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Romans 4:1-25

Grow Strong in Faith

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • September 17, 2023

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 change everything.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Grow Strong in Faith
Romans 4:1-25
September 17, 2023

As we are continuing our study of Romans, we have seen that Paul has by now made it evident that all have fallen short of the glory of God, and all need the good news of the gospel to make us righteous before God.

So where does righteousness come from? It comes from God; He gives righteousness to us 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 change everything.

I. Find what Abraham Found

  • What’s amazing is that God gives righteousness as a gift, that’s the gospel. Because that promise is in the New Testament, you might think it’s a new thing, but Paul takes us back to Abraham to say that this has been God’s heart since the beginning.
  • With God, it’s about faith, and it’s always been about faith.
  1. 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.


  • Do you want to stake your eternal future on your works, on what you think you deserve, or stake your future on God’s grace? What we know from our study so far, is that one is useless and the other one is guaranteed.
  • Yet many live like they are staking their future on their own merits. “God, I want what is due to me!” This is a very dangerous and foolish mindset. It is like a child not understanding the full scope of life.

Illus – There once was a mother who was challenged by her teenage daughter on what the daughter thought her mother owed her…

  • If you work for something, you get paid what you deserve. Now we have already seen that what we deserve is death, no matter how many good works we have. So, this accounting system does not work with God in relation to righteousness and salvation.
  • 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, or was a record of all you do or did

  • Why the is or was, do or did? It is all about whether you are found in Jesus or not. 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 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. All other major religions believe this.

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. Remember, even our good works fall short of the glory of God.

Illus – It is like when you wear a white garment. When you make a mark on it with a black Sharpie, it is not erased by making a mark with a lighter-colored Sharpie.

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? Have you ever stolen?

  • The answer is no, liars and cheaters, etc. don’t get into heaven. Even with one lie, one-time cheating you are disqualified.
  • The law was given to show us the impossibility of making it by merit. The animal sacrifices that were done were not able to wash away sin.

Hebrews 10:4, For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

  • They were only a foreshadowing of the sacrifice Jesus would bring. It was like a credit card. They were drawing into credit by trusting God that He would forgive them as promised. The account could only be settled by the blood of the Lamb on the Cross, Jesus Christ who paid the debt he did not owe for the debt they could not pay.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11   … And such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…

  • That’s the gospel; God takes sinners and makes them righteous as a gift. He sanctifies them, in other words, washes and sets them apart for a purpose.

Illus – Let’s say you used your wife’s beautiful glass salad bowl as an oil pan to drain the car’s oil. Now it is filthy and has been lying outside for weeks. She then comes upon it. She can throw it away, but she has a love for this bowl because it was given to her by her mother as an heirloom. She lovingly washes it, polishes it, and sets it apart in a special place to be used for its intended purpose for special occasions. And now you are not allowed to touch it!

  • He justifies them. What does that mean? It is the gracious and judicial act of God whereby a soul is granted complete absolution from all guilt and a full release from the penalty of sin.
  • This is all wonderful, glorious news, but it must be received by faith.

      C. Rejoice over God’s accounting

  • In verses 5-8, Paul writes about the blessings upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness.
  • God has a different accounting system. God does not look at your works, your faith in Jesus who justifies is credited as righteousness.

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.

  • 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.
  • He will not take your sin into account. He moves it off the books. Now, some might say that is fraudulent accounting. But this is only true if there is nothing to balance it with.
  • No, by the grace of God, He takes your sin and puts it into Christ’s account and then He takes Christ’s righteousness and infinitely adds it to your account. So, your sin does not show up in your account. This is why we thank and praise the Lord!
  • But there might still be consequences for that sin in our life. You might say some scars 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,  but you may bear the scars, and the consequences remain. Even this though, He can turn it around for His glory, turning ashes into beauty.

  • He can also heal the inner wounds we have because of our past.

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.

Illus. An open wound is sore. You cannot touch it without cringing. When a wound is healed, it leaves a scar, but the thicker scar tissue is normally stronger than the tissue that was there before.

  • When Jesus heals our wounds, we can carry those scars as testimonies without feeling the pain of it.
  • 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.

II. Keep Growing in Faith

  • In the next section, Paul convinces the Jews reading this book that the blessing of faith is upon the circumcised and the uncircumcised alike.
  • His point is that Abraham received the blessings of faith that were reckoned to him as righteousness before he was even circumcised so that he might be the father of us all. This was before the law was even given. He was circumcised as a sign of his faith.
  • In the same way, our hearts are circumcised as a sign of our faith in Jesus.
  • Abraham was a man of faith, and he is not only the father of the Jews, but also those who live by faith are children of Abraham because spiritually they have followed his example.
  • From His bloodline, through David, would come the Messiah who would make all righteous who would put their faith in Him. Abraham’s faith is a type of THAT faith that is needed.
  • Then Paul tells us about the faith of Abraham so that we might grow stronger in faith ourselves.

      A. Faith will change how you live

  • 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 you follow 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 did not say, God, I like the promises, but I don’t want to go on the journey. Just bless me where I am. It doesn’t work that way. To take hold of the promises, you have to be on the journey and be obedient.
  • He believed in God who gives life to the dead. In hope against hope he believed. This is powerful. He even trusted that God could raise Isaac from the dead because God promised an offspring through Isaac.
  • 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

  • Abraham contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about 100 years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
  • Yet he didn’t waver in unbelief. He believed in him who gives life to the dead.
  • This is a great lesson to inspire our faith. Don’t fix your eyes on your limitations, look to Him who promises.

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. Faith has a different perspective.

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 to nothing.

  • In this instance, Joshua and Caleb had the right perspective. “We can take them because God is for us and He promised to give this land to us. He is greater than the enemy!”
  • 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.
  • You start to look at your problems from a different perspective. Nothing is too difficult for our God, nothing is greater than our God. He is greater than all giants.

     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 make mistakes.” 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. This was their own plan instead of waiting on the Lord.
  • 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 a 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  Him faithful who had promised.

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

  • We grow strong in faith when we get to know the One who made the promise.

Illus. – Our process of coming to this church was a great illustration of this…

Hebrews 12: 2, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, 

  • We look to Jesus, what He said, what He promised, and what is accounted to us because of Him. As we grow in this knowledge and takes hold if it, our faith grows strong.

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

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

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 your descendants 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 as righteousness. 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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