- Sermon Notes
Grow Strong in Faith
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
- Paul says the gospel is amazing, it’s the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes.
- 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.
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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
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
- 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 was reckoned to him as righteousness before he was even circumcised so that he might
be the father of us all.
- In other words, Abraham was a man of faith, and it’s only those who have faith who are the true children of Abraham, because he is the father of many
nations, not just of the Jews.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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…
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
- 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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.