Reading: Romans 3:21-26


  • We’re considering lessons from Paul’s letter to the church at Rome
  • This morning, we are looking at the life-altering teaching of justification. PRAY
  • Four points:
  1. We will give an account of our lives to Jesus Christ before the divine council on the Day of Judgment

“For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”

– Romans 14:10b-12.

  • All of us will stand in judgment before God and give an account of our motives, words and actions (Romans 14:10-13; 2 Cor 5:10). Cf. (Job 34:11; Ps 62:12; Prov 24:12; Isa 3:10-11; Jer 17:10; 32:19; Ezk 18:30; Mt 16:27; et al.).
  • Jesus will be the judge in the divine council (e.g., Jn 5:22; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor 5:10).
  • The fact that we will stand before our Lord in judgment should sober us. It should make us careful to live “coram Deo.” But also, if we understand our “justification” and are confident in our relationship with our triune God, it should be a source of immense joy, hope and peace (Jude 24-25)!
  1. On the Day of Judgment, Christians will be declared legally “righteous” because of their demonstrated trust in Jesus

21 “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 in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”

– Romans 3:21-25a

  • “Righteous” (dikaios) means just, justified, guiltless, blameless, forgiven, “just as if we never sinned”
  • The doctrine of Justification is one of the most important doctrines in Scripture. We are legally cleared of all wrongdoing on the basis of Christ’s finished work (Heb 10:14).
  • God saves us from beginning to end. We are not saved by God’s grace then kept saved by our own good works (Gal 3:3: Phil 1:6).
  • The doctrine of justification enables us to rest and rejoice in God’s forgiveness and respond in grateful, loving obedience to him (Ps 32:1-2).
  • The Gospel is “good news!” Martin Luther: “We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves every day.”
  • This doctrine was a stumbling block to the Jews (Rom 10:3).
  • Corollary: We are not saved by works BUT our good works are a vital part of living out our faith. Our good works are proof that we have been declared righteous.
  • If you think you are justified by God but there is not fruit in your life then you should question whether you are, in fact, justified (2 Cor 13:5; Matt 7:18).
  1. On the Day of Judgment, our “works” (what we’ve done in our bodies) will be “tested by fire” and we will be rewarded/suffer loss accordingly

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

– 1 Corinthians 3.10-15

  • Our “unrighteous” works will be vaporized (ex: 1 Cor 5:1-5). Even some seemingly “good” works will be burned up if done with the wrong motives (Mt 6:1; Lk 18:9-14).
  • Our righteous deeds will be remembered and rewarded (Heb 6:10; 1 Cor 15:58). Jesus said the rewards we receive are far in excess of the sacrifices made (Mk 10:29-30).
  1. Our rewards in the next life will be proportionate to our faithfulness in this life

12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back’… 16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ 17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ 18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ 19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’”

– Luke 19:11-27

  • Faithfulness with our trust, time use, treasures and talents (Mt 25:21).
  • Rewards of eternal intimacy with God, authority and satisfying vocation (Rev 3:12, 21; 5:10; 21:7; 22:3, 4, 12).


Hold on tightly to these twin truths:

  1. You are declared righteous now and on the Day of Judgment: celebrate that! Hold on to that truth, rest in it, bank on it, find joy and delight in it.
  2. You are called to do righteous works. You’re declared righteous: now live that way! You will give an account of yourself to the Lord, so live in a way that will not make you ashamed on that day.