God’s Justification By Faith

Date Preached: November 18, 2018
Topics: exposition
Scripture: Romans 4:1-25
Notes: Download PDF
Speaker: Gary Combs


The claim of Christ is not only for “Christians.” It is for everyone. This may go against today’s culture, but we believe that faith in Christ is the only way to be made right with God. Christ is the only path to God. In other words, the only way to receive God’s justification is by faith in Christ Jesus.

In Romans 4, the apostle Paul put forth the Old Testament examples of Abraham and David as evidence that God’s justification has always been by faith alone.


Thanks for listening to the podcast from gary combs and the preaching team at wilson community church in wilson, north carolina. Check us out on the web at wccnc.org for more. And now here’s the sermon.

All right. Good morning, church. We’re continuing, actually concluding our series through the book of romans. Today we are finishing up chapter four, so you might take note that we haven’t finished the book. It’s sixteen chapters, and it’s probably going to take us over the next couple of years. We’ll take it, probably in four portions for chapters each. And so, we’ll take a little break for christmas, and then we’ll come back to it, but we will conclude chapter for today.

Now, speaking of christmas, you should have noticed that you have invite cards in your seats, and i would encourage you these are tools for you to invite people to the series that will begin in december. And so we’re looking to invite people who celebrate christmas but don’t go to church . That’s what we’re doing. And so for the month of december, we’re not asking you to go invite people from other churches but to invite people who don’t go to church but they celebrate christmas because we’re going to unwrap the gift, and we’re going to tell him what the gift of christmas is really about. So you take those tools with you we have extra ones at the front door, if you need more. And so please take advantage of that.

You’ll notice i brought one of the operation christmas child boxes up with me. This one’s full. It looks like it’s for a ten to fourteen year old boy. I picked it up out in the lobby. And this is me reminding you that if you haven’t already turned yours in tonight, is pretty much your last chance. We will be shipping those out tomorrow. And so tonight is our Thanksgiving praise service. Don’t miss it both campuses here tonight, thanking the lord for what god has done in our lives this year two thousand eighteen. We’re going to be watching videos of baptisms and other key events during the year praising the lord, turning in our final offerings

Speaking of offerings. It’s a time of year that we take up our benevolence offering. you could turn that in anytime of the year, but especially this time of the year. It’s important because we get more requests as a church from people in our own church body and people in the community for help during the christmas season. And so we give out of our benevolence fund. In order to do that, it’s replenished through your love offerings. And so, if you brought your checkbook this morning, stroke one this morning and just mark your envelope benevolence, in addition to your normal tithes and offerings and if not, bring your checkbook tonight, we’ll have the buckets down front, and it’s an opportunity to do that. So many of you have probably been helped at times like this when you’re out of work or in some situation and how we’ve helped you has been out of the love offerings from this benevolence offering. So i would encourage you to do that.

Now let’s dig in. Enough of those things they are important to remind you but let me remind you of the most important thing, and that is we are saved by grace through faith, and this is the doctrine of justification. And today, in chapter four, paul is going to dig in on just that doctrine that they were justified by faith in god alone.

So we’re going to dig in now, and i would remind you of our theme verse that has set the tone for this study from romans, chapter one, where we read for i’m 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 gospel, the righteousness of god is revealed from faith for faith as it is written, the faith of the righteous shall live by faith. And so this has been our theme, and we’ve talked about this righteousness of god and how we can’t be righteous by our own works and that this righteousness can only be received by faith.

Now, this is really the doctrine of justification, and we learned last week that the word justification in the word righteousness are really the same in the new testament. If we could read it in the original greek, it’s the same word in english. We separated into two words. It might be helpful to remind us of what we learned last week through the definition that we confined about justification.

This is the definition from a theological dictionary. Justification is the doctrine that god pardons, accepts and declares a sinner to be just on the basis of christ righteousness which results in god’s peace in the giving of his spirit and of salvation justification by grace through faith in jesus christ, apart from all works and merit of the sinner. So there’s a working definition of the word justification. Now we often since the days of the reformation, have taught the doctrine of justification by a reminder of the Five Solas i taught this last year. If you were here for the galatians study, we we reminded you of those Five Solas. Perhaps it would be helpful to remind you again of how you might put the five together. We’re saved by grace alone through faith alone in christ alone, according to the scriptures alone, to the glory of god, alone and so in the latin when they wrote it originally. The Latin word, “sola,” means “only” or “alone,” and that word gives us trouble in our pluralistic age of tolerance and relative truth that’s where it roubles us. It troubles our culture. We really don’t care much for singular and absolute truth claims. Yet the bible comes at us with this very thing, that there’s one way more popular in our day in time might be quoting such philosophers and poets as this thirteenth century persian poet and Sufie mystic, Muhammed Rumi. Such sayings alarm or invoke today , he says. How many paths are there to god? There are as many paths to god as there are souls on the earth. And so it’s about us and about our individuality. It sounds very attractive. We all make our own way to god. It’s up to us now.

I first encountered this many paths to god philosophy. And you’ve heard me tell this story perhaps before; In my freshman year of college at radford university, I was going to college there and and i didn’t have a roommate. So i received in assigned roommate. His name was Merigan. Merigan was from iran from that land of persia, the same land that Rumi was from that I quoted just a moment ago. Merigan was not muslim, but Behai. His faith was Behai. And they were followers of a prophet they claim Baha’u’llah. And so he’s my roommate. Five am first morning that we spent the night in a room together. I hear him sitting on the floor in the lotus position, rocking back and forth, speaking in farsi, the tongue of persia. And he’s got a little prayer book in his lap. Andso began my journey with Merigan that year, and I began to share christ with him. And he says, oh we believe in the prophet jesus Baha’u’llah spoke of him. You see your moses or abraham? Yes, we believe in all those and jesus and then the prophet, following jesus mohammed. And then, of course, the final prophet Baha’u’llah. And i was like, have you ever read anything that jesus said? Because that doesn’t go along with what christ claimed? Because it says in john, fourteen, six, jesus speaking, i am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the father except by me. There’s only one path. Oh, this is true for you. Christians Merigan said to me, that is your path. But for us, it’s Baha’u’llah. For the muslim , it’s mohammed and there are many paths to god and somehow this sounds more democratic, doesn’t. And it sounds more. Except for this one problem. We don’t get to decide how to get to god. There is one god and he decides. And he has decided. And it’s the person of jesus that’s the sole provision for those that would find their way to be made right with god.

And so every time i mention Merigan, i wonder all year long i shared the gospel with him and all year long he resisted. And so did his older brother, Miran, and his best friend, Fashod, who would sit on my bed with me and watch their favorite show Gunsmoke, yeah. I lost track of them. I’ve tried to find them. Facebook and the internet makes things easier now. But i wonder after the shah of iran fell and the Komani took over and so many people were killed, not sure, but i know this. I did share jesus and i pray every time i name him that maybe he came to jesus

in romans, chapter four, the apostle paul comes to a place where, after three chapters, he’s convinced us. I believe that all are sinners. Gentile, jew, religious, or pagan. Far from god claiming to be near god. All of us are sinners, and none of us can get right without god giving us his righteousness. Righteousness through jesus. It’s the only way. And now, chapter four, he’s been like an attorney making his case.

And now he calls to the witness stand old testament figures abraham and david, and he calls them to the witness stand. And he’s really asking this question now because he’s already made a very solid case. But by a master stroke, he calls abraham and david, and he said, you know not only is this true now, like remember last week when he said, but now, but it’s always been true. It’s always been by faith in god that’s always been the only path. It’s never been any other. And so, as we look at it, i think paul says, that god’s justification has always been by faith alone and we can understand that it’s true, that god’s justification has always been by faith alone.

Why is that? Why is that true? Well, as we look at the text today, I think we’ll see three reasons why god’s justification has always been by faith alone. Are you ready? It’s a long chapter four its twenty five verses let’s take it in three portions. I’ll read a portion, talk about it and so forth. So let’s read the first portion verses one through eight and then we’ll find the three reasons.

What then, shall we say, was gained by abraham, our forefather 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 scriptures say? Abraham believed god and it was counted to him. Is 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. This is god’s work.

Looking at these first eight verses we see the two old testament figures invited to the witness stand to answer the questions, the continuing questions from chapter three of the imaginary questioner. This is paul’s method of writing. He imagines the questions that you and i might have, so he poses them to his teaching, and here he begins to pose them to abraham and david. And so he’s really coming to his coup de gras here. He’s coming to this climax. He’s going to say this is not some new doctrine that i’ve come up with or has been revealed to me. But it has always been true. And let’s ask abraham about it. Why? God’s justification has always been by faith alone.

Here’s the first reason no one is counted righteous by works, but by god’s gift. This has always been true. It’s not new. It’s not like there was one system of salvation in the old testament. And now there’s a new system of salvation in the new no, it’s always been true. No one is counted righteous by works, but by god’s gift,

i want you to take note that the word works is prominent in the first eight verses occurring in verse two, four, five and six. It’s the greek word ( ) , and we get words like ergo, ergonomic, and it means labor. It means the doing off the active oil of effort in paul’s making this case that works don’t receive gifts, works receive wages, they get their due and you can’t work and earn right business works earned wages.

You see in verse four, he says now to the one who works his wages or not counted as a gift, but as his due. Do you see that gifts aren’t earned. Wait. Now what are the wages of those of us who are sinful? Roman six twenty three says for the wages of sin is death. But the gift of god is eternal life in christ jesus, our lord, that you keep working and get death. Or you can give up on putting your faith in working and put your faith in the gift of god, which is christ jesus, our lord. And you can receive the gift of eternal life. Paul now is bringing this to bear concerning abraham works wages. Gifts are to be received by faith. What does the scriptures say in verse three.

It’s like billy graham kind of coined this method of calling out a verse of the bible just by saying they’re in the bible. Perhaps it was because he was an evangelist and because he was preaching to people who may or may not have familiarity with the bible. And so billy graham is well known for this like his most famous quote, the bible says, and he would hold his bible. what is he doing? He’s saying, this is my authority. I’m not speaking for myself, the bible says, as if it were one book. And so it is the sixty six books written over fifteen hundred years. About forty four authors but one author. Jesus christ, the holy spirit, god, the triune god. He’s the author through forty some ink pens and all of them different colors, instruments, human. Yet one book. No, he didn’t have the whole thing yet. He was one of the ones god called, too right, but he’s referring to the old testament thirty nine books as one. What does the scriptures say? Let’s ask the scripture isn’t that great. Also don’t just believe me. Just ask the scripture this one book and he asked it, and we see him quoting genesis fifteen six. This is what the scripture says. Verse three for what does the scriptures say? What does the bible say?

Well, in genesis fifteen six, it says abraham believed god and it was counted to him as righteousness. So god took abraham’s faith in him and counted it in the righteousness column. He took it out of the faith column, and he put it in the righteousness. God, he counted it. That’s a beautiful word counted. It’s in our text today in chapter four one three twenty five. It occurs eleven times counted. It could be translated to count two credit to account to reckon. Some of you are from the north. You think that’s just a southern word, don’t you? I reckon, sir, but it’s not. It’s a bible word, i reckon it means to count as if it were so reconciled. It could be translated.

Impute. Now that’s not a word you use a lot. Unless you’ve been a student of christian theology for some time. And then you come across the doctrine of imputation, which means that god has imputed the righteousness of christ, which belongs to christ to those who are sinners. So he takes the righteousness of christ. And he imputed to you and i by faith as a gift imputation so that we’re made justified were justified, made righteous. Counted. So work’s earn wages. But gifts are received. And so god counts our faith as righteousness. And so were made just

ephesians, chapter two for by grace you’ve been saved through faith and this is not your own doing. Its the gift of god. Now it is not as a result of works so that no one may boast no man should boast itself. It’s a gift to be received, not wages to be earned now. Some of you have been posting on facebook. I’ve been seeing this. My kids didn’t go through this. But apparently your kids are going through something called common core math. So i know very little about it , other than what i see on facebook. Parents struggling like, hey, you know, i just used to do this, and i had an answer. But now you’ve got to go over here and do this and do that over here and that other thing over here. And then you can finally come over here, do the answer. So some people are for it, some against i’m not making a vote or a stand here because i don’t know enough to do so. I might have a math teacher in the house. Somehow, this is all you here and gets offended and won’t hear the rest of the thing. So i’m not trying to offend that math teacher who loves common core math. But some of the parents, not me. But some of the parents have been calling it crazy math because it don’t make sense to them. Not talking about me. I’m talking about them. So get mad at them. I’m quoting them crazy. Man. That makes sense. How’d you get that result by that ? You know, process some many.

Look at this whole thing about the gospel as some sort of crazy math. Like how in the world is god going to count me righteous if i’m not righteous? That’s crazy. Well, this is god’s accounting system, not yours. And he says, according to his math. You’re going to come up. If you work for this, you’re going to come up in the hole. You’re going to come up bankrupt in the righteousness account. And the only way you can be saved. If i make a way for you to receive my righteousness, i will have to give it to you as a gift because you can’t do it. crazy. From our perspective, it’s crazy. There’s no other place on planet earth that it works like this. But this is heavenly math. God counted faith of abraham as righteousness made him just before god by faith. And so paul offers david as well. So we have abraham. He’s come to the stand. He believed god and god counted his righteousness and their pulses. Abraham, you’re excused, but don’t go far.

We’re going to bring david up. And david being the musician he is. Instead of testifying, he sings a song, sings a little solo from one of his top ten hits, Psalm thirty two verses on and two It’s a well known number. Maybe you’ve heard it. Four, seven and eight. Here, paul quotes it. Absent the music. Blessed are those whose lawless deeds or forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed are those of us who recognize we can’t earn it with god. Covers our lawless deeds. He forgives us. Blessed is the man against whom the lord will not count his sin. So god does this crazy math. Crazy from our perspective. Still counting our sin against us, he counts it against christ. And instead of letting christ stand righteous, he counts him the sinner who is holy and perfect and accounts his righteousness to us by faith.

For those who believe it is so what? It’s a gift. It’s not according to works abraham, the father of the jewish faith, david, the greatest king of the jewish faith. Paul is brilliant. This is a master stroke. He calls to the witness stand those that would be most influential and all of the old testament. He interviews both of them and concludes from them. I didn’t earn it. God gave it to me, and i believed abraham’s record was a mixed record. In chapter twelve of genesis, he answered the call. God called him go from your country and your kindred in your father’s house to the land that i will show you. I will make of you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So he told this pagan living in the land of Ur, this merchant. And so he traveled to a land that god would show him, and he was obedient. Great is abraham right in his obedience.

But before the chapter ends of famine comes to the land that god has shown him. And abraham chickens out and runs to egypt, lies to the Pharoah about his wife and says, Sarah is my sister, i don’t know what it was about. Sarah. No matter how old she got, she was still a looker. And so Pharoah apparently saw that in abraham lied. You read the story. He’s got a mixed record in chapter thirteen fourteen of genesis. He did right by a lot, and he said, you want the hills or the valley and so his nephew chose the valley, and abraham said, i’ll take the hills and it wasn’t long before the people in the valley got attacked by some other kings in the cities of sodom and gomorrah they were carried into captivity. They lost the war. But abraham, who at this time had prospered so much, had a huge army of servants. He went the battle to rescue his nephew lot and won the war and brought the spoils home and all the people and met this fellow. This king of jerusalem named Melchizedek and paid a tithe to Melchizedek and said, i’m not going to keep any of the spoils. And he gave lot and everyone the stuff back because he said, i’m not going to take anything that didn’t come to me by the hand of god, what a great man abraham is surely. That’s why he’s counted righteous.

But the end in the next chapter after sixteen, his wife came up with a scheme. Yeah, because they were getting pretty old by now. And she was like, maybe you’re supposed to marry, my hand maiden Hagar the egyptian, by the way. If you’re reading the book of genesis and some of those earlier books, every time they go to egypt, they’re trusting the world instead. Egypt. Anything of egypt represents the world. They’re not trusting god. So let’s go get the egyptian handmaiden. I don’t think she had to do a lot of arguing to convince abraham. Maybe that’s what god meant. Maybe we’re supposed to help god with his promise.

So he lay with Hagar and they had a son named ishmael. And then later god did in fact blessed him with son named isaac. And they became at war with each other and for thirty five hundred years, the arabs and the jews. The arabs claim abraham as father. Jews claim abraham’s father, one through isaac and one through ishmael, and they’re at war till this day. It’s got a mixed bag. So does david. God said. David was a man after his own heart. Says it twice in 1 samuel, thirteen fourteen acts chapter thirty thirteen, verse twenty two. He’s a man after my own heart. God made him right because of faith. Yet david, who by faith slew goliath also in sin, lusted after another man’s wife named bathsheba and committed adultery. And then when he found out she was pregnant, tried to cover it up and through a conspiracy had her husband murdered david, a man after god’s own heart. How is this possible? He’s a murderer. He’s an adulterer. He’s a mess, and so are all the men and women in the old testament.

If the bible were mythology, it would be more two dimensional and have more perfect characters to represent perfect stories. But these are messy stories and it’s a three dimensional story, and it’s filled with messy people. And so are we. Hey, we’re messed up! And if god doesn’t count righteousness to us, it will not happen. It’s got crazy. Love is crazy math. That makes no sense to us except for those of us who believe and now it makes perfect sense. It’s a gift. Stop insisting on doing life yourself, doing things your own way through your own efforts through your own working because works earnn. But faith receives the gift, which is the gift of righteousness that god justifies us by faith.

Let’s keep reading. We’ve got a lot more to read, and gary said that word a lot because paul did no one has counted righteous by religion. But by god’s blessing, circumcision is the mark. Here is paul. You might as well substitute the word judaism every time this is judaism, that’s the covenant. It’ll mark the sign in the seal. It’s a circumcision. The sign comes from the greek word ( ). That word is important throughout the bible especially in the book of john, where he teaches that there are seven ( ) of christ Seven signs. John lifts the word the number seven seven signs, and for him they’re miracles.

So the first sign is in the wedding of Cana when he turns the water into wine and so forth because signs don’t point to themselves. But they point to another destination or place. So we should not look then at a sign as of primary importance. But the thing it points to if you’re driving down the interstate and you see a sign that says wilson one mile ahead, take exit one twenty one. I think it is on one place on I ninety five. You don’t just pull up to the sign and park. that’s stupid, silly. You know the sign is not the destination. The sign points to the destination. Circumcision is first of all, a sign of a covenant. It doesn’t make you a part of the covenant it says you already are. Because faith proceeds the sign. So faith makes you righteous. And then the sign is an outward evidence of an inward truth. So it’s a sign.

Verse eleven, and it’s a seal. It’s a sign of the covenant, and it’s a seal of righteousness, he said. Yes. Now, seal is a method of authentication made in america that’s a seal. The seal doesn’t make it made in america. It’s first of all made in america and then someone with the authority to do so stamps it made in america. So circumcision is also a seal. In other words, it doesn’t make you a person of faith. It doesn’t make you a jew in this case. But god, the father authenticates it like that, so it faith proceeds. So the question really hear that paul’s working on diligently? What came first? The chicken or the egg? What came first? Circumcision or faith?

And he says, abraham believed long before this right of circumcision was given. And so we see that in chapter fifteen, verse six. He believed Righteousness imputed under him, righteous. So he’s righteous in chapter fifteen of genesis. And it’s not till chapter seventeen of genesis that god says. And now i want you to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant between me and you and every male member of your house on the eighth day. And and so circumcision followed belief. And he says now, abraham versus eleven vs sixteen later. We haven’t read that yet. He says he’s the father of all who believe the uncircumcised because faith righteousness was accounted to him before he was circumcised, too, back when he was still a gentile.

See, abraham was both a gentile and a Jew , right? God called him out of paganism out of polytheism in the land of Ur, and he began to believe in the one true god monotheism, And so he believes in the god who has a name and god speaks to him and gives him revelation. And he believes everything God says. He believes, he said, go to the land that i will show you, man, that’s hard for anybody. Get in the car and start driving. Once you get moving, i’ll tell you where to turn. People like me hate that kind of stuff. Can you tell me where we’re going before we start the car? No. God won’t drive a parked car. You gotta get moving. Then he’ll show you the next turn. He rarely shows you more than one turn ahead. And if you take a wrong turn, who knows where it’ll take you before you get back on track? Well, let’s get back on track.

So he says, go to this land i’m going to show you in. Abraham believes him and he gets right. And so we see that he’s now the father of all who believe both the jew and the gentl. Verse eleven. Let’s look at it again. Verse eleven, he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while it was still circumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them. So that’s to the gentile verse twelve and to make him the father of the circumcised of the jew. Not that circumcision would make them members of the faith because circumcision is just a sign. But if they believe the way abraham does, then they’ll be safe, too. That’s versus nine through twelve . No one has counted righteous by their religion. But by god’s blessing, biblical

galatians says it like this. Chapter three know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of abraham, not circumcision means nothing. It’s those of faith and the scripture for seeing that god would justify the gentiles about faith preached the gospel beforehand to abraham, saying in you, shall all the nations be blessed. So then those who are of faith are blessed. Along with abraham, the man of faith, abraham got a glimpse of the gospel. Way back here in genesis, god flipped ahead and said, i can’t tell you the whole thing yet because you’re not ready to handle it. Here’s a glimpse your seed, your offspring will bless all nations. Way back there in chapter three, verse fifteen. He probably had been hearing this since he was born. The seed of the woman. You will bruise his heel, but he’ll crush your head, god said to satan to the serpent.

See the seed abraham due to see the abraham all nations would be blessed. The seed. Who is that? It’s jesus, isn’t it? It’s jesus. And may we apply this just for a moment, then we’ll move on. Circumcision is an outward sign of an inward truth. Now, in christianity, we have things like this. We have baptism. For instance. I have people who attend the church they might have seen one or two times, and they they hear the gospel. They begin to think about their kids or their grandkids, and they’ll sign up everybody for baptism because they’re worried. They want them to get right with god, but they have a misunderstanding about what baptism accomplishes. They somehow think it washes your sins away, but it doesn’t. Only the blood of christ covers their sins. Baptism is just getting wet unless faith precedes it. And so we’ll meet with them and try to explain it to him. And we understand their heart. They want to do something to save their kids, but they’re giving them the wrong thing. They’re giving them circumcision. They’re giving them baptism when they need to give them jesus, then believing then they step into the baptismal waters and they hear the preachers say, do you confess jesus christ as your lord and savior and the person the candidate responds. Yes, i do. And then the pastor says, the preacher says to them, then, on the basis of your confession, i baptize you, my brother, in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit. And then as they go under the water, they become the picture of identification with jesus. Death, burial and resurrection and the pastor says, risen to new life in christ. Jesus. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward change that already happened. It’s putting the ring on after you say i do. The ring doesn’t make you married. The i do makes you married. The baptism doesn’t make you saved. It doesn’t justify you. The i do. I believe christ died for my sins , was buried and raised on the third day. I do believe that i confess it. And baptism is the sign and the seal that it is baptism doesn’t save you.

Now here’s the third. Religion doesn’t save you. We’ve said works do not save you. They do not make you justified. And here’s the third. No one is counted righteous by the law. But by god’s promise, this is the biggest section. Let’s let’s read it for the promised abraham and his offspring. That he would be heir of the world did not come through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs faith is null and the promise is void for the law brings wrath. But where there is no law, there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of abraham who is the father of us all. As it is written, i have made you the father of many nations in the presence of the god and whom he believed, who gives life to the dead calls into existence the things that do not exist in hope. He believed against hope that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, so shall your offspring be? He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead since he’s about a hundred years old, or when he considered the baroness of sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of god. But he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to god fully convinced the god was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness. But the words it was counted to him were not written for his sake alone. But for ours also it will be counted to us who believe in him , who raised from the dead jesus, our lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

No one is counted righteous by the law but by god’s promise. The word promise occurs in this section of the reading for times. I promised her a pledge. What comes first? The promise or the law? Let’s briefly bring moses up to the witness stand. Moses, when he climbed the mountain and got the law, it was about four hundred thirty years, i think after abraham. Oh, so the promise has priority? Yeah. Yes, sir. I would say so. Thank you, moses. You can return to your seat. The promise came first. What promise that all nations would be blessed that your seed and so he says this amazing thing back then. Verse thirteen for the promised abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world. Well, if it’s all nations, that’s the world. Who’s the heir? Jesus. He’s the seed . If seed write it with a capital s offspring here and the greek verse thirteen verse sixteen verse eighteen, three times here in the greek is sperm sperm is translated offspring here translated seed in the k j v capital s is singular. Not plural. Not offsprings. Because jesus comes in the line of abraham. Read the gospels.

Matthew and luke put it in there to make sure you know that we know jesus is in the line of abraham. He is the seed that the serpent bruises his heel. But he crushes his head. He gets crucified and dies, but he bursts out of that grave. This is jesus, the heir of the world, and so are we in him. Notice the logic of words that paul uses. Words have meaning. The word promise goes with words like heir. They were promised good with words like faith, grace guarantee. These are words that go with the word promise. What kind of words go with the word law? Most see wrath transgression death. Those are the words that go with the word law. What’s your transgression mean? By the way? It’s in his this text twice. It’s a sin, but not just any sin. It’s a transgression of the law. You really can’t have a transgression without the law, because if there’s no law, there’s no transgression, paul says. I didn’t mean there isn’t sin there is sin because we are fallen, but the law makes sure we know it. And in fact the law is good. But it has a tendency among us rebellious type, which is all of humanity, to make us worse instead of better.

Just try it on your kids. When you get home, say to them, whatever you do, don’t go in that closet. Don’t go in that bedroom. That door’s locked because that’s where we’re hiding your christmas gifts and you’re not allowed to go in there. You might as well go and give them the key. They’re going to pick that lock if you don’t. Why? Because you have given them a law and they have to transgress it. It’s the human heart. The heart’s bent by sin and rebellion. Transgressions come from the law. Now sin comes from the fall. We’re all born with sin, but transgression is more specific. It means a breaking of the law. Seventeen. What in the world? Abraham believes this about god, that god raises the dead, the life and make something out of nothing. That’s what you believe about it. That’s what he believes about god because he believes he is the creator and as the latin said, ( ) out of nothing, god made something. So you can’t really say you’ve created anything because all you do is take the stuff that god already made and pile it up different. Stack it up different. You can’t create anything you can’t say. You can’t speak nothing into something. But god said, let there be. And there was and Abraham believed that.

No, i don’t believe that. But he believed he could raise the dead to life because he looked at his old body. He went. I don’t think i don’t think i could have a son now. I’ve been believing you all these years, and now i’m one hundred years old and he looked. He looked at sarah and said, she’s barren and she’s ninety years old, literally in the greek. It says he looked at himself and he said, i’m as good as dead and her womb is as good as dead, not politically correct to say a thing like that. So it is translated barren. But it says in the greek, abraham considered it as faith, always. And it always engages the mind. Faith engages the mind. Christianity is not a blind leap of faith. It engages the mind. And he thinks he considers that he goes. God said, we’re gonna have a son. It’s not ishmael. It’s gonna be a son by me and by sarah and he looked at himself and he went, i’m almost dead.

You ever feel like that? Abraham said I’m as good as dead and she’s past the age of child bearing. He considered that, and then he considered what god says and everything else that god told him to come to pass and abraham made a decision because that’s what faith does. It makes a cognitive decision. I mean, they’re going to believe my dead body situation over here or i’m going to believe god’s promise. what did he do? He considered that verse nineteen. He did not weaken. He did not waver. I could write a song about this. This is good. Stephen let’s write a song. He did not weaken. He did not waver but grew strong in his faith in verse twenty one and became fully convinced.

Yes, that’s what happens then take much faith to believe in jesus. It doesn’t take much to have saving faith because it’s not great faith in god that saves but its faith in the great god. It’s the object that saves, which is christ jesus, who died for our sins, buried and rose again. that is what saves. It just takes a little mustard seed of faith to believe it. But once you get a hold of it, believe it, then you stop wavering. You stop wandering. You start growing and you become fully convinced. I believe god can do all things. I believe i can do all things through christ. Who gives me strength? How do i know it? It started back there with a seed of faith. And though i do believe so, he hopes against hope verse eighteen. How do you hope against hope? Well, there’s two kind of hopes. There’s hope in what you see and there’s hope in what you believe . And he decided to hope against what he could see and hope in what he believed. Hope in the promise. This sort of hoping in the circumstance. He didn’t waver. He didn’t weaken and he grew strong. This is why god counted it as righteousness.

Verse twenty four. It’s the same for us. Ours also, it will be counted us who believe in him. Who’s him? God, who raised from the dead jesus, our lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses. God gave him over because we’re lawbreakers. He died for our sins. And he was raised proving the promise true that he raises us from the dead. And he calls things that are not so. things that do not exist. He calls them into existence. I’m running long, so i want to just read this verse and and bring us to a close. It’s hard to come to a close in romans. There’s so much

galatians chapter three to give a human example brothers, even with a man made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it’s been ratified. He’s the covenant and it’s like the promise. Even now the promises were made. Abraham and his offspring it does not say to offsprings. Let’s go back to that word sperm, because that’s what it is. In the greek now the promises were made abraham and to his seed. It does not say to his seeds , referring to many, but referred to one and to your seed capital s who is christ? That’s what i mean. The law came for in thirty years afterward. It does not annul a covenant previously ratified by god and so make the promise void. You cannot be saved by law keeping you cannot be saved. You cannot be made just by religion keeping religious rituals baptism, lord’s supper. Whoever does these things is not saved you cannot work your way to earn it. It’s a gift. It’s a blessing. It’s a promise, a gift to be received, a blessing to be received, a promise to be believed that god is able to keep it.

And do you believe? Would you join with abraham and david? John in chapter eight those jews who rejected jesus and said, we’re children of abraham? We don’t know what you’re talking about, he said. Your father, abraham, rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad god gave abraham a glimpse. Jesus said he saw it from a distance. But we see it in the full light of day of the new testament. What do you believe?

Let’s pray. I first pray for that one who is here this morning. And they’re still through human effort through religious ritual through trying to be good, trying to keep the law somehow thinking that makes them right with you. I pray for that person right now. Are you stirring their heart? I know that you are. You’re drawing them to your son. Jesus. Holy spirit. Be doing it now. I know that you are. Is that you, my friend? If it’s you right in your seat, right where you are, would you pray? Pray with me by faith. Dear lord jesus, dear lord jesus, i believe in you. I believe that god sent you to die for my sins because i am a sinner and that you were raised on the third day. I believe that you died for me and you were raised for me. Would you come and live in me? Forgive me of my sin. Make me what you want me to be. I want to be a child of god. Remove the sin, count it no longer against me, but instead account unto me the righteousness of your son. Jesus. As you have promised, i believe you’re able god to keep your promise. I believe you’re able to save me, friends. If you’re praying that prayer right now, know this god is able others are here this morning. And you are a child of god. You know him. it , lord jesus make us bold. Help us to come quickly to the throne for forgiveness, knowing that he has already counted us righteous help us, lord, that when you show us a sin area in our lives that we don’t have to hide it because we know it’s already forgiven so we can bring it to you and say, lord, clean out this stain not only forgiving us as you already have but wash us white as snow we want to be like jesus. Lord use us now help us to testify as paul, abraham and david have today. In Christ name, Amen.