what, all you see is ugly. I'm the worst sinner, I never can get my act together, I'm the worst in the world, and all you see is the ugliness of your life. And I'm telling you, that's not how God sees you, that's not what God has said about you, that's not even what's true about you anymore, you're beautiful in Christ because you've been justified. And in that, it's by grace, you say, Tim, I don't deserve this. Yes, you don't, you don't deserve it, but it was initiated by God, even though it's undeserved by us.

Tim Lundy: [00:29:36] It was something that God came up with, by the way, and he didn't come up with it, and let me be real clear on this, it's not like he was looking at us and going, well, you know, there's something actually beautiful there, I bet if I worked with that beauty, I could bring something out of it. This isn't like a rom com, you know, the romantic comedy. The story always of kind of the nerdy girl with the glasses and the bad hair, and then the guy starts dating her and she takes the glasses off and gets a haircut, and she was really beautiful all along, it was just, you know, needed a little bit of a makeover. That's not what happened here, we were not beautiful all along, we didn't just need to take our spiritual glasses off, we were ugly, ugly, Paul's made the case, spiritually ugly. But by grace, because God was willing to do something we didn't deserve, because God was willing to transform us, because God was willing to take the beauty of Christ and the righteousness of Christ and apply it to you and me, and when that reality comes over us and he justifies, he declares, man, you're beautiful, you're clean, you're righteous. Man, that is only by grace, it's not because we got our act together enough, it's not because he looked at us and saw something in us, it's not because he looked down time and said, oh, let me see how they would respond. God's the one that initiated, he came up with it, and God did it even though we didn't deserve it.

Tim Lundy: [00:31:05] Man, you want to talk about a turning point, that the heart of what God's done. Now, how was he able to do that, he was only able to do that, justification is only accomplished by Christ on the cross. See, this is where the cross becomes so important, everything that I told you that God did he was only able to do because of what Jesus did. Read with me, let's go back into the passage again. Starting in verse 23, again, he says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." I mean that is the ugliness of our life, "And are justified by his grace as a gift." Now, how? "Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Now there are a lot of terms, again, the whole paragraph there, he's saying this all was accomplished by what Jesus did on the cross, and he's describing some different parts of what Christ did.

Tim Lundy: [00:32:21] Notice the first term, he says, through the redemption, that Christ paid our debt. Now, when we see that word redemption, we often immediately go to a spiritual term because we've heard it so much. If you were in that first-century audience, especially if you were in Rome, many of the Roman church, many of the Roman people, that term redemption, they would immediately go to the concept of slavery. Because, slavery, in that day, you could purchase yourself out of slavery. If you were a slave, that's usually because you had a debt or you were sold into slavery, maybe even sold yourself. So, there's this amount that's hanging over your life, and in order to get out of slavery, someone had to redeem you, or you could earn enough to redeem yourself. And so what Paul points out in this moment, on the cross, we had this debt, remember, it was an eternal debt, that gap, we had that we could not pay. We were literally slaves, and someone had to pay the redemption, someone had to pay our ransom, the term for it. That's why Christ when he said, in Mark 10, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”. So, the price that had to be paid, was the life of Christ. And let that truth just sink over you for a minute, that Christ was willing to give his life as the ransom, as the payment, for you and me. The people that were ugly and sinned, the people that fell, the people that rejected, the people that didn't deserve it in the least, Christ was willing to pay it and to be the redemption.

Tim Lundy: [00:34:08] Paul puts a second term, he says, he's also the propitiation, and this is a term we don't use much, but what it means is Christ satisfied the wrath of God. Now again, that first audience, they would understand it immediately. For the Roman audience who had all these really weird gods, and if you know anything about the Roman gods, they would lose their temper a lot, they'd be mad at people a lot, they would take it out on them, and so the propitiation, you were trying to satisfy that God. You'd bring an offering to him, they'd bring food to him, they do all these acts in order to satisfy the wrath of the gods, but you never knew if you were because they're very capricious.

Tim Lundy: [00:34:45] Now, Paul's not describing that kind of arrangement, he is talking about propitiation, remember, we talked about the wrath of God, it's not that God just lost his temper. Remember, the wrath of God is God's righteous, consistent judgment of sin, that because he's just, when he sees things that are wrong in the world, when he sees things that are unjust in the world, when he sees abuse in the world, when he sees the heart of it in the world, his character can't help but be against it, and so that's that wrath, that punishment of it that's poured out. And what Paul points out, though, is, know here's the good news about Jesus, he's the propitiation, he's the one that satisfied.

Tim Lundy: [00:35:29] And this term here, I love, especially for the Jewish audiences reading it, some translations actually translate it, the Mercy Seat. He's the mercy seat, he's that place of propitiation. And here's what it's referring to, it's talking about in the Old Testament and in the Jewish system, you remember they had the Tabernacle and ultimately the temple, and there were all these pieces in the Tabernacle, and they all serve different functions, the holiest piece was called the Ark of the Covenant. If you've ever seen the movies Raiders of the Lost Ark, that's probably when it became most popular. And so the Ark of the Covenant, you can see a picture of it that somebody rendered of it here, it was a box covered in gold. And on the top of the box, there are these cherubim, these two angels and their wings are forward in that, and this top is actually a lid. And inside the box were items, one of the most significant items that was inside the box, were the Ten Commandments, the commandments of God etched in stone were inside the box. And this whole Ark of the Covenant was in the most special part of the temple, the Holy of Holies, it was behind this huge curtain, this veil, and no one could go back there. In fact, it was only the high priest once a year, he would go behind the curtain, it was on the Day of Atonement. And on that day, he would go behind the curtain there, and he would take the blood of a lamb, and he would take the blood and he would sprinkle the blood on this, this lid here was called the mercy seat, and the blood was sprinkled over the top of it. Seven times he sprinkled blood, and it said that the Spirit of God, this kind of glory of God came down, and it was on that day, it was that place. And you see what it symbolizes in it, here God comes down in his glory, remember, we fell from his glory. So God comes down and all of his holiness and glory to this lid, and on top of the lid the blood has been scattered, and inside the box is the standard of God's Holiness, the Ten Commandments, that, by the way, we haven't lived up to. And so on that day, it's this beautiful picture that God comes down and there are the Ten Commandments, and no one has lived up to this law, everyone's fallen short. But because the blood has been shed, it satisfies, it's a propitiation that covers the sin of the people. And so what Pulse pointing out in this, is that's what Jesus did on the cross once and for all.

Tim Lundy: [00:38:08] There's a reason we don't have the Ark of the Covenant anymore, there's a reason we don't sacrifice anymore, because when Christ died on the cross, his blood was shed. And if you remember in the story, in that moment when he died on the cross, he says, it is finished, that curtain that separated, that no one could go back there, that curtain ripped open. And it was God declaring, in that moment, that you don't need a high priest anymore, you don't have to do this on the Yom Kippur on this day of atonement anymore, you don't have to sacrifice the blood of animals anymore because Christ has been our propitiation because his blood satisfied. And so you don't have to live under, remember, we've been talking weeks of this wrath of God, you don't have to live under it, because the blood of Christ has covered us, and God has been satisfied.

Tim Lundy: [00:39:03] And then the third thing he says, he demonstrates, Christ revealed that God is both the Just and the Justifier. He says in that moment on the cross, man, look what he did, he paid for us what we couldn't pay, he satisfied God's wrath. And then the third thing he did, in that moment, he showed the whole world the kind of God we have. Because God has to stay just, he has to judge sin, but God was also willing to be the justifier, the one who took the judgment.

Tim Lundy: [00:39:33] And I love how Paul puts it in Romans 3, he says, because you've got to think in the past it was all these sins that people did in the past, and God in his patience, his forbearance, he didn't judge them in it. So read all the way through the Old Testament, the sins of Abraham, the sins of David, the sins of the people of God, how was it that all that time they were able to be forgiven through the sacrifice of animals and through that whole system? Paul says, it's because God was looking forward to the final sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And he knew on that day, in that moment, Christ would prove to be both the one who's just and also the justifier, and God would reveal this about himself.

Tim Lundy: [00:40:21] You know, I love the story, Philip Yancey says of his friend, Henri Nouwen, and Nouwen knew a doctor down in Paraguay, it's a sad story. This doctor who had stood up against the military powers who ruled the country, and his punishment for it, the military leaders took the doctor's son and they put him in jail, and they tortured him and then he was killed. And when the doctor came to claim his body, there was an outrage in the country. And he did something interesting at his funeral, they didn't put him in a coffin, they took the cot from the jail cell, and he showed his son the way he had found him. He wanted the whole country to feel this outrage, and so there's his son, his bloody body, and there were cigarette burns across his body, and there were bruises where he was beaten, and you could see the marks from the electrocution, and people walked by, and they saw this display. Now, listen, to how Yancey describe it, he says, "Isn't that what God did at Calvary? The cross that held Jesus body, naked and marked with scars, exposed all the violence and the injustice of this world. At once, the cross revealed what kind of world we have and what kind of God we have, a world of gross unfairness that demands God's justice, by the way, but we also have a God of sacrificial love."

Tim Lundy: [00:41:54] See, guys, we've experienced this because Christ redeemed us, because Christ was propitiation, because Christ demonstrated God's justice that had to be poured out. But he also demonstrated God's love, because it was poured out on his body and his life. Paul ends it, that this justification is only experienced through faith alone, it's the only way you experience it, it's not through work, it's not through the law, it's not through anything you've accomplished.

Tim Lundy: [00:42:25] I love how he puts it in Ephesians 2, he says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast." And so if you put all of the elements of this paragraph together, look what Paul says, this justification, it's by grace alone, it was God's idea, God's initiation, God did it, we didn't deserve it, it's about grace alone. In Christ alone, only Christ could accomplish it, Christ, who's our redemption Christ, who's our propitiation, Christ who demonstrates God's justice and his love in it? And the only way that I access it, is through faith alone. Our only access is through faith alone.

Tim Lundy: [00:43:10] And so as you look at this, look how he ends the chapter. In light of that beauty, he says, "Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold it."

Tim Lundy: [00:43:45] Look how he summarized it, there are kind of three things he's saying. Hey, when you look at this gospel, it humbles us, nobody can boast, nobody can say they did it. Nobody can come forward and go, you know, I really wasn't ugly, I was kind of beautiful to begin with. No, nobody, he says it humbles all of us. I love the second thing, though, it unites us, we all serve one God. It didn't matter if you're Jew, it doesn't matter if you're a religious person, it doesn't matter what country you came from, it doesn't matter what race you are, all of us are united in Christ and Christ alone. And then the third part, he is hinting at it in that last verse, it's actually changing us, God is going to reveal his character through us.

Tim Lundy: [00:44:29] Because I know even as I say this, and Paul knew that when he made this case. wait, if you're saying that I'm justified, if you're saying that I have Christ's righteousness, if you're saying all these things are true about me, it doesn't feel like it's true. I feel like I'm still a sinner, I still struggle with certain parts of it, how is this going to work itself out in my life? And that's what we're going to dive into, he's going to explain this justification a little more. But as the book goes along, it's how am I not only beautiful in Christ, but how can I live in that beauty? How can I experience it that much more?

Tim Lundy: [00:45:04] Guys, this whole section here is one of the most radical turns, most radical chapters, one of the most beautiful explanations of how bad we were, but then the righteousness of God is revealed. And I hope that you not only spend some more time in this chapter but really let it wash over your life, of how radical that change is, that turning point from the bad to the good.

Tim Lundy: [00:45:33] In fact, one of the best pictures I could think of it, and I'll close with this, is reading about the Chicago River. I don't know if you've ever been to the city of Chicago, I love downtown Chicago, and you see the river that goes through the city. And back in 1871, there was the Great Chicago Fire, it destroyed the city. You can go back, and you can see the water tower that existed from that time. But most of the buildings in it, and the downtown was destroyed by fire. And what they never could understand is how did the fire cross the river? It should have stopped it.

Tim Lundy: [00:46:05] And some people studied it, they looked at it, maybe it was some of the wooden ships that were in the river there, they caught fire and it went across. The reality is, the more they studied it, it was because, at that point, the Chicago River was really nothing more than a sewer, it was putrid, it was shallow. In fact, the Chicago Stockyards used to, just all of the animal waste went into the river. And so the river was so putrid, that it was actually combustible, it caught fire, that's how dirty it was. And you think about that sluggish, shallow, putrid river, it flowed through the city and then it went into Lake Michigan. And into Lake Michigan, and the worst part about it is, it was right where that river went in, the water intake where they got their freshwater was right there as well, and so all that disease was going into the freshwater that went back into the city. And during those years, about ten thousand people a year would die of cholera or typhoid, I mean, it just spread.

Tim Lundy: [00:47:12] Finally, it reached a point where, in the 1890s, in one year, a hundred thousand people died from an illness that they attributed to the river, and they said something's got to be done. They took on one of the most radical engineering projects that has ever happened, they went down the river and dug twenty-eight miles of canal. In fact, they moved more rock and earth than the builders of the Panama Canal did, so that shows you how big this project was. They put in a series of gates, and they put a sluice gate right up at Lake Michigan. And on January 2nd, 1900, this amazing thing happened, when they turned it and they opened that sluice gate, and they literally reversed the Chicago River. Instead of this sewer that was going into Lake Michigan, they reversed it now, and all of that freshwater, the beautiful water of the Great Lakes, started flowing into the Chicago River. And it went through the Chicago River, and it went through those twenty-eight miles of canal and went to the Des Plains River, and the Illinois River, and ultimately to the Mississippi River, they reversed the river. And instead of all that that that putrid, dirty water going into the beautiful Great Lake, now all of that freshwater, the billions of gallons, were flowing the other way. You know, some historians have said that the city of Chicago would have never made it if they didn't make that change. Civil engineers have attributed, one of the greatest engineering projects of the millennium, to make that radical turn.

Tim Lundy: [00:49:08] And, guys, I love that picture, because that's what Christ did for us, that's what Paul's pointing out. Guys, for three chapters, he'd been pointing out that none of us are righteous, all of us are putrid, all of us are ugly, and all that we had to bring to God was all of that unrighteousness, that's all that we could give to him. But at the cross, because of what Christ did, the whole thing gets reversed. And instead of me just bringing my sickness, and my unrighteousness, and my sinfulness to God, in that moment, the beauty and the living water of Jesus Christ, the righteousness of Christ it's reversed, and it flows in me, and it flows through me, and it changes everything. Everything.

Tim Lundy: [00:50:01] I hope as you hear this, I would hope that get you excited. If you've experienced it, it should get us excited about what Christ has done. And if you've never experienced it, I hope it gives you a picture of what could be true about you, that you're not condemned to your ugliness and your sin, that your life is not just about bringing your putrid sinfulness to God, but that life, but now, the righteousness of God is revealed, so that each one of us can experience it because of God's grace, in Christ alone, through faith alone, because we believe in him.

Tim Lundy: [00:50:47] Let's pray together. Father, I thank you, I thank you for this chapter, I thank you for the great reversal you did in our world and the reversal you did in my life. That you took my sinfulness and my ugliness and all that was wrong, and in Christ, you made it beautiful. Lord, I pray today for each person who hears this, I pray if someone here has not experienced that, I pray they would open their life to you today, that they would experience the righteousness of Christ by believing in what he did on the cross. And for those of us who have experienced it, I pray that our lives would be marked by what Christ alone was able to do, that we would be people of faith alone, and embrace what you've declared about us to be true about our lives. And we pray this in Christ's name. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
Read More
Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032