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Jan 19, 2020

The Faith of Father Abraham

Passage: Romans 4:1-12

Preacher: John Moody

Series: Romans

Keywords: faith, belief, abraham, justification, good works, credit, seal

Summary:

Right standing (justification) before God can only come to us as a gift of God's grace by faith. This is the way it has been since the beginning of time. If you are a Jew or non-Jew who looks to Abraham as your model, you're going to find faith to be the only way to enjoy the massive gifts in salvation the God has for you.

Detail:

“The Faith of Father Abraham”

Romans 4:1-12

January 19, 2020

Mosaic Fellowship

  1. The Story So Far… (Previously on Romans…)
    1. Paul’s eager to preach in Rome – he’s under obligation – he’s got a gospel debt
    2. He’s not ashamed of the gospel – why?
    3. Because it’s the power of God resulting in the salvation of all who believe
    4. In what way is the gospel powerful to save?
    5. Because the gospel reveals the righteousness of God
      1. A right standing before God
    6. And we need that righteousness, because the wrath of God is revealed against ALL ungodliness and unrighteousness of man, who suppress the truth
    7. We’ve exchanged the glory of God for lesser things.
    8. As a result, we have spiraled down into depravity
    9. But others are self-righteous, but they’re guilty too
    10. Everyone is condemned – there is none righteous – all of us are under the condemnation of God – we are all “guilty as sin”
    11. And obeying the Law doesn’t help, because none of us can do it perfectly!
    12. But NOW!!!!!!
      1. A righteousness from God has been revealed (echo of 1:17)
      2. A righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ
  • How it works
    1. We are justified (declared righteous) by God’s grace as a gift:
    2. How?
      1. Through the redemption (release from slavery) that is in Christ Jesus.
    3. How does that work? What payment? To whom?
      1. Whom God put forward as a propitiation (wrath-removing sacrifice)
      2. To be received by faith!!!!! – not by works!
    4. This demonstrates/vindicates God’s righteous character, because he has passed over a lot of sin
      1. Don’t miss the significance of the phrase “pass(ed) over” – this is the true and greater Passover
      2. By punishing Jesus for our sin, God can both be just (because forgiven sin is truly paid for) and the justifier of the one who has faith!
    5. Where then is boasting: IT IS EXCLUDED.  You didn’t do anything at all to make this happen.  It is a GIFT.  It comes from God’s GRACE. It is all by FAITH.
    6. Or, as the Reformers put it, it is sola gratia, sola fide, soli Deo gloria (by grace alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone).
    7. The main theme throughout: Justification (a right standing before God) is NOT something that we can achieve by works, but is a gift of God’s grace that comes to us only through faith.
  1. The text: Romans 4:1-7 (read)
  • Question: Is this true for Abraham?
    1. Abraham was the most revered figure in Jewish history
      1. “Abraham was perfect in all his deeds with the Lord.” (Jubilees 23:14)
      2. “we find that Abraham our father had performed the whole Law before it was given” (Mishnah)
    2. 2 If Abraham was justified by works, then he has something to boast about…
      1. In other words, if Abraham had a right relationship with God because of Abraham’s obedience to God’s commands, then Paul’s assertion that justification comes from faith APART from works is FALSE.
      2. “but not before God”
        1. “but before God such a thing is impossible.”
      3. “For what does the Scripture say?”
        1. Scripture is the final authority!!!
        2. Read Genesis 15:1-6
      4. Explanation (v. 4-5)
        1. The one who works
          1. His wages are due – he gets the credit – and the bragging rights
        2. The one who
          1. Does not work
          2. Believes in him who justifies the ungodly!!!!!!!!!!
          3. His faith is credited as righteousness!!!!
          4. Example: symphony – pay $$$ instead of volunteer hours
          5. Your faith isn’t the same thing as righteousness, but God treats it like righteousness – Christ’s righteousness!
          6. Philippians 3:8-9
          7. Ephesians 2:8-9
            1. What’s with all the “no boasting” stuff?
            2. Who gets the glory?
          8. 2 Corinthians 5:21
        3. David (from Psalm 32:1-2)
          1. BLESSED!!!!!
        4. Two questions raised:
          1. What is the role of works, if not to gain a right standing before God?
          2. To whom does this blessing – this offer of a right standing – extend?
        5. Read vv. 9-12
          1. Circumcision – really important for a Jew!
            1. If you wanted to be right with God (in a Jew’s mind), step #1 was circumcision!
            2. But Abraham’s circumcision did not happen until chapter 17 – 12 years AFTER the events of chapter 15!
  • So if circumcision (and all works) don’t function to gain us a right standing before God, what function do they serve?
    1. Verse 11: Sign and seal
      1. Sign – points to something
      2. Seal – authenticates something (notary seal -> signature)
    2. Our works authenticate and show the world that our faith is real – that we really have been justified!
      1. This is why James and Paul are NOT in conflict!
    3. Who does this extend to?
      1. Verse 11-12
        1. Both uncircumcised and circumcised alike – if they exercise faith! - are part of the promise given to Abraham back in Genesis 15 – he is our forefather by faith!
          1. “Father Abraham had many sons”
          2. Rich Mullins – “Sometimes I think of Abraham / that one star he saw had been lit for me”
        2. The blessing of our lawless deeds being forgiven, our sins being forgiven, of the Lord not counting our sin against us – that blessing is for all who trust him by faith.
      2. Paul, why are you harping on this so much???
        1. Because we don’t believe it when we wake up in the morning.
        2. We don’t believe it when life is hard.
        3. We don’t believe it when we’ve messed up again.
        4. We need to preach this gospel to ourselves every day!!!!
          1. Your standing before God is secured by faith, which is itself a gift!
  • To the unbeliever: Come and believe. 
  • To all of us: God counts faith as righteousness. You can’t earn it. You don’t deserve it.  But God justifies the ungodly.  Come, believe, and marvel at the greatness of God!