Romans #7 – Crazy Grace: Good News for “Bad” People

This sermon from Romans 3 tells how even those who believe they're good are actually bad without God's intervention in their lives.

Crazy Grace: Good News for Bad People (Romans 3:21–31)

2 most important first things to learn 1. Who is God? 2. Who am I?

America’s Four Gods

[Atheist [5%]]

  1. The Benevolent God—engaged but not judgmental [24%]

Unrighteousness (Romans 1:18-32)

  1. The Distant God— not engaged or judgmental [24%]

Secular Self-Righteousness (Romans 2:1-11)

  1. The Critical God—not engaged but judgmental [16%]

Religious Self-Righteousness (Romans 2:12-29)

  1. The Authoritative God—both engaged and judgmental [31%]

Gift Righteousness (Romans 3:21-30)

  • Global Problem: the world is not going well & people are not acting good
  • Personal Problem: Everyone sinful & under God’s wrath (Rom 3:1-20)
  • = everyone is part of the problem, no one is the solution

Superhero movies – someone part human part more comes from another realm to rescue us.  Better than Thor, Silver Surfer, Green Lantern, Autobots Superman

Justification by Faith

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

Righteousness – performance qualifies or disqualifies

E.G. – resume for job; report card for school

  1. Behave – Rom. 1-2 (we’ve sinned)
  2. Believe – righteousness = “of God” not of us

Jesus behaved, we believe

= “manifested” – shine forth like sun rise

= same object of faith for all – Jesus Christ

“Here therefore is the sermon of sermons and the wisdom of heaven; in order that we may believe that our righteousness and salvation and comfort come to us from outside; in order that we may believe that, though in us dwells naught but sin and unrighteousness and folly, we are, nevertheless, acceptable before God, righteous and holy and wise.” – Martin Luther

  • Justification by faith – maul that split Protestants & Catholics 16th Century
  • Raised Catholic, grandma nun got prophetic word for me
  • Traditions, sacraments, confession, purgatory, church/priest mediate
  • Martin Luther called it the issue on which the church stands or falls.

-Monergism vs Synergism – pulling child up from drowning


Romans 3:22 For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

=Words/language name things

1. Sin – “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

  • Perfection, not competition

=People trying to jump across the Grand Canyon

2. Justified – God is “just” and “justifier” who makes us “justified”

=legal declaration of righteousness before God

=not perfect, but imputed righteousness, made new, headed to perfect

  1. Your work for God (works)
  2. Jesus work for you (grace)

            =God is just & justifier – Judge who declared guilty & paid the price

3. Redemption – “blood”, “passed over”

= Exodus & Passover as model of redemption

4. Propitiation

-RSV/NEB – expiation   -NIV/NRSV – sacrifice of atonement           -ESV – propitiation

-Rom 3:23-25; Heb. 2:17; 1 Jn. 2:2; 1 Jn. 4:10

-The Bible gives few details about crucifixion, ancient world saw.


  • “an emblem of suffering & shame”
  • Tertullian chose cross as the symbol of Christianity
  • Crucifixion is state sponsored terror
  • When Jesus a boy in 4 AD mass crucifixion of Jews for uprising against Rome
  • In 71 BC when Spartacus died in battle 6000 followers crucified along 120 miles


  • Impailing started with Persians around 800 BC
  • Romans perfected
  • Stipe (permanent post) & patibulum (the crossbar).
  • Death by asphyxiation took as long as 9 days
  • Public like beheadings
  • Women facing cross

Excruciating = “from the cross”

1.Jewish Josephus “most wretched of deaths”

2. Roman Cicero – Romans not crucified or speak of it

3. God’s people Deut. 21:22–23 “a man…put to death…hanged on a tree… is cursed by God.”

  • Bodies often discarded

Jesus Crucifixion

  • Sweating blood
  • Blindfolded & beaten all night
  • Scourged – flogged w/flagrum or cat-o-nine tails
  • Crown of thorns
  • Carry 100lb cross for miles
  • Collapsed, chest trauma
    • Chest contusion & aneurysm, lungs filling carbon monoxide
    • Like head on car crash
  • Pulled bear, spit, cursed
  • Nailed nerve centers

3:24 “by his grace” other translations “freely” – w/o merit.

= Rock in Alaska. Cross not your worth.

Boasting vs Worshipping

Romans 3:27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

  • God’s perfection vs our competition
  • Salvation is for us, not about us

1.    Scripture Alone “Law & Prophets” – not tradition or any other authority (other books)

2.    Grace Alone “by his grace as a gift”– not human works (baptism, tongues)

3.    Faith Alone “through faith in Jesus Christ” – God not anyone/anything else (church, priest, pope) :28 – Luther’s life verse

4.    Christ Alone “redemption…is in Christ Jesus” – Jesus + nothing

5.    To God be the Glory – no “boasting”; gratitude to people & glory only to God

-Winning Team talks trash. On Team Jesus we worship & welcome others to join!

God Works For, In, Through You

Romans 3:29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

-People who think they are good are headed to hell & make life hell for others (Paul)

-People who keep trying to be good work themselves to death for no reason (worship leader)

-People try to be good but have a tender conscience live w/anxiety (dying woman)

-People who have no reason to believe they are going to hell are told otherwise (1st funeral)

God works: 1. For you 2. In you 3. Through you

Photo of author

Mark Driscoll

It's all about Jesus! Read More