Sermon: Saving Faith Excludes Boasting Romans 3:27-31

Saving Faith Excludes Boasting

Romans 3:27-31

Truth Taught- Boasting is excluded when we realize that salvation is entirely by God’s grace and never a result of human works.

Introduction

None of the apostles has more pointedly established the fact that salvation is by grace through faith without any works what so ever than the Apostle Paul. His epistles are saturated with the doctrine of salvation entirely by faith.

Romans 3:22 (ESV)

22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

Romans 1:16–17 (ESV)

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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

He does something in the Ephesian verses that he does in our Romans passage for today. Notice the contrast between faith and boasting…

Verse 8- tells us that we have been saved by grace through faith and that none of it is our doing therefore boasting in our merits is excluded because we didn’t do anything that was meritorious. Through Paul, God tells us that justification comes to us by faith alone.

So then, the matter at hand is this: If faith is the sole instrumental cause of justification — the only way we may have the righteousness of Christ imputed to our accounts — from where does our faith come?

Galatians 2:16 (ESV)

16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Heidelberg Catechism

Question 65. Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed?
Answer: From the Holy Spirit, who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. 

1 Corinthians 2:9–13 (ESV)

But, as it is written,

       “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

       what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

Romans 10:17 (ESV)

17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

So, according to Paul the birth of saving faith happens when the Holy Spirit is given and working giving spiritual comprehension to a person who formerly did not have the capacity to understand spiritual things. Then this person who now has spiritual discernment, which comes from God the Holy Spirit, hears the Word of God and believes it and is justified through faith. So, saving faith is the work of God, the Holy Spirit as He enlightens and brings to life those who belong to God.

Let’s think for a minute…who equipped the person to believe? God did. What did they believe? God’s Word. What does God then do? Justifies (declares them righteous). What does the person do? They believe what God has enabled them to believe. It is a resurrection of sorts. God does it and the resurrected person is passive as they now manifest the fact that the Holy Spirit is working within them.

We’ve established that faith is required not works. We’ve established where faith comes from, God alone. Now we are going to see that a mark of true saving faith is a lack of boasting or bragging when it comes to our salvation.

What we are going to learn today is that true saving faith cannot boast because it comes from God so there is nothing in which we can boast about. Boasting comes as a result of us doing something to earn salvation, since we do not do anything, boasting is excluded.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Human Need

Human boasting is an indicator that we still have some fleshly pride that needs to be put to death. As we learn Christ and salvation rightly, human boasting will be replaced by humility and trust in all Jesus Christ is for us. If we see boasting and pride rearing their evil heads in our life turn quickly to the Gospel of God and remember there is no room to boast in the true Gospel since God does it all.

Galatians 6:14 (ESV)

14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Father, You have Gathered Your people that You may let us hear Your words, so that we may learn to fear You all the days that we live on the earth, and that we may also teach our children…amen

Romans 3:27–31 (ESV)

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

  1. Salvation by Grace Through Faith Excludes Boasting (3:27-28)

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Notice the Apostle Paul includes himself as a Jew who once boasted in his stellar law keeping. Before he met Jesus he was moving up the ladder of Judaism and on his way to even someday possibly being very high up in Jewish circles.

Philippians 3:4–10 (ESV)

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

He writes about confidence in the flesh and boasting in many of his epistles. He does this because he was very proud and very confident in his own abilities and law keeping. Once he met Jesus and saw what real righteousness was, Paul took all his accomplishments, all his blue ribbons and trophies and through them in the manure pile. He was now zealous for true righteousness that he knew only comes through Jesus Christ by faith.

Beloved, we must be careful to walk in humility as believers never thinking that we are somehow better than others. Pride and boasting must not be found among us. To understand the Gospel rightly is to let our pride turn to praise and our boasting to rock solid faith in all God has done for us.

Pride is at the root and boasting is how pride is seen in us. If we work for salvation then our pride is kindled and boasting is produced.

Romans 3:21–25 (ESV)

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

So, in verse 27 he tells us that because God’s righteousness has been shown apart from the Mosaic Law, namely the Gospel of His blessed Son there is a new Law, which provides the righteousness we need and it is accessed by faith alone. So, the Law of faith is really another name for the Gospel. It’s what shows God’s goodness and righteousness at this present time.

We see in verse 28 really the truth stated again. Boasting is excluded because salvation is not through the works of the Law but through faith in all God has done.

  1. All Have Sinned and Therefore Must Be Justified by Faith

29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

The main truth of this section is the fact that there is one and only one God. This one God has one prescribed means by which sinful mankind can be made right with Him. He makes the rules and prescribes the method and He has determined that justification comes by grace through faith alone.

The fundamental truth of Judaism, however, has always been “The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut. 6:4). That truth is repeated in one form or another throughout the Old Testament. Through His prophet Isaiah, God Himself declared, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5). There is only one God, the Creator, Sustainer, and Lord of the entire universe. There are no “lesser gods,” only false gods that have been created by man’s imagination and often are demonically inspired and empowered.

Yet despite the central truth of their faith that there is only one God, many Jews in biblical times believed that Gentiles somehow were outside the domain of “their” God. Instead of considering themselves as belonging to God, they virtually considered God as belonging only to them.[1]

The Jews in Paul’s day and before were denying what they knew to be true, namely, that God is also the God of the Gentiles.

Jonah refused to go to Nineveh to those wicked Gentiles because he knew that God might just save them.

Jonah 4:2 (ESV)

And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.

From their own Scripture the Jews knew that many Gentiles had found favor with God. They knew that Rahab, not only a pagan Gentile but also a prostitute, found favor with God. They knew that Ruth, a Moabitess, was the great-grandmother of David, their greatest king. They knew that the prophet Elisha graciously volunteered to heal Naaman, a captain in the army of Syria, of his leprosy. Yet many Jews persisted in their deep prejudice against, and often hatred of, Gentiles.[2]  

The Jews and Gentiles alike are saved by grace through faith.

 

  1. Faith Confirms the Law

31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Jesus told us

Matthew 5:17 (ESV)

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

When Jesus came He never thought for a moment of doing away with any part of the Bible or the Law. Instead of abolishing it or doing away with it, He said that He came to fulfill it.

How did Jesus fulfill the OT Law? I did so in a number of ways:

First, He fulfilled many OT prophetic predictions concerning the coming Messiah. He also fulfilled the OT Law in His own life as He kept it perfectly qualifying as our Savior. Thirdly, He fulfilled it in the sense of finishing it. He completed and finalized all the legal demands thus He could say it is finished. Fourthly, He fulfilled it by modeling for us what the Law had always intended for mankind to be. Jesus loved the Law of God and showed us what it looks like to live out what God desires for His people.

This is exactly what Paul has in mind when he asks his readers, 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith?

The law is not overthrown or removed but now believers are living it out by faith. We are different now and the law becomes who we really are in Christ.

When we believe, the Law and the Prophets are upheld by our faith. God’s Word is now what we love and strive to uphold God’s Word not by works but by faith.

Romans 8:3–4 (ESV)

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Beloved, even when we now seek to obey God and live according to His Word, we still cannot boast about our performance because we are not living in obedience in our own strength. God also supplies the power to live according to His Word.

This is exactly why Paul calls this Gospel the Gospel of God. God does everything and we are passive participants and all boasting is excluded.

Application

We see then that saving faith and boasting cannot live simultaneously in the same person at the same time. If we find ourselves boasting in something either we have believed or something we have done as a believer we are forgetting that the Gospel is the good news that God does it all for us.

Use boasting as a means to point out areas in your life where pride is still showing itself. Remind yourself of the true Gospel and ask God to replace boasting and pride with faith and humility.

 

Resources…

MacArthur’s Commentary

Moo on Romans

Christopher Ash on Romans

Stott on Romans

ESV Study Bible

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 226–227). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 227). Chicago: Moody Press.

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