I continue my journey through Paul’s letter to Romans. It occurred to me this morning as I was thinking about my sermon that one might best understand the message of Romans (Which I believe to be, “God is faithful”) by understanding Jesus as presented in all four gospels. Not theologically, not historically but in reality. Who Jesus was is who he is today.
My text this morning was Romans 3:9-24. Prior to this “summary” Paul has spent 3 chapters winding his way through the maze of human sin and he now reaches the climax. Paul is a bad news first kind of guy. If we finished reading Romans in 3:20 the news would be disastrous. Fortunately for us Paul says “But now…” in verse 21. I love the way the message describes it, “The God setting things right has become Jesus setting things right for us – not only us, but everyone who believes in him!”
God has, in Jesus, restored us to the way it was always meant to be. We have become living testimonies to the way in which the world will one day be. There is one phrase in verses 21-24 which summarise, in my opinion, the love of God in Christ. In verse 22 the Greek says, “dikaiosyne de theo dia pisteos Iesou Christou” translated says, “the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ”
Let us consider that word “faith” for a moment:
- I grew up in a tradition in which faith was something we owned. It was ours and our responsibility. If we wanted healing, prayers answered we trotted “our faith” out.
- In many translations the Greek word “pisteos” is translated “faith”
- The inference versions like the NIV give us is that it is “our faith in Christ” which gives us our righteousness or our right standing before God.
- However, the argument can be made just as strongly that the word we translate “faith” in fact means, “the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” meaning, it is Jesus’ faithfulness which gives us our standing before God. It is the faithfulness of Jesus to the task set to him by the father which has ensured our place in relationship with God.
- When we think of faith as something we have and give to God in exchange for “righteousness” we are inadvertently saying we have created our righteousness.
- If we accept faith as the faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ we in fact place Jesus is at the centre of our relationship with God, not us.
It is not that God is only faithful to us – He has in Jesus Christ acted faithfully and undertaken the entire task of making us right before God! He has done what we could never do for ourselves!
Jesus is God’s faithfulness in action and therefore he is God’s faithfulness revealed. Not in the abstract but personally. Furthermore, the resurrection lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Not as a symbol of our sin but of God’s faithfulness to us, to all of creation.
Jesus is the centre of Paul’s arguments. At every turn he is arguing out of his understanding God’s faithfulness revealed through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. If this is the case we would do well to keep Jesus at the centre of our lives.
I told our church this morning that as their pastor it is my role to help them keep Jesus at the centre of their life. How will I do that?
- I will keep him at the centre of my own life!
- I will seek to lead you faithfully in worship on Sundays as we inhabit the story of God
- I will be here for you, to talk with you, pray with and for you
- In everything I do I will seek, along with the elders, to help you live faithfully as God’s people by keeping Jesus at the very heart of everything we do.
And then I encouraged them to do two things for me. I encouraged them to be honest with themselves as to where they are in relationship with Jesus? Not church, not Bible reading or prayer – but Jesus. Secondly, I encouraged them to read the Gospel story of Jesus as portrayed by John and to immerse themselves in His story as a way of connecting again with the Jesus presented by Paul in Romans and present to us on a daily basis.
Peace be with you..