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What the Gospel Destroys

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 3:27–28

God’s gracious gift of justification by faith favors no people and excludes no people. There is no place for boasting; we are all invited to humbly place our faith in Christ alone because we are all sinners in need of His grace.


I remember reading of a couple who lived out on the prairie many years ago. Bessie had developed a high fever. Her husband Sam recognized the symptoms and knew his wife was in desperate need of medicine if she were to survive. The antidote he needed was available several miles away at the trading post. The problem was, the trading post was across a river that had begun to freeze over that winter. The only way to get to the trading post was to walk across the ice. 

Sam had never tried to cross the river this early in winter. He feared it would not support his weight, but he had to try. He pushed a piece of wood in front of him, in case he fell through, and he stretched his body out, trying to distribute his weight evenly. Slowly, he crawled out onto the ice, praying as he inched along. But once he was far out on the river, the ice began to groan. He scooted forward a little more, and the ice began to creak. Then, there was a roar and a terrible crashing sound.

Sam braced for the icy waters to engulf him. Nothing happened, but the crashing sounds grew louder. Sam looked back over his shoulder and saw a man with a team of horses, racing his wagon across the ice! The horses galloped past him and up the other bank, right up to the front porch of the trading post.

Sam jumped to his feet shouting, “Hallelujah!” and ran across the ice to the trading post. He got the medicine he needed and raced back home to his wife.[1]

Sam had no more fear—he was filled with confidence. He was not crawling anymore but running. Why? Sam now had faith that the ice would hold him up.

Well, beloved, like Sam out there on that frozen river, faith changes the way we think and act.

Here in Romans 3, Paul delivered the condition of fallen, sinful humanity in verse 23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But he followed that up in verse 24 with this: “[We] are justified by his grace as a gift.” And this gift, he writes in verse 25, we receive “by faith.”

When we understand this great truth of justification by faith, when we trust in Christ and His work on the cross, we can stand to our feet and shout hallelujah. We can be confident of our salvation.

But there is something else here. The gospel does not just build up our faith; it also tears some things down. Here at the close of Romans 3, the apostle Paul informs us that justification by faith destroys three things.

First, justification by faith destroys personal pride. Paul summarizes what he has been saying with a question and an answer here in verse 27:

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

We do not have anything to brag about, beloved, when it comes to our salvation. Nobody is justified by anything but faith alone.

Paul makes that clear in verse 28: “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” This is the point Paul has been making in the preceding verses. We are justified—declared righteous before God—forgiven, redeemed, and saved through faith in Christ alone. Salvation is not achieved through works; it is received through faith in the one who performed the work on our behalf. Our boasting is in Jesus Christ.

It cannot be any clearer than that. Justification is by faith without works. Yes, those who are justified by faith are going to produce good works—that is what the book of James emphasizes. You cannot see invisible faith, but you can see the fruit of faith through good works. Paul is defining justification, and James wants us to demonstrate justification.

As the reformers put it, we are saved by faith alone, but saving faith is never alone. It shows up in the way we now want to live for Christ.

So, justification by faith destroys personal pride. Second, justification by faith destroys personal prejudice. Paul writes this in verses 29-30:

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

This brings us back to the attitude the nation of Israel had. They did not just think they automatically belonged to God; they also thought God belonged only to them! That was Jonah’s attitude.

It was only after spending three days in the belly of a great fish that Jonah repented of his prejudice and admitted, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9). In other words, God can save anybody—and everybody who is saved comes to God the same way. God is not to be withheld from any group or ethnicity or nationality.

Beloved, a faithful pastor and a biblical church are not going to target people based on their income, their ethnicity, their color, their nationality, or which side of the railroad tracks they live on. In fact, the gospel creates an entirely new race of everyone who believes—a holy nation, Peter calls them in 1 Peter 2:9.

This is the principle Paul is teaching here in Romans 3. All who enter heaven—no matter who they are—come by the way of the cross. They come through faith in Christ alone. To paraphrase verse 30, Paul is saying, “There is only one God, and if that one God accepts both Jew and Gentile by faith alone, then the ground at the foot of the cross is level.”

Jews and Gentiles alike are welcome. No people-group is favored; none is excluded. God does not have favorites. All who come to Christ are equally precious to God the Father.

So, the gospel destroys personal pride and personal prejudice. Now Paul effectively informs us that it also destroys personal presumption. He writes in verse 31, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”

Paul is answering the question, “If we are saved apart from keeping the law, are we to presume that the law is useless?” Paul’s answer is no.

Justification apart from the law upholds the standard of the law. The law was an expression of God’s holiness. God’s law was designed to lead people to see that they have broken the law—that they cannot keep the law perfectly. Only through faith in Christ, the one who kept the law perfectly, the one who paid the penalty for our crimes against God’s law, can God’s holy standard be met.

And again, this leads us to recognize there is no room for presumption or prejudice or pride. We do not glory in our faith. We glory in the object of our faith.

Let’s go back to Sam crawling across that frozen river. He could have had great faith in thin ice and fallen through and drowned. But he had weak faith in thick ice; and when he realized that, he traveled safely across.

Beloved, what matters is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith. And since the object of your faith is the person of Jesus Christ, you do not need to crawl through life in fear of falling through; you are traveling through life on the solid foundation of the Lord.

Weak faith or strong faith—as long as your faith looks to Christ, you are not going to fall through or get lost out there in life. In fact, Deuteronomy 33:27 tells you, as a follower of God, that God is your refuge and underneath you are His everlasting arms.

[1] Bill Gillham, “Do You Have Enough Faith?” Lifetime Ministries,

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