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Thursday, April 30, 2015

From the FBC Pulpit

We are currently studying in Romans. This sermon was preached on April 12, 2015:

Justified By Faith

Read - Romans 3:21-31

Key Verse - Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭28‬ NKJV)

Key Thought - The only way to be justified in the mind of God, no matter who you are, is by faith in Christ's accomplishment on the cross.


Let's sum up what we have learned in Romans so far:

  1. Mankind is lost apart from Christ. Universally depraved and without hope, even and including that group that is most privileged -the Jews.

  2. The great advantage the Jews had was their possession of the law - God's revealed Word.

  3. But that law doesn't save because it's impossible to keep the law. Rather the great advantage of the law is that it reveals the lost condition of its readers. It is our schoolmaster (Galatians) showing us our need and pointing us to Christ who alone is the solution.

  4. So… the next logical question is, “If salvation does not come by keeping the law, how can we be saved?”  And the answer is, BY FAITH.  The only way to be justified in the mind of God, no matter who you are, is by faith in Christ's accomplishment on the cross.

    Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭28‬ NKJV)

    This is the antithesis of what every other religion in the world teaches. Consider a few examples:

    Hinduism has about 330 million gods who must be appeased through some type of ritual.  Hinduism is a system of works–things that one must do to reach moksha , the Hindu heaven. It involves the practice of yoga, which, contrary to what many have heard, has never been for improvement of one's health but is rather a means of dying to one's body in the hope of delivering oneself from the physical realm. This is supposed to yoke one to Brahman, the Supreme Deity of Hinduism. Reincarnation, a system that supposedly enables one to work one's way to heaven through many births, deaths, and rebirths, is one of the teachings of this religion.
    Buddhism is also all about works. Buddha believed that the key to reaching Nirvana, which is allegedly the state of perfect peace and happiness, is through an  understanding of the Four Noble Truths and by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path.
    In essence, the Four Noble Truths declare that we endure suffering because of our desires or cravings. These “Truths” claim that suffering will stop when we cease trying to fulfill those desires. According to Buddhism, we can achieve this by following the Noble Eightfold Path, which has the elements of “right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.” This is all done by man's achievement , i.e., “doing things right” in order to reach Nirvana.
    In Islam, paradise is attained when Allah weighs a follower's good works against his bad deeds on a scale at Judgment Day. The Qur'an declares: “For those things that are good remove those that are evil” (Surah 11:114). It's a quantitative process. Good deeds need to outweigh or blot out evil deeds. From the Qur'an again: “The balance that day will be true:  Those whose scale [of good works] will be heavy, will prosper: Those whose scale will be light will find their souls in perdition” (Surah 7:8,9).
    Here's an interesting example of what a Muslim faces to get into paradise: On April 3, 1991, the Egyptian magazine, Akher Saa , recorded a heated debate between four female journalists and Sheik Doctor Abdu-Almonim Al-Nimr, who holds a high position at Al-Azher Islamic University. One of the journalists asked him: “Is the hijab [veil or head covering] obligatory for women in Islam? If I do not wear the hijab, shall I go to hell in spite of my other good deeds? I am talking about the decent woman who does not wear the hijab.”
    Dr. Al-Nimr replied, “The ordinances in Islam are many, my daughter, Allah made us accountable to each. It means if you do that ordinance you earn a point. If you neglect one, you lose a point. If you pray, you earn a point; if you do not fast you lose a point, and so on.” He continued, “I did not invent a new theory…for every man there is a book in which all his good and evil deeds are recorded…even how do we treat our children.”
    The journalist said: “That means, if I do not wear the hijab, I will not enter the hell fire without taking into account the rest of my good deeds.” Dr. Al-Nimr replied: “My daughter, no one knows who will enter the hell fire…I might be the first one to enter it. Caliph Abu-Bakr Al-Sadik said: 'I have no trust concerning Allah's schemes, even if one of my feet is inside of paradise who can determine which deed is acceptable and which is not.' [See TBC , 10/91] You do all that you can do …and the accountability is with Allah. You ask him for acceptance.”
    In Judaism, heaven is attained by keeping the Law and its ceremonies. Obviously, that isn't consistent with what the Old Testament teaches, yet that has been the practice of Judaism for millennia.
    There are also a number of “Christian” denominations and cults that stress works as necessary for salvation. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, the Church of Christ adherents, Roman Catholics, Eastern and Russian Orthodox members, Lutherans, and many others all include something that needs to be accomplished or is necessary for salvation, whether it's baptism, the sacraments, or joining their particular organization and fulfilling their requirements.[]

    To all of these Paul says an emphatic NO.  We are either saved by works or we are saved by grace. We are either justified by what we do or we are justified by what Christ already did. It cannot be both. Notice his statement in the next chapter - Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. (‭Romans‬ ‭4‬:‭4‬ NKJV) We will see him make a similar point in chapter 11 - And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. (‭Romans‬ ‭11‬:‭6‬ NKJV)

    It cannot be both ways. We are either saved by what we do, or by what Christ did. And these two ideas are mutually exclusive. Both are not true. Both cannot be true. And the Scripture is clear which IS true.

    Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭28‬ NKJV)

    Justification by faith. It's the only way any of us are justified. It's the only way any are saved.

    The only way to be justified in the mind of God, no matter who you are, is by faith in Christ's accomplishment on the cross.

    • He made this point quite strongly just a few verses earlier - vss. 20-22.

    • He will say it again in chapter 5 - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (‭Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭1‬ NKJV).

    • John taught this truth - “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. (‭John‬ ‭5‬:‭24‬ NKJV) And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (‭John‬ ‭6‬:‭40‬ NKJV)

    • This was Paul's message when he preached in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. (‭Acts‬ ‭13‬:‭38-39‬ NKJV)

    • It was his message to the Galatians - knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (‭Galatians‬ ‭2‬:‭16‬ NKJV) But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” (‭Galatians‬ ‭3‬:‭11‬ NKJV)

    • He said the same thing to the Phillipians, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; (‭Philippians‬ ‭3‬:‭9‬ NKJV)

    • Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭28‬ NKJV)

      The question we must each ask is this, “What am I trusting in for my salvation? What do I believe will get me to heaven?”  And there is only one right answer. The only way to be justified in the mind of God, no matter who you are, is by faith in Christ's accomplishment on the cross.

      Justification by faith. It is the grand doctrine that permeates every chapter in Romans. Every other truth Paul discusses builds on this doctrine.

      Well, in the last part of chapter 3 Paul mentions three consequences of this truth:

      Justification by faith - nobody can boast

      Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭27‬ NKJV)

      If it is all due to Christ's accomplishments, and none due to mine, then what do I have to boast about?  And if it is all due to Christ's accomplishments, and none due to your's, then what do you have to boast about?  Answer - NOTHING!

      Now think about this. If we are justified SOLELY based on the merits of another - Jesus Christ, completely divorced from any of our own feeble attempts at fulfilling the law, then we  can boast in NOTHING with respect to salvation.

      I remind you of the question we all need to be asking ourselves - “What is it that I'm trusting in to justify myself before God?”  It might help you to answer that if you rephrase it slightly, and ask it this way, “What is it that I inwardly take pride in as my source of righteousness… what do I inwardly boast about?”

      James Montgomery Boice, in his thoughts on this passage,  mentions several areas where people tend to boast… or something they think sets them apart, or justifies them before God:


      Some people really do live, from a human perspective at least, lives more moral and upright than others. Some people really do live cleaner lives, purer lives, more outwardly moral lives than others.

      Jesus told of one such:

      Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (‭Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭9-14‬ NKJV)

      Now there is no reason to believe the Pharisee was lying. He really did do the things he said he did. He did not mistreat or cheat others, he was just in his dealings, he was chaste and pure in his sexual relations, he was meticulous in observing the requirements of his religion.  He really WAS more moral than the publican he compared himself to.

      But his problem was that he was comparing himself to another man. God, I thank You that I am not like other men! We might be able to do that and come away boastful and proud. We might we able to say, as he did, “I am better than this guy.”

      But no, we cannot boast of our own morality. Try comparing yourself to the only true standard of righteousness that ever lived, Jesus. You suddenly find you cannot live up to that level of morality at all.  Suddenly you find you are not clean, but dirty… you are not right but wrong… you are not good but bad… you are not righteous, but rather a sinner.  If your boast is in your morality, you are not saved.


      Some people trust in and boast of some feeling or feelings they have experienced. Maybe they sat through a particularly moving church service, and were emotionally moved by it. Maybe they sat across a table from somebody who shared the gospel with them, and the truths they heard about touched their emotions and made them cry. I recall sharing the gospel with a woman at my kitchen table one evening.  As I  read the scriptures describing how Jesus Christ died in her place… how He became her substitute, taking her sins upon Himself and paying the sin debt she owed, she became quite emotional and tears flowed down her cheeks and dripped onto my table. She bowed her head that evening and trusted Christ and was saved.

      But it was not her feelings… not the intensity of emotion she felt that saved her. It was Christ, and Christ alone.

      “How do you know you are saved,” I might ask you. “In what are you trusting?  Share with me your testimony.” And you might respond, as many do, “Well Pastor, I was in a service where the music was moving and the sermon was convicting, and I felt like the preacher was aiming right at me. Such an overwhelming feeling came over me that I knew it must be real. I have never felt a feeling like that.”

      But feelings don't save us, Jesus does. If you are boasting in some feeling you are not saved.

      Charitable works, or good works

      The Pharisee Jesus spoke about is an example of this wrong view, just as he was an example of the wrong view that superior morality counts for something. We cannot boast that our morals are better than others, and neither can we boast that our deeds are better than others, because our works, even if they are predominantly good… even if they are better than anybody else's on earth, don't / can't save us. It is Christ's work that saves us, not ours.

      For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭8-9‬ NKJV)

      So many people think that if a person does good things they will go to heaven. Its like the example from Islam we read about earlier - good works earn points, and when we get to judgement day it will be a simple matter of math. If you have more good than bad points you are in… justified.

      Paul says, nope - your good works are not worthy of boasting either. Because no matter how good, they aren't good enough. Remember what he said a bit earlier? There is none righteous, not one.

      Is Mother Theresa in heaven today?  Few people bubble higher up the list of people who did good things… charitable deeds, than Mother Theresa. And many look at her record of sacrifice and accomplishment and think “If Mother Theresa isn't there, nobody is getting there, because who ever did more good things than her?”

      But Isaiah said that we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (‭Isaiah‬ ‭64‬:‭6‬ NKJV).  The very best works we can muster are insufficient… the cleanest we can be is still dirty with God.

      Years ago a sweeper salesman came to my home. Beth and I sat and listened to the amazing presentation from this man about the virtues of his superior sweeper. We watched in awe as he dumped a pile of dirt onto our clean carpet and then swept it up with his wonderful tool. Then he said, “You are probably thinking that your sweeper would do the same thing, aren't you?” He proceeded to dump dirt on the carpet and sweep it up with our existing pitiful sweeper. “You probably think the floor is clean now, don't you?”  “Looks clean to me,” was our reply. And then we were amazed as he swept the same area  again with his miracle sweeper and got a bunch more dirt out of the same spot he had just cleaned with our sweeper. That floor looked clean to me… it looked clean to Beth… but it wasn't clean.  And then in our naïveté we wrote him a check and I still have that sweeper today.

      Mother Theresa may have done a lot of good things… a ton of charitable works, but if she was trusting in them rather than in Jesus, then the answer is “No, she is not in heaven today.”

      And if you are trusting in and boasting about the good things you do… the charitable works you perform, then you are not saved.

      Bible Knowledge

      You can know the Bible inside and out and still die and go to hell. You can know Hebrew and Greek. You can understand theology. You can memorize and quote extended passages of Scripture.

      But if you are boasting in such an intellectual superiority as your hope for heaven, then you are not saved. Hell is your destination.

      Jack Van Impe is an evangelist you may have seen on your television. He is from Michigan and is sometimes referred to as the “Walking Bible” because he claims to have memorized most, if not all of the Bible.

      Years ago I took a bus load of teens to the Bill Rice Ranch for a week. Every day there were chapel services, and I recall one speaker sharing how he had, just like Van Impe, memorized large portions of the Bible. In his case it was prompted by fear and necessity, for his doctor had told him his eyesight was failing and he would eventually go blind. So he frantically set out to memorize as much as he could. I listened in awe as this man quoted passage after passage after passage from memory, never once opening his Bible.

      Will these guys be in heaven?  If their boast is in their superior knowledge of Scripture, the answer is NO.

      “The devil understands doctrine far better than we do, yet he is perishing.”[Boice, James Montgomery, “Romans, Volume 1: Justification By Faith (Romans 1-4): An Expositional Commentary”]

      Now hear this this morning because it is so vital. If you are trusting in and boasting in ANYTHING other than what Christ did in the cross in your place, then you are not saved.

      Let me say that again, just to make sure you heard it - If you are trusting in and boasting in ANYTHING other than what Christ did on the cross in your place, then you are not saved.

      Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭28‬ NKJV)

      That phrase “apart from the deeds of the law” is interesting. It means “WITHOUT, besides, independent from.” It means that our justification is by faith COMPLETELY SEPARATE FROM the deeds of the law. WITHOUT the deeds of the law.  INDEPENDENT FROM the deeds of the law.

      “In other words, the meriting cause lies wholly in Christ, and wholly outside the man’s conduct.”[Moule, H.C.G., “The Epistle To The Romans”]

      All the examples mentioned this morning are examples of  works in which we might boast. And if they describe what we do trust in… what we do boast about, then we are yet lost.  

      If we are justified by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, then there is NOTHING for us to boast about.

      But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (‭Galatians‬ ‭6‬:‭14‬ NKJV)

      Jesus did it all.

      And so I ask you again, my friend, “What are you trusting in?”

      Well, Paul makes two more observations here based on this doctrine of “justification by faith.”

      Justification by faith - everybody is saved the same way. Only one way!

      Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭28-30‬ NKJV)

      I'll just mention this and leave it for you to consider more fully in your own study of the Scripture.

      • There is only one way to heaven.

      • There is only one way to God.

      • All religions do not lead to the same God.

      • All roads do not lead to salvation.

      • ONLY ONE WAY. It is not arrogance that prompts me or any other Bible believing Christian to make such a claim, for it is TRUE.  Whether JEW or gentile, you are justified the same way, for there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:30‬ NKJV)

        “Preacher, I find the teachings of Buddha enlightening and interesting. He might use different words, and talk about nirvana rather than heaven, but I prefer his way.” Then my friend, according to the Bible, you are lost and headed for hell. Please don't take offense at me when I say that, because I'm simply trying to tell you what God said in His Word… what Jesus said so clearly. There is only one way to heaven… one path to salvation… one means of justification, for there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭30‬ NKJV)

        Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭13-14‬ NKJV)

        Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭6‬ NKJV)

        Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (‭Acts‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬ NKJV)

        This is not a restriction at all, as some might consider it. Think about it!  As we have been learning about the universal LOSTNESS of mankind, here Paul explains the universal OPPORTUNITY of mankind.  ALL have sinned equally, and all may be saved equally.

        Justification by faith - the only way the law is fulfilled.

        Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭31‬ NKJV)

        We cannot fulfill the law. That much has been made clear over and over up to this point in Romans. But Jesus DID fulfill the law. And when we believe in Him… when we trust in His finished work on the cross rather than our own insufficient works… w-Then we are justified by faith, and then the law IS fulfilled - in Him.

        In the next chapter we will learn a wonderful word - imputation. If something is imputed to me it is “credited to my account.”  We will learn that we can be justified by faith, because when we believe in Christ, His righteousness is imputed to us… credited to our account. His complete fulfillment of God's law is imputed to us, as well. We fulfill the law through His fulfilling the law.

        I'll leave you to chew on that and we'll talk about it more in chapter 4.


        Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭28‬ NKJV)

        Let's finish where we started, with this question - “What are you trusting in to get you to heaven my friend?”

        If it is ANYTHING other than Jesus, you are trusting in a lie, and when you close your eyes in death here, you will open them in hell there. Oh how I pray you will throw aside every objection and just turn to Christ today.  Call upon Him.  Ask for the salvation He offers.  Believe Him and only Him today. Bow your head right now and say something like “Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner and lost. I know that you died for me… in my place. I believe You Lord, and from this moment on my trust is in You. Nothing in my hand I bring.  Simply to thy cross I cling.”

        Pray that… Believe that… Be justified.

        Wednesday, April 29, 2015

        It's Not Too Late!!

        We invite you to bring an unsaved friend or relative to hear the gospel and enjoy quality time with the ladies!

        This event is being held on Saturday, May 16th at 5pm at the Hartville Kitchen with Linda Lonsdorf as guest speaker. 

        If you'd like to get your name and menu selection on the list, you must contact Deeanna Egli at 330-472-9491 or by May 1st!
        Menu options include: roast beef, pork chop or vegetable lasagna

        Monday, April 27, 2015

        Last Call - Ladies' Spring Banquet!

        We invite you to bring an unsaved friend or relative to hear the gospel and enjoy quality time with the ladies!

        This event is being held on Saturday, May 16th at 5pm at the Hartville Kitchen with Linda Lonsdorf as guest speaker. 

        If you'd like to get your name and menu selection on the list, you must contact Deeanna Egli at 330-472-9491 or by May 1st!
        Menu options include: roast beef, pork chop or vegetable lasagna

        Wednesday, April 8, 2015

        Whether Touching or Pleading, He Hears Us!

        Join us for midweek prayer meeting every Wednesday at 6:30.  This week we will read from Luke 8:40-56, and consider two different people with two different styles of prayer - one who merely touched the hem of Jesus' garment, and one who fell on his knees in prayer before Him.
        Both prayers worked!  Jesus heard and answered both!  And both remind us that we ought to pray, pray often, pray every way we can think to do so, and believe in the power of our Savior and King to answer.

        Hurry - Ladies Spring Banquet

        Get your tickets before time runs out!  Ladies Spring Banquet on Saturday, May 16th at the Hartville Kitchen.  

        This year's theme will be "Loved Beyond Measure" with Linda Lonsdorf as our guest speaker.  

        Won't you join us for good food, music and fellowship with your sisters?  

        Tickets are $15 for adult and $10 for ages 2 thru 10.  

        Dinner choices include roast beef, pork chops or vegetable lasagna.  See Deeanna Egli before or after Sunday services to complete the form and order your tickets!

        Friday, April 3, 2015

        By Means of Jesus Christ

        Lord willing, I will be preaching from Romans 3:21-26 on Easter Sunday. I came across this in my prep, and love it:

        Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:22-24, The Message)

        Hallelujah for the cross and the empty tomb. Praise God for Jesus Christ.

        This Could Fall Through The Cracks

        In the Easter festivities this weekend, let's not forget that Saturday morning at 10:00, we will be serving at the Haven of Rest in Akron.  If you've never participated in this wonderful ministry, now is a great time to start.  I believe I heard a rumor that Haven personnel will be conducting tours of the facilities this Saturday also, so it's a double opportunity - to serve and to see the tremendous work that God is doing in people's lives through this ministry.

        Meet at the Haven of Rest in Akron at 10:00.  You'll be done by noon.  Wear a hat.


        TONIGHT - Good Friday, at 7:00 PM - We remember the cross of Christ.  Music will begin at 6:30 if you want to come early and spend some time in reflection and prayer.  The service concludes with communion.  Please remember that this is a quiet and reflective service, so enter and exit quietly.

        The celebration will start with breakfast in Fellowship Hall at 9:30 AM.  (Remember - there is no Sunday School on Easter.)  Then the Resurrection service will begin promptly at 10:30 with music by the FBC choir.

        Come early to get a good seat, and invite everybody you know.  It's the reason for everything - Jesus is ALIVE.  He is RISEN.  He is RISEN INDEED!


        Brothers and Sisters, I am so grateful for the outpouring of help and support that you provided the family and friends of Nathan Wimer on Thursday.  I am grateful to God that the new building He has so graciously provided in this place could thus serve our community, and I am grateful to those faithful brothers and sisters who helped in so many ways to provide a comforting and encouraging place for that family in their time of need, and I am grateful that our neighbors in Randolph have come to view FBC as a friendly, open, and welcoming place... a place they feel comfortable calling and asking for help.

        Praise the Lord.  I'm grateful today.