Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 3:3-4 Introduction
It would have been difficult for a Jew like Paul to come to the point he could admit most of God’s chosen people were lost. However baffling this, or any, dilemma may be, remember three vital truths about God:
I. GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY
Romans 3:3-4a: “For what if some did not believe? shall their
unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid…”
Since most Jews are lost, one might be tempted to think God has gone back on His promises to Abraham. However, there is no breach in the covenant when an unbelieving Jew is condemned. The promises to Abraham and his seed were based on a faith-relationship.
By faith one becomes a child of Abraham and is entitled to full advantage under the Covenant. All Jews who respond to Christ in faith shall still benefit from the promises of God. God has not forgotten His pledge. Everything remains on the same terms. Paul is attacking the implication that God’s promises can be nullified by man’s wickedness. God’s trustworthiness would be null and void if it were dependent on man’s goodness.
God is faithful to His promises: All but two of 600,000 men fell in the wilderness due to unbelief. God nevertheless brought Israel into the Promised Land. However sinful a man is, the promises remain. Though pigs trample pearls beneath their feet, pearls remain pearls, and the promises of God are still promises, no matter how often men trample them down.
Just because a man “couldn’t care less” does not mean that God cares less. His nature is unalterable. This comforts the righteous, but is a serious threat to the ungodly. God is as faithful to His threats as He is to His promises. Those who continue in evil will experience doom as a result of His trustworthiness. The plan of God may break us, but our sinfulness can never break the plan of God.
II. GOD IS TRUTHFUL
Romans 3:4b “. . .yea, let God be true, but every man a liar. . . .”
If God says one thing, and everybody in the world says another, count God as true, and all men false. It is better to question and overthrow the credit of all men in the world than to doubt the honesty of God. The reputation of humanity can shift for itself. History casts a negative light on the truthfulness of men. The Psalmist was right when he “. . .said in haste, all men are liars” (PS 116:11).
We are to believe God’s Word even if nobody else does. What if some do not believe? This is nothing new. There have always been infidels and scoffers. Do not let this shake you. “Fret not thyself because of evildoers” (PS 37:1). Simply keep on believing God’s Word yourself.
A little boy stood by something his mother had said, even when a friend challenged, “It is not so.”
The little boy defiantly replied, “It is so, my mother said it.”
“It is not so.”
“If my mother said it, it is so; and if it is not so, it is so if my mother said it.”
I love the boy’s determination to believe. Learn from his example. Stand by what God says. If God said it, it is true. You can bank on it.
In every generation, certain learned gentlemen of culture cast negative reflections on God’s Word. Man’s feeble arguments have never contradicted God’s voice, but men still try. Once an “intelligent” man has problems with the Book, many quickly mimic him and deem it a Book with problems.
Not so! “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” The man, not the Book, has problems. Remarkably, every age produces “sages” who see themselves as smarter than the Book of Ages. They feel the Bible should be changed enough to accommodate it “to the times.”
The only way we should ever change our preaching due to “the spirit of the age” is to attack it more desperately than ever before. We seek no terms between Christ and His enemies except this: unconditional surrender to Him. The message cannot be altered to suit your taste; therefore alter yourself according to its requirements.
III. GOD IS JUST
Romans 3:4c “. . .as it is written, `That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.'”
Paul here quotes a reference by David to God (PS 51:4). God should be declared righteous in His judgment of mankind. Men should always acknowledge God is never unfair. God’s rectitude must be confessed in all circumstances. God never broke a promise (He is trustworthy), never said anything untrue (He is truthful), and never did anything unjust (He is just).
It is often necessary we confess more than we understand. It is frantic pretension to try to figure out all of God’s doings with our small fraction of a brain. We must respond with a devout acquiescence.
It is not enough for a believer to submit to necessity–necessity makes all men submit. A believer must go one step farther and confess this thing which necessity ordered was the wisest and best thing that could happen.
This is difficult to do. All of us occasionally wonder about the ways of God. It is often hard to see the obvious hand of God in some occurrences. It is okay to ponder these things, but never put God’s justice on trial. Always work from the premise God is fair.
If a temptation to judge God arises within you, squelch it quickly. It is an enormous evil to try to be the god of God. Satan used this ploy against Eve in the garden. He planted a doubt in her mind about God’s fairness: “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods” (GN 3:5). The Devil accused God of being an unfair, selfish, uncaring bully. Eve believed it and fell into sin.
Do not quarrel with God’s judgments. Rest assured He will win all settlements. The verdict will always fall to His side. In all His judgments, God is worthy of unquestioning praise.
Before anyone can do this sincerely and genuinely, he must first see himself properly. This is perfectly illustrated by the original setting of this quotation by Paul. It was a quote by David after he had committed adultery and murder. As he spoke of his sin in Psalm 51, he made his confession as frank and unconditional as possible. In the whole chapter he said not one good word about his own self.
David laid the whole load of guilt on himself. He was confessing that no matter what God did, or how intense the punishment became, God was acquitted from any taint of injustice.
David justified God. Even in the punishment for his sin, David could praise the righteousness of God. This is quite an accomplishment when we stop to consider how severely God punished David for the crime:
· The little baby died.
· David’s son followed his father’s example and violated David’s daughter.
· To revenge this rape, another of David’s sons murdered the rapist.
· This avenger then spent years in exile.
· Once this exiled son did return, he overthrew his father and then was killed in the rebellion.
· All of David’s concubines were sexually humiliated before the people.
· David was never able to discipline murderous Joab, because he had committed murder himself.
· David was not allowed to fulfill his lifelong dream of building the Temple because he was a man of blood (an accusation to which this crime contributed.
Despite all this, David sided with God against himself. Any who wish to be right with God must do the same. As long as you think you have even one shred of righteousness in yourself that can obtain merit and satisfy the demands of a holy God, you have no possibility of spiritual advancement.
In nothing do men more consistently fool themselves than in their self-appraisal. Men tell themselves more lies about themselves than on any other subject. They try to avoid at all costs the ache of self-condemnation. They use every means in their power to get rid of it.
Rather than admit the negative things we receive are more proper than the positive, men reflect on the sovereignty of God. If we could truly see the intensity of our depravity, we would understand better God’s movements in our lives. Such a posture makes us more likely to acquiesce joyfully before whatever trial the Lord allows us.