Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 66
BUT GOD! (Faith Plus Nothing!) – Part 2
Acts 13:30, Rom. 3:21, Rom. 4:5, Rom. 5:8
It’s good to have everybody back this afternoon. For those of you out in television, we’re still fighting a little voice problem, but hopefully we can overcome it as we go along. Again, for all of you here in the studio, we appreciate your coming in. We’re going to turn right now to Romans chapter 3 verse 21. This is the “But Now” that we’re going to look at for the next few moments.
Romans chapter 3 verse 21, but like we’ve been doing all the way along, we want to go to what goes before, why the flip-side. So, let’s jump up to verse 19. As our program has been unfolding, I trust you realize that we dealt with Jesus and the Twelve, and then we dealt in the early parts of Acts with Peter, and then in our last program, we were up to Paul addressing the Jews in Galatia. But now we’re going to come to Paul’s doctrinal epistles. When I say doctrinal, I always say that the Book of Acts is not doctrinal so much as historical. But this Book of Romans is in a doctrinal area of Paul’s writing.
“Now we know (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law:…” Now, I trust everybody that’s heard me teach very long knows there is only one group of people who were under the Law. And who was it? Israel, the Jew. For a good indication of that, turn with me to Luke 17, which of course, is still back in Christ’s earthly ministry. Luke 17 and as I have stressed over and over and over, everything Jesus said and taught and did was under the Law. Never, ever did Jesus tell anybody, “You’re not under the Law.” Here’s a good example. Here we have the ten lepers.
“And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves to the priests. (What priests? Well, down there at the Temple. The priests of the Law) and it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” Come back with me to Matthew 19, because this seems to be a concept that is so hard for most of Christendom to accept, that Jesus ministered under the Law. As soon as we get to the Apostle Paul, that’s the first thing we hear – you’re not under the Law, you’re under grace. Until you understand the separating of these two formats, you’re in trouble. All right, Matthew 19 and we have the story of the rich young ruler beginning in verse 16.
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17. And he (Jesus) said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, (That is eternal life.) keep (What?) the commandments.” What are the commandments? The Law! Everything was according to the Law.
All right, now let’s come quickly back to Romans chapter 3 verse 19, again. So, Paul agrees with that.
“Now we know that whatsoever the things the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: (That would be the nation of Israel, the Jew. But the law is not only eternal; it’s universal, because it’s between God and the whole human race. So, the next portion of the verse gives that proof of it.) that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become (What?) guilty before God.” Now you see, even in our enlightened age, how many in Christendom, all across denominations, have got the notion that if you can just keep the commandments and live a good life, you’ll make it? That’s terrible, because the Law has no life in it whatsoever. Paul called it “a ministration of death,” but we can’t get that out of people’s heads, because under Israel’s time of God dealing, yes, the Law was the instrument of faith and for them to keep. But now that the Law has been crucified, it’s no longer the case. We’ll look at that in just a minute. But for now, Israel under the Law, as well as all the rest of the human race, are guilty by virtue of what the Law says, and now verse 20.
“Therefore, by the deeds (or the keeping) of the law (the keeping of the commandments) there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: (Not even in Israel. Nobody. Nobody can become justified by keeping the commandments. Why? Here it comes.) for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Not life. Sin. Not righteousness. Sin. All right, scoot across the page, I guess a little more than that, to chapter 7. Romans chapter 7 because we’ve got to get the reason that Paul comes down here in verse 21 with a ‘But Now.’ In Romans chapter 7 he’s going to say much the same as he said up there earlier in chapter 3.
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married (or brought into a union) to another, even to him who is raised from the dead (There’s your resurrection power again.) that we (as believers) should bring forth fruit unto God. 5. For when we were in the flesh, (When we were in our unsaved state.) the motions (or the acts) of sins, which were by the law,…” In other words, all the things which the Law identified were acts of sins. Adultery, coveting, gossiping, profanity, idolatry, all those things that the Law forbids were things that the average individual did as they came naturally.
“For when we were in the flesh, the motions (acts) of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members (that is in our flesh, in this body of flesh) to bring forth fruit unto death.” Not just physical death, but spiritual death.
“But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” or the Law. All right, now before we establish anything else, let’s see why we are dead to the Law and the Law is dead to us. Colossians chapter 2 and I think I used this Saturday in our all day seminar. I made the statement that I love this verse! I love it because it says it all! Verse 14, you’ve got to see it with your own eyes.
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us,…” Why were they against us? Because whenever you did something naturally, you broke the Law. It’s just natural. Now, I don’t like to get into politics, but once in a while it’s appropriate. Way back in the beginning of our republic, it was understood that a democracy couldn’t function without biblical morality. Now, that’s not Republican or Democrat, I’m not getting political that way. But the picture of an operating democracy is that it has to have a moral basis. Now just think about that for a minute. Because if there is no morality, then democracy is just going to implode. And of course, I think we’re seeing it happen.
All right, so the same way with the Law of Moses and all the attendant rules and regulations. They worked against human morality, which was down, down, down. There’s an old song, and I’ve referred to it over and over on the program over the years called “Doing What Comes Naturally.” And when we do what comes naturally, it’s not God’s direction. It’s Satan’s. So, when the Law came in and specifically said, “Thou Shalt Not…,” what it did to the human race, or to the Nation of Israel? It was against them. They were constantly buffered into it. All right, so read it again.
“Blotting the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, (That is, the Law and all of its ramifications.) and (our Lord) took it out of the way, (What did He do with it?) nailing it to his cross;” Now, what a beautiful picture. Just picture those commandments nailed to His cross. Why? They’re dead. They have no more power over us. They have no more power over the believer, because we’re dead to it, and it’s dead to us. Now, for the unbelieving world, yes, the Law still condemns, don’t get me wrong. The Law is still condemning lost people every day of their life, because they’re doing opposite of what the Law says. But as an instrument of salvation, no, it has no redeeming value whatsoever.
Now then, from Romans chapter 7, where we just were, I always like to use II Corinthians chapter 3 before we go back, and we’ve used these before. I know that we repeat. In fact, I had a letter again yesterday that said, “Les, repeat, repeat, repeat.” Well, the Scripture does. The Scripture will sometime repeat two or three things in two verses. Why? It’s the only way we get it! So, bear with me.
II Corinthians 3:5-6a
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; (In other words, there is no good thing in us, Paul says. I can do nothing outside of the power of Christ.) but our sufficiency is of God; 6. Who (speaking of God) also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; (or this new agreement between God and man) not of the letter, (Now remember how we used it in Romans 7. Letter is another word for the Law, so it’s–) not of the law, but of the spirit:…” In other words, as we’ve already seen in the last program, when the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead, that same power raised us out of the deadness to sin and Satan’s slave market, and then indwells us to empower us in our daily life. Otherwise, we could never live it. We couldn’t possibly live the Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit, so that supersedes the Law, because the Law has been crucified. It’s dead. All right, now if you think I’m kidding you, I think we used this maybe in the last program, or the last taping.
II Corinthians 3:6b-7a
“…for the letter killeth, (It doesn’t give life, it gives death.) but the spirit giveth life. (Now look at verse 7) But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones,…” Now just think a minute. In all of human history there’s only one thing I know of that was given to mankind written in stone. What was it? It was the Ten Commandments. That’s what he’s talking about. They’re a ministration of death. They can’t give life, because when the Law is laid down and as soon as it’s broken, it’s sin. And sin alienates. Sin is synonymous with death. See how it all fits.
II Corinthians 3:7-8
“But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, (In Israel’s history, of course it was.) so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; (In other words, when he came down from the mountain.) which glory was to be done away: 8. How shall not the ministration of the spirit (now) be rather (more) glorious.” So, if the Law could make the face of Moses shine, then the Spirit should be able to illuminate even you and I as believers.
All right, come back to Romans chapter 3. Reading verse 20 again, because you can’t read this often enough. Over and over, because we are, even in all of Christendom, inundated with this idea that you can keep the commandments and live a good life and God will let you in. It will never happen, because that’s not the purpose of the Law today. The purpose of the Law is to condemn. All right, verse 20:
“Therefore, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight:” (Nobody and why?) for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Not life! Sin. And I’ve already said that sin and death are synonymous, so that’s all the Law can do.
Now we come down to verse 21 and the “But Now.” What’s the flip-side of all this? That, yes, that’s the way it was. The Law was for Israel. The Law was that part that brought them into a relationship with Jehovah God. But that was nailed to the cross, and now on this side of the cross—. How many times have you heard me say that? On this side of the cross it’s a whole new ball game. It’s a whole new leaf, because the cross made the difference. All right, how?
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, (It’s spotlighted.) being witnessed by the law and the prophets;” Now goodness, what does that mean? Well again look at the big picture. Go all the way back to the giving of the Law. Does it ever drop out of sight for those 1500 years? No, the Law was part and parcel of Israel’s life. The prophets writing under the Law, they too were in complete agreement with everything that the Mosaic Law was teaching Israel to prepare them for the coming of their Messiah. That’s why the Law was given, to prepare them morally and spiritually for this great prophetic day that was coming – the appearance of their Messiah. But unfortunately it didn’t do what God intended it to do, and Israel still was ignorant and blind of who He was.
But, nevertheless, all that this verse means is that this doctrine of grace and salvation by faith alone does not just come out of the woodwork. It comes as an unfolding of all that went before. We’ve studied the Law and the prophets, Christ’s earthly ministry and the rejection of it, and, I always call it that “fork in the road,” when they stoned Stephen. That’s when Israel said, “We’ll not have this man to rule over us.”Now God takes off on this fork in the road. Israel goes down into the dispersion. They whole Jewish economy falls apart. Now, we come to this glorious other part of God’s program – Paul’s Gospel of Grace.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith (or through the faith) of Jesus Christ…” Now when Paul speaks of faith in Christ, he’s not talking about just His Messiahship, or His Deity. He’s talking about His whole fulfilling the Gospel. His death, burial and resurrection.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by the faith of Jesus Christ…” Now, here’s one of these verses. It doesn’t say “plus nothing.” But there’s nothing there. If you go back to your elementary arithmetic, when you’ve got a one-digit number plus zero what’s the answer? Three plus zero is? Three. Five plus zero is? Five. All right, the Gospel plus zero is? The Gospel. Now, I can’t make it any plainer than that.
“…unto all and upon all them that (What?) believe: (Plus nothing! It’s believing. It’s faith.) for there is no difference:” Now, between Jew and Gentile. All right, we can just keep on going in this series of verses.
“For all have sinned, (Every human being stands in need of God’s saving grace.) and (they’ve all) come short of the glory of God;” But now, after that generalized conviction of the whole human race, comes the great generalized promises. That just as sure as the whole human race is under condemnation, the whole human race now has an opportunity for salvation. No one is left out. No one. Not the poorest of the poor. Not the richest of the rich. No one is left out. Why? Verse 24:
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption (or the process of buying us back) that is in Christ Jesus: 25. (Speaking of Christ) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation…” Christ is everything that needs to be done.
Now, I don’t know whether theologians would agree with me or not, but this is the best way I can explain propitiation. You remember when Israel had the tabernacle out there in the wilderness? Out at the front gate was the brazen altar, the place of sacrifice of the animals and the shed blood. Then came the laver of cleansing, where they washed, between the altar and the sanctuary. Then they’d go into the sanctuary wherein were all the various furnishings – the lamp stand, the table of shewbread, the altar of incense, the curtain, and then behind the curtain the Ark of the Covenant with the mercy seat. Put all that together and that’s all a picture of Jesus Christ and His saving role. That’s propitiation. He’s everything! He’s the altar. He’s the sacrifice. He’s the laver of cleansing. He is the cleansing. He’s the lamp stand. He’s the light. He’s everything that made up the tabernacle. That’s propitiation.
“…to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,… (We can never set the blood aside. Along with that…) to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance (or the mercy and the grace) of God;” Now, here it comes, and this will finish this half-hour.
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: (Not Paul’s. Not Abraham’s. Not anybody else’s. But Christ’s. God’s righteousness.) that he might be just, (No corruption in that word. There’s no bribery in that word. There are no cutting corners in that word. He is totally just and fair, and what does He do?) and the justifier of him who (Here comes another one of my verses.) believeth in Jesus.” Plus nothing! See how plain all these verses are? Now, if it took something besides believing, there are two places right here where it would have to be.
Now you see, most people still hang onto Peter’s message of Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized.” Is it in here? Go back to verse 22, “And upon all them that believe” and repent and are baptized? No, it doesn’t say that, but “To those that believe.” Well, the same way in this verse here. Just read it. That’s what people are trying to say. Romans 3:26 – “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth…” and repents and is baptized. It doesn’t say that.
Again, I’ll come back to my simple illustration. It’s three plus nothing is three. That’s all. It’s to that person who believes in Jesus. Now, we always have to remember that when Paul speaks of Jesus, he’s speaking of — I think we’ve got time. Flip over quickly to I Corinthians chapter 1. Whenever Paul uses the name Jesus or Jesus Christ, just because he doesn’t delineate the death, burial, and resurrection doesn’t mean that’s not what he’s thinking about. In verse 17, Paul says, “For Christ sent me not to baptize,…” Verse 18.
I Corinthians 1:18
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved, it is the power of God.” Well, we’ve already been covering it. What all was involved in the preaching of the cross? Who He was. He was the Son of God. He was God Himself, the Creator. And what did He do? He died the death of the cross. His blood was shed. He was in the tomb three days and three nights. And then what? He arose from the dead, in power and majesty and glory, ready now to impart that same eternal life to anyone who would simply believe it. That’s the preaching of the cross, and there is no other way. There is no other preaching that can bring persons into knowledge of salvation.
Even though most of the world rejects it. We still have to believe it.