Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 7 years ago

Abraham's Justification (Romans 4:1-8)


Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Let's continue to hear God's word, now from Romans four, of verses one through eight. Romans Four. If you're able, please remain standing as we hear God's word and give your undivided attention to it. Romans four, verses one through eight. What, then, shall we say was gained by Abraham, our father, according to the flesh? 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 counted to him as righteousness. Now, to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift, but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him, who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness. Apart from works, blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord Will Not Count His sin. You may be seated. We come to a passage this morning that is in many ways very straightforward and has a very simple point the point of the passage is one that God has been making throughout these pages enrollments so far and we'll continue to make, and it's simply this. You're justified by faith and not by works. It's a simple point and it's one that should amaze us and cause us to fall to our knees and thankfulness and praise. It's one that should encourage our hearts give strength to the way we live our lives. It has deep and lasting impacts when God calls to work in us, but it often seems in some ways so simple that we simply forget it or we don't pay much attention to it, or we kind of check a box and say, well, they are now. I understand that, but it's much more important than that. Paul it's been mentioning this in various ways, arguing for this point, and he's going to press the point even further here. It's right for us to consider it and consider this per this particular example that he gives in Abraham. I'll explain why in a moment, but let's begin by just remembering Paul's basic argument. Paul has been arguing so far that there is no way that our good works could ever possibly earn us anything good before God. Are Good works can't earn us anything good before God because our good works aren't good, because they're tainted and broken and come from evil hearts, hearts that were born and corruption and sin, because of our fall and Adam they also create a situation in which we don't start from a blank slate and simply need to do good things to earn God's blessing, but we start from debt, we start from a negative kind of situation. That's why we call it salvation. What we seek from God and his blessing is not only blessing, but it's the blessing of salvation. It's something that God does for us and bringing us out of our sins.

Now, the reason Paul has been describing it in this way, telling us that our good works aren't all as good as we think they are and that in fact, we have evil works, a cure accruing to us, works that are worthy of the wrath of God, is because he wants to tell us something about that salvation, about the blessing that comes from God through Jesus. What Paul has been arguing is that it's not our good works, but it's his that save us, good works done by the son of God, which are imputed to us. You remember Paul's words back in Romans Chapter One, where he says, for I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, for in it, that is in the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith. As it is written, the righteous shall live by faith. This is Christianity all summed up in just a couple verses. It is how we begin our lives. It is the way we live our lives. Life Living, all the parts of it, beginning, middle and end, happened by faith. And it happens not by our righteousness, our good works, but by God's righteousness. We live by the righteousness of God. Now, just before Romans, for Paul has described this kind of salvation and very particular ways. He described it as justification, as propitiation, as redemption, these technical big words perhaps that mean these specific things. He described our salvation of receiving, receiving the righteousness of God as justification. He described our salvation as God's wrath being turned away, as a propitiation. He described our being set free from sin and death, being released from that bond as redemption. All of these things adding up to this single point that God saves us not by our good works but by his so that brings us to Romans for thank you for tracking so far. Romans for one, through a God, adds further strength to this argument by showing how this is worked out in the particular example of Abraham. In other words, Abraham is justified by faith and not by works. Now, if you don't know much about Abraham, I suspect that this point feels somewhat minor. A valid point, but not really a big deal. Okay, God justifies everyone by faith. Abraham belongs to the category of everyone. So yes, of course Abraham was justified by faith. Move On. But it's not quite right to move on when we talk about Abraham. Abraham is not just someone else who was also justified by faith. But in thinking about Abraham in particular, we begin to understand certain aspects of our salvation. It's we begin to understand how important it is that justification happens in this way. Important not just in a general sense, but important for you and for your lives. God chose to give us this example of Abraham in Romans for precisely because Abraham was a very big deal. He was a big deal two thousand years before Christ came and he is a big deal two thousand years after Christ has come. Think about what the Scriptures say in regards to Abraham and...

...why he in particular might be selected as an example to prove that justification comes by faith alone. Consider how the book of Genesis Begins. Consider how the Bible begins. It begins, of course, in the garden of Eden and moves through a series of genealogies up to Abraham and in then at that point that the story in genesis really slows down and focuses on him in particular. You think about the exodus and Moses and the people of Ed, people coming out of Egypt. That was all because of Abraham, because Abraham's children had multiplied. God brought them out of Egypt because of his promises to Abraham. Even the prophets will appeal back to him over and over again. You have sinned, you have disobeyed, God says to his people, but because of my promises to Abraham, I will bring you out of Babylon, I will bring you back and restore to you a salvation and blessing as my people. Even Isaiah Fifty one two specifically tells us, tells God's people, and Babylon says, look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. So why is Abraham so important? Why does he receive a so much attention? Abraham is important to God's people. He should be important to you because it's through Abraham that God's blessings come. It's as simple as that. Abraham, God selects Abraham and creates through him this chosen family, this special family, whom he has decided to bless. That's something you should want to be a part of. That's something that you should want to belong to. Some of you may be in a position where you have considered a move before. You're trying to decide, do I move to this place or this place? Maybe you're moving your family or maybe you're moving a company or something like that. How do you typically make those decisions? You make them based on the opportunities often that are offered there. The taxes are better here, the work environments here, the climate, whatever it may be. You go to a particular place because there's good things there, you things that you want to have. Well, if the salvation of God comes through this particular family, if the salvation of God comes through a particular family, will you not want to belong to that family? Will you not want to be part of that particular family? You should, because that is what God has promised and what God has given. So that creates a whole series of questions. Well, how do we belong to that family? How can we belong to Abraham? How can he be our father, especially when, I'm very few of us here can actually trace any kind of lineage to Abraham? It creates somewhat of a conundrum, of a problem. If blessing comes through Abraham will then how can I be blessed? How can I be his child? Let's consider the blessing of Abraham as it comes to us in genesis seventeen, where God makes these promises to him, and you will hear why it's right to put it this way. First, we remember that Abraham was ninety nine years old when these blessings came to him. He was an old man. Genesis...

Seventeen, when Abram was ninety nine years old, Jehovah appeared to Abram and said to him I am God Almighty. Walk before me and be blameless. Genesis Seventeen two, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and they multiply you greatly. Now, earlier God had called Abraham out of a very pagan environment. There's a number of ways the scriptures paint that picture for us in the in the genealogy itself, somewhat in the names that we have there. But he calls Abram out of this environment, out of this sinful environment, and he says to him I'm going to make a covenant with you. He says I am going to multiply you greatly. Well, that's a good thing right in and of itself, but there's ways in which God defines that root which make it really good and which make it's in such a way that it's something we should want to be a part of. Will read on. In verse three we see read the Abraham fell on his face and God said to him, behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be called Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful and I will make you into nations and kings shall come from you. Imagine if God said something like something like this to you, if God came to you and said, Victor Bruce Kate, I am going to make you into a great multitude. From you are going to come nations and kings, you are going to be exceedingly great. Wow, can you imagine what it would feel like to hear that kind of promise from one who can actually deliver that kind of promise? No wonder Abraham fell on his face. But he goes on and he says, I will establish my covenants between me and you and your offspring after you, throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and to your offspring after you. So God not only promises to do this great thing and to supervise it all to make sure that it happens, but he is going to be up God to these people. He is going to be there, he is going to provide for them, he's going to take care of them, he's going to be their ruler and their king. Earlier we saying, God of Abram, praise, ever, God of Abraham, praise. That's why we praise him, because he has Abraham's God. Verse Eight. I will give to you and to your offspring after you, the land of your sojourneys, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God. These are amazing promises in remind us that God is pointing to sort of something with two levels. On the one hand, he's going to bring them into the land of Canaan, he's going to give them this beautiful land, what the Bible calls almost glorious land, flowing with milk and honey. He's not just going to expand his people, but he's going to provide a place for them to live. You see the details, you see the way in which and ways in which God takes care of his people, and so God gives promises these things. But it's not only earthly he promises him in everlasting possession. Indeed, that inheritance that we read about in First Peter, and Abraham knew this in Hebrews...

Eleven. The the the Bible says that Abraham looked toward a heavenly city. He knew that there was something that he was waiting for. So when God is making these promises, he's not only making them in a kind of earthly blessed way, but in an altimate, heavenly kind of way, a way in which they don't just have a family of many, many people, with kings and rulers and glory and land, but one that is united and together and loving one another and do you ut, and called around a singular purpose and worshiping God, the only True God. This is what God is promising to Abraham. This is the kind of blessing that comes to Abraham and his family. Well, as we continue on in Jenesen's genesis seventeen, we read that this comes in particular through a son. In Verse Fifteen, God said to Abraham, as for Sarah, your wife, you shall not call her name Sarah, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her and, moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her and she shall become nations, kings of people shall come from her. Well, the Neighbraham doesn't believe. The NEBRAHAM fell on his face, not out of thankfulness, but he laughs and says to himself. Shall a child be born to a man who's a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child? Well, that we see here a kind of lack of faith. But ultimately Abraham will believe, for God has promised. And Verse Twenty One we read, but I will establish my covenant with Isaac, with Whom Share Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year. So this is the promise God gives. Now, sandwich between these two things, we have this sign of circumcisions, which will consider next time from Romans, a sign of circumcision. But what we see here, and the main point I want to make in reading these verses this is it. God is making these spectacular promises to Abraham. So, going back to the earlier point, if we want to belong to the salvation of God, if we want to belong to the family of God and have the promises of God and the blessings of God, it's going to come through Abraham. It's going to come through him. That's something that ruth understood when she clung to Naomi and said your God will be my God. I want to be where you are. It's a truth that ray have understood when she hid the spies and and helped Israel, and it's something that the gentiles in the new testaments understood least, sometimes struggled with as well. They had this question. God had been the god of Abraham since Genesis. How do we relate to that? We who are not of Abraham, according to the flesh, how can we have these blessings? This is why Abraham is important and this is why Paul brings him up in Romans, for the answer is in the way that God called Abraham, in the way that he saved him. Earlier, I quoted Isaiah fifty one. Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, your mother. The verse continues on. When I called him, he was but one and I blessed him and made him many. Look to Abraham,...

...look to Sarah, because when I called him, he was one and I blessed him and made him many. Why does God and Isaiah want his people to look to Abraham? Because in Abraham we see the promises of God fulfilled. In Abraham we see God doing a amazing things. I called him and he was one, I blessed him and he was many. This is Paul's message to us in Romans Chapter Four. He begins by asking this question. What, then, shall we say, was gained by Abraham, our forefather, according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God. What does the Scripture say? And then it quotes from Genesis hundred and twenty six. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Paul makes a biblical argument. He says, how do we know Abraham was saved? Not by his works, but by simply believing and receiving God's goods works. He says it happened. We know this because the scripture proves it, because before we read of circumcision in genesis seventeen, we have Abraham believing before Abraham did anything, before Abraham circumcised his children, before Abraham went and in faith obeyed God in many different ways, he simply believed the promises of God and they were counted to him as righteousness. This corresponds well to the point that Isaiah makes. We look at Abraham as this example and we see this one who has been blessed in all these ways. We see the promises of God being fulfilled in him. How because Abraham walked in a certain path, a certain godly example, and if we follow him in his footsteps, then we can be like him and also receive the promises of God. No, we look at Abraham and we see God doing this work and if we belong, if we want to belong to those promises, if we want to enjoy that blessing, if we want to belong to that family, then likewise we must believe and in that we belong to that family. It's a simple point. God saves not by works, are works, but by his Abraham didn't become the father of a multitude at age ninety nine because he was so fertile and so powerful and so great. He was weak. He laughed at the fact that God promised these things. Abraham became what he became because of who God was and what God did. The same is to for us. If we want these blessings, if we want to enjoy this salvation that's promised to Abraham, we can't trust in our works like Abraham. We must believe God and have his good works, his power, credited to us. Paul emphasizes all this in verse four by saying now to the one who works his wages are not counted as a gift, but as his due. But what is he said about our works, our wages? What gets counted to us is our due, our sins. Our due is the wrath of God, the wages of sin.

Paul has said, it's death. We don't want to live life according to that formula. We don't want to stand before God and say, just give me what's my due. That's all I ask, because we will die. What is David say? Paul says blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven. Blessing comes not to the one who stands before God and says, look at all the great things that I've done for you this week, look at all my good intentions, look at the life that I've lived. Blessing doesn't come to the one who stands himself on his good works. Blessing comes to the one who's lawless deeds are forgiven. That's how we have blessing, who sins are covered. So God makes this point to us in Romans, for he tells us that justification comes to us not by our works, because in our works we need forgiveness. Justification comes to us by God's works. But when we're justified, we receive not just a theological term that we can remember, we receive the plot promises that are given to Abraham. We become princes and princesses, kings and Queens. God becomes our God and we are not bound to worshiping rocks and trees and dirt and gold, but the living and True God who watches over us, who protects us, who gives us gifts, who treats us as his children. To belong to the family of Abraham is to belong to the family of God. For those who love to stand by their works and Trumpet Their Deeds, this message is infuriating, obnoxious, irrelevant. The one who wants to stand on his works, who wants to be treated according to his due, the one who is prideful. This is all, as I say, irrelevant, maybe even I'm hateful. But if, instead, you find yourself in a position of humility, if you know the turmoils in your soul, if you know the wages that you have earned are not life but death, if you know your sins, if you're aware of your regrets and your sorrows, then this message is hope. God has provided a salvation that is for you a salvation that is abundant and rich, that is filled with life and goodness, that belongs to a heavenly country, surrounded by a heavenly people, in a heavenly family. This is God's gift to you in Jesus Christ. Receive it by setting aside your works and your pride and trusting in him and his power to save. May God help us to understand these things and to live by them. Let us pray.

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