¡°HE DIDN¡¯T MAKE IT¡±                                By Pastor YAU

Text: Romans 3:21-31                                     February 3, 2013.



1)   He failed short of his goal: One of the fads of the early 1970s America was the motorcycle jump. This trend reached the high point on September 8, 1974. Tens of thousands of spectators gathered around the Snake River Canyon in Idaho to watch if Evel Knievel, recognized as the best jumper, could jump across the chasm in a specially designed ¡°sky cycle.¡± In the end, however, it was not successful. Knievel made it only part of the way across the gulf before his parachute deployed and he dropped to the bottom of the canyon floor below. Some asked, ¡°How far across the canyon did he get?¡± But that wasn¡¯t the point. The point was he didn¡¯t make it all the way across, so, he failed short of his goal.

2)   We failed short of God¡¯s goal: This story is a good illustration of sin. The Bible talks about sin as Paul said, ¡°All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.¡± (Romans 3:23) No one is able to bridge the gap between a holy God and all sinful men by his own efforts. So, God sent us a Savior to do just that on our behalf. Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled God¡¯s standards, gave his life on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins and failures.  Where we fall short, Christ accomplished all that was needed.



1)    Desire of a good man: ¡°How can a man be in the right before God?¡± (Job 9:2) The Bible describes Job ¡°was blameless and upright, feared God and shunned evil.¡± (Job 1:1, 8) There are people who believe that if a man is doing right in his life, he deserves to stand before God without fear or shame. But people with good character throughout history realized that no one, regardless of his best try, he is way short of attaining the right to be with God. Those who are good in character know how empty and fragile their hard work really is. Because God is the kind of God He is, Job lamented how a man could ever hope to approach Him. Bildad, Job¡¯s best friend, echoed Job¡¯s question, saying, ¡°How can a man be just (right) with God?¡± (Job 25:4)

2)    The desire is universal: Upon hearing fearful warning by John the Baptist on God¡¯s judgment, ¡°the multitude questioned him, saying, ¡°Then what shall we do?¡± (Luke 3:10) These same people asked Jesus, ¡°What shall we do that we may work the works of God?¡± (John 6:28) After listening to the sobering message of judgment of God by Peter, they asked, ¡°What shall we do?¡± Throughout the history men want to know if there is something they can do to get them right with God.

3)    Men attempt their own way: The very reason that religion is so universally common to mankind reflects man¡¯s attempts to find answers to their own questions. Man cannot escape their feeling of guilt, wrong, not only for doing things they know are wrong, but also being in their pitiful, helpless situation. Man¡¯s fear of death and the unknown after death, their desire to please some deity to avoid punishment of their sins. But all religions are manmade and work-centered, and for that reason none of them can succeed in leading anyone to God. There are two basic purposes of all religions: Man tries to do things to make them feel good, less sinful; and by doing this, he hopes to satisfy the requirements of some deity for their eternal soul.

4)    There indeed is a way: The Bible makes it clear that there is a way to God, but not based on anything men themselves can do to achieve or merit it. Man can be made right with God, but not on his own efforts. Here comes the Christian faith that is distinct from all religions. All men are equally incapable of coming to God in their own power. They can be saved only by the grace of God. The giving of the law in the Old Testament was to show how impossible it is to measure up to God¡¯s standard by human effort. Romans 3:20 says, ¡°No one will be declared righteous in God¡¯s sight by observing the law, rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.¡± (3:20)



1)     Righteousness apart from legalism: ¡°But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested.¡± (3:21) Legalism means many things in the Bible. Here it refers to strict, self-dependent observation of the O. T. law. Since the OT law was not given to provide a path to God, but to indict the sins of man, and no one may measure up to the law of God to be saved, therefore no one may attain a righteous status before God by keeping the law.

2)     Righteousness attained by faith. ¡°This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ.¡± (3:22) Paul wanted to set the record straight: Although no one may attain a righteous status before God, he can attain that glorious status by setting his faith in God¡¯ Son, Jesus Christ. Saved by faith is the theme of most of Paul¡¯s writing and it is the basis of all his teaching on salvation. He began chapter 5 of Romans by declaring that ¡°having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.¡± (5:1)

3)     Righteousness provided for all: ¡°To all who believe. There is no difference for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.¡± (3:22-23) The provision of salvation apart from legalism but through faith is granted for all who believe: all who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved. In God¡¯s sight, there is no difference of race, culture, wealth, socioeconomic status or any other manmade classification that may exclude anyone from receiving the righteousness of God for the salvation of his soul. There is no difference of any class, any individual, race, group, or anything else, all men are sinners, fall short of the demands of God and all needs to be saved by faith alone.

4)     Righteousness paid by sacrifice: ¡°God presented him (Christ) as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.¡± (3:25)The compound words ¡°sacrifice of atonement¡± or ¡°propitiation¡± is some kind of offering ¡°to satisfy or please God.¡± This sacrifice must be presented by God, not man, and must be Christ, the Lamb of God, not any other sacrifice offered by man. The word ¡°atonement¡± means something or someone to pay the price for the sins of another person. In this case, that someone is Jesus Christ who died to pay the price of all the sins of mankind. The righteousness we receive is free to us, but it is not free to God, for God had paid the price with the life of His Son Jesus Christ.



1)   It satisfied the righteousness of God: ¡°God did this to demons-trate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. He did this to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.¡± (3:25b-26) The clutch of salvation of man was not a matter of getting sinful men to accept a holy God but getting a holy God to accept sinful men without violating his justice. When God sent His Son to die on the cross for sinful men, he also satisfied his holiness in a just way¡ªthe death of Christ paid the price of the sins of men.

2)   It exalts the grace of God: ¡°For we maintain that a man is justified by faith, not by observing the law.¡± (3:28)The cross proves the futility of man¡¯s coming to God by his own way or power, so no one may boast. All merits of men is excluded, not counted in the salvation of their souls. Paul declared, ¡°For by grace you have been save through faith.¡± (Eph. 2:8) No morality, good work or any human effort may buy an inch for man to approach God. It is not good work, not religious practice or knowledge, not even Christian ministry, may buy anyone salvation of any soul. It is all by God¡¯s grace that we are saved.

3)   It reveals God¡¯s universality: ¡°Is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since in deed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. (3:29-30) The fundamental belief of Judaism has always been ¡°The Lord is our God, the Lord in one!¡± (Deut. 6:4) Since the Lord one God is their God, the Jews believed that they are the only people of this one God. ¡°Salvation by faith is not just available to the Jews but to the Gentiles also,¡± Paul declared. This is completely a new doctrine to the Jews and their religious leaders. If ¡°All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,¡± then there must be ¡°All have believed and therefore all are saved.¡±

4)   It confirms the law of God: ¡°Do we then nullify the Law by faith? May it never be. On the contrary, it confirms the Law.¡± (3:31)Saved by faith, not by law, doesn¡¯t nullify the validity and the importance of the Law. The cross confirms the value of the Law in three ways: a) It confirms the Law by paying the penalty of sins the law requires. b) It confirms the value of the Law by driving men to the cross. Because no man can be saved by observing the law. c) The cross confirms the Law by completing what the Law could not do: to save the souls of men.



1)   We can¡¯t make it either: Not just Mr. Knievel didn¡¯t make it to cross the canyon by his motorcycle jump, man in human history didn¡¯t make it to cross the gulf of sin to meet God either. With all the good will and best efforts, no one has ever satisfied the requirements of the holy God. Don¡¯t be fooled by religion or self-help philosophy. You need someone else to rescue you from the debts of your sins, and that someone is Jesus Christ.

2)   Don¡¯t miss the boat: ¡°Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil-man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he freely pardon.¡± (Isa. 55:6-7) This doesn¡¯t mean God is in hiding from those who want to seek him. But it means we need to seize the moment to seek God for his mercy and pardon. That moment may be in our heart, may be when God¡¯s word speaks to our soul. It may be when our spirit meets the spirit of God, and we know that is the moment we need to confess our sins, to ask Jesus into our hearts and to live our life according to his way. That moment is now.