Broadcasting now. Watch Live.

I Object! - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Romans 3:1-8

  • 2015-08-09 AM
  • Romans
  • Sermons


We're looking at Romans 3 and, specifically, at objections to the gospel in the first century. Wherever the gospel is presented there will be objections to that gospel.

I'm reminded of that often, but I think back several years ago, I was here on the campus during a normal work day and I discovered a boy and a girl who did not attend our church, but who had chosen a private area of our campus to, let's say, define their relationship. And so I interrupted them and started a conversation with them. They were students from the nearby junior high school and I had an opportunity, before the conversation was done, to share the gospel with them.

But as part of our discussion I raised the issue of human sin, that the reason for the gospel is that we all had sinned against God. And the girl, at this point, interrupted me and she asked this question, "So sin, who decides what that is?" And I said, "Well, God decides what that is." And her candor in her response startled me because she said exactly what many people think but most don't have the chutzpah to say. In response to that she said, "What right does God have to tell me what to do?"

I explained to her that the Bible says God created her and all things and that as her creator and as her sustainer, the very one who was keeping her heart beating at that moment, who had provided her with all things that she enjoys in this life, He had every right to tell her what to do and how to live. Her answer to that response was expected. She said, "Well, you know, we just can't really know if that's true. There's no way to be sure." Through the educational system and through the zeitgeist, the spirit of our age, she had bought completely into the prevailing philosophy of postmodernism: There is no truth and if there is truth you can't know what it is. And so, before I could go further and eventually explain the gospel, I had to address, briefly, this objection.

It's important for us as believers to know that whenever we share the gospel we are attacking fortresses of ideas in the minds of the people to whom we share them. You see, Satan, we're told, has blinded the minds of those who "believe not," 2 Corinthians 4. How has Satan, God's enemy, blinded the minds of unbelievers? The answer is, through false ideas, through false philosophies, through false religion. He has blinded their minds, intentionally, to the truth about God the Creator. And so, what that means practically is that whenever we share the gospel people will have objections to that gospel, because we are attacking the fortresses of their thinking.

Here are a few of the more common objections that you and I hear when we present the gospel. The first would be the one I heard from that girl that day and that is, we can't really know if the Bible is true. That comes from the false ideology either of skepticism or of postmodernism, that there is no truth and if there is we can't know it. A second objection we hear is, well, that may be okay for you but the truth is, there are many different ways to God. You know, we're all on different paths headed up the same mountain, to the same summit. We'll all ultimately arrive at the same place. That is the false ideology of pluralism. It's illogical. Two conflicting ideas can't both be right.

A third objection that we hear is, well, I don't really need the gospel, I mean after all I'm basically a good person. This comes from the false ideology of humanism, that we're all good, that we're really mostly good. A fourth objection we hear is, I don't believe all that stuff because I think God is just too loving to send anyone to hell. That ultimately grows out of the old liberalism that most of the major denominations are characterized by, or is characterized by.

Another objection is, we are products of evolutionary processes and there is no God. This is the prevailing philosophy of our day, naturalism. A sixth objection we hear is, God can't be trusted because a good God would never have allowed evil in the world. This is, sort of, a reason that's really an excuse. It's an attempt to use the problem of evil in the world, sort of, the theodicy, the defense of God's justice in allowing evil in the world, as an excuse not to believe the gospel. Those are two different issues.

Now, those are objections we hear, those are very common, and we need to both expect objections to the gospel as we share it and we need to be able to answer those objections. In Romans 3, that we're studying together, we get to, sort of, watch over the shoulder of the Apostle Paul as he masterfully responds to the Jewish objections to the gospel that were present in his own time.

As I mentioned last week, the first three chapters of Romans play out like a courtroom drama. Paul is the relentless prosecuting attorney as God sits on the bench as the judge. And in chapter 1 Paul brings a conviction to all pagans, those who refuse to worship the true God, the God of the Bible. In chapter 2 Paul wins a conviction against the Jews, God's own people, and says they too are sinners and need the gospel. But beginning with chapter 3, for the first time, the defendant in the courtroom speaks up in his own defense. The Jews, having been indicted in chapter 2, as it were, stand up in the first few verses of chapter 3 and say, wait a minute, your honor, we object.

These objections were ones that Paul anticipated. He assumed that the Jews, when hearing the gospel he preached, would respond in this way. Surely these were objections he'd heard many times during his 30 years of ministry in Jewish synagogues. They were likely even objections that he himself, as a committed Pharisee, had had to Christianity before his conversion on the Damascus Road. He condenses here the Jewish objections to the gospel that he'd heard through all the years, to the most common.

And so we're studying these common objections of the Jews and, frankly, of all moral religious people attached to the worship of the true God, when they hear of their own sinfulness and when they hear of the gospel. Let's read this paragraph again, Romans 3:1-8.

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,

"That You may be justified in Your words,
And prevail when You are judged."

But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I'm speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), "Let us do evil that good may come"? Their condemnation is just.

Now, in this section that we've just read together, as I pointed out to you last week, Paul answers four specific Jewish objections to the gospel. And their objections all have to do with how the gospel reflects on God.

Jewish objection number one is that the gospel undermines God's integrity. We see this objection spelled out in verses 1 and 2. Their second objection to the gospel is the gospel undermines God's faithfulness. This is in verses 3 and 4. Their third objection, the gospel undermines God's justice, in verses 5 and 6. And then, finally, in verses 7 and 8 they argue that the gospel Paul preached undermines God's holiness.

Now, you'll notice that each one of those objections is in a two verse couplet. And in each two verse couplet, the first verse, for the most part, is the Jewish objection and the second verse is Paul's answer, except for a slight variation in verses 7 and 8, which I'll spell out when we get there. So we're looking then, at these objections to the gospel and Paul's answers.

Last week we looked at objection number one, the gospel undermines God's integrity. The objection itself is in verse 1. "Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?" Here's how the argument went. Paul, if what you're saying is true and if my Jewishness doesn't provide salvation for me at the final judgment, then there's no benefit to being Jewish. And here's the problem with that. In the Old Testament God Himself said there were huge benefits to being Jewish. So Paul, what that means is if you are right about my Jewishness not guaranteeing my salvation, then God's very integrity is undermined because He said there were huge advantages to being Jewish.

Paul's answer to that comes in verse 2. He says, no, wait a minute, you've misunderstood me. In chapter 2 my point was that being Jewish contributes nothing to your ultimate spiritual salvation on the day of judgment, however, there are still huge advantages to being Jewish. Verse 2, what are your advantages? "Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God." By first here, Paul means the chief, the highest advantage, the greatest advantage of being Jewish is belonging to the nation to whom God entrusted His oracles, His Word.

I mentioned to you last time that the Greek expression that's translated "the oracles of God" is literally, translated out of the Greek text, it's literally, "the words of God." They were entrusted with "the words of God." Paul argued that the Jews had one chief advantage above all others, that they alone on the planet of the earth were given "the very words of the one true and living God," as Warfield, B.B. Warfield, described them. I love that description. He said, "that Bible that you hold in your hand, that Jesus Himself affirmed as being the very words of God, that is the crystallized speech of God." "The crystallized speech of God." That's what you hold in your hand. And so Paul says, oh no, God didn't deceive you by saying you had advantages in being Jewish. You had many advantages, but the chief advantage you had was having this, the Scripture.

Now, that brings us today to a second common Jewish objection that Paul often had to answer in his ministry. Objection number two is this, the gospel undermines God's faithfulness. Look at their objection in verse 3. Paul formulates the question that he had often heard, he, sort of, paraphrases this question he had heard from the Jews, "What then? If some did not believe." Now that's what Paul taught. Some Jews did not truly believe and were therefore going to face the judgment, that's chapter 2. "If some did not believe," here's the Jewish objection, "their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?" Now let me give you the essence of this objection and then we'll take it apart. The objection was this, if the gospel you preach is true Paul, and there are Jews who are sinners headed to judgment, then God has been unfaithful to His promises to Abraham and to the descendants of Abraham.

Now, notice what Paul says. He says in verse 3, "If some did not believe." He's gracious in using that word some, he will later argue in chapters 9 through 11 that most Jews are in unbelief and will eventually be condemned. Only a remnant of the Jewish people will actually be spiritually saved. So, if, as Paul taught, some of the Jews do not truly exercise saving faith and will therefore be judged for their unbelief, doesn't that mean that God has been unfaithful in His promises to Abraham and to them? Paul captures their argument at the end of verse 3. "If some don't believe" and will be judged, notice that word, it "nullifies." The word nullify means to render null and void. It renders null and void the faithfulness of God.

Now, if you're still not tracking with their argument, let me give it to you blow by blow. Here's how the argument went. God made a covenant with Abraham, there's no question about that. It begins in Genesis 12. God makes a legally binding promise to Abraham and to his descendants. It's repeated again in Genesis 15, repeated a third time in Genesis 17, and so forth. Throughout Abraham's life and Isaac's life and Jacob's life, throughout the Old Testament, God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. In that covenant God promised that He would have a special relationship with Abraham's descendants. "He would be their God and they would be His people." But if Paul's gospel is right and many of the Jews are headed to judgment because they failed to embrace their Messiah, then God, they argued, has failed to keep His covenant promises. God has been unfaithful to His Word. In other words, the gospel, if it's true, undermines God's faithfulness, His commitment to keep His word.

Now what's Paul's answer? Verse 4, "May it never be!" That's a literal translation. "May it never happen" is what the Greek expression says, but that doesn't quite capture it because it's really a negative oath. It means absolutely never. I don't want that to happen. It never will happen. It never can happen. In English we use expressions like "never in a million years" or "over my dead body."

My wife was reminding me this week that when our kids were young they loved cats, or thought they did, and I didn't. Still don't. And I'm sorry I offended some of you just then, I know. But, you know, I said to my girls, listen, we will have a cat in this household over my dead body. Well, one of my daughters took that somewhat seriously. And so, when she was very young and I was at work one day, she asked her mother, she said, so, mom, when dad dies can we get a cat? "Over my dead body," she took it literally. That's what Paul is saying here. It's never going to happen. God will never be unfaithful to His Word.

In fact, he goes on in verse 4 to say, "Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar." Now, when the Old Testament refers to God as true it means, He's always reliable. He's completely trustworthy. Think about this for a moment. This is the rock on which our faith is built. God is always true to His character. In other words, He always acts in keeping with who He is. He never acts differently. He always acts consistent with His character and He's true in the sense that He always keeps His word. That's amazing, because that is so antithetical to who we are as human beings.

Psalm 116:11 says, "'All men are liars.'" Every human being, apart from our Lord Jesus Christ, who has ever lived on the planet of the Earth is a liar. There's not one person who hasn't spoken a lie. "'All men are liars.'" He says that here, "every man is found a liar." In fact, look at Romans 3:13 when he gets to his indictment of all humanity, we'll get there in a few weeks, he says, "'Their throat is an open grave.'" You know, there's a reason that graves are sealed; it's to keep the stench and decay in. And when you remove that cover the stench and decay come out. And what he's saying is, when we as fallen human beings open our mouth, the stench and decay that's in our hearts just comes pouring out. You know, a lot of people are surprised by what they say; they shouldn't be surprised. Apart from grace, that's the pouring out of your heart.

But he goes on in the middle of verse 13 to say, "'With their tongues they keep on deceiving.'" To lie, to deceive, is part of what marks fallen humanity. This is all men, apart from Jesus Christ. But God isn't like that. Paul says, even though every human is found to be a liar, God will always be trustworthy and reliable in what He says. God cannot lie. It is contrary to His very nature. He cannot lie. I love some of the references that punctuate this. One of my favorite is Numbers 29:13. I got those backwards, Numbers 23:19. It's this, "'God is not a man, that He should lie.'" I love that. "'God is not a man.'" He's not like men, all of whom are liars, "'that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?'"

Hebrews 6:18 says, "it is impossible for God to lie." He just can't. It's completely contrary to His nature. He cannot lie. You say, are there things God can't do? Yes, God cannot do things that are contrary to His nature. God cannot lie because He is truth. Titus 1:2, I love this one because it's in the context of the gospel in which we've put our hope, he says, we live "in the hope of eternal life." Now, I'll stop there for a moment. The word in English for hope and the word in Greek for hope mean two different things. When we use the word hope in English we use it for something that is pretty unlikely but we really would like it if it happens, like, I hope the Cowboys are in the Super Bowl this year. But that's not the Greek word. The Greek word means certainty. I am certain that something will happen and I'm living in eager anticipation of when it does.

Paul says, we live "in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago." This is the bedrock of our faith. We serve a God who simply cannot lie. He is always true to His own character and to His Word. God will always be found trustworthy in what He says even if it contradicts every human being on the planet. By the way, this factors into the cultural wars of our time. You hear surveys, you know, 80 percent of Americans believe…. Who cares? If every human being on the planet said A and God said B, "let God be true and every man a liar." God always keeps His word. By the way, that's the message; His faithfulness is the message of chapters 9 through 11, where we'll get.

But that invites the question, so, wait a minute Paul, so, if that's true, how do you reconcile God's faithfulness with the unbelief of many Jews and their ultimate judgment? How do you reconcile those? Well, Paul's answer comes in a strange quotation from Psalm 51:4. Look at verse 4 in Romans 3 here, "as it is written, 'That You may be justified in Your words, and prevail when You are judged.'" This verse, of course, comes from David's powerful confession of his sin with Bathsheba; it's recorded in Psalm 51. In the first part of that verse in Psalm 51, David says this, "Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight." He takes the complete blame, he accepts full responsibility for his sin and guilt. And then comes what Paul quotes here. Notice verse 4, "that You may be justified in Your words." David acknowledges that God bears no responsibility for his sin. And the reason that he has taken full responsibility for his sin is, notice verse 4, that, or "so that You God may be justified" that is, declared to be in the right, "in Your words." In other words, God, Your verdict against my sin will be found to be in the right. That's what he's saying.

By the way, let me just, as an aside here, say that here is the first clear indication that the word justified does not mean, as some people teach, to make righteous, because God isn't made righteous in this verse. God isn't made righteous, more righteous, than He is. Instead, the word justify here must mean to declare God to be righteous and that sets the foundation for our understanding of the sinner's justification that we're going to come to later in chapter 3.

But notice back in verse 4 David adds, "I've taken full responsibility for my sin, in order, God, that You may be in the right in Your verdict on me, justified in Your words, and also that You prevail when You are judged." You know what David is saying? He's saying, God, when people sit in judgment on how You're going to treat me from this time forward, what punishment You're going to bring into my life, when people sit in judgment on that, You will be found to prevail. In other words, You'll be vindicated. Whatever You choose to bring into my life, whatever punishment, whatever judgment, whatever chastisement, discipline, You bring into my life, You will be vindicated in bringing in.

Now, why does Paul quote this verse here? Here's the reason. Listen carefully. He wants to show us that God demonstrates His faithfulness as much in keeping His threats of punishment as in keeping His promises of blessing. God is just as faithful when He keeps His promises to judge sin as He is faithful when He keeps His promises to show mercy and grace. He's just as faithful.

Douglas' Moo puts it this way, "The oracles of God," remember, that's what the Jews have, the Scripture, "include warnings that God will judge sin as well as promises that He would bless His people. Because of this the Old Testament insists that God is equally faithful when He judges His people's sin and when He fulfills His promises." Let me show you an illustration. Turn back to Nehemiah, Nehemiah 9. God had sent His people into captivity for many years and then He brings them back to the land of Israel and there, under the ministry of Ezra, there's a revival. In Nehemiah 8 there's a great passage, really the foundation of expository preaching, where they read from the book of God's Law and then they explained it "to give the sense so people understood the reading." That's expository preaching; that's what I'm doing today. That goes all the way back to the time of Ezra and beyond.

But in chapter 9 of Nehemiah there's an interesting event that the takes place. Look at verse 3, "While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day.' That is, the daylight hours, for three hours, in other words, they read from God's Law. "And for another fourth," another three hours, "they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God." How did that three hours of confession and worship begin? Well, in verse 4 we learned that Ezra had prepared a prayer, a prayer of confession, that the Levites recited. It's a poem. It's a beautiful, beautiful poem, you ought to read it, a great prayer, but I want you to turn over to verse 32. Here's still part of this prayer, "'Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, the awesome God, who keeps His covenant and His steadfast love. Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You, which is come upon us, the hardship that's come upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and on all Your people.'" And he says, I'm talking about the hardship "'from the days of the kings of Assyria,'" that's more than 300 years before this time, "'to this day.'" He's talking about 300 years of Israel's history. He says we've experienced all this hardship, all this captivity.

Now watch what he says in verse 33. "'However,'" in this hardship God, "'You are just in all that has come upon us; for You have dealt,'" how? "'faithfully.'" God, You were just as faithful in bringing Your punishment on Your people as You were in keeping Your promises of blessing; both manifest Your faithfulness. This is so important, because this isn't how a lot of people want to think. There are a lot of moral religious people who are connected to the true God in some way, who love to come to the Scripture and pick out these positive promises. Oh, isn't that warm and fuzzy. Isn't that great. Look what God promised. And then they just want to ignore all that stuff about sin and judgment. And they think they can do that and God's going to be okay with that.

Today's most well-known famous example of a pastor who encourages his people to do this is, of course, here in the State of Texas, named Joel Osteen. I read a couple of interviews by him this week that were, frankly, detestable. And in December of 2013, Katie Couric interviewed Joel Osteen and she asked him to state his core message. Now in theological terms, that's a softball. Okay? Here you go, tell us, tell us what you want to tell us. What's the main point of your life and ministry? Here's a great point to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's not what Osteen said. Here's what he said. Here's his core message. God is good. He's for you. He's on your side. You can excel. It's an empowering message, not one that pushes people down. Even Couric, no great theologian, commented that in response to Osteen, "It seems you do not spend a lot of time in your sermons talking about good and evil, sin and redemption." Amen and amen.

In a separate interview Larry King asked Osteen this. Larry King says to Osteen, "You don't call people sinners?" Osteen, "I don't." King, "Is that a word you don't use, the word sinners?" Osteen, "I don't use it. I never thought about it, but I probably don't. But most people already know what they're doing wrong, so when I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change, there can be a difference in your life. So I don't go down the road of condemning." Larry King then asked him a series of questions and he refused in each case to say that Jews, Muslims, or even atheists who refuse to believe in Christ, will be condemned and go to hell.

There's a man who wants to believe all of God's positive promises, who wants people to believe all of God's positive promises, but who completely ignores and downplays the promises of God's judgment on the sinner. Mark it, he is a false teacher, just like the false prophets of the Old Testament who said "'"Peace, peace"'" to people who were living in rebellion against God and God said, "'There is no peace.'"

Paul wants us to know that God is just as faithful, just as consistent with His character, when He keeps His threats of judgment as when He keeps His promises of blessing. Let me just say, if you're here this morning and you haven't repented of your sins and you haven't put your faith in Jesus Christ, and yet you're still, you like all those wonderfully warm, fuzzy, positive promises in Scripture, and you think you can hold to those and that God is somehow going to keep those, you need to understand what C.S. Lewis said in The Chronicles of Narnia. "God is good, but God is not safe." God is not one to be trifled with. He will not play games with you. You cannot expect to use God as your genie to get your little positive promises fulfilled and continue to live in a state of rebellion against Him. He will not play along. Galatians 6, "Do not be deceived." Don't deceive yourself. Don't let anyone else deceive you. "God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap." You can't just pick the positive promises from Scripture, live however you want, and expect God to keep those promises, because God is faithful.

Now, the good news on that is God is faithful to keep the positive promises He makes in the gospel. For every one who actually turns from his sin in repentance and believes in Jesus Christ, he will have eternal life. John 3:36 says, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life." God keeps His promises, but He is just as faithful to His promises to judge those who continue to live in rebellion against Him. Listen to the rest of John 3:36, "but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Paul says listen, the gospel doesn't undermine God's faithfulness. He's just as faithful when He brings judgment on those who don't believe as when He keeps His promises of blessing to those who do.

There's a third objection. Briefly, the third objection, the gospel undermines God's justice. You see their objection in verse 5, "But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God," that's what Paul taught, man's unrighteousness puts God's righteousness on display, "what shall we say?" Now, to understand this objection that we're going to see, you need to understand the background. Because whenever Paul said, "not all Jews will be saved," the natural question was what? Why not? Why wouldn't God save all the Jews? And Paul's answer was, because divine election demonstrates, or puts on display, God's character. God does it because it displays His character. You can see this in Romans 9. This is, I'll give you a preview of what he's going to say when he ultimately answers this question thoroughly. Go over to Romans 9. In this whole chapter he's talking about why some Jews will be saved and some Jews won't be saved. And it's because of God's choice. Notice verse 11, he's talking about the twins born to Isaac and Rebecca, and he says,

though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, "The older will serve the younger." [I pick the younger, God says.] Just as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

What's your immediate response to that on a human level, verse 14, "What shall we say then?" It's wait a minute, that's not fair! "There's no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!" Never in a million years would God be unjust or unfair. He may not meet our standard of fairness, but He'll never be truly unfair. Look at verse 18, "So then God has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires." That doesn't mean God actively works evil in their hearts. It means He withholds any influence that would soften their hearts and He allows them to go their own way.

Now, why would God do that? That doesn't seem right. Verse 19, "You will then say to me, 'Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?'" This seems fatalistic.

On the contrary, [Paul says] who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

He says, listen, a potter has a lump of clay and he decides from that same lump to make a privy pot and from that same lump to make an honorable vessel that sits on the dining room table; that's the potter's right. He can do what he wants.

Now, why would God do that? Why would God choose to save some Jews, or some people, but not all people? There are three reasons given in verses 22 to 23 and we will explain them in detail when I get there, but not today. Just look at them. Here are the three reasons:

What if God, although willing [here's reason number one] to demonstrate His wrath and [here's reason number two] to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so, [here's reason number three] to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

Those are the three reasons. And you notice what they all have in common? To put God's character on display. Paul says, God chose certain Jews and not others to put His character on display.

Now, let me just say, I know that many of you are from churches, you've come to us from churches, where what Paul teaches in this chapter was not taught, unconditional election was not taught to you. If you struggle with this doctrine, I fully understand. I did for many years. I understand your struggle, but if you want to understand this doctrine better you have two paths you can take. Number one, is you can wait a few years until we get to Romans 9. That's not a good option, okay, not a good option. Or, number two, you can listen to a series of messages, six messages, that I preached on election from Ephesians 1:4-6. In that chapter I'll, or excuse me in those messages, that series, I'll answer many of the questions that I had and that I think you probably have, about this doctrine. You can also, there are some good books in the bookstore if you want to read instead of listen, whatever, but you can learn about this doctrine. But understand, Paul taught that God decided to leave some sinners in their rebellion.

By the way, nobody is treated unfairly in that. Who is treated unfairly? Most sinners get what they deserve and have earned, and a few sinners get grace and mercy they don't. Nobody is ever treated unfairly by God in this whole process. But Paul teaches this, God's reason for doing this was that their sin and rebellion demonstrated God's character. Now go back to chapter 3, now you understand the objection.

Romans 3:5. "But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?" Paul, if what you're saying is true and if human unrighteousness and human sin demonstrates or manifests God's character, then what's the conclusion? And here's their objection, that means the God who inflicts wrath is unrighteous. Paul says, wait a minute, that can't be true, can it? "The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He?" The Jewish objection was, if, as Paul teaches, God benefits from the sin of unbelieving Jews, whom He hadn't chosen, then it's unfair of God to inflict wrath upon them. Paul, your gospel undermines God's justice; it's just not fair.

Now, Paul apologizes for even mentioning such a revolting idea as God being unjust. Notice the end of verse 5, "(I'm speaking in human terms.)" MacArthur explains that Paul here is simply paraphrasing the weak unbiblical logic of his opponents, the product of their natural, unregenerate minds. Here's how unbelievers respond to the idea of God's sovereignty in salvation, it's just not fair. It's unjust.

What's Paul's answer in verse 6? Now, his full answer is coming in chapters 9 through 11, so here is an answer in very brief form. His answer is that God has a right to sit in judgment on every man. Notice verse 6, "May it never be!" Never happen in a million years, that God be unjust. "For otherwise how will God judge the world?" Whatever their points of disagreement might be, Paul knew that the Jews and he agreed on this. They agreed there would be a future judgment, that God would sit as judge, and that God would condemn sinners.

This was what the Old Testament taught in Abraham's time, in Genesis 18:25 Abraham says, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" He was saying, God you are the judge of all the earth and God, when you judge, you're always just. Ecclesiastes 12:14, "God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil."

They believed in a future judgment. And so Paul turns their theology against them. He says okay, if God is unfair to inflict His wrath on you because your unrighteousness demonstrates His righteousness, then what you're really saying is, God can't judge anybody, because the Gentiles could claim the same thing. But we all know God is the judge of all the earth and He will act in justice. So he's saying, listen, God's truth in the gospel does not undermine God's justice in His character.

This is so important understand, because moral religious people, they want God to judge the worst sinners. There are no moral religious people who don't want God to judge the dregs of humanity, who don't want God to judge the Hitlers of the world and the Mussolinis and the terrorists of ISIS. They want God to judge them, but the moment they hear that they're going to be judged and that it has something to do with God's not choosing them, what's the immediate outcry? Whoa, that's not fair!

Let me assure you, on the authority of God Himself again and again in His word, there is coming a future day of judgment for every human being. You will stand before God your Creator on the day of judgment. For believers, if you're in Christ, it will be at what the Scriptures call the Judgment Seat of Christ, to receive, for the works done in the body, whether good or bad, whether you'll be rewarded or not rewarded. Your salvation will not be in question. But if you're not a believer in Jesus Christ you will appear at what John the Apostle calls, in Revelation 20, the Great White Throne Judgment. But it's coming. The writer of Hebrews puts it like this, Hebrews 9:27, "it is appointed for men to die once." Do you know the mortality rate is the same the world over? It's one to one. You're going to die. I'm going to die. If the Lord doesn't return, every person in this room will die.

Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, instructed one of his slaves to have a daily responsibility. He said, "Every day, I want you to come into my room in the morning and in a loud voice I want you to say to me, 'Philip, remember that you will die.'" That's what Hebrews says, "it is appointed for men to die once," and then Hebrews adds to this, "and after this comes judgment."

Let me just ask you a searching sobering question, the most important question you will ever hear in your life. Are you ready for the day of judgment? Are you ready for that day when you will stand before God your Creator? The only one who can save you on that day is the One God has appointed, Jesus Christ. Turn over to Romans 5:9, "Much more then, having now been justified," that is, having been declared right with God, "by Jesus's blood," that is, by His death in our place, we're made right with God by Jesus' death, He died the death we deserved, "we shall be rescued, or saved, from the wrath of God through Jesus." That's the only way that you and I can avoid the reality of that future judgment in which we are condemned for our sins. It's if Jesus has died in our place.

Christian, be encouraged, if you've repented of your sins and believed in Christ. Notice that line, "we shall be rescued from the wrath of God." You don't have to worry about that judgment that's coming. You don't have to live in fear, but if you haven't believed in Christ, understand this, your only hope is to repent of your sin and believe in the one God designated, the only one who can rescue you from the wrath that is to come. Are you ready? Are you ready for the day of judgment? Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for the sobering and solemn reminder that Paul gives us here, that You are the judge. You will judge in and through Your Son and You will judge all men and women, not one person will be allowed to escape that reality.

Father, I pray that for those of us in Christ, You would fill our hearts with joy. Thank You that because He suffered Your wrath in our place, there is none left for us. We will be saved from Your wrath through Him. Lord, thank You that we don't have to fear, but we can look forward to that day. We can look forward to being in Your presence. May we leave here rejoicing that our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

But Father, for those who are here this morning who are not right with You, who have not repented of their sins and confessed Jesus as Lord, as Paul tells us later in this letter, have not believed in their hearts that You have raised Him from the dead, that He is Your appointed one to rescue them, Father, may this be the day when they humble themselves and receive the one You appointed as their Savior, as their rescuer, from the wrath that is to come. We pray it in Jesus's name, amen.