December 18, 2022

Audio Sermon for Advent Four, Sunday December 18, 2022

Passage: Romans 3:19-22
Service Type:

Sermon for Advent Four – Sunday December 18, 2022
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
And our Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

Romans 3:19-22
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. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe...*

In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Only By faith in His sinless life,
Are we accounted as righteous by God,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –

So, call me a grumpy old man if you like, but it baffles me that people that don’t see the conflict between certain things and their Christian Faith. Honestly, I think that they just don’t want to see it. It doesn’t surprise me when people of the world don’t blink an eye; but I just don’t understand how Christians can turn a blind eye to it.

“What are you venting about now, Pastor?”
Well, I suppose I could explain.

We all know this simple and beautiful Word of God (John 3:16, ESV):
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Now if we take that passage and put it in a pot on the stove and boil it down, we are left with this:
“A person is right with God by faith in what Jesus has done.”
“God accounts those who trust in Jesus as righteous by faith in Him.”

Then just over 100 years ago, a Lieutenant in the British Army established an organization for boys. He said that those boys who do good things - like helping little old ladies to cross the street - are good and faithful young men. He taught them that in doing good they were making things right - even with God.
If they did enough good things, they would earn a special badge or ribbon which they could wear on their uniforms displaying how they were good and righteous.

Help me, I’m a simple person...which is it? Am I right with God by faith in Jesus or because I am a good person? I’m not saying that young men shouldn’t be taught to be helpful and kind; but they shouldn’t be taught that they change their status with God by their actions!
The message of the Word of God is simple:
Trust in Christ (not in yourself) and Live Eternally!

We also know this simple and beautiful Scripture (James 1:17, ESV):

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Our Creator God is called the ‘Father of Lights’ because He created the two great lights, the Sun and the Moon. We are here taught that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Moreover, other passages teach me that I don’t deserve any good thing because I’m a sinner, nevertheless, God graciously provides my needs because He loves me. Honestly, if God gave me what I earned and deserved...I’d get hell and so would you.

Amazingly, by God’s grace through faith, we are right with God. In addition, God blesses us with all that we need and more simply because He loves us; not because we’ve been good and earned it.

But as soon as the rain changes to snow, the Father of Lights is replaced by Father Christmas as the giver of good gifts:

“You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout...He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out whose naughty and nice. He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.”

Folks smile and say, “Jolly old saint nick...what a jolly old soul.” It doesn’t strike you as odd that this fictional character is given the qualities of God – “He sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake...He knows if you’ve been bad or good?” I’m pretty sure that if you found a chubby guy looking in the window at your sleeping’d call the cops!

Why then allow our children to believe that someone other than God is responsible for their gifts? Well, perhaps it’s simply this, that we’ve forgotten the core foundational truth of Holy Scripture. This morning, we review it.

Christ is Coming Again...and there are things we should be afraid of and things we need not fear. If you think that you can earn heaven by being good...then be afraid. But if you trust that Christ has gained heaven for you...then fear not.

It is our earnest prayer that the Spirit of God would plant this truth in our hearts to grow and bear fruit. We therefore begin with this prayer: “Sanctify us by Your Truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth. Amen.”


We are a pretty good mix of ethnic backgrounds here at Calvary. We are a fairly complex soup all told: German, Norwegian, Finish, English...and a mix of them. Our different ethnic heritages aren’t the issue that they were 50 years ago. (A German marrying a Norwegian? “Gasp!”) Today, when we gather here in this place our ethnic background is of lesser importance. We are together Christians, Lutheran Christians, who share a common faith and agreement on God’s Word.

The first congregation in the city of Rome was also a mix of ethnic backgrounds. Roman citizens weren’t just ‘Romans’ but peoples from different lands all melded into one. But from a Jewish point of view, the congregation was made up of Jews (family of Abraham) and Gentiles (all the rest).

Each of these groups brought with them different ideas.

 The Gentiles came from families that worshipped idols and gods made up by human beings. They came from a religious background in which it was possible to earn God’s favor by doing certain things.

 The Jews were blessed in that they had contact with the real God, the creator of the earth and the heavens. God had favored them – not because they were a better people – but because His Amazing Grace chose them. He gave them the Promised Land and Promised to send the Messiah, the Anointed Savior, from among them. God gave them His Law in written form – the moral law – which was originally written into the heart of every human. God also gave them laws to govern their religious worship and society.

Still, they were tempted to believe that they could do something to repair their broken relationship with God...that is, until the Gospel of Christ was proclaimed to them. It was then that they learned that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ had done what was necessary to reconcile them to God...and nothing was left undone.

Nevertheless, like a bad penny it kept coming up. When things seemed to go bad in their lives, their natural reaction was to try and do something to make things right with God...even though God remained their Loving Father. They kept on thinking that they had to do something to make things right.

The Jews naturally turned to God’s Law. If there was a way to make things right with God, surely it was by keeping His Commandments. They didn’t just try to keep the commandments, groups like the Pharisees even added to God’s Laws to give the people new ways to ‘make things right with God.’

But God didn’t give the moral law to help man repair his relationship with God. God originally gave the moral law to all men; and He did it by writing it on the heart. Its purpose wasn’t to offer human beings a way to make things right with God by their actions or obedience, but to show human beings their sin and unworthiness.

This isn’t merely my opinion or interpretation. It is here written for all to read and understand and be condemned:

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.

I’d like you to look at the words from the 3rd Chapter of Romans printed as the sermon text. Let’s start with the word, ‘we.’ When the Apostle Paul writes ‘we’ he includes himself, and all his readers, whether they be ethnic Jew or Gentile. So, this applies to all of us, not just some of us. Let’s move on.

An important question is just what ‘Law’ is the Spirit of God (through Paul) referring it the moral law contained in 10 Commandments or the Civil or Ceremonial Law? What follows is a truism for sure, “Whatever the Law says, it speaks to those under the law.” The Codified Laws of the United States and of each state, for example, apply to those living in or visiting those lands. Where our laws are not recognized in other nations, they do not apply.

What Law is the Holy Spirit talking about? There is a hint in this next phrase, “so that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world be held accountable to God.” The Law to which He refers cannot be the civil or ceremonial laws that God gave to the Jews for the Jews. The Law of which He speaks is the moral law contained in 10 Commandments, which was written in human hearts.

This Law’s purpose is not to make us feel better about ourselves, but to shut our mouths and to show that we are all accountable to God. The word translated ‘accountable’ is a legal term meaning ‘liable’ or ‘answerable.’ The purpose of the 10 Commandments is not to give us a target to shoot at, but to show how we have missed and missed badly. In fact, it’s so bad and our sinful aim is so pathetic that it’s impossible to perfectly keep it:

20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight,
since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Once again, we have legalese, but you don’t have to be a lawyer to understand it. By works of the moral law, no human being will be ‘declared not guilty’ in God’s sight. It’s not possible for sinful human beings. The purpose of God’s Law is to bring us down a notch, more than that, to bring us to our knees before the Judge.

If you think that you can make things right with God by being a good should be afraid of Christ’s Return. The truth is that our attempts at keeping God’s Law can never result in our being accepted by God...only condemned. No merit badge will change it; ‘being good for goodness sake’ won’t ever make anyone right with God.

There is only one way to be righteous before God...and that is related in the next verses:

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe...*

Have you ever received a Christmas present that required putting together? Most of us have. When you first open the box, some of the steps seem clear, while other pieces and parts don’t look right all by themselves. It’s only when you carefully follow the directions that everything comes out right, and the gift is assembled properly.

After telling us where righteousness with God is NOT found – in keeping the 10 Commandments – the Spirit of God reveals where it is found. He says that the ‘righteousness of God’ the perfection that God expects is manifested, unwrapped separate from the Law of God. In fact, he says, God wrote the instructions down in ‘the law and the prophets.’

Confused? Don’t be. The expression ‘the Law and the Prophets’ used in the 2nd half of verse 21 is one that the Jews used, to describe the Old Testament Scriptures. For them, ‘the Law’ was the first five books of our Old Testament written by Moses and ‘the Prophets’ was used to sum up the rest of the Old Testament.

Let’s back up and try Romans 3:22 again:
“The Righteousness that we need to stand before God has been unwrapped separately from the moral law and is found in the Old Testament Scriptures.”

How is the perfection that we need to stand before God obtained? Well, it’s not by trying to keep the commandments ourselves like a six-year-old trying to put together tiny model pieces with super glue all over his hands. We are accounted as righteous by God...through faith in Jesus Christ.

In other words, if you trust that Jesus’ perfect life covers up your sins, then you have no reason to be afraid of Jesus Coming to Judge the Living and the Dead. Why not? Jesus lived without sin as your substitute. Jesus also took your sin and guilt upon himself and died on the Cross on Good Friday to make up for every sin. Finally, by faith in what He has done, God credits you with Jesus’ Righteousness.

In Christ, you have all you need...and nothing to fear.

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