May God Save America
By Bobby Blakey on June 19, 2022
May God Save America
By Bobby Blakey on June 19, 2022
God bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above. Or another one: America, America. God shed his grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
These are songs I grew up singing. And when I grew up singing these songs, I sang them with all my heart because I loved my country. I was born the same year that Ronald Reagan became president, anybody know what I'm talking about? I share a birthday with Ronald Reagan. All right. I grew up thinking America was the best country on planet Earth, I grew up thinking that we were the good guys, right? And any of us who have been an adult in America over the last couple of decades, we know that our country has really changed from how it was, and the change has not been for the best. And in fact, I would imagine that many fathers – as we celebrate with our kids today – I would imagine that many fathers are wondering what kind of America are their children and their children's children going to be living in? And I can tell you exactly what's going on in America. If you'll open up your Bible with me to Romans, chapter 1, we're going to start studying a passage that says exactly what happens when you turn away from God. And as we go through this section of Scripture, Romans chapter 1, over the next few weeks, we're going to see that exactly what it says here parallels modern American history over the last hundred years. So, this scripture is going to describe the turning away from God in our nation, and the consequential sin that now is in America. And so, we're going to start with some good news here today, and Lord willing, over the next few weeks of the summer, we're going to go through this whole chapter together. So, I want to read it for us this morning, and out of respect for God's word, I'm going to ask that we would all stand for the public reading of Scripture. I'm going to start in Romans 1:16 and 17. Those are the verses we'll look at today. But I'm going to read all the way to the end of the chapter. And this is our goal to get through this, this summer together. And our prayer is May God save America. And we're going to talk about that today. Please follow along as I read Romans 1:16:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
That's the reading of God's word. Please have your seat. And here in the book of Romans, we do get the good news before we get to the bad news. And I want to go through the good news with you here in verses 16 and 17. And then in the weeks to come, we'll see how this good news applies to all of the sin that America has, has turned away from God. Look at verses 16 and 17. Because these are famous verses, perhaps the most popular verses from the book of Romans. Some people would even go so far as to say, this is the thesis-statement for the book of Romans that we're studying together. And really, these two verses Romans, 1:16-17, they're broken down into three different “For” statements. You can see there at the beginning of verse 16, it says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel,” and then halfway through the verse “for, it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” And then at the beginning of verse 17, “For, in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith.”
So, there are the three statements. So really, it's not a thesis-statement; it's just one thought right after the next. In fact, verse 18 – that we'll pick up next week. And then verse 19, the week after that – you can see “therefore” statements as well. So, this is Paul just breaking down why he wants to go to Rome, to preach the gospel.
If you look back at verse 15, where we left off – it's been a few weeks now. So, if you go back to verse 15, he says, “I am eager,” or willing, or ready “to preach the gospel to you also, who are in Rome.” He wanted to go to Rome. Rome was the capital city of the empire, where all of the thoughts were coming from the culture of the day. And he wanted to preach the gospel there in that city. And that was his goal, but he was not able to get there. He's been delayed in getting there. And we should all thank God, even though we saw how hard it was, for Paul being delayed, to get to Rome, in the book of Acts, we should be thankful that he didn't make it to Rome, because, instead of going there and teaching them in person, he wrote his teaching, his master class, on the gospel. He wrote it down in the book of Romans, and now we all get to study it together.
So, he's telling them, here's why I want to go to Rome and share the gospel: (1) (and he's going to give us three reasons to share the gospel here, verse 16. Number (1) is, “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” I'm ready to come and share with you the good news from God. Remember, go back to verse 1. That's how he introduced the whole book. He said, “I'm Paul, I'm a servant, or a doulos of Christ Jesus. I'm called to be an apostle, and I'm set apart for the gospel of God.” Heaven has sent a message to all of us here on planet Earth, and Paul's like, I'm here for that message. And I want to go to Rome and preach that message. And the reason I'm willing to go into this city and share the good news that God has for every man, woman, and child is, because “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” as the first thing he says, is I'm not ashamed of this. I'm not ashamed to say that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus was born as a man, lived a perfect life of righteousness, and Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sin, and he rose from the dead on the third day so that you can have a new eternal life. He's not ashamed of the gospel.
And the question here for us at church on Sunday morning is, are we ashamed of the gospel? Is the reason that some of us aren't willing, ready, and “eager,” as he says in verse 15, to share the gospel in Huntington Beach, or whatever city you live in around here. I mean, even just to start off, when was the last time you shared the good news of Jesus with somebody who doesn't believe it? When was the last time you did that? See, I know the right answer is to say that you're not ashamed, but if you're never telling the gospel of Jesus to anybody, that sounds like shame to me! Like he's saying, I’ll go anywhere, any place, anytime, and tell anyone, because I have no shame in telling people the good news of Jesus that God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son. And you can have a father who loves you on Father's Day. I’ll tell that to anybody because I'm unashamed of the gospel. And I know a lot of Christians today don't share the good news because they are ashamed of it. And they might not want to admit that at church on Sunday morning, on Father's Day, but the facts are the facts, you're either ready to share it because you're not ashamed of it, or you don't share it. And the reason you don't share it is there's a little bit of shame, and how people are going to respond to it, how people are going to take it. Because in this description that we have here in Romans 1, this description where people are not only doing things they know God doesn't want them to do, but they're approving of other people doing things that God doesn't want them to do. You go share the gospel in a culture like ours right now. There's going to be some level of negative response, some persecution. And so, the question comes to us, are we not ashamed? Or are we ashamed?
Everybody, if you've got a Bible, turn with me to Mark 8: 38. Because Paul, he talks about being not ashamed. But here's what Jesus says to all of us about it. Anybody out there reading the Gospel of Mark with us right now here at Compass, HB? I am having so much fun reading through the Gospels and answering questions on the Scripture of the Day live videos we're doing. If you're not reading Mark with us, you're really missing out. And people are really growing. I'm talking to people here at the church who are on fire because they're getting into the Scripture more than ever before. And we're really seeing who Jesus is. And in fact, if you haven't been reading with us, I want to invite you, I'm inviting you, read Mark 8 with us. That's actually the chapter we're on tomorrow. In fact, this week, if you pull out your handout out of the bulletin there, and if you flip your handout over to the back, you can see the chapters we're reading from the Bible together here at the church, every single week. And this week, I’ll be here at the church Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night, Lord willing. I'll be in the new building at seven o'clock. And we'll do a study of that chapter together for an hour. I’ll answer any questions you've got about the chapter, it'll be a great time, I'd love to see you there one of those nights, all three of those nights if you want to get into it. But this is the next chapter we're reading in Mark.
This is the last verse of the chapter. And look what Jesus says here in Mark 8:38. This is Jesus speaking. And Mark 8, even if you haven't read any of mark yet, this is the most important chapter in the Gospel. This is where they say that “you are the Christ.” And this is where Jesus says “Yes, now that you know who I am, here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to suffer, I'm going to be handed over to the scribes and the chief priests, and I'm going to be killed. And then on the third day, I will rise.” So, he's now sharing with them the content of the gospel message. And he's saying, if you want to come after me, you have to deny yourself, take up your cross, and you've got to follow me. And at the end of all of that, here's what Jesus says – write it down, underline it. And this is something for all of us to think through. “ For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Here's Jesus, just calling it out. If you are ashamed of me, because there's so much sin going on, and people are adulterous, that means they don't love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They're cheating on God, they were created to worship God but, instead, they're worshiping the creation rather than the Creator. They're turning away from God. He describes it here as a sinful and adulterous generation.
If you're ashamed of Jesus today, then Jesus says, he's going to be ashamed of you on Judgement Day. That's what he said, right there. And he said, but if you're unashamed, if you're not ashamed of me, and my words today, then the flip side of that is Jesus is going to claim you as one of his people on Judgment Day. So, Jesus is not okay with us saying, Well, we're living in a bad place. Sin is rampant. Wickedness is everywhere. I don't think people want to hear about Jesus. So, I'm going to keep it to myself. No, Jesus is not okay with that. He's saying, Don't be ashamed of me and my words, because I'm going to come riding on the clouds in the glory of my father with the holy angels, like someday every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess who Jesus really is, that he is the Lord of heaven and earth, the one with all authority, and you're going to feel very foolish if, on that day, you are ashamed of Jesus today. So, he says, Don't be ashamed of me and my words, or you might find me ashamed of you on the Day of Judgment.
So, let's get it down like this for point number one: You can carry shame, or you can carry his name. These are the two different ways to live. You can carry shame, or you can carry his name. You're either ready to tell people the good news of Jesus, willing, eager to do it, or you're ashamed. And there is a strong warning here from the mouth of Jesus, that he is not okay with people trying to be undercover Christians, trying to have like this private faith, or I believe it, I'm all about it, but I don't want to share it with other people because they may not like it. No, Jesus is saying it very clearly here in Mark 8:38. This is a verse for us all to take to heart and ask ourselves a real question: Are we ashamed of the gospel of Jesus? Because Paul could say he was not ashamed. And he lived a life that was not ashamed. He was out there, sharing it with other people. And in fact, Paul, in 2 Timothy 1:8, he tells Timothy, Timothy, don't be ashamed. This is how it works. We had Jesus, they killed him. And Paul's writing to Timothy right before he's going to get killed. Yes, the world will have a negative reaction to the gospel. But I want to be known as one of the people of Jesus. And I want to carry the name of Jesus and have it lifted high, because I believe that when more people hear about Jesus, more souls will be saved. And I care about souls being saved, I care about what they think about Jesus, not what they think about me. So, I'm unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And that's how Jesus tells us to be. That's how Paul was. That's why he wrote this letter to the Romans, and he's passing it on to Timothy. And now it gets passed down to us, we're living in a sinful and adulterous generation. Who here is going to hide Jesus, and who here is unashamed of the name of Jesus Christ? Now, go back to Romans 1:16-17. Because now he's going to give us two compelling reasons that everyone here should be unashamed of the gospel -- two compelling reasons that we should all be bold and speak clearly and freely in the name of Jesus, because this is what we have faith is going to happen. When we preach the Good News of the Gospel, we know – look at this next “for” statement in the middle of verse 16. “For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” See, this is what's so exciting about sharing the gospel. This is why it's so exciting to be here with you all this morning, and to preach this good news. Because when you preach the gospel, God shows His power through that word going out, and people end up believing in Jesus, they end up getting saved. In fact, we've been preaching the gospel here in Huntington Beach for the last eight years. And some of you have been saved here. And now we're worshiping together this morning, because when you preach the gospel, it's the power of God to save people's souls. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that?
I'll tell you why I'm here this morning on Father's Day. 2022 is I have a dad who, when I was growing up, there was no option but going to church at my house. There was no option. But reading the Bible at my house, my dad took me to church, read to me the Bible, told me the good news of Jesus. And God used that to save my soul because there was power in that, power passing on from one generation to the next. This is what life is all about. This is the secret of the universe. This is the plot of the whole story. It's all about the Father in heaven loving us so much to give his one and only Son and anyone who believes in him, you will experience the power of God to save your soul. So, in this verse, Romans 1:16, what he's showing us is what happens when the Gospel goes out. He's showing us now the effectiveness. This word “power” here, some of you already know this, it's dunamis. Like people have already been saying to me, is there going to be some dynamite here this morning, right? Because that's the word for power here. Like when we preach the gospel, there is a power in that to save people. And so here in our passage, he's talking about the effect of the gospel ringing out.
But go back to Romans 1:1, let's make sure we got the content of what the gospel is, because he said that he was “set apart for the gospel of God.” And then he tells us what it is here in verse 2, “which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.” So, the Gospel goes way before the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. This whole part before Matthew, in your Bible, what is today referred to as the Old Testament, well, we like to refer to as the Bible written in Hebrew, the scriptures of the law, prophets and writings. There are so many prophecies in this part of the Bible. And they're all about Jesus. The Jewish people, they had a clear expectation that a Messiah, a holy and anointed one of God, he was coming, and he was going to save them, he was going to deliver them, and they knew he was coming in the line of King David. That's why they paid attention to genealogies, and their family line and the father passing it on to the son for generations and generations, because there is coming a King who's going to restore the nation. He's going to save us all. But then look at verse 4, it says, Yes, but this son of David was more than they expected. Verse 4, “he was declared to be the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of holiness, by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Maybe you remember when we preached that on Easter this year, that they were expecting a king in the line of of David, a son of David who had come as the Messiah, and their horizon line was lifted, because they saw that he wasn't just the son of David, he was the Son of God, and, and the way that he was going to reign was through the power of his resurrection, that he would have a victory over the wages of sin, over death, over judgment, that he would actually lead an everlasting kingdom of heaven. And so, their eyes were lifted to see that the Son they were expecting, he was much more than what they knew, that there is Jesus risen from the dead, exalted to the right hand of the Father, that Jesus Christ is right now, the Lord that every eye is going to see at the end of all things when he is revealed. So that's the gospel. The gospel is all about Jesus. And the gospel is that there was a father who had an eternal relationship with his son, and the father loved his son, and was pleased with his son. And then he sent his one and only Son to save your soul. Can I get an Amen from anybody on Father's Day about that? Like, the perfect father-son relationship, where that father sacrifices his son to save you, that's a Happy Father's Day for all. That's the good news of the gospel. And so he's saying, when you preach that, like we're doing here this morning, when a father continually tells his sons and daughters, the good news of the gospel, when the preacher preaches it at church, when you keep going after your neighbors, your coworkers, your family members, your friends, and you are unashamed, you're ready to tell them about Jesus, what you will see is that that gospel will be heard by people and some people, not everyone, although some people they will hate it, and they will speak against, but there are some who will really have ears to hear, and God will open their eyes to see, and the horizon line of their life will go from death to eternity, and they will see Jesus.
And when the gospel message is responded to with faith, everyone who believes, there is a power of God to save that person's soul. It could happen right here this morning as you're hearing the message. Some of you have lived your entire life without power, without really experiencing what God can do a mighty work, that God can do to work in you. He can take you from who you are, and he can make you new in Christ. And when you hear that Jesus really died to pay for all your sins, and he really rose from the dead, and now in that resurrection, there's a power that can actually change who you are, that you could be a new creation. The old you could be gone. Behold, there could be a new you forevermore. See, when you hear that, and you really respond to it with faith, God does a work in your life so that you could never be the same. And you have a connection now with your Father in heaven, a relationship with him. That's what eternal life is. It's you and your Father together forever. And no one in this world can snatch you out of your Father's hand. That could happen for some right here this morning, as we're preaching the gospel, and you're hearing it and you're realizing I haven't had that power. I need that mighty work of God. And I do believe that, in the name of Jesus, I could be saved, you could experience the dynamite right of dunamis here the power of God had to save you. That's why we preach the gospel. That's why no matter how many people come against us, reject us, hate us, we're going to keep preaching Jesus, because we can't wait for the next person who hears it, believes it, and experiences the power of God.
Go over to 1 Corinthians 1:18. First Corinthians 1:18 is a great cross reference with Romans 1:16. So I want you to also write down and really think about this verse 1 Corinthians 1:18. Look at how it says it here. It's the same exact thought that Paul is expressing. He says, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” There's a lot of people, a lot of dads out there, they wouldn't want to waste their Father's Day going to church, they wouldn't want to sit through a sermon like this. They think preaching the gospel, like what we're doing right now, is foolishness, waste of time. They don't think there's power in what we're doing here today, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. So we understand that when the Gospel goes out, some people, they will reject it, but some people will receive it, they will hear it, they will believe it, and the people who receive the good news from heaven to us here on Earth, that God sent His Son to save your soul, and he died, your sin has been paid for, you don't have to live in it anymore. And he has risen from the dead to offer you a new life. When people hear that, and they believe that there is such a powerful, mighty work that God has done, that mighty work in anybody's life here today. Anybody know what I'm talking about? See, that's why I'm unashamed of the gospel because that's how people experience the power of God.
I understand some people think it's foolishness, but to us, we get it here today. It is a dynamic force, changing our lives forevermore. That's what the gospel really is. So, people are going to have different thoughts about the gospel. Look what he says in verse 22, because he talks about, Hey, I'm sharing it with everybody, the Jew first and the Greek. And remember, Paul was a Jew. And he started out even as a Pharisee of Pharisees, but then he became the apostle to the Gentiles. And so, this is a key distinction, the Jews and the Greeks, and we’ll see it throughout Romans. But look how he says it here. “The Jews demand signs,” like the Jews are the kind of people they're, like, I need more proof. I don't want to respond to it in faith, I want to see something, I want you to prove it to me, I want you to show it to me, I want to have some kind of an experience, some kind of miracle. That's what the Jews, they demanded that of Jesus many times, they said, Show us a sign. I mean, Jesus is doing amazing miracles, right and left, and they're like, Yeah, what else you got for us, we want to see a little more. So, we'll believe in Jesus. He said, “an evil and adulterous generation,” you need to see a sign? And, in fact, he said, The only sign that will be given you was – What did he say the sign? of who? The sign of Jonah, who was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish, just like Jesus is going to rise from the dead on third day, saying the sign that you need is my death and resurrection. But the Jews, they're still looking for more. They want a king; they want to see it.
And then, look what it says about the Greeks, “the Greeks seek wisdom.” See, the Greeks want the logic. They want it to all make sense. They want some life-philosophy. They want something that matches their personal opinions and their political viewpoints. And so, they're seeking how it's all going to make sense to them. And that's what the world wants, but we preach Christ crucified. And he keeps saying things like the word of the cross, Christ crucified, he's getting down to the heart of the message that Jesus paid for your sin. This is what's offensive about the gospel is it implies that you're the bad guy in the story. Jesus is the hero, and you need Jesus to come and seek and save your soul. And so, he said, We preach Christ crucified, and it causes the Jews… To them it's a stumbling block And to the Gentiles, they think it's “foolishness,” but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, because all kinds of people are getting saved. And what we know about Jesus is that Jesus is the power of God and the wisdom of God. To us here today, the gospel is the most beautiful news we've ever heard. It's the best thing that ever happened to us in our lives was the day we got to hear about Jesus, and our eyes, God opened to see him. That was the powerful day in our lives that God saved our soul.
See, that's what 1 Corinthians here is making so clear. Yeah, the world out there, it's a stumbling block to people who want to see more. It's foolishness to those who are looking for some kind of wisdom, but to those – some of us who heard the word about Jesus, and we really heard it, and God opened our eyes to see when Jesus died on that cross. That was my judgment. That was my sin. That's what I deserved. And when he rose from the dead, that's my living hope. That's my faith. That's me having a hope of “death” is not the end. But there will be eternal life in the presence of my God. When your eyes are open to see that it's not just some story of Jesus, but that Jesus really did it for you. That is the powerful moment of your life.
Point number two: Trust the power is in the Gospel. Trust, the power is in the Gospel. The reason that you and I can be unashamed, the reason that you and I can be ready, willing, and eager to share the gospel is it's not about our presentation, it's not about how we deliver it, it's not about the words that we use, or if we have the exact right way to say it, the power is in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, the power is in the empty tomb, the power is there, you just got to let it out. You just got to unleash it, like, you don't have to bring the power to the dynamite. You just got to light the fuse. The power is right there in it. It's not about you giving it to people. It's about God opening people's eyes to see Jesus. There's power in the gospel. That's what it is. And those of us who really believe that, who really have faith that it is in hearing the word of Christ that people will respond and believe. That's why we'll keep preaching the gospel till our dying day, no matter who rejects us, because we know that's how people get saved. That's God's power.
Go back to Romans 1:16. So, we have three, four statements that are building on each other, and they're all about the gospel in our passage. Notice how he says in verse 16, “for I'm not ashamed of the gospel,” because in verse 15, he said he wanted to preach the gospel. Okay. And then halfway through, he says, “for it is the power of God.” So, he's saying, this message, this good news, the word about Jesus, that is what is the power to save. Going to church isn't going to save anybody. Okay, just reading the Bible without really seeing Jesus in it isn't going to save anybody. You haven't just had a wholesome conversation with someone telling them that God's the creator, and the Bible is true. And there's a bunch of good things they should do that know the power is specifically in this Good News of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. When people see who Jesus is, and what Jesus did, there's power. That's the power of God, to save them. And then notice what it says in verse 17. For in it (and the “it” is the gospel), in the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. And then there's this phrase here that's a little complicated, and how to translate it from faith for faith. Okay? And you can see, you might have a footnote there. And then in the English Standard Version that I'm preaching out of, there's a number 5, and it says, “or beginning and ending in faith,” you could translate it “out of faith into faith,” like in it… the Gospel, when you respond to the gospel with faith, what is revealed to you, there's something that you start seeing at that moment that you couldn't really understand or perceive before. And what it is, is the righteousness of God is revealed to you when you respond with faith in the Gospel. And so, he says, The Gospel reveals the righteousness of God from faith for faith. And then, for the first time in the book of Romans, he quotes the Hebrew Scriptures, And he says, “As it is written, The righteous shall live by faith.”
So, this is what many people would say, the main theme of the book of Romans. This is actually the part that they think is the thesis-statement is here in verse 17, that the righteousness of God is the primary theme. dikaiosyn? is the word here for righteousness in the Greek language, and it's used 34 times in the 16 chapters of Romans. So the point here, the main issue, is this righteousness of God and the word they're revealed is the word that we think of “apocalypse,” like it's the same word in Revelation1:1. This is the noun form, or this is the verb form, and Revelation one it's the noun form, but it's this idea of something being unveiled, something being uncovered, something that was previously before hidden and you couldn't see it, you can now see it. That's the righteousness of God, the gospel, the good news of Jesus. This shows us the righteousness of God in a way that we could never see it before.
So, this is a famous passage not only because Paul wrote it, and it's like the theme verse of the book of Romans. But there was also this guy, Martin Luther. Anybody ever heard of Martin Luther before? See, in Martin Luther – his mind, and he was growing up in this time in the world, coming out of what was known really the dark ages, coming out of a time where the people did not have access to the scriptures. The Bible was in the language of Latin at that time. Martin Luther, he was in Germany, the Bible was not in German. People couldn't just go read the Bible. They didn't have an app with the Bible. The only way you could find out what God said was through the church at that time, and you had to be kind of somebody to even know Latin, to even have a copy of the Bible. And so, if you didn't know Latin, if you weren't somebody, you only knew the Scripture through other people telling you. What it said you couldn't go search it out for yourself. And so Martin Luther, in his mind, at that time, this righteousness of God was this super-intimidating idea in his thinking. The righteousness of God was like a mountain that could never be climbed. Like, how could any man ever do all the good works that God expected you to do in the law? Like, how could any human being live up to God's standard of moral perfection? Like, this is something Martin Luther struggled with? In his soul, he would try hard, he would do better, he would give even more; he thinks if I could just make myself like this or do a little bit more of this, then maybe I could be right with God. But really, it felt like he could never live up to the standard, like he was always falling short, like God is up there. He's holy in heaven. And we can't get to where God is. His righteousness is like this statement of condemnation, basically saying, No one here can be who God is. And so, it just felt like this burden, and this heavy pressure on Martin Luther’s life. And then one day he was studying this verse here in Romans 1:17, and he was responding to the gospel of Jesus. He responded with faith. And in that moment, it was revealed to him, it was unveiled, his eyes were open to see that the righteousness of God was not some unassailable mountain, but that God's own Son actually came down to our level and lived a perfectly righteous life. Jesus fulfilled the law. In fact, the father said multiple times about his Son, this is my Son with whom I am well, what? – Pleased! What did he say? I'm pleased. He's done what I've expected people to do. There is actually one who was righteous, and he took his perfect resume, he took his 100% track record of righteousness, and he took it before the Father and he laid down his precious righteous blood he offered as a sacrifice to our Father in heaven.
And why did Jesus lay down his life and die for your sin? See, this is the great exchange that Jesus will give you – His righteousness, and he will pay for all of your sin. And all you have to do is believe in Jesus. And when Martin Luther saw that the world changed. I'm not even exaggerating. I'm not even overestimating, like, if you go to any of these high schools, if you go to any school anywhere, you go find what they teach in world history. You go look it up, you're going to find Martin Luther in Germany. Because when he saw that the righteousness of God was accomplished for us in Jesus Christ, it started this historical event called the Great Reformation. And he even translated the Bible into German, and so many people's eyes were open, that it's not about me being a good person, and doing all these works. It's about me having the righteousness of God unveiled for me that Jesus already did it all. It is finished, it is accomplished, it is done. It's not about me trying harder, doing better, doing something this week that I've never been able to do before. It's about me saying, Jesus, you did it and I'm trusting in you. And then you see the righteousness of God. In fact, in that moment, that you believe in Jesus accomplishing your righteousness, you are made righteous with God once and for all. You are what we're going to study in Romans. You are justified, which means God in heaven declares you righteous forevermore, because your eyes have been open to see Jesus is your righteousness. That's what happened in Romans 1:17, and its world History. And the reason it was such a big deal and Martin Luther is life coming out of being some kind of priest, some kind of guy who is all about his own good works, his own religiosity, his own self-righteousness, and then he gets his eyes open. Well, it's no wonder that Paul wrote this because that's who Paul was. Paul was the one of the most self-righteous people that ever walked planet Earth. He called himself a Pharisee of Pharisees, you go to Israel today, you start saying, Hey, are you a Pharisee? Are you a Pharisee? Where can I meet a Pharisee? Nobody wants to be known as a Pharisee. Nobody. The Jews today, they're like, oh, yeah, we don't know about those guys. Those guys know, Paul, he was like, he was the leader of the Pharisees. He was the guy who could somehow in his mind, think, look at all these good things I'm doing. And then he's going around killing Christians. He's going around arresting innocent people. He's going and seeking out people who are doing good things. And he's causing trouble in their life all the time thinking he's doing it and pleasing God. I mean, this guy, if there was anybody who thought on planet Earth, look at me, I am right. Paul was that guy. And he met Jesus on the road. And he completely changed his thinking. No wonder this guy Paul wants to write a whole book about how awesome it is that you can be righteous with God, the righteousness of God can be revealed to you. You don't have to be judged. You don't have to be condemned. And you don't even have to do anything about it. Because Jesus already did it all. It is a righteousness that is given to you freely by faith. And so, he introduces that theme here in verse 17, he brings up back to “for” to kind of prove his point. And then look at verse 18. He goes off into the wrath of God being revealed against unrighteousness. So, you either get the righteousness of God revealed to you, or you're going to get the wrath of God revealed to you. And we're going to go down that. In fact, when we start up next week, in Romans 1:18, we're going to go through two chapters of sin and judgment. So just a weather forecast here at Compass, HB, everybody. It's going to be a stormy summer here at the church. Just keeping it real. All right? And good thing, we've got good news of Jesus, to preach salvation throughout. But he goes through two chapters of sin and judgment.
And then go to Romans 3:21. This is when he gets back to this theme of righteousness, which is really what he's going to develop in Romans 3:21, he says, but now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law. Now you can see how God how you could be right with God. And it doesn't have to feel like you're at some mountain you could never climb to the top of. It's not based on the law anymore. He says, Even though, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, even though in the writings of Moses and all the prophets, there were so many prophecies about Jesus and how he would come to be our righteousness, verse 22, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all who believe, for there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified, justified means declared righteous, by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus redemption, meaning through the blood, that Jesus shed. The precious pure blood through the sacrifice of His body. Jesus, laying down his righteousness for you whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by what is he keeps saying, everybody by what faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance, he had passed over former sins, it was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus See, once you can see who Jesus is and what he did, you will finally see the righteousness of God in a way where you will be right with God, because you will see that God is holy, and he does judge all of our sin. And He did that on his Son, Jesus, but because Jesus was righteous, and he died as a sacrifice in your place, God is now also right to put the righteousness of Jesus on you and to declare you righteous when you respond to Jesus in faith. Do you realize what I'm saying here right now? I'm saying that all of your guilt could be erased today. All of your shame, everything that's been hiding in that closet for so long, everything that's been lurking under the surface your entire life, the things you don't want spoken of, the things you don't want known, the things you keep putting off, and you don't want to deal with, I am saying that today, they could be blotted out, they could be get forgiven, they could be washed clean as white as snow, that Jesus already took the judgment for all of those things, and he did it for you. And when you believe in His righteousness, in that moment of faith, you are made right with God.
Let's get it down for number three: See, the righteousness is by faith. See, the righteousness is by faith, the righteousness of God is the saving intervention of God in history manifested in the cross, and it's constantly made effective as we preach the gospel. That's what Douglas Moose said about this passage like this is this is a passage right here that if you can get this because so many people go to church every Sunday, and they miss this completely. Like I guarantee you no matter what I say up here, no matter how hard I tried to explain that there is nothing anybody here can do. It is only by faith in what Jesus did when he died on the cross for you, and when he rose again to give you power and new life. I can say that up here and as many different ways as I can possibly come up with, and I guarantee you somebody's going to leave here today, and they're going to think, this week I'll go get right with God by what I do. Like try-harder newness, this white-knuckle life, like just grab on and keep trying, and maybe someday, you'll make it. Like this desire to be right in ourselves is so ingrained in who we are, that it's so hard for some to let go of. Like, even now, people are thinking, Yeah, so this week I’ll go and I’ll really believe in Jesus, like what does that even mean? What does that even mean? I'm going to go and really believe in Jesus, like even believing is some kind of mustering-up of your own effort.
Now, all you got to do today is realize you will never go and do it. And that Jesus already did it. And you’ve got to transfer your trust from you to Jesus. And you’ve got to say, From now on, I'm putting all my hope, all my faith, I'm putting it all in Jesus, and I'm looking to him from this day forward from the beginning to the end of my life, it's going to be faith in Jesus Christ from now on. See, we have really done a bad job of preaching the gospel in America, because people in the room right now think they believe in Jesus when they don't believe in Jesus. That's it's so twisted in our thinking. People are like, well, I know this is all true. Look, it doesn't matter if you know it's true. The demons know it's true. The Bible says it's true. It's true. Whether you think it's true or not. What matters in it is, Have you really trusted in Jesus dying in your place? And are you right with God, and you realize that there's nothing you could do to earn that. There's nothing you could do from now on to lose that. Jesus did it all. That's why he gets the glory. That's why I walk up to people who I know will reject me, and they won't listen to the Gospel, because I don't care what they think about me. I care what they think about Jesus. Because what you think about Jesus is life. You either trust in Him and you're saved, or you keep trying to do it yourself. And you will feel like righteousness is something you'll never get to in your life. So, I'm asking you to really think this through. When did you transfer your trust? And when did it get revealed to you that I receive righteousness as a free gift? There's nothing I've ever done to get right with God. His Son already did it for me.
Go to Habakkuk 2:4, because that's what he quotes here in Romans 1:17. in Habakkuk 2:4 – hopefully you can find Habakkuk; anybody been to Habakkuk lately? Let's go to Habakkuk chapter 2. It's towards the end of the Old Testament, just a few pages before Matthew there. Habakkuk is right before Zephaniah and it's right after Nahum. So that should really clear it up for everybody right there. Habakkuk chapter 2. So Habakkuk is this book where the prophet is having a conversation with God? And if you've ever heard somebody ask, Well, why is there so much evil and what are you going to do about all of the evil? That is literally the conversation that Habakkuk the Prophet is having. And we get to hear what the Prophet says, and what God says in response. And they go back and forth. Habakkuk says something, God answers. And in Chapter 1, Habakkuk says something again. And at the end of chapter 1 into chapter 2, and then in chapter 2, verse 2, the Lord answers again. And this is really a prophecy about how Babylon is going to come in and judge God's people in Israel, but specifically this verse, verse 4, circle, underline, pay attention with me to Habakkuk 2:4, because this is the two ways you go with the message here today. It says, “Behold,” look at this, “his soul is puffed up, it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his”… what is it? Say everybody? Faith! Okay, so you see, here's the two options. One is there's this puffed-upness about you. And you're not right with God. There’s some kind of reliance on yourself, like you still, to some degree, believe that you're a good person doing good things. Or you could even flip it so far as to think, Well, I'm such a sinner, and there's no way God can save me. But either way, whether you're puffed up in pride of thinking, and that you're actually right with God, or whether you're like, Woe is me, I could never be right with God. It's still all about you. Your soul is still full of self. And when you're full of yourself, you're not right with God. But it says, The righteous you can be right with God, God gives His righteousness away for free. And if you want to be right with God, here's how you need to live by faith, Trust God through His Son Jesus, that's how you get declared righteous. And notice how it says – I love it – live by his faith, right? I mean, that it isn't just like I believed it in the past. I believed that at one point, I believed it because I know it's true. Now I'm living my life every day now trusting in the Lord with all my heart, leaning, not on my own understanding, because I want to be right with God. And I know the only way is Jesus, so I'm not living for me anymore. I'm now living all in for Jesus. I live by faith. I've been crucified with Jesus Christ and the life that I now live, I no longer live for myself, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. That's what it's Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted not just in Romans 1:17 – You might want to write down Galatians 3:11. And Hebrews 10:38. So, this verse is so important here, Habakkuk 2:4, that it's quoted not once, not twice, but three times in the Greek Bible, what we call the New Testament.
And so Romans 1:17 is just one of the quotes. Galatians 3:11 is another one. So, the word here for righteous in Hebrew is Sadiq. Maybe some of you are going to go want to look these words up, some of you get into the original language, while Hebrew the word is tsadiyq. And in Greek the word is dikaios, the word for righteous here. And in Galatians, chapter 3, it says, If you think you can get to heaven by being a good person, if you think that doing more good than bad will get you to heaven, if you think that when you get there, they'll see, Hey, you were pretty good. And they'll let you in. What the law actually says is that if you want to be right with God, you have to keep every single command in the law. The standard to get into God's holy presence, past the pearly gates of heaven, the standard is perfection. Anybody here want to claim to be a perfect person here today? So that's one thing we still all believe in America is, nobody's perfect. And if you ever think you're perfect, just ask the person next to you. They'll straighten you up real quick. Right? So that's the thing is like, you have to admit, look, it's not about me and what I'm doing. I still think there's people here at our church that get some kind of like vibe that I did a good thing by coming to church today. Look, we don't come to church because it's a good thing. We come to church because we're preaching the gospel of Jesus here, because we're worshipping Jesus here. Church is about meeting a person. It's not about you being a good person. In Hebrews 10:38, when it talks about how the righteous shall live by his faith, it says you have two options. Do you shrink back? Or do you persevere? Those are the two options Hebrews 10:38 gives you. See, it's not like I just believed it. No, it's like, Yeah, you can believe it, you can know it's true. But then what do you do with it? Do you say I'm now right with God? And so you live now a new life to find by righteousness? Where your relationship with God is the most important thing in your life? Or do you just shrink back and kind of keep living the same way you were before, while claiming you believe something? No, you either keep going forward in faith or you shrink back? Yeah, you can believe it, but what do you do? Do you shrink back, or do you keep going? That's what Hebrews 10:38 gets into.
And so, what I'm here to tell you, is that we've got good news, good news that is preaching even if America has turned away from God. And even if we're living in a sinful and adulterous generation, I'm here to tell you that you should be unashamed of the gospel. Because when you tell people the good news of Jesus, you will see the power of God to save them. And people's eyes will be open to see that they could be right with God. And it's not based on anything about them. It's all based on Jesus dying on that cross and rising again, and that people will believe in Jesus, they will be saved, they will know the righteousness of God in their lives. And so, I'm here to tell you that our country has turned away from God, and it is a bad time that we are living in, and there's something you can do about it. There's something still worth doing in these dark days. There's something that you can pass on to your kids, to your grandkids that will give them eternal life, righteousness with God, it's the gospel of Jesus. And we should spend our whole summer thinking, How can I share the Gospel where I live? How can I be unashamed of this gospel? Who can I be praying for that God will save America and Yeah, the whole nation may not turn to God, but there's somebody that you could share good news with? And I can tell you, there's nothing better in life than having a front-row seat of the power of God to save somebody. So, nothing more awesome than watching the blinders fall off, watching somebody see for the first time, and they realize that they can be right with God, and, and it's a gift that's been given to them. And all they got to do is believe in what Jesus already did. Like, when you get to see God, reveal His righteousness, show his power, and save someone through the gospel. That is the best experience in this life. And I just want to say to you who are here this morning, please don't go leave here today. And get back into the same routine of trying harder and doing better.
Let today be the day that you hear the Gospel. Let God do his powerful work and respond today in faith. Some people you need to go talk to. Brad at the Compass Connect table in the courtyard, or you can come talk to me right up here in front. Like, if you're hearing about Jesus today, and you're realizing that you haven't had that power, you don't know that righteousness, today is your day, to hear the gospel and believe in Jesus and get to know your Father, who is in heaven, and see how much he loves you.
Let me pray for us. Father in heaven, we just need to confess to you, Father, that it is easy for Christians today, people who claim to be Christians, it is easy for us to be ashamed of Jesus and His words. It is easy for us to think that our culture has become so sinful, and it's such an adulterous generation where people don't acknowledge you anymore, they're living in their lust and the sexual immorality and the debased mind and everything that Romans 1 goes on to talk about. And so, it's easy for us to think we'll just keep the gospel to ourselves here at church. Father, we confess this to you as a lack of faith in your power, and the revelation of your righteousness. So, we thank you for this word that we heard here today. And I pray for my brothers and sisters that this summer, we will be more unashamed of the gospel than we have ever been in our lives. We’ll be more ready, more willing, more eager to share the Good News of Jesus, to see that that is exactly what America needs now more than ever. They need to hear some good news and that you are still saving souls by your power. As people hear about Jesus, as they respond in faith, you're saving them. You're powerfully changing their lives. You're giving them a new heart. You're putting your spirit within them, and you're opening their eyes that they could see Jesus there on the cross and that he really paid for their sin. That Jesus is now at your right hand and he really is Lord, with his power of his resurrection. And so, God give us that faith that you're still saving, that you are a mighty God, that you are still the God of America, whether our country wants you or not. So let us Lift high the name of Jesus. And Father, I pray that even today on this Father's Day, that you will reveal your righteousness to souls here today, that you will open their eyes to see Jesus and to have faith, that their life could have a new beginning, faith from today all the way to the end, that they could be declared righteous by faith in Jesus today. So, Father, please save souls. We know that the power and the righteousness is there in Christ alone and so we worship the name of Jesus. Amen.
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