Sermon – June 20, 2021
Questions are incredibly useful things. They are the way that we find out what we don’t know, helping to increase our knowledge of the world. They help to clarify our thinking when we are foggy about things. They can likewise be used as weapons and as rhetorical tools. Paul has labored in the first two chapters of his letter to lay the foundational reality of sin that provides the necessity of the gospel – all, Jew and Greek, have sinned and need the work of Jesus in their life. Here, as we begin Romans 3, Paul helps to clarify his points through the use of questions.
1. If the Jews are no better off, why care about any of the OT?
In short, we care about the OT because we care about the gospel. Paul notes that the Jews were given the very promises of God. These promises pointed toward the gospel, and help aid in our understanding of the gospel. The OT gives us the grammar of the gospel, it tells us how to think about it and what it means. We would be very poor indeed without it!
2. If the Jews failed to attain the promises, is God unfaithful?
In a word: no. The Jewish failure is a failure of sin, and God is always faithful to judge sin. This is enforced with a reference to David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51. There, he exaggerates in stating that his sin is before God alone. This exaggeration was purposeful: so that he would understand that God was right in all his judgments. David knows that his sin before God deserves punishment, and if God chooses to punish him, then that punishment would be right. The Jews are in the same place. Yet, God has made great promises, and will indeed be faithful to them in Christ – for in Christ God will always be faithful to himself.
3. If the Jews’ sin displays God’s glory, why not just keep sinning?
If working at the law and trying to do what is right by God does not get them any closer to salvation, but the gentiles who know neither God nor the law can attain it through faith, why not just keep sinning so that God would get his glory? Part of this line of thinking is true and good; salvation is all of grace, by faith, and not on account of anything that we do or any work that we attempt. Yet, it is a wrong conclusion to think then that we should continue on in our pursuit of sin. Rather, Jesus is good both to take away the pain of our sin and to heal the problem of our sin. Trust in him! For he is the good physician, here to heal weary souls!