A Line-by-Line Walk Through Luke’s Resurrection Account (Luke 24:1-12)

A Line-by-Line Walk Through Luke’s Resurrection Account (Luke 24:1-12)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, April 3 and Sunday, April 4, 2021

Jesus lives and because He lives we will live again. Jesus lives and because He lives we can have true life now. Do we believe that?

Today, I want to walk through Luke’s account of the resurrection. My theme is obvious, Jesus lives.

My application: marvel at the great things God has done and be like these women, share this good news with others.

  • First, we see the anointing of the tomb (verse 1).
    • Verse 1 reads: But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.
    • This passage begins with “but.” This connects this passage with the previous section. This chapter flows from the previous chapter. In the previous chapter Jesus was crucified. In Luke 23:50-56 He is buried.
    • Jesus was buried and Luke 23:55 tells us that the women saw where Jesus was buried. This is important. They knew where the tomb was, but Luke 23:56 tells us that they rested on the sabbath because that was the commandment. They honored the sabbath as a day of rest. That bring us to Luke 24. The women are going to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. They are doing this because they could not do this on Saturday because it was the sabbath. Jesus was crucified and buried on Friday. They had to skip Saturday because it was the sabbath and now this brings us to Sunday.
    • Luke 24:9 will record who these women were. The women are heading to the tomb. These women had traveled with Jesus in Galilee, Luke 23:55 tells us this. Mark’s Gospel identifies this right now as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome”[1]
    • John 19:39-40 tells us that Nicodemus had prepared about 75 pounds for Jesus’ body to be anointed with, but these women may not have known that.
    • They have prepared spices for Jesus’ body.
    • What are they thinking?
    • They traveled with Jesus for some time and they saw Him crucified, what was this like for them?
    • How would you be after someone that close to you has died?
    • They saw Jesus heal people, they experienced Jesus’ transformation in their lives. They listened to Jesus’ teaching, what was this like? Do you think they were filled with emotion?
    • They are going to anoint the body. The Jewish people anointed to cut down the odor, the Egyptians embalmed, Jewish people anointed.
  • Next, we see the arrival at the tomb (verses 2-3).

And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 

  • The women find an opened tomb (verse 2).
    • Luke tells the story of the empty tomb with little drama. He simply notes that when they arrived the stone had been rolled away in a position where the tomb could be entered. This large stone was often placed in a channel so that it could be easily moved by rolling it aside. The other possibility is that it was merely placed over the opening in a position from which it had now been moved.[2]
    • They did not know who would roll away the stone (Mark 16:3 records their pondering of that), but maybe they thought the soldiers would do that.
    • Think about this, they were not expecting this. Matthew 28:2-4 records a great earthquake. The stone is rolled away and the Roman guards faint.
    • I find that humorous. Two days earlier the guards are crucifying Jesus and now they are fainting because of His resurrection.
    • The women find an empty tomb (verse 3).
    • The women enter the tomb, and the tomb is empty.
    • They do not see the “Lord” Jesus in the tomb. This is the ONLY time Jesus is called “the ‘Lord’ Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. It seems to be Luke’s normal designation for the Lord after his resurrection (note the many references to Christ in this manner in Acts, e.g., 1:21; 4:33; 7:59; 8:16; 11:17; 15:11; 16:31; 19:5; 20:21; 28:31).[3]
    • Have you ever gone through a situation and it did not play out as you expected?
    • Now is a good time for me to talk about literary spotlighting.
    • Many times, we see differences in the gospel accounts. People wonder why we see certain women listed by name in one passage and in another passage they are not listed. Why are the guards listed in Matthew’s gospel but not the other gospels? Lee Strobel was interviewing one scholar who talked about a technique modeled by the historian Plutarch, it is called “literary spotlighting.” This is like a theatrical performance where there are multiple actors onstage but the lights go out and a spotlight shines on only one of them.[4]
    • I like that idea. Basically, each gospel writer is aware of the other people and details but shining the spotlight on certain people and/or details.
  • Thirdly, we see the angels beside the tomb (24:4–8)

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, 

  • We see angels, Luke is the only Gospel that mentions two angels. Remember, literary spotlighting.
    • We see their radiance (24:4): They are arrayed in dazzling robes. Notice Luke records that the women are perplexed about this. Or, “bewildered.” The term refers to a high state of confusion and anxiety.[5]
    • They are confused, bewildered, perplexed and then two men stood by them… These men are angels. These angels appear suddenly showing them to be angels. Angels are always identified with the male pronoun, though it does seem they do not have a gender (Matthew 23:30). These angels are in dazzling apparel.  They are in brilliant shining clothes.
    • The angels give reassurance (24:5): The women bow their faces to the ground. Such respect for angels is common: Dan 7:28; 10:9, 15.[6] They realize that these men are angels. The angels comfort the frightened women. Why do you seek the living among the dead?
    • Can you imagine the women’s reaction? Can you imagine them saying, “w-w-what do you mean, ‘living’? What do you mean, we saw Him buried.”
    • The angels give a reminder (24:6–8): The women are reminded of Jesus’ words:
      • The angels remind them of Jesus’ words concerning his crucifixion (24:6–7a): He would be betrayed and crucified.
      • The angels said remember he told you when He was in Galilee. Mentioning “Galilee” looks back to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. So the point is that this was announced long ago, and should come as no surprise.[7]
      • Further, the angels remind them of Jesus’ words concerning his resurrection (24:7b–8): He would rise again on the third day.[8]
      • In verse 8 Luke tells us they remembered His words.
  • Lastly, in this section we see the account concerning the tomb (24:9–12)

and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

  • Now we see the messengers (24:10): The women involved are Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others.
    • They return to the 11, and the rest, the disciples minus Judas. There are others gathered as well.
    • The message (24:9, 11–12): They tell the disciples what they saw.
    • Most ignore their report (24:9, 11): The story sounds like nonsense. Back then the testimony of women would not be credible. This actually verifies the Gospel of Luke as accurate. If this was not true they would not record women as the first witnesses, but it was true.
    • One investigates their report (24:12): Peter goes to the tomb to see for himself.[9] John ran with Peter, but reached the tomb first (Jn 20:4).[10] Peter sees the linen wrapping, but Jesus is not in them.
    • Peter goes home marveling at what He saw.
    • Luke 24:13-35 records Jesus visiting the disciples and opening their minds to understanding (see verse 31).
  • Applications:
    • We can have hope because He lives, we too shall live again (1 Cor. 15).
    • 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that over 500 people at the same time saw Jesus resurrected (1 Cor. 15:6). We can have hope that this story is real. This is a real story.
    • The resurrection authenticates everything else about Jesus.
    • We can trust Jesus’ teaching because death could not contain Him.
    • We can trust Jesus’ teaching because He rose as He told them He would (Luke 24:5-8).
    • We can have a relationship with Jesus because He lives.
    • We serve a risen Savior.
    • Since Jesus lives we will live again, but we also live with Him now, remember John 15, He is the Vine, we are the branches.
    • We must trust Him.
    • We must have the faith of these women who did something, they went to the tomb (Luke 24:1).
    • We must be like Peter who marveled at the awesome things of God (Luke 24:12).
      • Do we marvel at the details that God works out in our lives?
      • Do we marvel at our awesome salvation?
      • Do we marvel at answered prayers?
      • Do we worship God?
      • Do we notice all the bad things that God PREVENTS from happening? Or, do we only notice the bad things that happen? Think about how many jets do not crash every day. Think about how many cars do not crash every day. Think about how many things work. Think about the way a baby develops in the womb and marvel about our great God and Savior.  

 In the year 1899, two famous men died in America. One was an unbeliever who had made a career of debunking the Bible and arguing against the Christian doctrines. The other was a Christian. Colonel Ingersoll, after whom the famous Ingersoll lectures on immortality at Harvard University are named, was the unbeliever. His death was sudden and came as an unmitigated shock to his family. His body was kept in the home for several days because Ingersoll’s wife could not bear to part with it; and it was finally removed only because the corpse was decaying and the health of the family required it. At length the remains were cremated, and the display at the crematorium was so dismal that some of the scene was even picked up by the newspapers and communicated to the nation at large. Ingersoll had used his great intellect to deny the resurrection. When death came there was no hope, and the departure was received by his friends and family as an uncompensated tragedy.

In the same year the evangelist Dwight L. Moody died, and his death was triumphant for himself and his family. Moody had been declining for some time, and his family had taken turns being with him. On the morning of his death his son, who was standing by the bedside, heard him exclaim, “Earth is receding; heaven is opening; God is calling.” “You are dreaming, Father,” his son said. Moody answered, “No, Will, this is no dream. I have been within the gates. I have seen the children’s faces.” For a while it seemed as if Moody was reviving, but he began to slip away again. He said, “Is this death? This is not bad; there is no valley. This is bliss. This is glorious.” By this time his daughter was present, and she began to pray for his recovery. He said, “No, no, Emma, don’t pray for that. God is calling. This is my coronation day. I have been looking forward to it.” Shortly after that Moody was received into heaven. At the funeral his family and friends joined in a joyful service. They spoke and sang hymns. They heard the words proclaimed, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55–57). Moody’s death was a part of that victory.

Jesus lives, and so shall I.

Death! thy sting is gone forever!

He who deigned for me to die,

Lives, the bands of death to sever.

He shall raise me from the dust.

Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives and death is now

But my entrance into glory.

Courage, then, my soul, for thou

Hast a crown of life before thee;

Thou shalt find thy hopes were just;

Jesus is the Christian’s Trust.[11]

We have hope, Jesus lives!

We have life, Jesus lives!


[1] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2012.

[2] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:2.

[3] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:3.

[4] Strobel, Lee. The Case for Miracles (p. 199). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[5] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:4.

[6] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:5.

[7] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:6.

[8] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Lk 24:4–8.

[9] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Lk 24:9–12.

[10] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Lk 24:12.

[11] James Montgomery Boice, Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 223–224.

Maundy Thursday 2021

Maundy Thursday 2021

I read the following and I think it is helpful to begin this message:

Do you know where you are going?

The place? Dublin, Ireland. The time? Toward the end of the nineteenth century. The event? A series of blistering attacks on Christianity, especially the “alleged resurrection” of Jesus of Nazareth. The person? Thomas Henry Huxley.

You remember Huxley. Devoted disciple of Darwin. Famous biologist, teacher, and author. Defender of the theory of evolution. Bold, convincing self-avowed humanist. Traveling lecturer.

Having finished another series of public assaults against several truths Christians held sacred, Huxley was in a hurry the following morning to catch his train to the next city. He took one of Dublin’s famous horse-drawn taxis and settled back with his eyes closed to rest himself for a few minutes. He assumed the driver had been told the destination by the hotel doorman, so all he said as he got in was, “Hurry . . . I’m almost late. Drive fast!” The horses lurched forward and galloped across Dublin at a vigorous pace. Before long Huxley glanced out the window and frowned as he realized they were going west, away from the sun, not toward it.

Leaning forward, the scholar shouted, “Do you know where you are going?” Without looking back, the driver yelled a classic line, not meant to be humorous, “No, your honor! But I’m driving very fast!”[1]

Do you know where you are going?

Jesus knew where He was going. Jesus knew His mission.

Traditionally, Maundy Thursday (the English garbled form of the Latin), has been a day to remember the Last Supper, the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal with a kiss, the taking captive of Jesus, and his abandonment by the male disciples— betrayal, desertion, and a threefold denial are the coup d’grace. It is on any showing a somber season.

In Jesus’ life, on Maundy Thursday Jesus shared with the disciples what is called the upper room discourse which is recorded in John chapters 13-17. Included in this is the Last Supper which is the Passover meal. We also find this in the other Gospels. From there Jesus went to a time of prayer at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) prior to being betrayed and handed over to the authorities.

We have already read the passages this evening. Let’s review:

  1. In Matthew 26:20-25 Jesus announces His betrayer.
    • In Matthew 26:20: The Bible says that it was evening and Jesus reclined at the table with the disciples. Jesus announces that one of them will betray Him.
    • In verse 22 the disciples were grieved and each one denied it would be them.
    • In verses 23-24 Judas is named as the betrayer, though he says it would not be him.
    • In the history of Israel, Passover was celebrated both on Thursday and on Friday because the customs in Galilee differed from the customs in Judea. And so, the Lord on Thursday evening celebrates a Galilean Passover Day, and yet there is another Passover Day on Friday which means that Jesus can keep the Passover one day and die during the Passover as the Passover lamb the next day.  And God had arranged history and tradition and custom and circumstance to make that a reality.[2]
    • Remember now, it is after 6:00 on Thursday evening.  Christ will be captured later in the night, brought to a mock trial early in the morning, crucified and He will die at about 3:00 on Friday afternoon.  So, it’s only a matter of hours before His death and they’re eating the Passover meal.  It has to be eaten, you remember, that night.  It has to be eaten before midnight.  It can’t be that anything is left for the morrow.  And so, as we come to verse 20, He is at table with His disciples, preparing to eat the meal.
    • Now, why this final Passover?  
    • Passover was the oldest Jewish institution, older than any other Jewish institution except the Sabbath itself.  
    • For 1,500 years they had celebrated Passover, even before the Aaronic priesthood was instituted, even before all of the Levitical ritual and the giving of the Mosaic Law.  
    • The Passover was very old, very ancient.  
    • And it was ordained by God to be held every year and every devout Jew did it every year. 
    • But now, listen, this Passover, after 1,500-plus years of Passovers, was the last divinely sanctioned and authorized Passover ever held.[3]
  2. In Matthew 26:26-30 we see the Lord’s supper instituted.
    • This is a Passover meal with a lot of symbolism. We cannot get into all of it today. The Passover Meal goes back to Exodus 12:42ff when they left Egypt.
    • One source: The Passover meal was rich with symbolic meaning. Jews ate lamb to commemorate the lamb whose blood protected firstborn Israelites from the death plague before the exodus. Bitter herbs were reminiscent of their enslavement. Unleavened bread symbolized the haste of their departure from Egypt (Ex 12). Jesus invested the meal with new symbolism: the unleavened bread symbolized his own body, which would be torn by scourging and crucifixion. His sacrifice would begin a new exodus in which people were liberated from slavery to sin.[4]
    • Matzoh is unleavened bread and this is a symbol of sin.
    • Matzoh is pierced (in ancient times with an awl and now machine) to keep it from rising. Matzoh is done in stripes.
    • Third cup of wine is the cup of redemption and is red.
    • 4 total cups.
    • This is a metaphor, a symbol of His body, a memorial meal.
    • In verse 26 notice Jesus gives to them and says “take eat, this is My body…” ESV Study Bible: Jesus’ body will be the once-and-for-all fulfillment of the ceremonies surrounding the Passover lamb and other OT sacrifices, as he will become the sacrificial atonement for the sins of the people.[5]
    • In verse 27, He gives them the cup. ESV Study Bible: Most likely the third of four cups at the Passover—the cup of blessing, or the cup of redemption—corresponding to God’s third promise in Ex. 6:6: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.[6]
    • One source: The making of a covenant was normally accompanied by an act of sacrifice. The slaughter of the animal signified the consequences that would befall anyone who broke the covenant. The old covenant was sealed by such a sacrifice (Ex 24:8). Now, Jesus’s sacrifice enacted the new covenant that had been promised in the OT (Jr 31:31–34). In this covenant God vowed to forgive and forget his people’s sins. He also promised to write his law on the hearts of his people so that they will fulfill his righteous demands.[7]
    • Verse 28 He says what the cup is for: for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
    • Jesus’ death established the forgiveness promised in the new covenant of Jer 31:31. Jesus is reinterpreting the symbolism of the Passover meal, indicating the presence of a new era.[8]
    • Jesus is instituting the New Covenant.
    • In verse 29 Jesus says “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
    • This would be the 4th cup which Jesus did not take. He is talking about taking it with them in Rev 19:7ff at the millennial reign.
    • In verse 30 they sing a hymn and head to the Mount of Olives.
  3. In Matthew 26:30-35: Jesus talks about the disciples falling away.
  4. In Matthew 26:36-46 we have Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane.

Following those events Jesus is betrayed and arrested. This He did for us. This was His Maundy Thursday.

Jesus went through this suffering for our salvation. He did this for us.

Remember the story I began with about Huxley? Remember the story about how his driver was driving fast, but the wrong way? Do you know where you are going?

That true story is more than a story. It’s an apt summary not only of the spirit of Huxley and his followers in the nineteenth century but of many in our own day. Great speed, much motion, rapid movement, but an unknown destination. As Rollo May, the contemporary psychologist, once admitted:

It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.

Are you trusting in Jesus’ blood to cover the guilt of your sins? One important distinctive of Christianity is that we do not earn our salvation. We cannot possibly do enough good to cancel out the bad. Instead, we marvel at the fact that Jesus paid the price for our sins. Thank Him today!

That is the institution of the Lord’s Supper, now let us take the Lord’s Supper together.

First, allow special music

Prayer for the bread

Prayer for the juice

Closing song


Taken from Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 1983, 1994, 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com

[2] https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/2383/the-last-passover-part-2

[3] Ibid.

[4] Mark E. Dever, “Church Discipline,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1547.

[5] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1881.

[6] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1881.

OT Old Testament

[7] Mark E. Dever, “Church Discipline,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1547.

[8] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Mt 26:27–28.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem Prepared to be Our Sacrifice (John 12:12-15)

Jesus Enters Jerusalem Prepared to be Our Sacrifice (John 12:12-15)

I like football a lot. I REALLY like football. One thing I like about football is watching the perfect play.  I like to watch the highlight shows, you know those shows that talk about a particular athlete? It used to be NFL films, now it is “A Football Life.” I’ve watched “A Football Life” about Terry Bradshaw twice. It is really neat watching the film of Bradshaw throwing a long pass to Lynn Swann. I have also watched “A Football Life” about Barry Sanders, it is really neat watching him maneuver to get the perfect run. I have watched “A Football Life” about Jim Brown, wow! The highlights of him playing were amazing. I have watched “A Football Life” about Paul Brown, now he is a coach who does not get the recognition he deserves. I have watched many other football shows in addition to the games. One thing about football, the fans love these players when they are winning, but if the game goes wrong they are quick to start booing. Terry Bradshaw retired and then did not enter the Steelers stadium again until the early 2000’s. He brought his daughters with him and he did not know how the fans would react, but they cheered for him. Isn’t it interesting how the fans will boo one moment and cheer the next?

On Palm Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people cheered for Him. They were waiting for a Savior. They were waiting for a King. But on the following Friday He would be crucified. Many believe it was NOT the same crowd that cheered for Him as the crowd that wanted Him crucified, but my point is the same, He was welcomed on Sunday and crucified on Friday.

But, today I want to talk about the why. Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem? Why not stay away. Jesus knew that He would be crucified. He knew (Luke 13:33; Matthew 16:21; 17:22; Mark 8:31). If you knew you would go somewhere and be crucified would you go? Jesus did. Why? He enters Jerusalem and the people love Him. He is later crucified. Jesus entered Jerusalem thinking about us. He did this for us (see Phil 2:3-11).

My theme today:

Jesus entered Jerusalem KNOWING that the cross awaited Him. He did this for the salvation of sinners.

My application:

We must stay focused on Jesus even when persecution, tribulation, or difficulty awaits us.

  • Jesus enters Jerusalem, let’s look at John 12:12-15.

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

  • I am not going to talk a lot about the passage today, instead I am going to focus on applications.
    • We see in the passage that Jesus is entering Jerusalem. A large crowd had gathered for the week of Passover. The feast is Passover.
    • The next day would have been Sunday (cf. v. 1). The great multitude that had come to Jerusalem for the Passover undoubtedly included many pilgrims from Galilee, where Jesus had His greatest following. The crowd evidently surrounded Jesus since Matthew and Mark wrote that there were many people in front of Jesus and many behind Him (Matt. 11:9; Mark 11:9).[1]
    • Allow me to share some background: Those already present in Jerusalem typically welcomed pilgrims to the feast and strewed branches in their path. Palm branches were used at the Feast of Tabernacles but had to be brought from Jericho. They had been one of the nationalistic symbols of Judea since the days of the Maccabees, were consistently used to celebrate military victories and probably stirred some political messianic hopes among the people. “Hosanna” means “O save!”; both this and the next line of verse 9 come from Psalm 118:25–26. Psalms 113–118, called the Hallel, were regularly sung at Passover season, so these words were fresh in everyone’s mind.[2]
    • I like what one source shares: Unfortunately, many in the crowd thought of Jesus only as a political deliverer and not a spiritual Savior. Instead of riding in on a horse like a warrior, Jesus chose a donkey—a burden-bearing animal. OT prophecy had identified the Messiah-King (Zch 9:9; see the comments there) as coming to the daughter of Zion (v. 15; a common OT idiom for the people of Jerusalem) seated on a donkey’s colt. The donkey was also a symbol of peace and humility (2Sm 19:26).[3]
    • Most of us know this story. Most of us have heard it many, many times. Jesus enters Jerusalem. We now begin Holy Week. Jesus will wash the disciples feet in a few days. In between now and Maundy Thursday Jesus will teach as well as anger many of the religious elite. Now, what I want to focus on is the application. Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem?
    • Jesus entered Jerusalem knowing that suffering was ahead of Him. He entered Jerusalem because He was going to the cross. He entered Jerusalem because that is what was necessary.
    • Jesus did NOT avoid His mission. He was always about His Father’s will (Luke 2:49 and many other passages).
    • This is so different from what we do. Oftentimes we take the easiest path.
    • The rest of this message is about applications.
  • We must stay focused on Jesus even when persecution, tribulation, or difficulty awaits us.
    • How much do we care about the salvation of others?
    • It would be easy to apply this as “Stay focused on God’s will even if things are difficult.” But that is not the main reason Jesus went to the cross. Yes, Jesus went to the cross for the Father’s will, but specifically He did this for our salvation.
    • How much do we care about the salvation of others?
    • Are we being intentional thinking about the salvation of others?
    • Like Jesus, we must be willing to go through with situations knowing that we are in God’s will even if suffering is ahead of us.
      • Jesus went to the cross for us our need (Phil 2:3-11). We must also be willing to go through death, or persecution, or difficult times for the need of others.
      • Jesus went to the cross for our salvation. We must be willing to go through persecution, tribulation, and even death for the salvation of others.
    • This must have been very difficult for Jesus. He knew what awaited Him throughout this week, yet He entered Jerusalem.
      • We may know family members or friends who need salvation, but being around them is difficult for us. We can be like Jesus and enter those relationships thinking about the greater need.
      • We may think that our neighbor, or our coworker, or our relative, are our enemy because of our conflicting worldviews, but they are not. They are our mission field. Jesus entered Jerusalem for the mission of the cross.
      • We must be willing to enter what we think of as enemy’s territory for the Gospel.
    • We must be willing to be INTENTIONAL and PURPOSEFUL for the Gospel. Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem knowing that this was His Father’s will.
      • We must seek the Lord’s will and NOT avoid difficult situations.
      • We must pray and seek the Lord’s will knowing that nothing is off limits.
      • Maybe the Lord will call us to serve in overseas missions EVEN in our retirement. I was in the Dominican Republic and met a couple who chose to serve the Lord there during their retirement years.
      • Maybe the Lord will call us to pick one day a week and serve at the Rescue Mission.
      • Maybe the Lord will call us to pick one day a week and serve at the Pregnancy Help Center.
    • Jesus did NOT avoid the most difficult day, and the most difficult week in history. He stayed on mission. We must stay focused on the Lord’s work.
    • We must NOT rely on peace meaning that we are in God’s will.
    • Let me explain the last point. Many times, we think if something is the Lord’s will we will have peace about it. Invert that. Turn it around. Sometimes if it is the Lord’s will you may NOT have peace about it. Sometimes if it is the Lord’s will it will be difficult, but the Lord wants you to depend upon HIM. The Lord wants you to trust Him. The devil wants you to take the easy way out. To be sure, the Lord can give you peace in the midst of difficult times, BUT that is often when we jump into the deeper water and trust Him. Don’t rely on the peaceful, easy feeling. Trust the Lord. Seek Him. Quit taking the easy way out.


In the movie Braveheart, William Wallace had many opportunities to take the easy way out, but he did not. He wanted to die for his cause.

Anyone who has seen the movie knows the major speech he gives halfway through the movie:

A soldier shares with him: “Fight? Against that? No, we will run; and we will live.”

Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!!![4]

In fact, he went through torture yelling “Freedom” knowing that was his mission.

That is a movie based on the legend about a real person. But Jesus was also a real person and He went through to death, on a Roman cross, in order to give us freedom. Jesus gives us freedom from sin. Jesus gives us life everlasting. Jesus gives us abundant life. That is why He went to the cross for us.

Love Him. Worship Him. Serve Him. Live with Him.


[1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 12:12.

[2] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Jn 12:12–13.

OT Old Testament

v. verse

OT Old Testament

[3] John F. Hart, “John,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1642.

[4] https://speakola.com/movie/mel-gibson-freedom-braveheart-1995

We have hope in Christ’s triumph over Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21).

We have hope in Christ’s triumph over Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21).

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21, 2021

J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, coined the term “eucatastrophe,” which means “good catastrophe.” When it looks like a hero is doomed . . . but then the plot turns! The death of Jesus certainly qualifies as a eucatastrophe! As one writer explains, “Jesus’ crucifixion was the most evil event in history, but it secured the redemption of those who believe in Jesus’ substitutionary atonement for their salvation.”

Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for us (and all of humanity) to start over. That is why Paul depicted Him as the new Adam.[1]

My theme is:

We have hope in Christ’s triumph over Adam’s sin.

My application:

Serve Christ out of love for Him. Worship Him for His free gift.

  • Verse 12 gives a nice summary of the passage.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned

  • There is a dash at the end of verse 12 because it is not picked up again until verses 18-19.
    • As we get to this passage we are picking up from the previous section.
    • Notice that verse 12 begins with a therefore and this means that we are making an inference based off of the previous material.
    • Verses 1-11 are all about our reconciliation with God. Verse 10 reads: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
    • So, now Paul is building on this idea.
    • Look at verse 12: sin came into the world through one man, who was that?
    • Sin came into the world through Adam.
    • Death came into the world through sin.
    • In Genesis 3 when sin came into the world they did not die right away, but they all died eventually. In fact, they did die spiritually right away. Also, if you look at the genealogies in Genesis 5, notice the emphasis on death. Notice how it emphasized, “and he died.”
    • Death spread to all men, why? This is because all have sinned (see Romans 3:23; 6:23).
    • In these verses, death is both physical and spiritual. Death in the Bible is always thought of as unnatural. Death is not just a natural part of living.
    • I like how MacArthur says it: Because all humanity existed in the loins of Adam, and have through procreation inherited his fallenness and depravity, it can be said that all sinned in him. Therefore, humans are not sinners because they sin, but rather they sin because they are sinners.[4]
  • History of the sin of Adam leading up to the justification from Christ (Verses 13-17).

for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

  • Verse 13 is interesting. Does it means that they were not accountable for sin before the law? I do not think so.
    • What law is he talking about? He is talking about the law of Moses, the Ten Commandments and everything from Exodus-Deuteronomy.
    • Basically, before the law, there was the moral law. This would be God’s law. There was still the general revelation of right and wrong which God gives to us all. They were still held accountable but based off of God’s moral law.
    • So, they still had the law of God.
    • Verse 14 helps us interpret verse 13.
    • In verse 14 we see that there was still death, which means there was still sin. Death reigned from Adam through Moses. Moses brought about the Ten Commandments and the Law. Yet, before Moses they were still dead spiritually and they died physically. In Romans 2:12 Paul had said that those without the written law are still judged by God. In Genesis 6-9 they all perished in the flood. In Genesis 11:19 people faced judgment at the tower of Babel.
    • Verse 14 continues to show that death reigned even over those who did not sin like Adam sinned. They all sinned, but Adam was the head of the human race and the first one to cross God’s Divine commandment. Further, verse 14 shows that Adam was a type, in other words a foreshadowing of the One, that is Jesus, who was to come.
    • I like how one source shares: In this passage Paul explores the contrasts between the condemning act of Adam and the redemptive act of Christ. They were different in their effectiveness (v. 15), their extent (v. 16), their efficacy (v. 17), their essence (vv. 18, 19), and their energy (vv. 20, 21).[6]
    • In verse 15 Paul continues to build on the free gift of Christ. Verse 15 shows that the condemnation through Adam versus the redemption in Christ were different in their effectiveness.
    • The free gift is not like the trespass… Paul is about to use a “how much more” argument. Many died because of Adam’s trespass, that is Adam’s sin. That means that God’s grace is so very much more.
    • Paul also emphasizes the grace as a free gift.
    • Paul will continue to build on this idea. Paul will build on our great salvation.
    • In verse 16 Paul once again says the gift is not like… Notice how he is contrasting the greatness of the grace of God through Jesus with the death from Adam’s sin. Judgment came through sin. Judgment resulted in condemnation.
    • But through Jesus, through the free gift (it says “free” gift again), from all the transgressions we received justification. This means that we are declared righteous through Jesus. There were all the transgressions, that means to cross a moral or Divine law, all those transgressions came from Adam’s first sin. But through Jesus we are all made righteous.
    • Verse 16 shows that the condemnation through Adam versus the redemption in Christ were different in their extent.
    • In verse 17 we see that death reigned through that first sin, much more the gift of righteousness will reign.
    • Verse 18 shows that the condemnation through Adam versus the redemption in Christ were different in their efficacy. That means Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished His purpose.
  • Contrast of sin of Adam versus obedience through Jesus (Verses 18-21).

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Paul continues to build up his case.
    • He has already stated the case. Now, he is building on it.
    • One trespass, one cross of the law, led to condemnation. So, one act of righteousness, that is Jesus’ obedience to the cross leads to our being declared righteous. He says justification for “all” men, but we know from other Scriptures that this would be all who trust in Jesus for salvation (John 3:16; 14:6; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-10).
    • Again, verse 19 is restating this. The disobedience of Adam versus the obedience of Christ. Humans were made sinners through Adam’s sin because he represented humanity. As stated before, we were all in his loins. But in Christ we can be made righteous.
    • Verse 20 is interesting: the Law came, what law? This is the law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, and with the law our transgressions/sins increased. What does that mean? It means that with the Ten Commandments we now had written culpability/accountability for sin. Verse 20 continues, where sin increased grace abounded all the more. That means that God’s free act of forgiveness through Jesus was given more.
    • This does not mean we should go on sinning, NO! Paul answers that in Romans 6:1. No, this is simply exalting how awesome our salvation is. Sin hurts God. Sin breaks His heart.
    • Verse 21 summarizes this passage and this awesome truth.
    • Sin reigned [ruled] in death. Sin caused death. Grace, that is God’s free gift of salvation, rules through righteousness, that is Jesus’ righteousness, and this gives us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen! Praise God!
  • How do we apply this?
    • To me, this is a worship passage, do I worship Christ for the awesome salvation which He has freely provided.
    • I notice an emphasis on “free gift” in verses 15-16, which is used four times. We would be stuck in our sin except that Christ stepped in and gave us a free gift.
    • Do we try to earn our salvation? We cannot earn our salvation and that is why Jesus gave us the free gift of His righteousness.
    • We must serve and worship Jesus who gives us His grace.

To give today’s passage even more context, re-read the record of the original Adam and the Fall in Genesis 3–4. How were Adam and Eve led to disobey? What were the consequences? What evidence was there that God continued to love them? Rejoice that “as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22)![8]

[1] https://www.todayintheword.org/issues/2019/december-2019/devotions-december-2019/devotion-december-06-2019/

[2] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2166.

[3] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1789.

[4] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 5:12.

OT Old Testament

[5] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1752.

[6] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 5:15–21.

[7] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2167.

[8] https://www.todayintheword.org/issues/2019/december-2019/devotions-december-2019/devotion-december-06-2019/

Assurance of Hope (Romans 5:1-11)

We talked about justification last week, so today we are going to talk about the results of justification.

Recall that justification gives us complete forgiveness, but also gives us Christ’s righteousness. Several years ago, I was working on a roof and got roof tar on my shoes. I liked those shoes but for some time that tar was still sticky on the bottom of the shoes. So, eventually I was told that gasoline would take care of it and that is what I did. I rubbed gasoline on the bottom of the shoes, and it cleared things up. The gasoline made the shoes perfect, like a new pair of shoes. It still happened in time and space, meaning the situation with the roof tar actually did happen, that was not erased, but the gasoline made the shoes pure as if they were a new pair.

In justification we are forgiven, and we receive Christ’s righteousness. We still sinned, but we are right with God because of Jesus.

There are two results of justification that the Bible talks about which I wish to focus on today. Today, we focus on peace with God and reconciliation with God.

Let’s read Romans 5:1-11:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

My theme today is that we have peace with God and reconciliation with God.

  1. First, because of our justification we have peace with God (v. 1).
    • We have so many benefits because of justification. Our salvation is great.
    • Think about “Peace with God.”
    • You see, God does not need peace with us, we need peace with Him. We violated His standard. As a consequence of our sins, we were at war with God. But as a consequence of Christ’s death and resurrection we are at peace. This is awesome.
    • Amen!!!
    • I believe that peace with God goes along with reconciliation, so let’s look at that.
  2. We have assurance of our salvation: verses 4 and 5 bring up the hope which we have in Christ. This means we have assurance of our salvation.
    • This hope comes in two ways. First, our hope comes through our sufferings. Verses 2-4 are written about how suffering builds us up. This is not suffering because your dog ran away, you lost your house, or something like that. Those are life problems which we deal with and they are not easy.
      • This is suffering for Christ specifically. This is persecution. This has to do with people in the Middle East who are Christians and because of this they have lost their homes. That really happens. There are Christians all over the world suffering for Christ.
      • The hope is that after we see how Christ takes care of us one day, one way, we can remember that in the future. Then the next time we are going through a struggle for our faith we can think, “This has happened before, and Christ took care of me.”
    • Secondly, our hope, our assurance, is from the Holy Spirit. God’s love dwells in us by the Holy Spirit. This is a big deal.
      • We must remember the power of the Spirit Who resides in us.
      • So, a Christian has assurance from God.
  3. In verses 6-11, Paul expands on what he has written about in a nice, concise way.
    • Verses 6-8: we aren’t good, and we aren’t righteous, yet Christ died for us.
    • Verses 9-11: we have been justified by Jesus’ blood. We have been saved from His wrath, that is reconciliation. We are saved by Jesus’ life, that is, His death and resurrection.
    • Verse 11: rejoice! We are to rejoice because of this complete salvation. This means sing songs of praise; worship the Lord and boast about the Lord and His goodness. 
  4. Reconciliation with God (v. 11).
    • In these 11 verses every time I see the verb “to justify” I also see Paul talking about reconciliation. In verse 1 Paul is talking about how we have peace with God. Then in verse 9 Paul is talking about how we are saved from God’s wrath. That is really what reconciliation is.
    • Simply put “to reconcile” means to restore friendship or harmony. In Genesis, Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden as friends. But then sin came, and this separated him from God (I am extrapolating this from Gen 3:8-9 and the setting of the Garden of Eden. I am sure I have heard other scholars say this). 
    • Have you ever had a time when you had a dispute with someone? We all have. When we are reconciled with God, God has peace with us. The dispute is gone. God had a dispute with us. He had a rightful dispute with us. We had offended Him. In a Biblical sense we had offended God’s holy law. Verse 6 says that we were ungodly when Jesus died for us. Verse 8 says that we were still sinners when Christ died for us. Verse 10 says because of this we were enemies of God. Ungodly! Sinners! Enemies!
      • We needed reconciliation.
      • We needed to be reconciled to God.
      • We had offended Him. We still offend him.
      • We had, and still do, cross His perfect law.

Many of you know of the hymn Amazing Grace. This was a hymn written By John Newton. John Newton ran a ship of the slave trade during his younger years. After he became a Christian, he was convicted of this; convicted of the brutality and inhumane treatment of the slave trade which he was part of.

John Newton appreciated salvation because he was so convicted of the slave trade ships that he captained in his younger days. This conviction and appreciation came out in his hymns.

In this passage, in Romans Paul shows that our salvation is complete because of the process of justification and reconciliation. This passage also gives us assurance of our salvation. I hope we all realize how desperate we were, how badly we needed salvation. Then, I hope we are challenged to rejoice with Paul in our great salvation.

  • Review Romans:
    • In Romans chapter 1 Paul spent most of the chapter writing about our ungodliness. In verse 18, He says the wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
    • You may say that that is not you. But it is. It is all of us.  
    • Romans 2:1: You, therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things
    • Romans 3:23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
    • We couldn’t be reconciled to God without being justified; however, reconciliation naturally follows justification.
    • Hebrews 4:16 says let us approach the throne of grace with confidence. We can because of reconciliation.
    • Ps 103:12: as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Justification.

Let’s apply this. Every sermon should have encouragement and conviction. Every sermon should have grace and truth. This is because the Word of God gives us encouragement and conviction.

                Are you living as free? Are you living as though you are forgiven by Christ, not only that, are you living with an understanding that you are pure to God, that you are righteous in God’s sight? Are you living knowing that you can approach God’s throne without a human mediator? This is because of justification and reconciliation.

Or, are you trying to earn your salvation? Do you feel like you can’t approach God? Do you have a secret sin? Confess your sins to God. Accept God’s forgiveness and know that you are forgiven. Know that you are more than forgiven; you are pure, righteous, and reconciled to God. Your relationship with God was broken, but it is restored. Many times, we get our self worth from trying to please people and trying to do things. Trouble is, we can never do enough to earn our salvation and make things right with God. But Jesus did it for us. Jesus has accomplished what we couldn’t accomplish. Lean on Him! Stop trying by yourself! Lean on Jesus. Then Jesus will give you the assurance of your salvation.  

  • Our Salvation is complete. Forgiven: our sins are forgiven; our debt is paid by Jesus. Justified: we are righteous in God’s sight. Reconciled: there is no longer a barrier between us and God.


Again, back to our example, John Newton the hymn writer. Recall that John Newton was in charge of a slave ship in his younger years. John Newton was saved, justified, this means he was seen as pure in God’s sight and reconciled to God. So, there was no dividing wall between him and God.

Throughout Newton’s years in ministry, God’s amazing grace remained central to Newton’s thinking. When it was suggested he retire (at age eighty-two!) due to poor health and a failing memory, he responded, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior!”[1]

Amazing grace how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see.

Think about those words. Our salvation is complete, but not complete by what you do, but what Jesus has done. Having faith to believe in Jesus, accept His forgiveness and commit to Him gives you complete salvation. This means you are forgiven of your sins. You are justified, declared righteous by God. You are reconciled to God, no longer being enemies. You have peace with God. You receive the Holy Spirit and have assurance of your salvation.

There is an old hymn by John Newton:

Approach My Soul the Mercy Seat

Approach, my soul, the mercy seat,
Where Jesus answers prayer;
There humbly fall before His feet,
For none can perish there.

Thy promise is my only plea,
With this I venture nigh;
Thou callest burdened souls to Thee,
And such, O Lord, am I.

Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
By Satan sorely pressed,
By war without and fears within,
I come to Thee for rest.

Be Thou my Shield and hiding Place,
That, sheltered by Thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
And tell him Thou hast died!

O wondrous love! to bleed and die,
To bear the cross and shame,
That guilty sinners, such as I,
Might plead Thy gracious Name.

“Poor tempest-tossèd soul, be still;
My promised grace receive”;
’Tis Jesus speaks—I must, I will,
I can, I do believe.


[1] The One Year Book of Hymns. 365 Devotional Readings Based on Great Hymns of the Faith. Compiled and edited by Robert K. Brown and Mark R. Norton; Devotions written by William J. Peterson and Randy Peterson. Tyndale House Publishing, Inc. Wheaton, ILL. 1995. March 17 

Abraham, Our Ancestor, Jews and Gentiles (Romans 4:1-25)

Abraham, Our Ancestor, Jews and Gentiles (Romans 4:1-25)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7, 2021

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7, 2021

I recently re-watched some of the Star Wars movies. In the fourth movie, “A New Hope” Luke Skywalker is introduced. If you watch numbers 4, 5, and 6 Luke is a lot different in “Return of the Jedi” than in “A New Hope.” Luke matures and goes through Jedi training. His Jedi training took a lot of determination. 

How do people change like that?

I submit to you that for the Christian Jesus changes us. Jesus changes us and the change in us is instantaneous when we are saved. When we are saved Jesus gives us His righteousness.

Today, I wish to talk about how Jesus changes us.

I want to talk about “justification.”

Everyone say, “Justification.”

The theme:

Abraham was justified by faith and we can only be justified by faith.

This is a lengthy passage, so today we will only read the first 3 verses and then the last 3 later on.

Read with me Romans 4:1-3:

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 

  • First, let’s talk about justification.
    • In Romans 3:23 the Bible says that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
    • Then Romans 3:24 says that we are justified freely.
    • Romans 6:23 says the same thing.
    • At this point, Romans could almost be complete but Paul is now illustrating that we are justified by faith alone and Jews and Gentiles need Jesus.
    • I talked about justification when I preached through Galatians so some of this is review.
    • So, what is justification? Is it “just-as-if-I-never-sinned”?
    • Not really. Unfortunately, I have used that but there is so much more to justification then that.
    • Justification is a legal term.
    • Justification has two parts:
      1. Forgiveness of sins
      1. Imputed Christ’s righteousness
    • Without forgiveness of sins, we are guilty so this removes the guilt.
    • Imputing Christ’s righteousness takes the wrath of God away from us and makes it so that we can stand before God. Imputing Christ’s righteousness restores our relationship with God.
    • As an example, we stand before the JUDGE— He examines the defendant against the evidence (using omniscience). The judge is God, and He is examining us.
    • He pronounces judgment. Later, will follow the pronouncing of sentence.
    • HIS JUDGMENT = NOT GUILTY by reason of the Atonement of Christ.
    • Rom 4.5  “Justifies the ungodly”
    • The definition of justification is To Declare Righteous
    • NOT, To Make Righteous (Sanctification, and finally glorification).
    • Therefore, your right standing is a declaration of the judge, not the result of your actually being good.
    • Forgiveness of sins:
    • Forgiveness of Sins

Romans 4:8

         “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

  • Negative Side – clearing away
    • Imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

Rom 3.21-22:  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith inJesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile…

Positive Side – the merit of God’s son.

  • Justification implies a freedom from guilt.
    • Not that we were not guilty, but that we have been freed from its condemnation (Rom 8:1).
    • The forgiveness of sins by confession (1 Jn 1.9) should be fully accepted.  To do less implies an ineffective atonement.
    • “Go and sin no more”  (John 8).
    • Implication: God receives me as he would his own son (Heb 4.16).
    • So, that is justification.
    • Isn’t that awesome! We are not just forgiven! We are declared righteous in a legal way.
  • Example Abraham and his faith
    • In verse 3 we have the quote from Gen. 15:6: Abraham believed God and it was credited to Him as righteousness. Abraham was justified by his faith.
    • This was a big deal because the Jews would have thought Abraham was right with God because of circumcision, but as verses 9-12 say the justification happened prior to the seal of circumcision.
    • Abraham was justified some 14 years prior to circumcision.
    • The chronology of Genesis proves Paul’s case. Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (Gen. 16:16), and Abraham was 99 when he was circumcised. But God declared him righteous before Ishmael had even been conceived (Gen. 15:6; 16:2–4)—at least 14 years before Abraham’s circumcision.”
    • We are grafted in. Look at verses 23-25: 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.


How do people change? How do Christians change? The first step is accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. The first step is surrendering to Him. God will take it from there, if we surrender to Him.

This passage is not about Abraham but about God. God transforms people!

Have you been transformed? Is that worth sharing?

Go and share it!

Go and worship that you are not just forgiven but you are righteous.

No One Is Good, We All Need Jesus (Romans 3:9-20)

No One Is Good, We All Need Jesus (Romans 3:9-20)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21, 2021

Mercedes is just over 9 years old now, and so over the last 9 years God has drastically changed how I view things. Having two young children means that when I hear about crimes involving children, I want to go ballistic. I cannot tolerate the thought of how someone would harm a child.

What makes someone bad? What makes someone wrong? What disqualifies someone from good? Romans 3:9-20 discusses this.

Romans 3:9-20:

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

My theme and application is:

We must recognize that no one measures up to God’s standard. We all need Jesus.

Our sin nature causes wrong desires, wrong speech, wrong paths, and wrong vision.

This is the end of the first section of Romans and Paul ends with Scripture. This is all a quote from the Old Testament. Paul was writing to a primarily Gentile congregation, so he concluded (rather than began) his argument with an appeal to Scripture. Contrast the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who took the opposite approach when he addressed a primarily Jewish readership. The collection of passages Paul used, both affirmed the universality of sin (vv. 10-12), and showed its pervasive inroads into all areas of individual and corporate life (vv. 13-18).

  • My first point is that we as humans have wrong desires.
    • The text says that none of us will seek after good. We just won’t do that. Now we know that as Christians we can seek good because of the precious gift of the Holy Spirit. That is the only way.
    • It is true that people can be good and not be Christian. But there is a difference between doing good and being righteous. One sin separates us from God. This is like one drop of cyanide killing someone.
    • John 3:12 talks about Nicodemus not understanding how you can be born again. Think about a time when you couldn’t understand something. Jesus says you can’t understand the spiritual things without the Holy Spirit.
    • Notice verse 9: Paul says that the Jews are not better off. He is saying that they are not better off than the gentiles.
    • Then verses 10: “no one is righteous…” This is from Ps 14:1–3; 53:1–3.
    • What do we seek after? What are we raised with as people in western culture? We are raised with the goal of a job, a spouse, kids, etc. None of these are bad, but we must think about God’s will.

Pastor Timothy Keller paraphrases an analogy originally used by C.S. Lewis (in his book Mere Christianity) to demonstrate the nature of sin in our hearts.

Now if you want to know if there are rats in your basement, you don’t walk to your basement door, clear your throat, and say, “I think I’ll go down and see if there are rats in my basement,” then jiggle the knob, open the door and in a very leisurely way turn on the light, clear your throat, and walk down the steps loudly and slowly. When you get to the bottom you look around and say, “Well, what do you know: I have no rats in my basement.”

If you want to know if you have rats in your basement, you sneak up to the door, silently open the door, flick on the switch, jump to the bottom of the steps, and look around and they’ll all be scurrying away. And then you’ll know if you have rats.

Based on this analogy, Lewis wrote:

The excuse [for most of my sinful moments] that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard [like a rat who didn’t get enough warning] … Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?[1]

Application: Recognize your wrong desires.

We must as Christians help people to understand. We must pray for God’s leading and the Holy Spirit’s conviction.

  • We as humans have wrong speech. Our throats are open graves.  This is verses 13-14.
    • Just think how many of us have been hurt by words?
    • At this point Paul is quoting from Psalm 5:9 and Psalm 10:7.

The next section shows that humans have wrong paths.

  • In verses 15-17: Humans are on the wrong path.
    • Verses 15-17 come from Isaiah 59:7-8.
    • Our feet are swift to shed blood, is that true?
    • Ruin and misery are in our paths.
  • In 2009, I was serving as an associate pastor. The main part of my job was youth and children’s ministry. On one particular evening we were going to have a children’s lock-in at the church. I arrived at the church early to do some setup. Our church had an office building next door. I looked up at the office and saw an upstairs door opened. I entered the building and heard people in the basement. I walked down there and saw two kids, around 13 and 14 years old, playing with a fire extinguisher. These young teenagers broke into the church office building at about 5:00 pm on a Friday in the summer. Interestingly enough, when I spoke with them, they said the door was opened. I said that the police may want to talk with them. I called the police and a trustee from the church. They did not run, they waited for the police. The police spoke with them and had me go down to the office and write-up a statement. The police asked me, “How did you get them to stay?” I said that I told them the police may want to talk to them and they stayed.
    • What makes young teenagers do such a thing?
    • Sin, sin causes us to do these things.
    • We need redeemed.
    • As a follow-up to the story, the following Monday the father of one of the kids called me and left me a message. I thought, “Great, he is going to say my kid would not do that!” I was so wrong. He owned up to it and wanted his son to serve volunteer hours. Over the next few weeks, he and his son came to the church to volunteer. He told me that he had adopted the child and they had some disciplinary issues. I went to court for both boys and the judge ordered the other young man to serve volunteer hours, but since the one already had served, he was cleared at that point.
  • MacArthur shares: The expression rendered “devastation and destruction” or “ruin and misery” literally means “shattering calamity.” The idea is more than mere wretchedness (though it certainly includes that.) It signifies actual, painful, physical suffering. And there’s no denying that man-made calamity and self-inflicted misery have always been at the center of human experience. In his classic commentary on Romans, early nineteenth-century Scottish commentator Robert Haldane wrote, “The most savage animals do not destroy so many of their own species to appease their hunger, as man destroys of his fellows, to satiate his ambition, his revenge, or cupidity [inordinate greed].” [1] As Paul summarizes, “The path of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:17).[2]
    • We do not know the path of peace.
    • I was in a cornfield maze once and got lost. For a few hours the group I was with thought we would never get out of that maze. If you are not seeking and following after God you are on the wrong path, just like I was. You may search for hours and get nowhere.

We as Christian must guide the world to the right path.

  • Humans have the wrong vision: look at verse 18:
    • This comes from Psalm 36:1.
    • There is no fear of God before their eyes. This means they do not have a fear or a reverence of God.
    • Do we fear God?
    • Do we desire to follow God?
    • In this case to fear means to revere which has the idea of extreme respect.
    • If we revere God, we honor Him. Do we honor Him?

But what about the law? Doesn’t that make humans righteous?

  • Romans 3:19-20 answers the question about the law. Does the law make us righteous?
    • Verse 20 answers the question. Through the law no human being will be justified. To be justified means made righteous. The law gives us knowledge of sin.
    • We needed someone to fulfill the law and redeem us and that was Jesus.


Can we fix ourselves?

In 2006, Yoko Ono placed a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for December 8—the anniversary of John Lennon’s death—to be made a global day of healing.

“One day we will be able to say that we healed ourselves,” Ono promised, “and by healing ourselves, we healed the world.”[3]

As I look at the world, it is just getting worse.

We need Jesus.     

Around 17 years ago there was a woman that I worked with at McDonalds. She was another manager just like me. One day she didn’t show up to work. We all thought she probably found another job and that was her way of quitting. We didn’t think much of it because another manager had done that in the past. Then just a couple days after that had happened the police found the body of a woman in a dumpster. The police called on McDonalds because her tie was on the blanket she was wrapped in. The person who killed her had thrown her in the dumpster and tried to burn the dumpster.

The day this came out on the news it was very difficult for many of us at McDonalds. Many were crying at work. I was thinking about my last conversation with her. We were friends and got along good. However, the last day I worked with her was a busy spring Saturday. She came in at 3:00 PM and I had been there since 4:30 AM. I was ready to go; however, she forgot her glasses and  had to go home to get them. I tried not to let her until one of the other managers got in. When someone dies close to you it makes you think about things.

We all thought many different things during that situation. We all agreed on one thing: The person who did this was evil, bad, wrong, sinful! How could he???????? She was such a nice person. She was innocent, sweet, loving, kind! He was bad!!!!

This passage teaches us that we all need a Savior. We may not all be killers, but we all need a Savior, and His name is Jesus.


[1] Timothy Keller, Sermon, “The Two Great Tests” (1-23-2005); Submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky


[3] “Good Week for…All Humanity,” The Week (12-8-06), p. 4

God’s Righteousness Upheld (Romans 3:1-8)

Many years ago, I was talking with someone about what ethnic group had faced more than any other ethnic group. What ethnic group faced more hardship, more genocide, more slavery, etc. The person I was talking with thought the African Americans have faced more than anyone else. I admit that it is true that the African Americans have faced unbearable crimes against them. They were enslaved in the American colonies starting in 1619 and going until 1865. They faced another 100 years of systemic racism, and of course other issues since. I cannot imagine having my children ripped from me for the purpose of slavery. I cannot imagine being taken across the Atlantic Ocean to be a slave. I cannot imagine what went on with the slave trade. John Newton wrote Amazing Grace because he ran a slave trade ship. He recognized how hurtful his sin was and how great God’s grace on him was. Still, I do not think the African Americans faced more than any other ethnic group. I think the Jewish people faced the most. What advantage was there, or is there, in being Jewish? That is a question Paul begins to answer in Romans 3.

But, what advantage is there in being Jewish? Listen to this history of the Jewish people.

They were menial slaves in Egypt for some 400 years

They eventually are freed and take the promised land. They eventually face a divided kingdom and then they are conquered. They soon are sent back to the promised land.

Not long after they rebuilt their homeland, they were conquered by Greece, and the despotic Antiochus Epiphanes revelled in desecrating their Temple, corrupting their sacrifices, and slaughtering their priests. Under Roman rule they fared no better. Tens of thousands of Jewish rebels were publicly crucified, and under Herod the Great scores of male Jewish babies were slaughtered because of his insane jealousy of the Christ child. In the year a.d. 70, the Roman general Titus Vespasian carried out Caesar’s order to utterly destroy Jerusalem, its Temple, and most of its citizens. According to Josephus, over a million Jews of all ages were mercilessly butchered, and some 100,000 of those who survived were sold into slavery or sent to Rome to die in the gladiator games. Two years previously, Gentiles in Caesarea had killed 20,000 Jews and sold many more into slavery. During that same period of time, the inhabitants of Damascus cut the throats of 10,000 Jews in a single day.

In a.d. 115 the Jews of Cyrene, Egypt, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia rebelled against Rome. When they failed, Emperor Hadrian destroyed 985 towns in Palestine and killed at least 600,000 Jewish men. Thousands more perished from starvation and disease. So many Jews were sold into slavery that the price of an able-bodied male slave dropped to that of a horse. In the year 380 Emperor Theodosius I formulated a legal code that declared Jews to be an inferior race of human beings—a demonic idea that strongly permeated most of Europe for over a thousand years and that even persists in many parts of the world in our own day.

For some two centuries the Jews were oppressed by the Byzantine branch of the divided Roman empire. Emperor Heroclitus banished them from Jerusalem in 628 and later tried to exterminate them. Leo the Assyrian gave them the choice of converting to Christianity or being banished from the realm. When the first crusade was launched in 1096 to recapture the Holy Land from the Ottoman Turks, the crusaders slaughtered countless thousands of Jews on their way to Palestine, brutally trampling many to death under their horses’ hooves. That carnage, of course, was committed in the name of Christianity.

In 1254 King Louis IX banished all Jews from France. When many later returned to that country, Philip the Fair expelled 100,000 of them again in 1306. In 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain even as Columbus began his first voyage across the Atlantic, and four years later they were expelled from Portugal as well. Soon most of western Europe was closed to them except for a few areas in northern Italy, Germany, and Poland. Although the French Revolution emancipated many Jews, vicious anti-Semitism continued to dominate most of Europe and parts of Russia. Thousands of Jews were massacred in the Ukraine in 1818. In 1894, because of growing anti-Semitism in the French army, a Jewish officer named Dreyfus was falsely accused of treason, and that charge was used as an excuse to purge the military of all Jews of high rank.

When a number of influential Jews began to dream of reestablishing a homeland in Palestine, the Zionist movement was born, its first congress being convened in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. By 1914, some 90,000 Jews had settled in Palestine. In the unparalleled Nazi holocaust of the early 1940s at least 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated, this time for racial rather than religious reasons.[1]

Christianity is not about ethnicity, but the Apostle Paul is going to talk about that subject today.

My theme today:

God’s Righteousness is Upheld, God is righteous as a judge, even while we are sinners.

My application:

Remember Jesus is the righteous judge.

  • What advantages are there in being of a Jew or being circumcised (Romans 3:1-2)?

Read with me Romans 3:1-2:

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

  • In this chapter the Apostle Paul answers questions. He uses a rhetorical device called a diatribe in which he has an imaginary conversation with his readers. We will read and study three questions today.
    • Paul asks the question. Remember the previous chapter was pretty much saying that the Jews are not excused. The Apostle Paul focused on the gentiles in chapter 1. In chapter one the Apostle Paul focused on how the gentiles do all these vile sins. Then in chapter 2 Paul zooms in on the Jewish people. They thought they were okay. Paul says that they are not okay. They need the Gospel as well. Paul says that they need a circumcision of the heart. Paul had just argued that a gentile can be a true Jew. So now he answers the logical question of what advantage it is to be a Jew in ethnicity.
    • In verse 2 Paul responds regarding the advantage of the Jew.
    • The Jewish people were entrusted with the Law.
    • The Jewish people were privileged. The Lord communicated to them, and called them out, and blessed them to bless the nations (Deut 4:8; Ps 147:19; Rom 9:4;[2]Genesis 12).
    • We must never forget the privilege of certain positions the Lord places us in.
    • Likewise, we know the Gospel and we should take it to heart and share with others.
  • Will Israel’s unfaithfulness nullify God’s promises (Romans 3:3-4)?

Read with me Romans 3:3-4:

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

  • The question is posed in verse 3. Remember in the previous chapter Paul talked about the unbelief of some. Paul talked about Jews that were Jews outwardly only.
    • Paul answers in verse 4a. God is true no matter what. God is true.
    • Paul strongly rejects their thinking.
    • MacArthur: If all mankind were to agree that God had been unfaithful to His promises, it would only prove that all are liars and God is true.[5]
    • Paul answers from Psalm 51:4 in 4b.
    • The quote in verse 4 is from the time when David is repenting from his sin with Bathsheba. David is saying that God is justified when He judges.
    • That is most critical to remember right now. God is a just judge.
    • Our sin is first against God.
  • If our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness, isn’t He unfair to punish us (Romans 3:5-8)?

Let’s read verses 5-8:

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

  • The question is in verse 5.
    • Paul is considering a false implication. He is using a literary device called a diatribe.[7] The ESV Study Bible shares: Paul does not provide a full answer to the objection here (for that, see chs. 9–11). He shows that the Jewish objector’s position is untenable, for then God could not judge the (Gentile) world either, and no evil behavior would be punished.[8]
    • This question is important, and Paul will come back to a similar idea in Romans 9.
    • Remember that at the end of Romans 3:5 Paul says that he is speaking in human terms. This is a parenthetical apology for blasphemous thoughts of God as unjust.
    • In Romans 7:7 Paul says the law shows us that we are sinners.
    • The reply is in verses 6-8.
    • In verse 6: Paul says that He, God, has to judge the world. Paul uses a reductio ad absurdum argument. This means that he reduces the argument to the absurd. Of course God is the righteous judge. It is absurd to think God cannot judge.
    • Paul strongly rejects this thinking.
    • Paul says that if you follow that kind of thinking you might as well think the more you sin the better it is. Paul has been falsely accused of teaching this very thing—that is, do evil that good may result.[9] Paul strongly rejects this idea. See also Romans 6:1-2.
    • Verses 7-8 seem to be a rhetorical question trying to get them to think logically.
    • Those who say such things deserve to be condemned. They deserve condemned for the things they says that Paul says.
  • Applications: We must understand that there were advantages to ethnic Israel in that the Messiah our Savior, came through Israel (verses 1-2).
  • We must understand that there is a purpose for Israel based on Romans 11 and other passages (verses 1-2 and Romans 11).
  • We must understand that God is faithful (verses 3-4).
  • We must trust the Lord as faithful.  
  • We must understand that God is true (verse 4).
  • We must worship the Lord as the faithful One.
  • We must surrender before Him (Rev 4:8-11).
  • We must understand that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but by Him (John 14:6).
  • We must trust Jesus for salvation.
  • We must trust Jesus for our day-to-day life.
  • When all the reports on the news say something different and we do not know who to trust, we must know that Jesus is truth.
  • When the medical advice changes, we must know that Jesus is truth.
  • When government leaders are not trustworthy, we must know that Jesus is the truth.
  • Jesus is the Truth and He is the way to salvation, we can trust Him. He is a righteous judge (Psalm 51:4), we will not be falsely accused, or misrepresented.
  • We can be saved forever through Him.
  • We must never sin that grace may abound (verses 5-8 and Romans 6:1-2).We must seek to grow and serve the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:18).

So, as we can see the Apostle Paul begins to make the argument that God is a just judge. Further, that even if we are all liars it just shows that we are liars and God is the righteous judge. Don’t we yearn for that? Don’t we desire a righteous judge?

Have you surrendered to Him? Are you seeking Jesus?  


[1] John F. MacArthur Jr., Romans, vol. 1, MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 164–165.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[3] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 3:2.

chap. chapter

[4] Edwin A. Blum, “Romans,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1784.

[5] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 3:4.

[6] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1747.

[7] A Graeco-Roman literary style characterized by a question-and-answer structure; used in much literature of the period, including New Testament letters (especially Paul’s). (David L. Woodall, “Diatribe,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

TIC That Incredible Christian)

[8] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2161.

[9] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ro 3:8.

God’s Judgment and the Law (Romans 2:12-29, specifically 12)

God’s Judgment and the Law (Romans 2:12-29, specifically 12)

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, February 6 and Sunday, February 7, 2021

Think with me for a moment about justice:

The traditional view of justice is the picture of the blindfolded statue with the scales in hand, trying to weigh out equity without being influenced by the appearance of anyone.  This idea that justice is blind simply means that justice does not want to take into account anyone’s looks or anyone’s position in life or anything other than the truth itself. 

Years ago in ancient Greece and Rome, justice was pictured not only with eyes that were blindfolded but with no hands, so that justice could not see and justice could not receive.  It could not choose on the basis of appearance and it could take no bribes.  It could not be bought. 

There’s an ancient story of a man who, in spite of all of the passions of a father, had to pass the death sentence on his own two sons for he was the leader of his country and his sons had conspired to overthrow the government.  According to the historian, the youth stood before the man, who was named Brutus the Elder, and they pleaded and they wept and they hoped their tears would be the most powerful defense with a loving father.  The men who sat behind the ruler whispered, “What will he do?  These are his children.”  He said, “To you, the executioners, I deliver my sons.”  And the historian wrote, “In this sentence he persisted inexorable, notwithstanding the weeping intercession of the multitude and the cries of the young men calling upon their father by the most endearing names.  The executioner seized them, stripped them naked, bound their hands behind them, beat them with rods, and then struck off their heads, the inexorable Brutus looking on the bloody spectacle with unaltered countenance.  Thus, the father was lost in the judge.” 

That may be a good picture of how it will be someday with God, who offers Himself as a loving father, but someday the father will be lost in the judge.  And God’s justice is even more inexorable.  God always does what is just.  In Leviticus 19:15, God indicts the people in anticipation, as it were, of their sins of injustice, which will become a part of their life.  He says, “You shall do no injustice in judgment.  You shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.  You shall have just balances, just weights, and a just ephah” – ephah was a measure of grain – “and a just hin” – another form of measure.  “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” [1]

So, as we think about justice let’s let those thoughts stir us as we think about our salvation.

Someday God’s wrath on sin will be manifested and none of us are ready for that. In Romans 2:11 the Bible says that there is no partiality with God.

God is the just judge.

Does anyone get a free pass into Heaven?

Actually, we all do, every one of us…

However, we do not get into heaven based off of birth, country of origin, culture, etc.

So, I want us to look at Romans 2:12 and my theme is everyone needs Jesus.

Here is a personal application:

We don’t get into Heaven simply based off of being “Raised in the Church.” In other words, God does not have grandchildren.

Let’s look at this. We are covering a large section of Romans today so I am only going to have us read Romans 2:12. I will summarize the rest. Still, please turn to this passage in your Bibles so that you can follow along.

Read with me Romans 2:12:

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

God will be a just judge, there is no partiality with God. We see this in verses 11-13.

We don’t get into Heaven simply based off of being “Raised in the Church.”

I said this already but allow me to elaborate. At some age we must make our faith our own. I believe strongly that some never make their faith their own. Some are still committed to Jesus based off of their parent’s faith, grandparents, or even further back in their heritage. We cannot be saved because of a tradition.

So, your children are raised, and they see that you are committed to the church mainly once a week and maybe a board meeting here and there, but your commitment to Christ is no different than a commitment to a social club. Your children see that you do not open your Bible during the week or spend time in prayer. Your children see that you don’t attend Bible studies, or the deeper things of the church. Your children see that you laugh at the idea of attending Sunday School, yet then you wish to witness. As one church member shared with me:

But it is more than simply not attending Sunday School, it is so much more.  It is being indifferent and having no interest in growing spiritually, no interest in getting to really know Jesus, no interest in working to become the person Christ wants you to be, no devotion to God.  It is believing the lie that, “I go to church and I do this or that for the church and I believe in God … so I’m okay.”  NO!  That is not what the Bible teaches.

The point is that Jesus has to be EVERYTHING to us.  He has to mean more than life to us.  Our only hope is Jesus and the grace He has so freely given us.  So, it’s not about church, Sunday School, good deeds – all good things, yes,  – but it is all about Jesus owning our lives.  It’s about Jesus owning our time, owning our resources, everything we are, everything we have really belonging to Jesus.[2]

People may see that you are committed to a history of religion, not a relationship with Jesus.

You are committed to a history of religion, not a relationship with Jesus.

I know this because I see it to often and in my family.

Then you wonder why your kids don’t go to church.

How does this fit into this passage?

The Jews thought they got a free ticket into Heaven by simply keeping the law.

The Jews thought they got a free ticket into Heaven because they were circumcised.

The Jews thought they got a free ticket into Heaven because they were Jewish.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is why verse 11 says God is not partial.

Just because you are Jewish does not mean that you are Heaven bound.

Or, just because you were baptized as a baby, or dedicated, or raised in the church, or serve on a board, or team, or teach Sunday School, or whatever else does not mean you are Heaven bound.

So verse 12: For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

The Gentiles are without the law and that is how they will be judged.

The Jewish people have the law and that is how they will be judged.

Later in verses 17-24 Paul turns his attention to the sinfulness of the people of God.

Then in verses 25-29 he focuses on the circumcision.

Many of you know that being circumcised was very important in Judaism. In that day and age the Jewish people would think they had a free pass to Heaven because of circumcision.

One source shares: Some later rabbis even taught that Abraham sat at the entrance to Gehenna (“hell”) and would not permit any circumcised Jew to enter there. By implication, the way you lived made no difference. In a similar way, some Christian groups have believed that the rite of baptism saves, and so baptism was delayed until the end of life to make sure all sins were “washed.” But Paul declared that circumcision (and by extension, baptism) without obedience is empty. Furthermore, Abraham was a man of faith who was accepted by God long before he was circumcised (Gn 15:1–20). The true Jew is one who has a spiritual circumcision … of the heart.[3]

Circumcision is of no value if you do not practice the law.

 Verse 26: if the uncircumcised man practices the law it is as if he is circumcised.

Verses 27-29 are saying that circumcision and being a Jew is about the heart.

We see that God is the just judge. God is impartial and we all need Jesus.

This fits with the overall theme of Romans. Romans is all about salvation. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Where are you at?

Are you committed to Jesus?

Share Jesus with everyone.

I shared the following in the past, allow me to repeat it.

Walking Down the “Romans Road” to Salvation . . . .

Because of our sin, we are separated from God.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)

The Penalty for our sin is death.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

The penalty for our sin was paid by Jesus Christ!
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

If we repent of our sin, then confess and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sins!
For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13)
…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 
(Romans 10:9,10)[4]

Go and share the Gospel:


[1] http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/45-20A/principles-of-gods-judgment-part-4a

[2] Member of a past church I served shared this with me

[3] Edwin A. Blum, “Romans,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1784.

[4] http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/about/becoming_a_christian.aspx

God’s Impartial Judgment (Romans 2:1-11)

God’s Impartial Judgment (Romans 2:1-11)

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, January 30 and Sunday, January 31, 2021

In 2001, Tim Goeglein started running the White House Office of Public Liaison, providing him almost daily access to then President George Bush for seven years. Then it all ended abruptly on February 29, 2008. A well-known blogger revealed the startling fact that 27 out of 39 of Goeglein’s published articles had been plagiarized. By mid-afternoon the next day, Goeglein’s career in the White House was over. 

Goeglein, who admitted his guilt, said that this began “a personal crisis unequaled in my life, bringing great humiliation on my wife and children, my family, and my closest friends, including the President of the United States.” 

Goeglein was summoned to the White House to face the President. Once inside the Oval Office, Goeglein shut the door, turned to the President and said, “I owe you an…”

President Bush simply said: “Tim, you are forgiven.” 

Tim was speechless. He tried again: “But sir…” 

The President interrupted him again, with a firm “Stop.” Then President Bush added, “I have known grace and mercy in my life, and you are forgiven.” 

After a long talk, a healing process was launched for Goeglein, which included repentance, reflection, and spiritual growth. “Political power can lead to pride,” Goeglein later reflected. “That was my sin. One hundred percent pride. But offering and receiving forgiveness is a different kind of strength.
That’s the kind of strength I want to develop now.[1] 

Have you been forgiven? Are you trusting in Jesus and His work on the cross for your salvation?

I have some honest questions for you:

  1. When it comes to salvation, does God favor a certain cultural group?
  2. When it comes to salvation, is one more likely to be saved if they live a moral life?
  3. When it comes to salvation, is one more likely to be saved if they have not committed certain sexual sins?
  4. What do you believe and how do you live?

We are going to look at a Bible passage that teaches that everyone needs salvation. There is no partiality with God. I think most of you believe that, but I am concerned that many do not live that way. I think many think God favors the moral person. In other words, many may think that as long as you do not commit certain sins God favors you. I think many may think that God favors Americans, or another country. To be clear, Israel was, and remains, God’s chosen people. But this meant that the Savior came through Israel and God still has a purpose for that country. Everyone needs salvation through the cross.

We are walking through Romans and we come to Romans 2. Let’s read Romans 2:1-11 and my theme is the following:

God’s impartial judgment

My application is:

Repent and live for Jesus, then share the Gospel with others

Romans 2:1-11:

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

Remember the context

This passage is the second chapter of Romans.

Romans is Paul’s great treatise on salvation.

In the book of Romans Paul is writing about how we are saved, and who needs to be saved, and the extent of salvation.

In verse 1, Paul addresses some who think they are okay.

Paul addresses people who think they are okay because they are Jewish or practice a moral law.

Paul had just given this litany of sins (Romans 1:18-32) and now he tells them that they are without excuse.

They practice the same things.

It seems as though in Romans 1, Paul is addressing the Gentiles and now he is addressing the Jewish people. There are different views on this. Some think he is now addressing the gentile moralist. That would mean one who teaches a moral law.

One source points out, The NIV misses the force by translating simply “You.” The exclamatory is used to express emotion (BDF , par. 146.1b). “You, sir!” would supply the vitality inherent in the phrase.

MacArthur shares: Having demonstrated the sinfulness of the immoral pagan (1:18–32), Paul presents his case against the religious moralist—Jew or Gentile—by cataloging six principles that govern God’s judgment: 1) knowledge (2:1); 2) truth (v v. 2–3); 3) guilt (v v. 4–5); 4) deeds (v v. 6–10); 5) impartiality (v v. 11–15); and 6) motive (v. 16).[4]

Now, in verses 1b-4 Paul says they do the same things as Paul had written about in Romans 1:18-32.

In the second half of verse 1 Paul says that they do the same things.

One writes: We are reminded of the encounter between David and the prophet Nathan (2 Sam 12:1–14). David agreed that the rich man who killed the poor man’s pet lamb deserved to die. But having passed judgment on another, he quickly learned from Nathan that he had judged himself. “You are the man!” declared the prophet. You have taken the lamb (Bathsheba) of the poor man (Uriah) for your own pleasure. In judging another, you have judged yourself. God’s judgment is based on truth. It is impartial and makes no distinction between rich and poor, king or pauper.[8]

Jesus talked about this in Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37

In verse 2 Paul says that God’s judgment rightly falls on those who practice such things. What things? I think this is going back to Romans 1:18-32.

In verse 3: it seems as though there were some who were very hard on others. These may have been Jewish people hard on the Gentiles.

Paul asks them if they think they will escape the judgment of God.

They think because they are moral, or because they are Jewish, they are okay.

But we all need salvation.

The Jewish people would usually be more moral, they would usually not commit much of the sins in Romans 1:18-32, but they still need a Savior.

In verse 4 we see God’s kindness leads to repentance.

Notice the three words in verse 4: “kindness,” “forbearance,” and “patience.” These are riches from God.

In verses 5-11 we see the contrast between the non-believer and the believer.

We see the contrast between the person trusting Jesus and not trusting Jesus.

Notice they have a “hard” and “impenitent” heart.

They are storing up wrath.

verse 5: they are unrepentant. They are storing up wrath for themselves.

Paul is as hard on them as he was on the gentiles and their litany of sins.

They are storing up wrath. There is also a reference to the day of judgment.

Paul says that they have a “stubborn” or “hard” heart. About that word MacArthur shares: The English word “sclerosis” (as in arteriosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries) comes from this Greek word. But here the danger is not physical, but spiritual hardness (Ezek. 36:26; Matt. 19:8; Mark 3:5; 6:52; 8:17; John 12:40; Heb. 3:8, 15; 4:7).[10]

Paul says that their heart is hard and “impenitent” or “unrepentant.” Again, MacArthur shares: A refusal to repent (cf. Rom. 2:4) and accept God’s pardon of sin through Jesus Christ.[11]

They are storing up more wrath through their unrepentance. The day of judgment refers to the final judgment that comes at the great white throne at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:11-15).

verse 6 is from Psalm 62:12; also Matthew 16:27.

Some think this is teaching salvation by works. That is not true, we are saved by faith, but we are saved unto good works (Eph. 2:10).

I like what Mounce writes:…But in the immediate context Paul was not teaching how we are made right with God but how God judges the reality of our faith. Faith is not an abstract quality that can be validated by some spiritual test unrelated to life. God judges faith by the difference it makes in how a person actually lives. A. M. Hunter is right in saying that “a man’s destiny on Judgment Day will depend not on whether he has known God’s will but on whether he has done it.”77 That is why Jesus taught that those who respond to the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner will be rewarded with eternal life; but those who fail in these down-to-earth tasks will “go away to eternal punishment” (Matt 25:31–46).[12]

Beginning in verse 6 we see a contrast between the redeemed and the unredeemed. The redeemed are in verses 7 and 10 and the unredeemed are in verses 8 and 9. We are not saved by works, but we are saved unto good works (Eph. 2:10). The deeds of the redeemed are evidence of salvation, not what saves them.

This is called an ABBA chiastic structure.

verse 7 is about the redeemed:

Paul gives quite a list of nouns that are received by persevering to the end. If the redeem persevere they receive:




eternal life

There is an emphasis on perseverance of the saints not easy believism.

This is Paul’s first mention of “eternal life” in Romans. It is life that is qualitatively different from the life of this present age.[13]

Verses 8-9 are written about unbelievers. Verses 8-9 show what happens to the person who does not persevere, the non-believers.  

These are those who are selfishly ambitious or “self-seeking” about that Greek term, MacArthur shares: This word may have originally been used to describe a hireling or mercenary; someone who does what he does for money regardless of how his actions affect others.[14]

These are unbelievers, they do not obey the truth, but unrighteousness. They will experience God’s wrath and fury.

Verse 9 shares that they will face tribulation and distress. This goes to the Jew first, but also the Greek.

verse 10 brings back the contrast to the positive.

Now, we are back to the believers. This is about perseverance and doing good. The believers will experience glory and honor and peace, again, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. These are repeated from verse 7 except “peace” replaces “immortality” and “eternal life.”

We must persevere: Remember the Child’s Toy that’s a big vinyl doll with a heavy round weight of sand in the bottom? You punch it, it bounces right up again. Punch it again and it comes back to the upright position. Similarly those Christians in the early church kept bouncing back.[15]

We must be like them.

MacArthur: Just as the Jews were given the first opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel (1:16), they will be first to receive God’s judgment if they refuse (cf. Amos 3:2). Israel will receive severer punishment because she was given greater light and blessing (see Rom. 9:3–4).[16]

Glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good. Again, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

verse 11 There is no partiality with God: Deut 10:17 and Acts 10:34.


We must be humble and understand that I need redeemed as much as anyone (verse 1).

We must understand that God does not show partiality (verse 11).

We must understand that God does not show partiality to the Jewish people over the gentiles (Acts 10:34; Galatians 3:28; Revelation 7:9-11)  .

We must understand that God does not show partiality to people with a Christian background.

We must understand that God does not show partiality to people who live moral lives.

We must understand that God does not show partiality to Americans.

We must be SO careful about judging while doing the same things (verse 1).

Judging condemns ourselves (verse 1).

We must not be spiritually arrogant.

We must remember that the judgment of God falls on us when we practice such things as from Romans 1:29-31.

We must understand that we will not escape the judgments. Again, God is not partial.

We must NOT think lightly on the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience (verse 4).

We must not trivialize that these are riches. Our salvation comes from God’s riches.

We must not trivialize the “riches” of God’s kindness.

We must not trivialize the “riches” of God’s forbearance or tolerance.

We must not trivialize the riches of God’s patience.

We must repent when we do trivialize these great riches from God. We must repent as we see that God’s kindness is to lead us to repentance.

We must remember that there will be a day of judgment (verses 5-10 and (Rev. 20:11-15) and we must repent now, while we have time.

We must seek Christ now, we must live for His Kingdom.


[1] (Warren Cole Smith, “Wins & Losses,” World magazine, 10-23-10, p. 11. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Love and Longing, 5/13/2011)

[2] NIV  NIV New International Version

BDF  BDF F. Blass, A. Debrunner, R. W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament

SBLDS  SBLDS Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series

1  Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995)

[3] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[4] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[5] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[6] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

61 Luther noted that while “the unrighteous look for good in themselves and for evil in others … the righteous try to see their own faults and overlook those of others” (Romans, 36).

[7] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 88.

[8] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 89.

[9] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[10] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[11] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[12] Hunter, Romans, 36. Similarly, Stuhlmacher writes that “in the final judgment, one’s works, as a visible expression of the nature of a person, are evaluated. What is pleasing before God is rewarded; what is evil or was neglected, will be punished” (Romans, 46).

1  Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 91

[13] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[14] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[15] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 437.

[16] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[17] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 481.

[18] C. H. Spurgeon, Feathers for Arrows (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1870), 121.