Who Can Brag About Their Salvation?
March 12, 2023
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction and Background (Luke 18:9-14)
A. People love to boast
1. Especially fishermen!
2. Some boast about being a catholic
3. Others boast about being an atheist or agnostic
4. Even people who are very humble, boast about being timid and humble!
B. But the big problem comes when people are boastful of their own goodness and religiosity – thinking they can get to heaven all on their own!
C. It was the same in Jesus’ day (see Luke 18:9-14)…
1. Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
2. Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
3. Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
4. Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
5. Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
6. Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
7. Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
8. Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
9. Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
10. Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
11. Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
12. Tell me…
a. Did anything that the super-religious-Pharisee do catch the attention of God?
b. Could he boast to God about anything he had done?
c. What about the sinful-publican? Did he even try to boast?
d. Yet, which one went home, PARDONED, forgiven, justified, washed, cleansed from his sin? The sinful, traitorous Publican!
f. Because he admitted he was a sinner, and sought MERCY, GRACE, forgiveness from God, without any good works!
D. But the INABILITY to boast is the greatest theme, subject, truth of the Bible…
1. Sinful people can obtain righteousness without good works – without keeping the law
2. It stops every form of boasting!
A. The Purpose of God’s Law (Romans 3:19)
1. The Ten Commandments are not ten SUGGESTIONS, they are Laws
2. Like any written law, they have an important purpose
a. Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
b. To stop our mouths – that means to stop our arguing, and debating with God
1) God’s Laws give us absolute rights and wrongs
2) You can argue with me all day long
3) But you are not going to be able to argue with God
4) Not when he shows you just how wicked you really are on the inside!
c. To prove our guiltiness before God… it actually lists sins
1) Romans 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin
2) And Paul began to list sin after sin from chapter 1 on
3) Proving that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)
4) Guilty is not a feeling - it is an absolute reality – a judicial fact. He or she who breaks a law is guilty, whether they feel like they did wrong or not
d. And to warn us that There is a judgment day coming – the Great White throne Judgment of God (Revelation 20:11-15)
1) Where everyone will face God, and will be judged according to what they did, good or bad
2) Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
B. The Limits of God’s Law (Romans 3:20)
1. It cannot save – it cannot help you once it has exposed your flaws, sins
2. No one can be healed by it – it only reveals sin
a. Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
b. It is like an X-Ray machine, or an MRI – those machines can only SHOW what is wrong inside us – they cannot repair what is wrong!
a. Stop trusting in it, thinking you have kept it, or are keeping it (like the Pharisees thought, and like most religionists believe today). It would be like a cancer patient trusting in an x-ray machine to heal them – it won’t
b. Listen to it, accept its conclusions… That you and I, and all people, who were ever born are law-breakers
c. Expect for God to judge you – like sitting in a courtroom – you need to plead, “No Contest” – no argument, no debate. Say loud and clear, “I am wrong!”
d. Wait, WHAT? Yes! Because that is when you will appreciate God’s next words…
C. Righteousness Without the Law is Possible (Romans 3:21,22)
1. Romans 3:21,22 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
2. Two times Paul says, “the righteousness of God”
3. So, let’s understand the righteousness of God
a. It is perfect righteousness – perfect morality – no sin at all
b. Paul amazingly says such perfect righteousness that God has and expects, is available to anyone without them doing anything good! (REPEAT)
4. So, How does someone BECOME righteous?
a. Not by them BEING perfect...
b. But BEING MADE perfect on inside, repaired, forgiven, cleansed, and pardoned
c. 1Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the [POWER OF THE] name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
d. 1John 1:7 …if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
5. This “pardon” has been described throughout the entire Bible
a. Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
b. Most people only see do’s and don’t’s in the Bible, and miss the forgiveness!
c. It has been shown from the very first pages of your Bible… all the way through!
1) Adam and Eve could do nothing after they sinned in the Garden of Eden to get back right with God, except wear the skins of innocent lambs that died in their place so they could be forgiven! That was an act of FAITH!
2) Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4; 15:5,6) Just believed whatever God promised
a) Genesis 12:1-4 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
b) Genesis 15:5,6 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
3) David (Psalm 32:1,2) Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
4) Remember that word IMPUTE – we will see that word again!
6. Righteousness Received by Faith Only (Romans 3:23)
a. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
b. Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
c. Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
d. Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
e. Galatians 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
f. Not just any faith, but very specific faith, believing what God promises
g. Believing what Jesus believed “trusting the faith of Jesus Christ”
h. It is so wrong that most people just have their own faith
i. And don’t know what Jesus believed – which was every word of God
j. They miss salvation because they miss the simple, clear, specific instructions in the Gospel, in the same way I often miss important instructions from my wife when I am not paying attention!
7. God’s righteousness available to all that just believe HIM. Whether Jew, or Gentile, atheist, catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Baptist, or agnostic
D. How Can Someone Be Made Righteous? (Romans 3:24-26)
1. Remember Our Condition (Go back to Romans 3:10, 23)
a. All of us have sinned – broken God’s laws
b. Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one
c. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
d. It does not matter that maybe someone has sinned MORE than you
e. You probably have sinned more than others!
f. We ALL come short, fall short, are unable to attain to God’s glory and perfection
g. Same as attempting to jump a mile wide canyon, Or trying to swim to shore from 10 miles out in the ocean – we will fail!
2. Remember God’s Condemnation - We are doomed
a. The law comes along and tells us we are sinking in sins, wearing out, no hope, we are going to die like anyone would out in middle of an ocean!
b. Wow! God’s Laws are a Big help!
c. But, If God’s Laws cannot make us righteous, what can?
3. God’s Salvation
a. Listen to Romans 3:24-26 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [GRACE] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
b. See also Galatians 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
4. Notice the Bible words:
a. Justified, Justification – to make someone right, good, and a clean record
b. Redemption – to pay off a debt (if you have a mortgage, you are paying off a debt you owe the bank)
c. Propitiation – to pay it in full – atone for your sin means to pay for losses, plus interest!
d. Remission – to remove a debt – we use the word usually with cancer
e. All these words are describing Imputation
1) A Judicial Swap, Charging your debts to someone else who had no debts
2) And transferring their credit to you
3) 2Corinthians 5:21 For he [GOD] hath made him [JESUS] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
4) Jesus, who never sinned, became sin and was judged for all sin
5) You as a believer become righteous, and are made FREE
a) God is both Just (right) and the Justifier of everyone who believes on His Son in their place!
b) All because you and I simply believe Jesus’ blood is enough to pay for all my sins – to remove the cancer of my sin in me
c) Now when the Law examines me, God sees a clean heart!
d) Oh thank God for His forbearance
e) 2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
f. Let me explain it another way:
1) A Judge can pay for the crime of the offender
2) Just remember, the Judge is not ignoring, or dismissing a case… he is stepping down from the bench, taking the place of the offender, losing his robe, and his position, and becomes condemned as the criminal, and treated as a criminal, and then is punished as if HE is the very criminal that he has taken the place of!
3) And the offender will then be able to go away free
4) THAT is what the Judge of the universe did when He willingly stretched out His hands onto the beams of the cross, and let wicked men kill HIM in our place
g. No one can do nothing to earn such a transfer
h. It is FREELY offered to everyone
i. It just has to be accepted – unfortunately, most mock it and ignore it and neglect it until it is too late!
E. Where is Boasting then? (Romans 3:27)
1. Paul asks a few final questions
2. Who has anything to boast/brag about in their salvation?
a. Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then? …
b. Who can say, “I cleansed my own sins… I redeemed my own sin-debts… I saved my own soul!”
c. Who Can Brag About Their Salvation?
d. No one! “It is excluded”
e. All of us are excluded from boasting
f. Ephesians 2:8,9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
g. The only Person who deserves any honour, and the only person who can be bragged about saving anyone is JESUS CHRIST!
3. What law can save?
a. The law of the Sabbath? The law of worshipping only one God?
b. Not the law of commandments
c. But the law of FAITH!
d. Romans 3:27,28 … By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
e. Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
4. Final question… Is God only the God of the Jews only?
a. The Jews had forgotten that God is the only God there is.
b. And that He is the God of the gentiles as much as He is the God of the Jews
c. Romans 3:29,30 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
d. That is the great promise of salvation – that the God who transferred the sins of the Jews onto His Son, transferred also the sins of alll other people too, onto His Son!
e. Salvation is therefore available to all people, no matter how far away, or how close
III. The Conclusion (Romans 3:28-31)
A. There are so many things we can conclude, settle, decide as fact from these Scriptures:
B. #1 That salvation is by faith alone (Romans 8:28) there is only one way to be saved – to be made righteous…
1. Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
2. Any man, woman, or child can be justified / made right with God WITHOUT doing good works constantly
3. Righteousness is received by FAITH alone!
4. It is obtained by receiving the perfect life and the perfect faith of Jesus as enough for every man, woman and child to cling to for forgiveness from their own sins!
C. #2 That God’s way of saving us is the only way (Romans 3:29,30)
1. Romans 3:29,30 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
2. Not a Jewish way, or a Catholic way, or a Baptist way
3. But the Jesus way
4. By faith in Jesus alone
D. #3 The Law has NOT been replaced by faith (Romans 3:31) It is Accomplished by faith!
1. Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
2. Faith does not destroy God’s expectations of us, and replace the Law… No!
3. The Law has actually been Accomplished / Fulfilled, by believing Jesus Christ – no other man or women ever fulfilled all the requirements of the Laws of God
4. And He did it, for all people – because none of us could keep it
5. So, our faith has reinforced the law as true and needful! It is needed more than ever!
a. Not to save anyone – remember… It is powerless to save
b. But it is needed to expose everyone to what is wrong inside them, and drive them to Jesus, the only Saviour
c. Galatians 3:23-26 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
6. So that we cry out to God for salvation with the right kind of desire – desperation, not flippant, or half-hearted
7. If you haven’t yet, it is time to do it now!
E. That’s good news to law-breakers! That is hope!
F. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ yourself – He lived, He kept God’s law perfectly, He died in your place, so you could be pardoned from all sin!
G. Decide for yourself, to trust Him to forgive you and cleanse you, and save you, even right now!