PART 5 AUGUST 2: ROMANS 4 “TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?”
HERES THE NEWS!!! “You’ve just Won a 3-Day Hawaiian Holiday, All Expenses Paid…Just call this number and Claim Your Prize.” Ha! You’ve heard that story, haven’t you?
- It sounds wonderful, something you’ve always dreamed of. Your hands are shaking with excitement and anticipation as you dial the number.
- “Yes, It’s True…All you have to do is come and listen to our two-hour time-share presentation, and then, of course, you will need to pay your own transportation costs to and from the islands.
- The gift Only Includes Accommodations and Meals in Hawaii.” Your heart sinks because you know there’s no way you can scrape together that much money.
There’s Always a Catch To It, Isn’t There?
- We keep biting on these supposed giveaways…Only to find out that they’re Too Good to be True, and that the old saying is right: “There Ain’t NO FREE LUNCH.”
The Idea of No FREE Lunch Can Brainwash Us So We Begin to Doubt what God Says About “HIS FREE GIFT” of Eternal Salvation. Our Purpose Today is…To see from the Experience of Abraham that a Right Standing Before God is Obtained Through Faith Alone.
In Our Study of the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul has established beyond all doubt that the whole world is guilty before God–both Jew and Gentile–and deserving of God’s wrath.
- But we saw in the last part of chapter 3 that God in His Grace Provided a means by which Mankind may be Declared Righteous and Acceptable in His sight and Escape His Righteous Wrath Against Sin.
- That means of Escaping God’s Wrath and Judgment is None Other than Simple Faith in the Sacrificial Death of His Son…JESUS. GODS FREE GIFT TO US!
Let’s review Romans 3:21-24, 28. “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, the right standing before God, which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
A Right Standing Before God is a FREE Gift! It has nothing to do with keeping God’s law!
- Now, Paul knows that sounds too good to be true…He realizes that he has to do more than just say it…So, he Demonstrates it from the Old Testament Scriptures.
- Paul Chooses the Very Best Illustration there is…Abraham.
- Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation. As a matter of fact, he’s a man revered by 3 major world religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
- Jewish rabbis claimed that he was perfect in all his deeds, all the days of his life. If Anybody could have Made it On Works…It Was Abraham.
Paul Knew that if he could show that Abraham was declared to be right with God on the Basis of his Faith Alone…Rather than his Good Deeds, Religious Rites, or anything else he could offer God…Then he Could Rest His Case.
This is What Paul Seeks to Accomplish in Romans Chapter 4 Paul…In Verses 1-8 Paul uses Abraham as an Example of Justification by Faith…Apart from Works
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven; whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
These verses make it Clear that Abraham was Justified by Faith…ALONE! NOT from his Own Good Works…
- VS 2 says, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something of which to boast, But Not Before God…Our Works Will Never Impress GOD…Only Our Faith!
Verse 3 says, Abraham Believed God and it was Accounted to him for Righteousness.”
This is a direct quote of Gen. 15:6. God promised Abraham the impossible, that he would beget a child from his own body who would be his heir, and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the heavens–that, in addition to earlier promises that in him and his seed–his son–all nations of the earth would be blessed. What a Fantastic Promise!
And Abraham Believed! And God credited that to him for righteousness.
- To Credit is a bookkeeping term meaning to enter in an account book.
- When God looked at Abraham’s books, they were heavy on the debit side…Like All of Us…There were Sins, Shortcomings, Faults and Failures.
- He deserved God’s wrath, just like US. But God saw Abraham’s Faith in Him and His Promises, and in an act of Amazing Grace, God Cancelled All Those Debts.
- He wrote on the credit side “RIGHTEOUS,” and closed the book forever. Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God.
The Genesis account does Not mention anything that Abraham did to deserve that, only that he believed God. And Paul goes on to explain the implications of that.
Verse 4 says. “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.”
- When you put in a week’s work, you expect to get paid for it…Right?
- Now, if your employer comes up to you at the end of the week after a hard week of work, and says, “Out of the sheer goodness and grace of my heart I want to give you this check freely…how would you feel? Yeah Me Too!
- You earned that paycheck. It is Not a Gift at all. He Owes it to You.
- But on the other hand, if he comes to you before you ever lift a finger, just when you’ve been hired on, he says to you, “I’m thrilled that you want to be part of our team. Before you start to work, I’d like to give you this $1000 bonus.” That’s Pure Grace.
He doesn’t owe it to you. You’ve done nothing to deserve it. You just reach out and take it and say, “Thank you!” That’s Grace. That’s the way it is when, in Christ, We Will Stand before God. We Didn’t Earn it…We Didn’t Deserve it…It Is 100% GRACE!
Let’s look at Verse 5. “But to him who does Not Work”—See, He hasn’t even started to work yet” to him who Does Not Work, but Believes on Him who Justifies the Ungodly, his Faith is Accounted to him for Righteousness.
- Now Paul Is NOT Knocking Good Works…But when it comes to Making Ourselves Acceptable to God, Works have Absolutely No Value Whatsoever.
- We are Saved UNTO Good Works…NOT BY GOOD WORKS!
- That’s what it means when it says “to him who does Not Work.” We simply believe on Him. Then He, in His grace, Justifies Us, Declaring Us Righteous
- He Credits “Imputes” His Righteousness to our account, making Us Acceptable to Him.
- It worked that way for Abraham…and it works that way for Us.
And by the way, it worked that way for King David, too. Abraham is the major subject of the chapter, but Paul slips in a quick mention of David from Psalm 32.
Verses 6-8. “Now to him who works, the Wages are Not Counted as Grace but as Debt. But to him who does Not Work but Believes on Him who Justifies the Ungodly, his Faith is Accounted for Righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works.”
- Psalm 32:1-2. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
- There Wasn’t anything David could do to get Rid of his Burden of Guilt Except Cast himself in Simple Faith on God’s Mercy and Grace. And That Is All We Can Do.
This may be one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented truths in the whole Bible.
- People simply don’t want to believe it…because it sounds Too Good To Be True.
- Verse 5 Makes it Clear that It is Only Faith that Brings Salvation.
- It is Faith that Makes Us Right with God. There is Not One ThingWe Can Contribute.
This is Why I am Passionate About Grace…Because if You See Your Acceptance and Forgiveness by God As Anything other than Grace…You Will Base Your Goodness on Your Works and as Romans says…Our Works Will NOT Meet Gods Standard!
Romans 4:9-12 Tells us that Justification is by Faith…Not Rituals Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
God Did Command Abraham to be Circumcised, and He Expected him to Obey.
- But if you go back and check the story, you will find that the command was not given until Genesis 17:10-14, more than 14 years after Abraham had already believed God and been declared righteous in His sight on the basis of his faith (Genesis 15:6).
If Abraham was justified while still Uncircumcised–I mean, 14 years Before he was circumcised–then Circumcision Obviously had Nothing to do with his Justification.
- In Vs 11 Paul goes on to explain that circumcision was a Sign and Seal of the Righteousness Abraham had Received Previously by Faith.
- And Vs 11b-12 says that because of His Faith he will be the Father of All who Believe–Circumcised or Uncircumcised It Makes No Difference.
Now, there are those today who Insist that Baptism is the New Testament Counterpart of Circumcision, and some of them–cannot seem to distinguish it from salvation.
- But it is the indisputable Word of the living God that Salvation is by Faith Alone. Apart from Any Religious Rite or Ritual We could ever Engage in.
Vs 13-17 speak to Justification by Faith Apart from Law 13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
Now you say, “All right…Maybe Religious Rituals Can’t Save Anybody…But surely a person Cannot be Saved if he Doesn’t Keep God’s law.”
Well, Abraham’s experience addresses that question as well…Abraham was Not Only Justified by Faith, Apart from Works, and Rituals…But he was Also Justified by Faith Apart from the Deeds of the Law.
You see…The Law Wasn’t Given until 600 years after that Promise was made to Abraham. How then could its fulfillment possibly be based on law-keeping?
- Think About it…If God made a promise, and then 600 years later added a condition to it, that would Make the Promise Empty and Void.
That would be like promising your 8-year-old son that you’re going to take him to Disneyland next Saturday. Then you wake up Friday morning and you say, “Oh, by the way, before we go to Disneyland, I want you to paint the whole house today. And I want you to do it perfectly, too. I don’t want any missed spots, or any drips on the ground, or any smears on the windows.”
- That’s would be absurd! He Can’t do that. That Added Condition would make Your Promise of going to Disneyland a Farce.
God would Never Make a Promise, then Add a Condition to it 600 years later that is so Immense that Nobody could Possibly keep it Perfectly. And That’s the Same with the Law.
- Nobody’s ever kept the Law perfectly except Jesus Christ, and no one else ever will.
- We human beings with sinful natures Can’t do it. And you think God’s going to add, now, this condition–make us obey His law to get His promise, when 600 years earlier, he just gave the promise to be received by faith? My Friend, that’s Ridiculous!
Paul tells us in Romans 4:15. “Because the Law Brings about Wrath. For Where there is No Law, There is No Transgression.”
THEREFORE…The law, which demands perfection, which we cannot possibly keep perfectly, turns Our Sin into a Transgression Against God, and Therefore Incurs His Wrath.
- If Salvation is by Faith…Plus Law-Keeping, then None of Us will Ever be Saved.
- Who of us Continually loves the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves? None of Us…We Can’t Do That.
- If that’s what it takes to enjoy God’s promise of heaven, none of us will ever make it and that would make God’s promise meaningless.
However…Gods Word Does Make it Clear…If You’ve truly been born again, and Continue Living in Sin…You can Expect God’s Disciplinary Hand on Your Life.
- He does not go on Blandly Tolerating Our Sin…He will deal with it Decisively. You can count on it. Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago…He has Promised and Guaranteed that He Will Judge Sin…Yet…He does Not Strike Sinners Dead at the Instant of Disobedience… Because We Would ALL Be Dead!
- Instead, that Person who Disobeys God has God’s Wrath “Abiding On Him.”
- But God Provided a Way for the Wrath Abiding on a Sinner To Be Eliminated!
It may sound “Too Good To Be True”, but it is the clear and unmistakable promise of the living God. By Faith, We Come to the Cross again and again Confessing Sin and We Receive God’s Grace Every Time!
- Grace Received by Faith…Apart from the Law, Apart from Works, Apart from Rituals.
Vs 18-25 concludes that Justification is by Faith…Apart from Personal Adequacy: 18 Against All Hope, Abraham in Hope Believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Finally we see from the life of Abraham that Justification is by Faith And Has Nothing to do with Our Personal Adequacy.
- Paul wrote in verse 17 “He called God the ONE “…who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.”
Context: Gen 17:15-20 15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”… 19 Then God said, “Yes, your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”
In this Almost Unbelievable Situation…Abraham Knew He was dealing with the Living, Eternal, All-powerful God…And what He had Promised He was able to Perform.
- He believed that God could accomplish the impossible and bring life from the dead.
- It did Not Depend on Abraham or Sarah and the condition of their bodies or the deadness of their reproductive capacities.
- It had Nothing to do with their Own Personal Adequacies or Inadequacies. It Depended Solely on the Promise and Power of God.
- Abraham believed that and his faith was credited to him for righteousness.
- His Faith Alone Gave Him a Right Standing and Acceptability with God.
- Verse 22. “And therefore, it was Accounted/Accredited to him for Righteousness.”
Here’s What I want Us to Get…God Did NOT put this Story in the Bible Just to tell Us how He Dealt with Abraham. He Put it there to Tell Us How He Deals with Us as Well.
Vs 23-24 says, “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
- The God who did the Impossible for Abraham—Can Do The Impossible For YOU!
- God brings us from spiritual death to spiritual life by “Crediting to Our Account His Perfect Righteousness. He Justifies Us When We Receive Christ into Our Lives.
- And During Your Journey…God’s Grace is Not Based on Your Not Sinning or Personal Adequacy or Inadequacy…Rather every Sin Confessed is Met With God’s Grace!
- Satan wants You to Believe that it’s All About Your Ability…Your Perfection… And Your Not Messing Up that God Requires from You…That Is Satan’s Lie!
- Abraham was Far from Perfect, But he Made One Decision that Changed his Eternal Life…He Trusted God to Set him Right, Instead of Trying to be right on his Own.
We all Understand that God Doesn’t Want Us to Sin…And He Did Not give US Grace so We Would Think We Could Sin…He Knows Us…He Made Our Hearts and Understands Everything We Do (Ps 33:15)…And He Knew that We Would Need His Grace.
- God’s Word Makes it Clear that this is NOT Too Good To Be True!
POINT: God Answers the Mess We Make in Our Lives With one Word: GRACE