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Romans 4:1-25

Grow Strong in Faith

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • October 25, 2014

It’s all about faith. In fact, Paul takes us back to Abraham who did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, being fully assured that what God promised, He was able also to do. We also need to not waver in our faith and grow strong in our faith, being fully assured that what God promised, He is fully able to do. Faith has everything to do with our relationship to God which in turn has everything to do with how we live. Having stronger faith will change your perspective; stronger faith takes hold of the promises of God in our lives. The promises of God and the favor of God changes everything.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Transcription
  • Scripture

Grow Strong in Faith

Romans 4:1-25 

Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. The gospel is God’s answer to the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. He knows we were all born basically selfish and self-centered which is what makes us drawn to sin.

The gospel is the answer to the question, “what’s a sinner to do?” How can an unrighteous sinner have a relationship to a holy and righteous God? That’s why Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, God can take a sinner and make him righteous in one verse; “He made Him who knew no sin, to become sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.

So where does righteousness come from? It comes from God; He gives righteousness to us as a gift. That is a promise God offers as a gift, but it must be received by faith.

In other words, it’s about faith and it’s always been about faith. In fact, Paul is going to take us all the way back to Abraham who is considered the father of faith. Abraham did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, being fully assured that what God promised, He was able also to do.

That’s our example, we also must not waver in faith. We also need to grow strong in our faith, being fully assured that what God promised, He is fully able to do.

But let’s apply that to our lives practically because faith has everything to do with our relationship to God which in turn has everything to do with how we live. Having stronger faith will change your perspective; stronger faith takes hold of the promises of God in our lives. The promises of God and the favor of God changes everything.

I.       Find What Abraham Found

A.      We have nothing to boast about

  • What did Abraham find? He was not made righteous by works. If he was justified by works, then he had something to boast about… but not before God.
  • He goes on to say that if a person does work, his wage is not given as a favor, but as what is due.

Illus - If you wanted someone to mow your lawn and I asked, “How much are you willing to pay?” And you said, “$10.” Ignoring the fact that you’re basically cheap, if I mowed your lawn, you can’t then say, “Young man, here, let me generously give you $10 out of the kindness and grace of my favor.” No, I earned that $10 and it’s not grace when you pay it.

Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast.

  • Even if a person did try to become righteous by their works, it wouldn’t do much good.

Isaiah 64:6, All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

  • I would tell you what “filthy garments” actually means, but we’re in church and it’s not nice.

B.       There is a record of all you do

  • That’s actually kind of a scary thought. Imagine someone following you around with a clipboard and writing down everything you’ve ever done or said or thought.
  • A lot of people actually believe that their standing before God is based on that record. They believe all their deeds are placed on a scale; all the bad things on one side and all the good things on the other side.

Revelation 20:12, And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

  • This is called the great white throne judgment and it’s for unbelievers. But notice there is no reference to a scale, comparing the good with the bad.
  • Doing something good does not remove the record of doing something bad. Not stealing does not make up for stealing; not lying does not make up for lying.

Illus – Let’s do a show of hands. How many people have ever told a lie? What does that make you? Do liars get into heaven? How many people have ever cheated? Do cheaters get in the heaven?

  • The answer is no, liars and cheaters etc. don’t get into heaven.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 … And such were some of you, but you were washed…

  • That’s the gospel; God takes sinners and makes them righteous as a gift, but must be received by faith.

C.       What a blessing when God reckons righteousness

  • In verses 5-8 Paul writes about the blessings upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness.
  • He says that David knows all about that blessing and quotes from Psalm 32. David received God’s forgiveness for the terrible sin with Bathsheba.
  • When David hid his sin he said that he groaned all day long and his strength was drained from him, but then he was honest with himself and with God and acknowledged his sin, believing that God would forgive him. He believed in God and God’s heart for him to forgive and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
  • The word ‘reckon’ is an accounting term. It means that God added righteousness to your account because you believed in Him and His heart for you.
  • In the grace of God, He takes your sin and puts it into Christ’s account and then He takes Christ’s righteousness and adds it to your account.
  • But there are still consequences for that sin in our life. You might say there are scars that remain, even though our sins are forgiven in heaven.

Illus - Though David’s sin was forgiven, it took a great toll on his life and on his family. In other words, there were scars. You may have made mistakes and wrong choices in the past and then turn to Christ for forgiveness, and you may bear the scars, the consequences that remain.

Some of those scars teach us the greatest lessons in life. The Lord frequently allows painful consequences so He can teach us lessons we would otherwise never learn.

  • I am also convinced that because we are justified – just as if I’d – never sinned, we won’t bear those scars in heaven. By His stripes, we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5, He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

II.       Keep Growing in Faith

A.      Faith will change how you live

  • Verses 17-18 - Abraham believed in God who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed, being convinced that what God has promised, He would also do. That’s a powerful declaration about what faith does in real life.
  • Faith changes what we do. In other words, when you believe God, when you take Him at His word, then you do what He asks you to do.
  • If you don’t have faith, if you don’t believe God, then you go your own way without any consideration of God at all and that leads you on a completely different path.
  • Here’s the point, because Abraham believed, he was obedient. He believed that God would do what He said He would do. The more faith you have, the more obedient you are to God’s heart.

Genesis 12:1-4, Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him.

  • He believed in God who gives life to the dead. In hope against hope he believed. This is powerful.
  • There’s a theme here that’s developed in the next verses that we need to take hold of.

B.       Don’t waver in unbelief

Illus - When Israel had come out of Egypt only a few months, they came near to the Promised Land and sent in 12 spies. But 10 of them came back with a report that melted everyone’s heart in fear. The spies brought back huge grapes, pomegranates and figs, but also said that the challenges were too difficult…

Numbers 13:32, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size… and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight.”

  • But faith instead believes in Him who is able…

Isaiah 40:21-23, Do you not know? Have you not heard?... It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. It is He who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spread them out like a tent to dwell in. It is he who reduces rulers do nothing.

  • Abraham grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.
  • Faith grows when you worship, when you give God glory, because God inhabits the praises of His people.

C.      Be fully assured that God is able

  • Verse 21 – being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.
  • You might hear that and say, “Well I’m not Abraham, I falter and I fail in my faith.” But you’re not alone, Abraham did as well.
  • After Abraham received the promise that he would have a son, his wife, Sarah, suggested that because she was barren, Abraham should take her maid as his wife.
  • Abraham listened to Sarah and the result was Ishmael who became the father of the Arab nations and the Middle East is still bearing the result of Abraham faltering in faith.
  • Finally, 13 years later God came to him again and said that he would have a son through Sarah. At first, Abraham in his heart, laughed at the thought that he at 100 and Sarah at 90 years old could have son. When Sarah heard that she was to have a son in her old age, she also laughed to herself.
  • God told Abraham to name the boy Isaac, which means “he laughs.” Was his name to forever be a reminder of their faith that faltered?
  • Not at all, because they grew in faith and when God did the miraculous, then laughed with joy.

Hebrews 11:11, By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered a Him faithful who had promised.

Genesis 21:6, Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”

Title: Grow Strong in Faith

Text: Romans 4:1-25

Date: October 25-26, 2014

Chapter 4 beginning in verse 1. Romans Chapter 4:1, The title of our message this morning is “Grow Strong in Faith”. Strong in Faith. We’re going through Romans chapter by chapter. Paul is telling us about the Gospel. The theme of the book is the Gospel but it’s also about faith. He says, “I’m not ashamed of the Gospel. Why should I be ashamed? It is the power of God for salvation, for everyone who believes. It’s God’s Gospel. It’s God’s answer to the unrighteousness and the ungodliness of men. We look around us and we see what’s wrong in this world and all of us are part of it. We were born selfish and self-centered, every one of us.”

There’s the reason that Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel, because it’s God’s answer to the problem. What’s the sinner to do? He asked. How can an unrighteous sinner have a relationship with the holy righteous God? I’m not ashamed of the Gospel. God can take a sinner and make him righteous in one verse. That’s the theme. He can take a sinner and make him righteous in one verse. It’s not a matter of a sinner trying to work his way out of the mud one step at a time. God does it and He does it in one verse.

2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin,” that’s Christ, “to become sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God.” We might become the righteousness of God. You don’t earn it; you don’t step up into it. He gives it to you when you fail. 2 Corinthians 5:21. But where does righteousness come from? It comes from God. He gives righteousness to us as a gift, but you receive it by faith. In other words, it’s about faith. It’s always been about faith. Faith is such an important aspect of our relationship to God. It is so important. It’s the crux of the relationship. Faith. That’s why we need to grow stronger in our faith. Faith has always been the issue.

So much so that in this chapter, chapter 4, he takes us all the way back to Abraham. Abraham is considered the father of the faith. And he tells us that Abraham did not waver from non-belief. He grew strong in faith. Keyword: “growing”. Being fully assured that what God promises, He is able to do. That is faith. This is our example. We also must not also waver in our faith. We need, in other words, we need to grow strong in our faith. Being fully assured. That’s what faith is, being fully assured of what God promised He is fully able to do.

But see, we need to see this practically. This is a very practical question for all of us because faith has everything to do with our relationship to God which in turn has everything to do with how we live our lives. Stronger faith would change your perspective. It would change how you see life. This is very, very important, your perspective. How you see it is very critical. Faith takes hold of the promises of God and the promises of God and the favor of God I tell you changes everything.

Let me give you an example of perspective. Many of you know, we adopted two boys from Russia, and the youngest one when we adopted him was 10. He came from a home for emotionally disturbed children. We then had an emotionally disturbed boy who didn’t exactly like rules, didn’t like the fact that mom and dad can tell him what to do. He was in an orphanage where their idea of discipline is as soon as the kid gets rowdy, give him a sedative and put him to bed. Now he’s got parents with rules, and he doesn’t like the rules. He doesn’t want to brush his teeth, he doesn’t want to eat what we eat, he doesn’t want to do his homework, he doesn’t want to learn English, he doesn’t want to do all these things and he has an emotional problem.

There’s a big piece missing. If he could only have seen. If he could only have seen what blessings were upon his life. Taken out of deep, dark Russia in an orphanage, there’s no parents there, and now you bring him to a family. You’ve got a mom and a dad who love you, who poured their life into you. You’ve got a brother now; your long-lost brother is back with you. Your sisters love on you, love to dote on you. That’s what sisters are supposed to do, just dote on you and do your hair for you and do fun things for you. It’s like wow, do you realize the blessing you have? You have a home now, you have a future, you have a new name, you’ve got a new life. Couldn’t see it; he couldn’t see it. All he could see were the rules and mom and dad telling him what to do. We struggled, struggled for years.

Last Father’s Day, of course now he’s in his young 20s. Last Father’s Day he called me. And that was one of the most beautiful calls I’ve ever received. Because it showed me that his perspective has now changed. His eyes have now opened. He calls me, “Dad, I just wanted to wish you happy Father’s Day. I didn’t buy you a gift, but I wanted to call and say I love you. And I want to call and say you’ve been a great dad. You stuck with it. I wasn’t easy and I had a bad attitude. You stuck with it; you loved me through it. I just want to call and say how much it means to me. Thank you!” I tell you what, that made my day. Because that’s the perspective we need. You know what, we’re all there. We’re all at the same point. If we could see it; if we could open our eyes to it. It changed our lives, changed our perspectives.

I. Find What Abraham Found

That’s what Romans does for us. Chapter by chapter it opens our eyes so we can see the richness of what we have, the depth of God’s love, the amazing aspect of this relationship that we have. That’s what he’s showing us. Faith. We need to increase, grow stronger in faith. He says let’s go back to Abraham. Let’s do it. Verse 1, chapter 4, “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, then he’s got something to boast about, but not before God.” Justified by works. Made righteous by his works, nope. “What does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” He was made righteous because he believed not because of what he did. Then he gives an example.

“Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.” Verse 5 is all about you and me. Verse 5 is us. It’s practical. He says to the one who doesn’t work but believes in Him, I love this phrase, who justifies the ungodly. He gives righteousness to the ungodly. That’s every last one of us. He, by faith, will reckon to him righteousness, brings up David. Just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness with apart from works. He quotes him in Psalm 32 which was read earlier.

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds had been forgiven.” Literally it’s oh how happy. Oh how happy is the one whose lawless deeds had been forgiven, and if you’ve ever really understood forgiveness and received the forgiveness for all the mess that you’ve made with your life, you step back and you say, Oh how happy I am. Oh how blessed it is to have your sins forgiven. It is really amazing. And he goes on, “. . . and whose deeds have been forgiven. Whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not take sin into account.” He uses an accounting term. “Is this blessing then upon the circumcised or upon the uncircumcised also?” For we say faith was reckoned to him as righteousness. This point that he’s going to make is that this righteousness is given to Jews and Gentiles alike because Abraham believed before he was even circumcised so that he might be the father of all who believe.

Now we’re going to look at more verses, but I want to look at these so we can apply them personally. Here’s what we’ve got to see right from the beginning. Find what Abraham found. Paul says the Gospel is amazing. I’m not ashamed of it. It’s amazing! It’s the power of God for salvation. Now what’s amazing? He takes a sinner and makes him righteous. He gives righteousness to him. You don’t earn it, you receive it. Here’s righteousness, it’s a gift. Now because that promise is in the New Testament you might think that’s a new thing. No, that’s not a new thing. That’s the way, you go all the way back to Abraham. It’s always God’s heart. It’s about faith. It’s always been about faith.

A. We have nothing to boast about

So, He goes back to Abraham and he makes his point. We have nothing to boast about. What did Abraham find? He wasn’t made righteous by his works. If he was justified by his works, then he would have something to boast about, but not before God. He goes on to say that the person who works for his wages is not a favor, he earned it. It’s what’s due to him. So, let’s use that as an illustration.

Let’s say that you wanted someone to mow your lawn, and I heard that you wanted someone to mow your lawn so I came to you and said, “Hey I heard you wanted someone to mow your lawn. How much are you willing to pay?” You say, “I’ll pay you $10.” Now ignoring the fact that you’re basically cheap for that, I say, “Okay I will mow your lawn for $10”. So, I do. I go on and mow your lawn, I do a good job, I put nice stripes in it and I edged it. Then when I come to you, you cannot then come to me and say, “Young man here, let me generously give you $10 out of the kindness and grace of my favor.” You can’t say that. That’s not kindness and grace and favor. You owe it to me pal. I earned that. That was hard work. That’s what he’s saying.

Do you see the kindness of God; the favor of God who justifies the ungodly? Ephesians 2:8-9, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” The favor unmerited, undeserved. It’s not as a result of works, so that no one can boast. Even if a person did try to become righteous by their works, it won’t do much good, because we’ve got to see our righteous deeds for what they are. In Isaiah 64:6, he makes it abundantly clear what God thinks of it. “All of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. And all of us wither like a leaf and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” There’s a perspective. Our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. Now I would tell what “filthy garment” actually means but we’re in church and it’s not nice.

B. There is a record of all you do

Let’s put it in perspective, shall we? But then we see what He’s saying to us and it’s important to see this perspective. There is a record of all you do, there’s a record. Now that’s actually kind of a scary thought. Can you imagine someone following you around carrying a clipboard, and writing down everything you’ve ever done or said or thought? And then at the end of the age, that is played out for all the ages to see. Well that’s a scary thought. I don’t like the thought of that at all. But a lot of people actually believe that their standing before God is based on that record. They believe that all of their deeds are placed on a scale. All of their good deeds are placed on one side, all of the bad deeds placed on the other and wherever the scale tips, is their relationship with God.

I don’t like that. In fact, in Revelation 20:12, we get a very powerful and deep perspective on it. He said it this way: “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” That is called the great white throne of judgment and it is for unbelievers. That should give you some relief. But notice in that verse, there’s no reference to a scale, comparing the good and the bad. You know why that is? Because doing something good does not remove the record of doing something bad.

So, for example, let’s say you stole something, you stole $20. That’s on the record. It is on the record. And not stealing something else doesn’t take away from the fact that the $20 was stolen. If you lie, that’s on the record. Now telling some truth doesn’t remove the lie that you told from the record. Let’s do a show of hands. I think it illustrates it more powerfully this way. Really, we’re going to do a show of hands. How many people in this room have ever told a lie? Let’s raise our hands and I’m going to look around to make sure that every hand is raised. Because everyone has told a lie. All right now, if you’ve told a lie what does that make you? It makes you a liar.

Now I’m going to ask you a question, but please don’t answer it because it’s a trap. Do liars go to heaven? How many people have ever cheated? Show of hands. Have you ever played Monopoly? Come on raise your hand. How many people have ever cheated? Do cheaters go to heaven? Here’s the answer to the question. The answer to the question is, No. Liars don’t go to heaven. Cheaters don’t go to heaven. Can I give you a verse? 1 Corinthian 6:9 let’s just read it. 1 Corinthian 6:9: “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers” . . . and frankly I could go on and on with the list, none of these “shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Now if we just stop there it’d be really heavy. But here’s the thing there’s another verse. Verse 11 is the Gospel. Verse 11 is amazing. Because what it says is this, “And such were some of you but you were washed”, my friends, “you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Right there, that’s amazing! That’s the Gospel! When you read verse 11 it should make you want to dance in the aisles because it is the Gospel. That’s why Paul says I’m not ashamed. Are you kidding? Do you see what it does? See when you go to heaven, you don’t go to heaven as a liar. It takes the lies away and it gives you the truth of Jesus Christ in its place. You don’t go to heaven as a cheater. It takes all the cheats away. It takes all the unrighteousness and all the ungodliness away as far as from the east to the west. So, has He removed our transgressions from us. That is amazing. That is freedom and we have been set free by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the glory and blessing of having our sins forgiven and the righteousness of God given to us as a gift. That’s why we say “Oh what a blessing” when God reckons righteousness.

C. What a blessing when God reckons righteousness

Seeing verses 5-8, go back to Romans 4 and verses 5-8, Paul writes about the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness. He says David knows all about that blessing. Oh, David knows a few things about that. Then he quotes from Psalms 32 which was read earlier about how David received God’s forgiveness for the terrible sin about Bathsheba. David was in that list, “adulterer”. Oh, yeah and more. But he received forgiveness, see he said, when he hid his sin, he groaned all day, his strength was drained. But when he was honest with himself and with God and acknowledged his sin, he believed that God will forgive him.

Remember what we said last week? Honesty turns the heart. Honesty is when the heart gets honest, the heart starts to turn. You’re right God, when he hid it, when he tried to deceive, when he tried to put it in the shadows, it groaned inside. It tore me up inside. But when he got honest, you’re right Lord, you’re right. I’m a sinner. You’re right. That was terrible what I did. You’re absolutely right, God. That was the ugliness of sin. You’re right. But I also know this. You see David has faith. He knew in whom he had believed. He knew the gracious heart of God. He knew the compassion of God. He knew the forgiveness of God and believed it. That’s faith. And it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Now that word, reckon, is an important word. It’s been used many times. The word “reckon” is an accounting term. It’s very important for us to understand. Many of you took accounting so this is a good review of what it means. To reckon as righteousness means that righteousness is added or credited to your account. It goes in the credit column. What’s added to you? The righteousness of God is added to your account on the credit side. Oh, that’s really glorious but wait a minute. I think you’re talking about a scale now. Because I think I got some stuff on the debit side. What about all the stuff on the debit side? Oh, I’m glad you asked. The stuff on the debit side is important for us to understand. Those are all the lies, the cheats, the sins, all the stuff we’ve done, all the ungodly things in life.

Here is the Gospel. He clears all of those debits, all of those sins and lies and the whole mess of it. He takes it out of your account and He places it in the account of Jesus Christ. And then He gives the righteousness of Jesus Christ into your account on the credit side, so that when you stand before God, there are no debits. There’s no sin residing in you. He has fully washed you and made you clean, sanctified you, justified you, so that you stand before the throne of the living God as one made holy. You didn’t earn a drop of it. It’s all by the gift of God. It’s grace.

Having said that, there are also things that we need to see. There’s consequences for sins in our lives. You might say there are scars. Scars remain even though your sins are forgiven in heaven. David is an example. David’s sins were forgiven, but it took a great toll on his life and it took a great toll on his family. In other words, there were scars. Maybe you’ve made mistakes. Maybe you’ve made wrong choices in the past. You’ve come to Christ and you’ve asked for forgiveness. You are forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ. You are forgiven but you bear the scars, the consequences that remained. You see, some of those scars teach us the greatest lessons in life.

The Lord frequently allows painful consequences, scars, so that He can teach us lessons that we would otherwise never learn. Scars. But I’m also convinced, I’m also convinced that we are so justified, so made righteous. Justified meaning just as if I never sinned. We are so justified; I’m convinced that we will not bear those scars in heaven. We will stand in the heavenlies without those scars. But are there scars in heaven? Yes, there are. They are on Him.

Remember when Jesus, after He was raised, after the resurrection, came into the room where the disciples had gathered, and there was Thomas? Thomas, you remember him, the one who had doubted. And He came up to Thomas and said, “Thomas, see here these hands. Touch. See My side. Place your hand.” Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.” “Because you have seen, you believe. Blessed are those who do not see and believe.” Scars. When Jesus returns at the end of the age to Israel, the Messiah will appear to them. They will receive the Messiah but it says, “He will be and they will see that He is the One whom they have pierced.” Scars you mean. An everlasting testimony of the price paid that we might be free of those scars. That we might be truly and totally set free. But then we see in Isaiah 53:5, “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, by His stripes we are healed.”

II. Keep Growing in Faith

Now back to Romans 4. He is talking about the faith of Abraham. Well then he goes into describing what that faith looks like so that we might grow. See here’s the perspective. We need to keep growing in our faith, because our faith has everything to do with our relationship to God. Now in the next few verses, we’re not going to read every verse here, in the next section here, Paul convinces the Jews that are reading this book that the blessing of faith is upon the circumcised and the uncircumcised alike. His point of course is that Abraham received the blessings of that faith before he was even circumcised so that he might be the father of us all. In other words, Abraham is a man of faith and it’s only those who have faith who are the true children of Abraham so that he might be the father of many nations, us too. Then he tells us about that faith, that we might grow stronger.

A. Faith will change how you live

Here’s what’s practical. Faith will change how you live. It will have a radical effect on how you live. Starting at verse 17, let’s read these verses, “As it is written, as father of many nations I have made you.” He’s speaking to Abraham. “In the presence of Him whom he believed, even God who gives life to the dead”, this is what he believed, God gives life to the dead. This is a theme and it’s the substance of faith as well. He believed God calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed. In order that he might become the father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, so shall your descendants be.

Wait a minute, when Abraham received that promise, he had no children. There was no son to inherit that promise. What do you mean I’ll be the father of many nations? I’m not the father of one child. Then verse 19 goes on: “Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb. She’s about 90 years old.” She’s not going to have any kids. She’s 90. She’s way past menopause. 90-year olds don’t have kids. “But with respect to the promise of God he did not waver in unbelief. He grew strong in faith, giving glory to God and being fully assured that what He had promised He was able also to perform. Therefore, also it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Now, not for his sake only was it written, that is was reckoned to him, but our sake also to whom it will be reckoned as those who believe in Him, who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He who was delivered up because of our transgressions and raised because of our justifications. Do you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day? Do you believe that? Then you have faith. By faith you believed that and it is reckoned to you as righteousness. Jesus said to Thomas, “You see and therefore you believe. Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.” He’s speaking about you and me. Do you believe that Jesus is raised from the dead on the third day? If you do, you have faith. He says, now I want you to grow in that faith. Grow in that faith because faith changes what you do. When you believe God, when you take Him at His Word, then you do what He asked you to do. This is key.

Let’s look at it another way. If you don’t have faith, if you don’t believe, if you don’t believe God, then you just go your own way without any consideration of God at all, and that will lead you on a completely different path. If you don’t believe, it will take you on a completely different path. But here’s the point. Abraham, he brings up Abraham, because Abraham believed, he was obedient, it changed what he did, changed where he went. It changed his whole perspective on life. He believed that God would do what He said He would do. And here’s the point. This is really important to take hold of. The more faith you have, the more obedient you are to God’s heart. The more faith you have, the more obedient you are to God’s heart. The more faith you have, the more your life follows God’s heart.

Let’s go back to the first promises of Abraham. When he first heard from God, this is actually Genesis 12:1-4, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father's house to the land which I will show you.’” Leave. He was living with his relatives in the land of Ur of Chaldeans, the Chaldean area which is like the ancient Babylon or Iraq area. Leave there and go to a land that I will show you. Of course, we’re speaking of the Promised Land. He’s never been there. He had no idea where it was. He had no idea where he was going. Leave. There I will show you this land.

Now here come the promises. “I will make you a great nation. I will bless you. I will make your name great. And so you shall be a blessing and I will bless those who bless you. And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” That’s a reference to Christ by the way. “So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him.” God said leave, go to this land. I’m going to pour blessings on your life. So, he did it. That’s faith. He moved. He believed in God who gives life to the dead and hope against hope he believed. That’s a theme. He believed though he was old and Sarah was old.

B. Don’t waver in unbelief

See here’s the point. Don’t waver in unbelief. Abraham contemplated his own body, now he’s good as dead, a hundred years old. The deadness of Sarah’s womb, 90 years old, but he didn’t waver in unbelief. He believed in Him. That’s a great lesson to inspire our faith. Here’s the thing. He didn’t look at the obstacles, the deadness of his own body, the deadness of Sarah’s body. Oh, God can’t You see? Look at these obstacles. He looked at Him who gives life to the dead. He looked upon Him whom brings about those things which do not exist and he had faith.

Let me give you an illustration. When Israel had come out of Egypt, remember the story. They were not out of Egypt even a few months before they arrived very near to the Promised Land. So, they sent out 12 spies and they were given instructions. Find out what the land is like. Is it fruitful, is it fertile, is it filled with trees? Bring back some samples of the fruit. What are the people like? Are the cities fortified? You know, go and find out. Bring back some samples so they did. Huge bunches of grapes, pomegranates, and figs and they brought back this report. Oh, it is amazing, flowing with milk and honey, fertile valleys, richness oh it’s amazing. But here’s the problem, ten of them brought back a report that struck fear into the heart of people. Fear. Fear is the opposite of faith. So much fear did they strike, they wouldn’t do it. They wouldn’t take God at His promises.

It’s right here. Numbers 13:32; this is the ten giving the report, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight.” There’s a perspective. These men are of great sizes, intimidating, and we looked at ourselves and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight. That’s the point. When you see the greatness, the giantness of the problems then you look at yourself and say, “I’m just a grasshopper in my own sight.” Which really ought to bug you. Okay, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I should have hopped over that right there. But faith has a completely different perspective.

Isaiah 40:21-23: I love the challenge of the faith. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth.” That’s interesting. “And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. It is He who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. It is He who reduces rulers to nothing.” Change your perspective. You see the huge problems and you look at yourself, you look like a grasshopper in your own eyes. Is it fix your eyes on Him who is able? Changes your perspective. Abraham grew in faith; he grew stronger in faith he says. Giving glory to God. I love that phrase.

Giving glory to God? Yeah he heard the promise, he believed the promise and he gave glory to God. It means he worshiped, giving glory to God. See worship is giving glory and the very, very important part of our relationship to the Lord. When we gather together we worship. We’re not just getting together to sing happy camper songs. No, this is the heart of a believer who comes in to the presence of the throne of the living God. To give Him thanks and to give Him honor. In all faith, knowing and believing that God inhabits the praises of His people. Something happens when you worship; something happens when you give glory to God. You know what it is? Faith is increasing. I could be going through all kinds of difficulties, heavy things, dark times, you get in the presence of the Lord and you start worshipping; something happens for me.

C. Be fully assured that God is able

Faith starts rising, springs start to come, the soul comes alive. God inhabits the praises of His people. Then it tells us this. Be fully assured, this is faith. This is what faith is - being fully assured that God is able. Verse 21, what He promised he is able to do it. Now you hear that and you might say well great, this is great pal. So, you’re talking to us about Abraham who is the father of faith and how he believed, he believed the promises, that’s great. Here’s the thing. I’m not Abraham okay. I don’t have that kind of faith. In fact, I falter in my faith. I fail in my faith. Well you know what, you’re not alone. Because Abraham did too.

After Abraham received the promise that he would receive a son, his wife Sarah came to him and said, consider the barrenness of my womb. She’d been barren her whole life. Consider the barrenness of my womb. Maybe what God means is that you should take my hand maiden Hagar to be your wife. Abraham listened to his wife. He didn’t listen to God here, he listened to his wife. So, he took Hagar as his wife. And the result was a boy; his name was Ishmael. You might recognize that name, because all of the Arab nation today traced their roots to that boy, Ishmael. And all of the tension that’s happening in the Middle East today, and will be to the end, until the Lord returns, comes back to that moment of the faltering of Abraham’s faith. He faltered. We can relate.

Some 13 years later, God came to him again and said that he would have a son. But let me be very clear this time. It is through Sarah. Now this simply tells us that when Abraham heard that, in his heart he laughed. He laughed, I’m almost a hundred years old and Sarah is 90 years old. You know he said to God, would you consider Ishmael? God said it’s not through Ishmael. The promise is not through Ishmael. You will have a son and you will have a son through Sarah, and I will tell you his name. You name him Isaac. You know what Isaac means? It means, “he laughs”. You name him “he laughs”. You know what, Sarah, she laughed too. When she overheard the Lord speaking to Abraham, she was in her tent and she laughed in her heart. So, the Lord said to Abraham, why did Sarah laugh? Sarah stepped out, I did not laugh. He said, oh but you did laugh. She laughed too. You name him Issac. He laughs. Why did He tell him to name the boy Isaac? Is it forever and always a reminder of failure? Yeah, you name him and every time you look at him, you call him “he laughs”.

Is it forever and always a reminder of failure? I say not. Instead it’s this. You laugh now but when God does it, you will laugh for joy. He will turn your mourning into dancing. He will bring beauty out of ashes. You believe. You know what, they grew. So, you look at them, they felt it. They grew in their faith; even Sarah grew in her faith. Hebrews 11:11, “By faith, even Sarah herself received ability to conceive even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” Glorious!

And then we get to Genesis 21:6, “Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.’” You name him Isaac, for when you see the fulfillment of God, you will laugh with joy.

See we need to see this for our lives. Do you have faith? Do you believe? Take God at His Word, believe His promises and when that promise is fulfilled you will laugh with joy. He’ll bless your life; He’ll pour favor out upon you. Faith is the issue. Do you trust, will you trust God? As we grow in faith we are growing nearer to our Lord.


 

Romans 4:1-25     NASB

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
8 "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lordwill not take into account."
 
9 Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, "Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness." 10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.
 
13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.
 
16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, "A father of many nations have I made you") in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, "So shall yourdescendants be." 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore it was also credited to him asrighteousness. 23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

 

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