The Center of the Bible: A Sermon in the Mist of Disease and Panic

You find yourself isolated in your house, apart from family and church this morning.  Turning on the TV or scrolling through social media reminds you all too often of the uncertainty of life.  The world’s governments struggle to manage the growing pandemic.  Life is turned upside down.

This is a reminder of just how fragile men are, government systems are.  A virus, so small and unnoticed can bring the world to a halt.  God has used the smallest of His creation to bring the world to attention.  We must listen to what is being said.  To be sure, God has allowed the pandemic and subsequent fear for His purpose.  What is His purpose?

While I do not not everything, I must turn to the clearest message that His word contains.  To hear exactly what he wants is to again return to the heart of the scriptures.  So listen today and the Word screams at us through the mist of disease and panic.

Romans 3:23-25 “ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

A couple of statements about this text.

  1. I believe this is the center of the Bible. That is to say, I believe the Gospel is the center of the Bible.  The Gospel defined in positive terms is: the living and dying of the Lord Jesus as God’s Eternal Son set forth as a sacrifice for sinners to the Glory of God.  The Gospel defined negatively would be: not property preaching, no self-help, not prophecy, not self-esteem teaching.  Now the reason the Gospel should be central is because it is central.  If any other teaching is held above the Gospel, things become out of balance.  We participate in the Christian life in an unbalanced way.  Our thinking and living out our faith is lopsided.  The Gospel is our anchor, our plumb-line, our balance.
  2. The next issue we must confront in this text is the section “all have sinned…” All means all. Paul spends chapter 1-2 indicting the entire world as guilty before God.  We sin because we are sinners.  It is an impulsive drive to rebel against God.  Paul cites Psalm 14 and states that “there is none that seek after God.”  Paul goes through great lengths in diagnosing the human disease. The disease is that we are all sinners.
  3. The next section is interesting. It shows how exactly one sins.  It states “fall short of the glory of God.”  What does that mean?  I believe we must answer what is the glory of God?  I do not think that Paul is using the glory of God as a standard by which we meet.  Kind of like a benchmark.  Piper notes in his sermon on this subject that to answer this question a look at Romans 1:23 is in order.  1:23 talks about exchanging the glory of God.  That I take to mean to trade the glory of God for something else.  To exchange the satisfaction and life we have in God for something else.  As I think about that meaning, it is very obvious.  Humans exchange the glory of the creator for the glory of the creature all the time.  We would rather scroll Facebook, play video games, watch TV, play sports, take trips, ride boats, etc., more than to find our true joy in God.  This is what it means to fall short of His glory.
  4. God must and will punish this sin. Sin in not glorifying God as the true source of life must be punished.  There is a flood of wrath against humans for sin.  That flood has not been turn loose on us.  It is a mercy we can wake every day without God sending wrath upon our souls.  I cannot stress the seriousness of God’s wrath against the ungodly.
  5. The next section is, “are justified by His grace as a gift…” Did you know the Gospel is not about you?  You are a benefactor but it is not about you.  God did something outside of you.  He did an act in history that has permanent consequences.  Three words here in this verse.  The first is justified.  You are justified.  This is an objective act of God declaring a sinner innocent.  This happens outside you.  Like a murder’s case dismissed in the court of law.  He may still feel guilty, but in the eyes of the court he is free.  So a sinner may feel guilt, but in the eyes of Heaven’s court they are free.  The second word is grace.  Grace is simply God’s goodness in justifying you.  It has absolutely nothing to do with your person, ability, merit, or works.  It has nothing to do with feeling guilty, punishing yourself or working to gain God’s favor.  God does this out of his own person.  The next word is gift.  This grace is a gift to you.  It is not earned bought or pleaded for.  It is a gift from God to you
  6. The next phrase is, “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The gift of grace comes through Christ.  Christ’s living and dying is the basis for God to give me the gift of grace.  Through Christ the righteous demands of God was satisfied.  His wrath against sin is quenched through the propitiation of Christ’s death.  The redemption is the price he paid at Calvary for the sheep.  Notice now how that salvation is all about God and Christ.  It is nothing concerning us at this point.
  7. The last two points are found in verse 25. God put Christ forward.  It was by divine design that the cross happened.  The beating, blood, passion, and the cross was done by God.  God is the author, the doer, and the one who applies salvation.  He set Christ forth for sin.  We receive this great salvation through faith.  How glorious to think that I stretch out my empty had of faith and he fills it with salvation.  Faith is believing upon him for his grace as a gift through Christ’s blood.  This is our part and what a powerfully simple part it is.

To recap: God diagnosed our position, we are sinners.  He told us what the sin is: It is falling short of God’s all satisfying glory by looking elsewhere to fill our souls with satisfaction.  God, however, gifts us with His grace.  This grace is setting His Son to die on behalf of all sinners, taking away the sin by quenching the wrath of God.  Sinners are saved by simply believing on Him to do this.

Do you believe?  I know that your conscious testifies to you several things.  First that there is a God.  Second, that you have offended Him with your sins.  Thirdly, that you stand in danger of His wrath.  The Gospel is that God will forgive you in Christ.  Look to Him today and be saved.



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