9th December 2022
Read - Romans 3:31
Message - Alan Burke
Today I want to take us to this last verse of Romans 3. It is not that the previous verses don’t have much to say, of course they do, for Paul reminded us that we have no reason to boast because salvation is by faith (27-28), and there is but one God whether you are a Jew or Gentile (the word Gentile literally means nations so there is one God of all people whether we want to accept him or not). The reason why I want to spend a bit more time on verse 31 for there are implications and applications for us that are far reaching.
Although we cannot earn salvation by keeping the law which leaves us with nothing to boast in for salvation from beginning to end is the work of God in Christ Jesus, here Paul seems to end with something that seems contradictory. Although we cannot keep the law we are to uphold the law! To explain this there is threefold use of the Law in the Scriptures. Look back to v21 for there the Law there speaks of the Pentateuch, the Torah, the first five books of the bible, the prophets speak of the rest of the Old Testament. But within the Torah there are three different types of law, we speak of the threefold use of the law, because there is ceremonial law, Civil Law and Moral law.
The Ceremonial law, that is the law that pertains to the requirements of sacrificial worship in the tabernacle and the temple, it has to do with the various acts of worship and/or service for a particular reason. The ceremonial law has been fulfilled in Jesus, it means it doesn’t apply for us today, we don’t have to offer sacrifices for Jesus has fulfilled the ceremonial law in his sacrifice for us. When the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom Jesus fulfilled the law, the barrier between God and man was removed for Jesus is the new and perfect way into the Holy of Holies, into which any man could come by faith. Jesus brought all the other sacrifices to an end. Jesus has fulfilled the Ceremonial law.
Then there is the civil law, that governed the relationship within the people of Israel, the Civil laws describe the judicial and civil duties of the citizens of Israel as God’s people. Such laws dealt with what punishment was to be carried out on one if he was guilty of violating the Law of Moses. Other aspects of the civil law dealt with land inheritances, the year of Jubilee which took place every seven years in which debts were forgiven, slaves freed. Basically, the civil law under the Mosaic Law was God governing His people under the government of the Law of Moses.
Jesus inaugurated a new kingdom… Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world… But now my kingdom is from another place.” (Jn 18:36). As the gentiles are engrafted to the vine, as those from the nations are gathered in, God’s people the church are no longer identified as a nation, but as a people from all over the earth. So we follow the civil law, for it has to do with the obligation on has towards others due to belonging to a particular group of people. Like we do not follow the law of Cuba in Northern Ireland, we follow the laws of this land.
But the moral law, describes the principles of behaviour for all people, this is how we are to live, all people, in ever land. This means that we can eat shrimp and bacon as Christians for we are freed from the ceremonial law and civil law though we as all people are bound by the moral law, summarised in the Ten Commandments and in the words of Jesus to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves.
Our Lord Jesus says to us: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This means that when we seek to obey God’s commandments by faith in Christ, in dependence upon His grace, we glorify God, experience Christ’s joy (John 15:9-11), and fulfil our Creator’s purpose. As we receive the righteousness of God through faith we desire to live more and more for Him, ie we uphold the law and we seek to keep His law in the obedience of faith knowing that it is Christ alone through faith alone that saves us.
Q19 What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, (Gen. 3:8,10,24) are under his wrath and curse, (Eph. 2:2–3, Gal. 3:10) and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever. (Lam. 3:39, Rom. 6:23, Matt. 25:41,46)
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