“The Righteous Shall Live by Faith”


Sermon Text: Romans 1-3 (Reading: 1:16-17)
Sermon Series: “Romans 9-16”

Main Points:
I. The gospel of Jesus Christ
II. The gospel is the power of God for salvation
III. Salvation is for everyone who believes
IV. God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel

A new sermon series begins from today and, in this series, Rom. chs. 9-16 will be dealt with. This series is a follow-up of what I preached in 2018 and 2020, covering chs. from 1 up to 8. As the first eight chapters of Romans were preached some years ago, I’d like to begin this new series with a couple of sermons to remind you of the messages of chs. 1-8. We’ll look at chs. 1-3 today and chs. 4-8 next Lord’s Day. Then, we’ll start contemplating chs. 9 and up to the end of Romans which is ch. 16.

What we’ve just read from ch. 1 and especially the last two verses – 1:16-17 – give us a brief and good summary of the message of chs. 1-3. The Apostle Paul brings the main idea of Romans as soon as he completed his greetings to his readers, and that is, ‘justification by faith alone.’ It is the core of the message Jesus the Lord delivered to all in the world, and this is, in a word, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel means the good news Jesus Christ preached and it declares, as the Apostle Paul defines in these three chapters, ‘the power of God for salvation’ which is for ‘everyone who believes.’ Being the power of God for salvation, this gospel reveals ‘God’s righteousness.’

In his explanation of this truth about the good news, Paul makes it clear that all in mankind are sinful. All men and women are sinners, and there’s no exception. And that’s the beginning of the gospel.

Having explained the universality of sin, which is the reality of all in humankind, the apostle brings to his reader’s attention the core of the gospel, that is, ‘justification by faith alone.’ Listen to the message of Rom. 3:22 – “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” Vs. 23-24 of the same chapter add deeper colours to this message, saying this: “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.” This is the gospel of Jesus Christ; sinners are justified, thus, saved by faith in the Son, Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, this is becoming less popular among people of our time. I’m talking about people who regard themselves as Christians. The apostle’s introduction to the gospel is not favoured by many churches of our time. They consider that the gospel of Jesus should be unoffensive to those who show interest in Christianity. So they skip the beginning of the gospel – that is, the universal sinfulness – and jump to the next part, that is, faith, telling them to just believe and be saved.

People hear that simple acceptance of Jesus will make them God’s children, and everything will be fine for them as their Heavenly Father will love them without limit. In some other cases, people hear that the gospel is a synonym of worldly success with materials and health and fame.

But such is not the gospel Jesus preached and the Spirit-inspired apostle explains in these chapters of Romans. The good news is that we need a Physician who can revive us from death in sin and heal us; we need a Saviour who can wash us from all sins; we need a Lord in whom we reside and serve now and eternally. And God has provided us the Physician who is the Saviour and Lord. Whoever repents from sin and believes in Him will be saved, the death penalty they deserved will be paid, thus, they’ll be delivered from the curse of sin and moved to God’s eternal blessing. This is the gospel of Jesus.

Having said, I’d like to point out to you some important truths the apostle explains about the gospel. The first is that ‘the gospel is the power of God for salvation.’ Paul mentions this in v. 16 of Rom. 1, saying, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation.”

Simply put, the gospel of Jesus is God’s saving power clearly manifested. In other words, the gospel displays God’s power to revive sinners who are dead in sin and damned under the eternal curse, having no hope of life at all.

Remember how many times and how firmly the Bible declares our deadness in sin, thus, absolute incapability to do anything good. Let me give you an example that explains this straightforwardly – it’s Eph. 2:1 that points out our former status in these words: “you were dead in the trespasses and sins.” Here, the word ‘dead’ is in Greek, ‘nekros,’ which means ‘corpse,’ a lifeless body that decays. No wonder why 1 Cor. 2:14 tells us that “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

But the gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s power that surely overrules death and revives the dead. It is the power of God that surely brings the dead to life eternal. Impossible is to stop cancer metastasis in terminal cancer patients, let alone improving their conditions. Raising the dead is far beyond any man’s imagination.

But the good news of Jesus that gives life to sinners is true and solid. It is preached to people who have no ears to hear it, no eyes to see it. The Holy Spirit opens their eyes and ears, thus, by seeing and hearing it, they come to the Lord in repentance and faith. By repenting from their sins and trusting in Jesus the Saviour, no longer are they sinners but the living in Jesus, no longer are they bound to sin but free in the power of God. About this power, the apostle describes further in Eph. 1:19 as ‘the immeasurable greatness of God’s power that is given to us who believe’!

After all, this is why Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection is good news for the whole world!

This leads us to ponder upon the next truth about the gospel of Jesus, that is, ‘the salvation of Jesus is for everyone who believes.’ There’s no discrimination in Jesus’ salvation. Anyone and everyone can receive Jesus’ eternal life. Listen to the apostle in v. 16, “[the gospel] is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

It means all peoples and tribes; it includes people from every race and tribe indiscriminately. But, don’t ever misunderstand the apostle, thinking that salvation might be for every human being who ever lived. That is never what he teaches. Rather, only those who believe in Jesus will be the recipients of God’s saving power and whoever believes will be blessed with Jesus’ salvation.

This is why we’re told that salvation is for free. God’s saving power that is revealed in the gospel is free. No price will be charged for its recipients. Only faith in Jesus! Trusting in Him is the only requirement.

Hearing this, someone might still question and say, ‘Isn’t faith, then, a price to pay for salvation?’ The answer to such a question is an emphatic ‘No!’ because the Bible clearly tells us that even one’s faith is God’s gift! This means, anyone’s faith in Jesus that guarantees his salvation is not one’s own doing, but a favour of God granted to a believer. So, listen to God who speaks to whom He shows mercy – it’s from Isa. 55:1 and following, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. … Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that you may live.” The same is offered in Rev. 22:17 in these words: “Come … let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Our Lord Jesus explained this gift of God and its benefit in Jn. 4:13 in these words: “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spiring of water welling up to eternal life.” The invitation is from God to the thirsty and hungry who endlessly wonder in a desert of sin; this invitation is a gracious gift from the eternally gracious God!

Therefore, no one is too poor to come to and buy from Jesus His living water; no one is too alienated or marginalised to be God’s children. Rather, salvation is for all and everyone who believe.

The third and last truth we must understand is that the gospel reveals God’s righteousness. The gospel of Jesus proves that God is righteous, faithful, thus, reliable always.

How does the gospel prove this? To understand this, we need to remember what kind of fate sinners deserve. It is eternal damnation in hell. Everyone is born in sin, inheriting what is called the original sin that began from the garden of Eden. That is not all – everyone sins all the time, never ceasing from adding more records of sins in each one’s life. So, all deserve damnation.

But, Jesus came and lived a sinless life and died to pay the penalty for the sins of sinners. He did not have to die because He was sinless, and only sinners deserve death penalty. But He died for sinners to cancel their multiple sins. This is to reveal and demonstrate God’s righteousness to the world. By the death of God’s Son Jesus, the penalty we deserved is paid. God is righteous!

He is also faithful. God keeps His promise that He made with His own from the beginning that He would save those who put their trust in Him. He promised, saying, “I will … be your God and you shall be My people.” By shedding His own blood, God substitutes all His elect – those whom He decided to save from the beginning – and He brings them to life. Nothing stops Him from faithfully accomplishing His promise and saving His own. The gospel of Jesus vividly reveals God’s faithfulness.

So, God who is righteous and faithful is also reliable, isn’t He? He is dependable and trustworthy. Everyone who depends on Him tastes the joyful hope of eternity while living on earth, and will soon be satisfied with eternal glory of living and dwelling in God’s kingdom.

This is what this truth, ‘the righteous shall live by faith,’ means. Salvation is by faith alone which is God’s gracious gift, and all who are saved live by faith in Jesus.

No wonder why the apostle says in the beginning of v. 16 that he is not ashamed of the gospel. This gospel which is God’s saving power revealed to the very eyes of the world which proclaims that God’s salvation is for all and everyone through faith is in no way shameful. Rather, it is glorious and dazzling and fascinating news of the only way to life, only way to God, only way to eternal joy! This gospel should be proclaimed and shared with all people of the world! After all, this is why the Apostle Paul was eager to come to Rome and preach this gospel of Jesus Christ to all in Rome as we read in v. 15 of Rom. 1.

This gospel that declares the truth of ‘the righteous shall live by faith’ is the most precious jewel in the entre universe! And it is yours who believe in Jesus Christ, and all who grasp its true worth share it with all people! ***

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