A Powerful Picture of Saving Faith

Johnny Kjaer February 23, 2020 Romans 4:1-25
Outline

1. The beauty and power of the gospel – 1:1-17

Romans 1:1 - Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…

Romans 1:16-17 - 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 the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

2. The immoral are lost – 1:18-32

3. The moral are lost – 2:1-16

4. The religious are lost – 2:17-29

“Our best duties are as so many splendid sins…you must not only be made sick of your…sin, but you be sick of your righteousness, or all your duties and performances. There must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness. It is the last idol taken out of your heart.” Sermon 58, J.C. Ryle. The Select Sermons of George Whitefield

5. Everybody is lost – 3:1-20

6. The righteousness of Christ is available for all who will repent and believe

Romans 3:21-22 - But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction…

Justification – made and declared righteous by God

Redemption – you sin has been paid for by the shed blood of Jesus

Propitiation – God’s wrath against sin has been fully satisfied

Romans 3:26 - …so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

3 perspectives through which we marvel at what faith can do

I. The Result of Faith – We are Credited as Righteous – vv. 1-8

A. The beautiful faith God gave Abraham

“The Jews of Jesus’ day considered Abraham the primary example of justification by works.” Robert Mounce, Romans, Vol. 27; The New American Commentary, p. 121

Genesis 6:5 - Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 12:1-3 - 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 will be blessed.”

Genesis 15:17-18 - It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates…”

Romans 11:25-29 - For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Genesis 15:5-6 - And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him 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.

B. The power of something being credited

Logizomai - credited – (v. 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24) and count (v. 8)

“…to credit something is to confer a status that was not there before” (Tim Keller, p. 96)

Romans 4:5 - But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness…

“If we compare other verses in which this same grammatical construction is used as in Genesis 15:6 we arrive at the conclusion…that the [crediting] of Abram’s faith as righteousness means ‘to account him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him.’” Douglas Moo, p. 262

C. Understanding saving faith

Romans 4:2 - For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

Romans 4:4-5 - 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…

“Anyone who asks one of these questions to a random sample of church-going people will be surprised at the large number who say one of:

(a) Because I have tried my best to be a good Christian

(b) Because I believe in God and try to do his will

(c) Because I believe in God with all my heart

This is not a trick question. It reveals common misconceptions about what it means to believe, to have faith. Answer (a) is a ‘salvation by works’ answer. Answer (b) is a ‘salvation by faith plus works’ answer. Answer (c) is a ‘salvation by faith as a work’ answer. In each case, the person is religious, but it not someone who ‘does not work’ (v. 5); they have not done a real trust transfer. In the last case, the person has even come to trust in his or her trust! But each alternative misses the glorious release of the gospel. These false understandings of saving faith will lead to insecurity, anxiety, a lack of assurance, possible spiritual pride, touchiness to criticism, and a devastation in light of any moral lapses!

What saving faith is makes a total difference. If faith equals obedience, you are placing your faith in yourself and your abilities. This will lead to boasting and pride (or to despair and self-hatred if you fail). But if faith equals trust in God’s promise to save, then you are placing your faith in God and his ability. That leads to humility and confidence – which is…what ‘Abraham…discovered’.” Tim Keller, p. 99-100

D. King David could not have agreed more

Romans 4:6-8 - …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.”

II. The Extent of Biblical Faith – We are All Children of Abraham – vv. 9-18

A. The order of Abraham’s justification and circumcision is very important

Romans 4:9-10 - Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised…

B. Abraham is our father too

Romans 4:11 - …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.

C. God designed it this way to demonstrate His grace

Romans 4:16 - 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…

D. Abraham stands in a long line of people who were given life from the dead

Romans 4:17 - … (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.

Ephesians 2:1-5 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) …

III. The Focus of Biblical Faith – We Seek to Glorify God – vv. 19-25

A. By believing that spiritual reality may be far different than what you currently observe – v. 19

v. 19 – …without becoming weak in faith…

B. By focusing on the reliability of God’s promises – v. 20

Romans 4:20 - …yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God…

C. By placing your confidence in God’s ability, not your own – v. 21

Romans 4:21 - …and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

I grew up outside of Chicago. I grew up in a house with 2 other brothers who both loved and excelled in athletics, so it was natural for me to immediately fall in love with sports.

And when your favorite city has the best basketball player of all time playing for arguably the best team in the history of basketball, you begin to really love basketball. So I have always passionately played, cheered for, and followed basketball.

Almost 9 years ago we welcomed home our first son, Leif. And soon it became apparent that he was going to be huge. In fact in one of those guess how tall your kid will be moments we found out that is on track to be somewhere around 6’8” tall.

As a dad my thoughts immediately went to I hope he loves sports. I hope he loves baseball and I really hope likes basketball.

And at 6’8” I hope he excels at one of those sports. Well, Leif has decided that he really loves basketball. I mean when he can he is outside shooting hoops, upstairs in his room playing nerf basketball, watching videos about basketball, playing basketball video games, and talking non-stop about basketball.

And I love it because we get to talk about a common passion. In fact, I challenge you to mention to my son that you believe that Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan and he will properly disarm your argument. And I guarantee he will tell me about your poor judgement.

Lately, I have been talking to Leif about how to play defense. Get in the proper position, don’t reach for the ball, watch the defender’s belly button (you cannot go anywhere without your belly button, but you can move the ball around and trick your defender), and always keep your body between him and the hoop.

So the other night we were watching one of our favorite college basketball teams, University of Alabama, play a game. We are only Alabama basketball fans because I went to college with their head coach.

I had just finished telling him to watch one of the players on Alabama play defense, because he keeps proper position and stays in front of the player instead of reaching for the ball.

Immediately the player he was guarding lowered his shoulder and plowed through the defender and was called for an offensive foul.

That moment was incredibly powerful in helping him understand the concepts I was trying to teach him. He suddenly had a vivid illustration of why playing defense the right way is always best.

He could suddenly see what we had been discussing and it made more sense because there was an example of why it works.

  • And that’s just what we need sometimes – an illustration that demonstrates the concepts that we are trying to learn.
    • And would you believe it – that’s just where we find ourselves in our study through the Book of Romans as we continue Celebrating God’s Truth
  • We are in beginning the 4th chapter of this incredible Book this morning (*turn there)
    • One of the challenges that Pastor Viars has given us is to read through Romans from the beginning to the point where we find ourselves that week, each and every week
      • This is to keep up with the logic of the letter
        • Though this will likely serve as a refresher for you all, let’s go ahead and do that together this AM
          • First we discussed:
        • 1. The beauty and power of the gospel – 1:1-17
          • Paul says that in the very first sentence…
            • Romans 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
              • Then he explains the impact the gospel had on him as well as the followers of Christ in Rome
                • He then concludes that section by saying -- Romans 1:16–17 - 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 the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
              • We clearly see the centrality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the free gift of salvation that is available through trusting in Him
              • Paul then explains why the gospel is mankind’s only hope…
              • 2. The immoral are lost – 1:18-32
                • that’s a very hard passage to study, but so incredibly relevant to the culture in which we live
                  • but before everyone else got too excited, Paul then explains that…
                • 3. The moral are lost – 2:1-16
                  • Now Paul’s logic is becoming clearer
                    • Some people might be “behaviorally better” than someone else, but that’s not the standard
                      • God doesn’t show partiality – He doesn’t compare one person to another
                        • His standard is His perfect righteousness, so being a little less lost than someone else is still lost…
                      • then came the shocker…
                      • 4. The religious are lost – 2:17-29
                        • doing certain religious things does not in any way earn merit before a righteous God…
                          • I have to not only hate my bad deeds – but I have to hate my good ones as well if they were performed in order to impress God or earn His favor…
                            • that was the point of a sermon from the great evangelist George Whitefield – “Our best duties are as so many splendid sins…you must not only be made sick of your…sin, but you be sick of your righteousness, or all your duties and performances. There must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness. It is the last idol taken out of your heart.” (Sermon 58, from J.C. Ryle, The Select Sermons of George Whitefield).
                          • and then Paul concluded his argument with a 13-point indictment affirming the total depravity of man…
                          • 5. Everybody is lost – 3:1-20
                            • how many people are righteous, according to that passage?
                              • none, no one, not even one
                                • and then, by God’s grace – we have the second half of chapter 3 – which many people consider to be the very heart of the Bible
                                  • Commentator Leon Morris called it the most important paragraph ever written, where Paul talks about…
                                • 6. The righteousness of Christ is available for all who will repent and believe
                                  • Listen to this breath of fresh air:
                                    • Romans 3:21–22 - But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
                                      • and then we are introduced to three crucial biblical concepts which make all of this possible…
                                        • Justification – made and declared righteous by God
                                      • Redemption – your sin has been paid for by the shed blood of Jesus
                                      • Propitiation – God’s wrath against sin has been fully satisfied
                                      • And the beauty of this is – God does not have to compromise His character in order to make this possible…and you did not have to try to earn it…
                                        • why?...there is a crucial phrase in this chapter that ties all of this together…
                                          • Romans 3:26 - …so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
                                        • He was just – the price for sin was fully satisfied…and justifier – He paid the price through the finished work of His only Son…
                                        • So in the first few chapters, we are told how dire our situation is – far worse than our cruise control going out
                                          • Chapter 3 closes with the price that must be payed – far more than the cost of parts and labor – verse 25 mentions the cost at the immeasurably high price of the blood of Jesus
                                            • The chapters leading up to 4 have been heavy – both in the nature of the topics and in theology
                                          • Do you know what we need at this point my friends?... we need an illustration…we need a picture of exactly how this works…
                                            • and the good news is – that’s exactly what we have in Romans chapter 4…A Powerful Picture of Saving Faith
                                              • It’s time to talk about a man named Abraham…
                                            • We’re talking this am about A Powerful Picture of Saving Faith…and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 perspectives through which we marvel at what faith can do.
                                              • First, we see…
                                            • The first verse of our passage sets the tone of what the chapter talks about – “What then shall we say that Abraham has found?”
                                              • Coming out of the end of chapter 3, Paul anticipates the question – “you say that we are justified apart from the law and works, but what about our father, Abraham?”
                                                • But Paul is going to do something marvelous – he is going to take the very example that some try to use to demonstrate works-based righteousness and turn their own gun on them
                                                  • He is going to use Abraham to prove what has been the case all along – salvation has always been by faith alone – we are shown…
                                                • Romans 4:3 is a direct quote from Genesis 15:6 – faith-based righteousness can be traced back to the calling of Abraham
                                                  • But that’s not what the common belief was
                                                • Commentator Robert Mounce explains – “The Jews of Jesus’ day considered Abraham the primary example of justification by works.” (Robert Mounce, Romans, Vol. 27; The New American Commentary, p. 121).
                                                  • The same goes for David – the man after God’s own heart
                                                    • The thought was that David had earned favor with God based on his own merits (and a misreading of the Psalms may lead you to believe this as well)
                                                      • But Paul goes back to the very occasion of covenant with Abraham to show that Abraham is actually wearing the other team’s jersey!
                                                        • He does the same with David
                                                      • But looking back at the conditions of Genesis, it is not too dissimilar to what Paul has been describing in chapters 1-3
                                                        • In fact, Genesis 6 describes humanity in this way:
                                                          • Genesis 6:5 - Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
                                                            • Fast forward to Genesis 12 – God calls Abraham out of a pagan world to Himself
                                                              • And we see no clear reason as to why He chose Abraham (or at that time, Abram) over any other person leading up to his calling:
                                                                • Genesis 12:1–3 - 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 will be blessed.”
                                                              • Do you know what the condition of Abram’s calling was?
                                                                • While some covenants that the Lord makes with his people are conditional (obedience=blessing, disobedience=cursings), the covenant the Lord chose to enter into with Abraham was unconditional
                                                                  • Paul will use the term “irrevocable” in Romans 11 for this promise
                                                                • So the common covenantal practice for the time was enacted – an animal was halved and the parties of the covenant walk between them, as if to say – “so shall it happen to me if I fail to do my part”
                                                                  • except that’s not what happened in this case – God caused a deep sleep to fall on Abraham…
                                                                    • · Genesis 15:17–18 - It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates…
                                                                  • the point was, this is an unconditional covenant based on the faithful character of God…and the faithful character of God alone…
                                                                    • Is this good news?
                                                                      • What’s the biblical word for “good news”? – GOSPEL
                                                                    • [[No Romans 11 reference]]
                                                                      • Now, what’s man’s responsibility?
                                                                        • to exercise the faith God had given him…to trust in God’s saving provision…
                                                                          • We see this illustration played out in Genesis 15 (the passage that is quoted in Romans 4:3)…
                                                                            • ¨ Genesis 15:5–6 - And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
                                                                          • Remember – Abraham would be 100 years old before this promise was fulfilled, so God is telling him he will be the father of many nations and he doesn’t even have one son
                                                                            • and what was the status of his wife in terms of her ability to bear children (infertile)
                                                                              • Yet what did Abraham do?...he exercised the faith God gave him…
                                                                            • You might ask, “why do you keep saying faith God gave him, faith God gave him?”
                                                                              • ...because ultimately even our faith is a gift from God
                                                                                • how do we know that?...
                                                                              • · 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 your faith is a gift of God…but you have to exercise…you have to do your part…
                                                                              • but please don’t overemphasize that aspect by saying things like – what if my faith isn’t perfect [it won’t be]…
                                                                                • Abraham had some serious moral lapses after Genesis 15…like the times he said his wife was his sister… (*bad play)
                                                                              • Adversely, we can be encouraged that our faith can grow – because Abrahams would be especially tested later when God told him to offer Isaac – and Abraham obeyed and trusted God…
                                                                                • but the focus shouldn’t be the perfection of your faith – but instead in the perfection of the object of your faith…
                                                                                  • we’re trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ…we’re trusting the promises God has given us in His Word…
                                                                                • With ALL of this in mind, let’s look back at Romans 4…what is the result of Abraham’s faith?...
                                                                                  • *read 4:1-3
                                                                                    • Romans 4:1–3 (NASB95) 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.”
                                                                                  • We are introduced to…
                                                                                  • Paul is introducing us to a crucial term in Scripture…it’s the Greek word logizomai
                                                                                    • § it means credited – (v. 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24) and count (v. 8).
                                                                                      • this is an accounting term, that Tim Keller defines as such:
                                                                                        • ¨ “to credit something is to confer a status that was not there before” (Tim Keller, p. 96)
                                                                                      • - so let’s say you owe $1000 on your Master Card account
                                                                                        • You paid for tickets to travel to Alabama to show your son how to play proper defense, or something like that.
                                                                                          • You look at your next statement and a friend of yours sent in $1000 and it was credited to your account…which now means the account is entirely paid off…
                                                                                            • - that would be a happy day, right?...you’ve been conferred a status that was not there before…”debt free”…
                                                                                              • This is basically what David was talking about in vvv6-8 of our passage (quoting Ps 32:1-2)
                                                                                                • Romans 4:6–8 (NASB95) just 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 LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”
                                                                                              • But do you know what would be better than that?...if someone you loved put $2000 on your account…so not only are you debt free – you have $1000 in reserve for any emergency that might come up…so you have a $1000 credit…you have been conferred a status that was not there before…
                                                                                                • That’s what happens when you place your faith in the finished work of Christ alone for your salvation
                                                                                                  • God credits that to your account that was embarrassingly and hopelessly in arrears
                                                                                                • in fact the text says – he credits you as being righteous
                                                                                                • Please look carefully at verse 5… Romans 4:5 - But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
                                                                                                  • Douglas Moo – “If we compare other verses in which this same grammatical construction is used as in Genesis 15:6 we arrive at the conclusion…that the [crediting] of Abram’s faith as righteousness means ‘to account him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him.’” (Moo, p. 262)
                                                                                                • You have to take all of this back to what we studied in the second half of chapter 3…this kind of justification (being righteousness’ed) would not be possible apart from redemption and propitiation…
                                                                                                  • God had to be both just (a price was fully paid) and justifier (He’s the One who paid it)
                                                                                                    • In addition, it’s the one who “does not work” that is credited as righteous
                                                                                                      • As Pastor Brad Bigney would say – “when it comes to our justification, we are in the unemployment line”
                                                                                                    • What amazing power belief has! For us, faith is everything necessary!
                                                                                                      • But let’s pause and be sure we are…
                                                                                                    • What is it that Paul tells his readers to be sure they’ve done?
                                                                                                      • in Tim Keller’s words, to be sure they’ve made a “trust transfer”
                                                                                                    • Why can’t Abraham boast about his relationship with God?...what’s the answer from Romans 4?...because he didn’t earn it…he didn’t work for it…
                                                                                                      • But in verse 2, Paul gives ground to the other team for a minute: “let’s just say that we are justified through works for a minute – Abraham would then have something to boast about”
                                                                                                        • And we would agree, right?
                                                                                                          • For instance, if Pastor Johnny earned Pastor Johnny’s salvation for what Pastor Johnny had done, who could then say he is better than all you unjustified sinners? (Pastor Johnny!)
                                                                                                            • But even if this were true – who could I not boast before?
                                                                                                          • Ø - Romans 4:2 - For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
                                                                                                            • § I need everyone’s attention – there are a HUGE number of people who do not believe this
                                                                                                              • · In discipleship and counseling, there is a question I ask essentially everybody – “if you stood before God today and He asked you the question, “why should I let you into my heaven?” what would your response be?
                                                                                                                • ¨ I can boil the majority of responses I receive down to one single word: ME
                                                                                                                  • Ø And let me tell you, if you have anything to do with your reason as to why you should be let into heaven, you have answered wrongly
                                                                                                                    • § Why?
                                                                                                                      • · Because there is no boast before God – especially from the lips of the ungodly
                                                                                                                    • Ø Romans 4:4–5 - 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,
                                                                                                                    • Tim Keller actually expounds on this very question in his commentary on the Book of Romans:
                                                                                                                      • § Anyone who asks one of these questions to a random sample of church-going people will be surprised at the large number who say one of:
                                                                                                                    • § (a) Because I have tried my best to be a good Christian
                                                                                                                    • § (b) Because I believe in God and try to do his will
                                                                                                                    • § (c) Because I believe in God with all my heart
                                                                                                                    • § This is not a trick question. It reveals common misconceptions about what it means to believe, to have faith. Answer (a) is a ‘salvation by works’ answer. Answer (b) is a ‘salvation by faith plus works’ answer. Answer (c) is a ‘salvation by faith as a work’ answer. In each case, the person is religious, but it not someone who ‘does not work’ (v. 5); they have not done a real trust transfer. In the last case, the person has even come to trust in his or her trust! But each alternative misses the glorious release of the gospel. These false understandings of saving faith will lead to insecurity, anxiety, a lack of assurance, possible spiritual pride, touchiness to criticism, and a devastation in light of any moral lapses!...
                                                                                                                    • § What saving faith is makes a total difference. If faith equals obedience, you are placing your faith in yourself and your abilities. This will lead to boasting and pride (or to despair and self-hatred if you fail). But if faith equals trust in God’s promise to save, then you are placing your faith in God and his ability. That leads to humility and confidence – which is…what ‘Abraham…discovered’.” (Keller, p. 99-100)
                                                                                                                      • So what’s the correct answer to the question – why should I let you into my heaven?
                                                                                                                        • Answer: of my own merit, You should not – there is nothing I have done or could do to earn favor with You
                                                                                                                          • But I trust that the sacrifice of Jesus on behalf of my sins is sufficient to credit me as righteous
                                                                                                                            • So because of YOUR promise, and YOUR gift to me of faith in Him, I stand before You in the righteousness of Your Son, and His righteousness alone
                                                                                                                          • That, friends, is saving faith
                                                                                                                          • Then to land the finishing blow, Paul adds that…
                                                                                                                          • - Romans 4:6–8 - 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.”
                                                                                                                            • Like Psalm 51, this is a Psalm of repentance after what act of David? (adultery and murder)
                                                                                                                              • if David had to pay for what he did to Bathsheba and her husband Uriah…he would have wallowed in his guilt the rest of his days and been able to do nothing with it
                                                                                                                                • and after studying Romans 1-3, we saw we’re in the same place and worse…
                                                                                                                              • that’s why “David speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness” as our text phrases it
                                                                                                                              • So let me pause and ask you – how are liking this illustration as demonstrated by the life of Abraham and David?...
                                                                                                                                • don’t you love how the story of Abraham and David puts flesh on the bones on these doctrines of justification, and redemption, and propitiation?
                                                                                                                                  • Don’t these examples of faith in God’s work alone increase your desire to believe whatever God says in His Word?..
                                                                                                                                    • if it especially honors Him when we believe what He says, then we should be the kind of people who want to… believe what He says…
                                                                                                                                  • Now, what is the…
                                                                                                                                  • Paul has mentioned circumcision in our passage before – and this has been discussed previously more in depth …
                                                                                                                                    • So, we will go over this quickly, but I do want to take time to address the question you have been asking yourself:
                                                                                                                                      • Was Abraham circumcised then justified, or justified then circumcised?
                                                                                                                                    • Paul answers it as such:
                                                                                                                                      • Romans 4:9–10 - Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.
                                                                                                                                        • And do you know what this means for us??
                                                                                                                                      • Romans 4:11 - 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.
                                                                                                                                        • You can hear the song playing right now – Father Abraham, had many sons…
                                                                                                                                          • But we also see this concept more vividly in Philippians 3:
                                                                                                                                            • ¨ Philippians 3:3 – For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh
                                                                                                                                              • This shows how the Bible fits together…friends, in Christ, we stand in the line as recipients of the greatest biblical covenants ever given…
                                                                                                                                            • - did you also notice what verse 16 affirmed?...
                                                                                                                                            • Ø Romans 4:16 - 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,
                                                                                                                                              • It’s amazing that all we bring to this process is a willingness to believe God’s promises to save…but that’s how gracious our God is…
                                                                                                                                            • - and if you say – I’m not even sure I can believe like this…you can if you lay down your self-righteousness and accept His gift of new life…
                                                                                                                                            • Ø Romans 4:17 - (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.
                                                                                                                                            • Quick Bible quiz – can you think of another place in one of Paul’s letters where he makes this exact same point?
                                                                                                                                            • Ø Ephesians 2:1–5 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
                                                                                                                                              • § So what is…
                                                                                                                                            • Circumstantially speaking, was Abraham set up for success to be the father of a nation?
                                                                                                                                              • Really old dude, baron wife, no current children, and so on
                                                                                                                                                • Abraham needed to take the focus off of himself and his circumstance and focus on God…
                                                                                                                                              • Doesn’t the Lord place us in similar positions all the time?...where we have to decide – Am I going to trust my own feelings and lusts raging inside, the voices all around me, OR the Word of my God…
                                                                                                                                                • § v. 19 – without becoming weak in faith…
                                                                                                                                              • Take some time with yourself and others to fill in this blank…
                                                                                                                                                • If God is especially honored when I choose to believe His Word, here is the specific way I prayerfully plan to walk that out this week… (*e.g. – worry (Phil 4 – don’t be anxious about anything…) –
                                                                                                                                                  • Whatever it is that lies in front of you and causes you to worry …
                                                                                                                                                    • Maybe an upcoming doctor’s appointment
                                                                                                                                                  • Maybe your taxes
                                                                                                                                                  • Maybe some marriage struggles
                                                                                                                                                  • Maybe a work situation
                                                                                                                                                  • Maybe a stand you have to take that demonstrates your trust in the Word of God that may be unpopular with those around you
                                                                                                                                                  • How can you demonstrate your trust in God by not becoming weak in the faith?
                                                                                                                                                    • Are you showing that you believe the eternal promises of God versus the immediate fears, desires, or feelings of today?
                                                                                                                                                  • We need to redirect our vision…
                                                                                                                                                  • Ø Romans 4:20 - yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,
                                                                                                                                                  • **develop people in our church family who are especially being called upon to do that right now – cf. Becky Arthur, Rebecca Buono, Joe Radzikowski, The Vauter’s Family, or maybe even your family
                                                                                                                                                    • As we go through the challenges of life and we keep our focus and trust in the reliability of God’s promises it helps us in future challenges.
                                                                                                                                                  • Lastly, we need to redirect our focus…
                                                                                                                                                  • Ø Romans 4:21 - and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
                                                                                                                                                  • - friends – the rest of this passage makes it clear that this story isn’t just a history lesson – it’s here for people like you and me [*read 4:22-25]…
                                                                                                                                                    • Romans 4:22–25 (NASB95) 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.
                                                                                                                                                  • Paul makes it clear that this logizomai – this crediting of righteousness – was accomplished on the cross of Jesus Christ
                                                                                                                                                    • And you cannot add to His righteousness
                                                                                                                                                      • We can only place our faith in Him as the only Righteous One and place our trust in the promises of God, as our father Abraham beautifully displayed
                                                                                                                                                        • Let’s close with how Paul phrases this beautiful concept of logizomai in Philippians 3:

**Read Romans 4:1-25

Romans 4 (NASB95)

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, 6 just 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 Lord will 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 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.

I. The Result of Faith – We are Credited as Righteous – vv. 1-8

A. The beautiful faith God gave Abraham

B. The power of something being credited

C. Understanding saving Faith

D. King David could not have agreed more

II. The Extent of Biblical Faith – We Are All Children of Abraham – vv. 9-18

A. The order of Abraham’s justification and his circumcision is extremely important

B. Abraham is our father too

C. God designed it this way to demonstrate His grace

D. Abraham stands in a long line of people who were given life from the dead

III. The Focus of Biblical Faith – We Seek to Give Glory to God – vv. 19-25

A. By believing that spiritual reality may be far different than what you currently observe or feel – v. 19

B. By focusing on the reliability of God’s promises – v. 20

C. By placing your confidence in God’s ability not your own – v. 21

Philippians 3:7-9 – But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

Johnny Kjaer

Roles

Pastor of Student Ministries - Faith Church

Bio

B.A. - Church Ministries, Maranatha Baptist University
M. DIV. - Faith Bible Seminary
D.Min. - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (in progress)

Johnny is married to Tori. They have 3 children Leif, Tryggve, and Kjirsti. He has been a part of the youth ministry at Faith since his internship began in 2010. He has been in the position of Pastor of Student Ministries since 2013. Johnny is an ACBC certified counselor. He also serves the church by directing the Lafayette Living Nativity and the Lafayette Passion Play.

Read Johnny Kjaer's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Kjaer to Faith Church.