Lesson 11


The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:27 Where then is the boasting? It is excluded. By what manner of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 3:28 We maintain therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 3:29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Isn’t he the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 3:30 if it is so that God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith, and the uncircumcised through faith. 3:31 Do we then make the law of no effect through faith? Certainly not! No, we establish the law.


 Today's Lesson 

THE biggest issue of the early church was the inclusion of Gentiles into the predominantly Jewish church. This was the goal and purpose of Paul's ministry. Paul declares himself to be the Apostle to the Gentiles in other parts of his writings. He declares that the Risen Christ appointed him to this task. In Today's Scripture we see the significance of Paul's ministry to the Epistle to the Romans.

 

Even a superficial reading of this Epistle will find many references dealing with the Jew and the Greek, the law and grace, the old covenant and the new. Some scholars analyze the whole work in terms of this issue. We might think that if that is the significance of Romans that it has less to say for us now that the church is a predominantly Gentile institution. Such a diminishment of the importance of Romans would be unfortunate because we will see that many of the issues that Paul raises have never been completely resolved.

 

"Where then is the boasting?" We are excluded from boasting of our righteousness because it is a free gift given to us by a merciful God. We have not earned it or rightfully paid for it ourselves. Rather, Jesus Christ "redeemed" (bought and paid for us) from our slavery to sin. "By what manner of law? Of works?" Christ redeems us not through our observance of the law. Rather, the Risen Christ declares through Paul that righteousness comes to those who live by faith in HIS person and HIS works. Paul repeats again, "a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law."

 

Here is one of the significant elements of importance that Romans can have for today. Many Christians, having accepted grace as a means of salvation, attempt to live by a varying mixture of law and faith. There are rules and codes, written and unwritten, placed upon us by ourselves and others that attempt to quantify our Christian experiences. We have a desire to measure our experience with some yardstick. So we bring in laws from the old covenant or make up new ones in order to gauge our performance.

 

But Paul's main point in this section is that we are justified by faith apart from works. The Jew could not be justified by the Law because the Law only revealed sin and could not bring life. The Gentile could not be justified by Law because God has never placed them under the Law. For a Gentile to attempt to justify themselves by any law is akin to illegal immigration. You may sneak into a country and live there but you will never be a citizen.

 

But God is the God of all people. He is the God of the Jews who were under the covenant that He established. He is also the God of the Gentiles who were never under His covenant. He will justify both the Jew and the Gentile by faith in Jesus Christ. He will declare righteous all men and women who believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God and who are united with Christ in His death and resurrection.

 

Does justification by faith make the law of no effect? As Paul emphatically states, "Certainly not!" The Law of Moses was declared and established by God and is righteous and holy as God is righteous and holy. Law and faith are not opposites. The Law given to Moses was not an alternative to justification by faith. Rather, the Law is "established" by faith. Paul will explain what this means in chapters 5-7.

 

Modern Christians should ask themselves, is my relationship with God based on what I do or in what I believe? Paul asserts that we are justified by faith apart from works. Are you justified by faith?

 

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