Romans 4: Abraham and Faith

March 5, 2023   /   Faith Alliance Church

Romans 4

 

Faith is not about what we do but about who we trust

• So this morning we are looking at Abraham and Paul is continually removing the supports that humanity has tried to use to find any sense of peace or salvation from anything other than God. As my kids would say yoinks it out. We haven’t been able to get to the new life that Christ offers on our own. We need Him to show us.

• There is not much of a greater spiritual giant than Abraham. And Romans 4 tells us that not even Abraham could get the item off the shelf. Abraham couldn’t find the very thing he was searching for. The only thing that got him anywhere was to believe the God who spoke over the circumstances he faced or created.

If Abraham’s works were enough for God, then we would have two options:

• We attempt to work harder

• We are tempted to give up

Faith is not about what we do but about who we trust

Genesis 12:1–3 ESV

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Genesis 15:1–6 ESV

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

• But the thing that Paul picks up on is not what Abe does but who Abe trusts.

Trust in the God who justifies the ungodly

Romans 4:5 ESV

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

• Paul is slowly removing the structures through which faith had been wrongly issued

• If Abraham could have earned righteousness then it would not be a gift but payment. If you could earn righteousness you would be owed righteousness. But no matter how much Abe did he could not earn righteousness, it was offered to him. He believed God’s offer. And that belief was credited to him as righteousness.

• God justifies the ungodly because there is no other way.

• We have not been able to come up with our own righteousness. We need another. And the God in whom we are called to trust will make us right in Him.

Trust the God who gives life to the dead

Romans 4:17 ESV

as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Hang onto those arid places of faith

• He will breathe life into our attempts to create faith on our own

• He will create water in the desert when you are tempted to give up.

Trust God who is able to do what he had promised

Romans 4:20–21 ESV

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 that God was able to do what he had promised.

• When we think about who it is we are called to trust we have to think about the things that that individual has said.

• Are they trustworthy?

• Have they done what they said they would do?

• WH Auden’s definition of faith, “to choose what is difficult all one’s days As if it were easy”, is a great definition of what Abraham goes through.

• That’s where we see the intersection of belief and righteousness

• Not in what was owed

• or earned

• but in who Abraham believed.

• This is helpful for us. In our attempts to achieve and our attempts to give up.

• Because in either case we have a God who shows up in both cases and offers us forgiveness, freedom, and new life.

Romans 4:23–25 ESV

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.

• Our role is to believe the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

• Where in those three do you need to place your trust?

 

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