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10-30-22 Great Themes of the Bible: The New Covenant

Great Themes of the Bible: The New Covenant

David Peterson

Great Themes of the Bible / Atonement; Salvation; Reformation / Romans 3:19–28

Sermon Type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: The knowledge that we are saved by grace leads to peace with God and others because we are no longer competing with others in order to meet our deepest needs.


I. The FUTILITY of Law-Based Religion (Romans 3:20)

1. Explanation

a. Paul’s explanation is built on his own experience (Romans 7) and the history of his people (The Old Testament).

b. We’ve got 2000 more years of history and our own experience.

c. The story of Martin Luther

2. Application

a. The practical effect of this knowledge is that it destroys PRIDE.

3. Illustration

It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.

It is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But Pride always means enmity— it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.

Lewis, C. S.. The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C. S. Lewis (p. 91). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

The Gift that Makes You Swallow Your Pride

Timothy Keller writes: Christmas is about receiving presents, but consider how challenging it is to receive certain kinds of gifts. Some gifts by their very nature make you swallow your pride. Imagine opening a present on Christmas morning from a friend … and it’s a dieting book. Then you take off another ribbon and wrapper and you find it is another book from another friend, Overcoming Selfishness. If you say to them “Thank you so much,” you are in a sense admitting, “For indeed I am [overweight] and obnoxious.”

In other words, some gifts are hard to receive, because to do so is to admit you have flaws and weaknesses and you need help. Perhaps on some occasion you had a friend who figured out you were in financial trouble and came to you and offered a large sum of money to get you out of your predicament. If that has ever happened to you, you probably found that to receive the gift meant swallowing your pride.

There has never been a gift offered that makes you swallow your pride to the depths that the gift of Jesus Christ requires us to do so. Christmas means that we are so lost, so unable to save ourselves, that nothing less than the death of the Son of God himself could save us. That means you are not somebody who can pull yourself together and live a moral and good life.

Source: Timothy Keller, ‘Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ’ (Viking, 2016), pages 16-17

II. The FORBEARANCE of God (Romans 3:25)

1. Explanation

a. The fact that we get away with sin should not tempt us to believe there is no judgment. Paul, like Peter, recognizes that God is patient. He’s giving us a chance to repent.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:8-10)

b. The cross demonstrates what God really thinks of sin.

2. Application

a. It’s easy for us to be frustrated by what we see in the world. The evil that exists.

b. God has his reasons for waiting. We can see his mind on the cross.

3. Illustration

Preparing for Judgment

On March 26, 2000, Seattle’s famed Kingdome—home of the Seattle Seahawks, Mariners, and at times, the Super Sonics—was destroyed. Maryland-based Controlled Demolition Incorporated was hired to do the job of imploding the 25,000-ton structure that had marked Seattle’s skyline for two dozen years.

Remarkable about the event was the extreme measures taken to ensure no one was hurt. CDI had experience with over 7,000 demolitions and knew how protect people. Engineers checked and rechecked the structure. The authorities evacuated several blocks around the Kingdome. Safety measures were in place to allow the countdown to stop at any time if there was concern about safety. All workers were individually accounted for by radio before the explosives were detonated. A large public address system was used to announce the final countdown.

In short, CDI took every reasonable measure and more to warn people of the impending danger.

The Bible teaches of a final judgment and destruction for this sinful world. Like the engineers who blew up the Kingdome, our heavenly Father has spared no expense to make sure everybody can “get out” safely. He warns us through our consciences, through the prophets, through the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, through the Church, and through his Son.

Source: Seattle Times (3-27-00)

III. The call to FAITH in what Christ did (Romans 3:25)

1. Explanation

a. The plain sense of this passage is that Christ took the punishment for our sin.

“My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him…Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith…whereas before the ‘justice of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love”

Source: Reported in Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther

b. Faith is in his blood—i.e., his substitutionary death

2. Application

a. Though we look to judgment day as the source of relief. Truth be told we are included in the world’s sins.

b. Peace comes from trusting Christ’s death in our place.

Peace with God

Without justification it is impossible to have real peace. Conscience forbids it. Sin is a mountain between a man and God, and must be taken away. The sense of guilt lies heavy on the heart and must be removed. Unpardoned sin will murder peace. The true Christian knows all this well. His peace arises from a consciousness of his sins being forgiven, and his guilt being put away. … He has peace with God, because he is justified.

Source: J.C. Ryle in Foundations of Faith. Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 8.

3. Illustration

Baghdad Pastor Shows Love to Shiite Party

Ghassan Thomas leads one of the few public churches that emerged [in Baghdad] after Saddam Hussein was toppled. His congregation erected a sign on their building that said “Jesus Is the Light of the World,” but the church was raided by bandits who left behind a threat on a piece of cardboard. It read: “Jesus is not the light of the world, Allah is, and you have been warned.” The note was signed “The Islamic Shiite Party.”

In response, Pastor Ghassan loaded a van with children’s gifts and medical supplies—which were in critically short supply following the American invasion—and drove to the headquarters of the Islamic Shiite Party. After presenting the gifts and supplies to the sheikh, Ghassan told the leader, “Christians have love for you, because our God is a God of love.” He then asked permission to read from the Bible. Ghassan turned to Jesus’ words in John 8, “I am the light of the world.” He then showed the cardboard note to the sheikh. The Muslim leaders, astounded by Pastor Thomas’s actions, apologized.

“This will not happen again,” [the sheikh] vowed. “You are my brother. If anyone comes to kill you, it will be my neck first.” The sheikh later attended Pastor Thomas’s ordination service at the church.

Source: Skye Jethani, The Divine Commodity (Zondervan, 2009), pp. 61-62



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