God’s Accounting System

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May 4, 2014

Romans 4:1-18

Brian Sayers

Sermon Title: God's Accounting System
Sermon Text: Romans 4:1-8
Scripture reading: Psalm 32
PowerPoint verse: Psalm 32:1
Theological term for the day, imputation, which is to mean credited (considered, reckoned). This is an accounting term that has been put in scripture for our understanding. We all like the words, “I will credit your account.”
God’s accounting system talks about “the Great Exchange.” Sin given to Christ, His righteousness given to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). There is another transaction taking place, when Adam’s sin is imputed to us. Two transactions talked about in this text.
They take place through faith. This is the theme of the entire chapter. The common notion today, and throughout history, is mankind can rise to the occasion to be right before God, good deeds will outweigh bad deeds. Problem with this view, good efforts earn a right standing before God. Romans 3:27-28 shows this is not how it works. Boasting is excluded. A man is declared righteous by faith apart from works.
The readers need to know this is not a new doctrine. It has always been this way. There is a practical understanding of how this might be confused (why is there a Law of Moses? Why would God spend so much time explaining how to be good before God if that is what is always described?)
Paul says, what the Law could not do, God did, because the Law is weak in the flesh; it doesn’t show our goodness, but shows off how our righteousness falls short. The Law proves this, salvation has to be by faith and not by works.
This chapter is a continuation of the argument. Showing an example. Abraham is considered the quintessential man of righteousness. When God reiterates promises to Isaac, He talks of (Gen 26) Abraham’s faith and obedience. Isaac was told, I will do this because Abraham obeyed me.
So, Paul uses Abraham to unravel salvation comes by works.

MAIN IDEA: Paul describes FOUR PRINCIPLES of God’s spiritual accounting system that establish our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, apart from works.
1.    Repayment of an infinite DEBT to God is INCONCEIVABLE (4:1-2)
 Paul has already showed any notion of earning favor is impossible. If it were possible, it would leave room for boasting. In contrast, believing in grace concludes the opposite (Ephesians 2:8-9).
If a person could be justified by good works, they would be able to boast. But the idea, a person could boast before a righteous and holy God is inconceivable. The debt of sin we owe is infinite. Our standing must always be on the basis of grace though the means of faith. Not on our basis to repay the debt.
This is Paul’s assertion, and he is going to appeal to the Scripture to show this has always been the case. What does Scripture say about that (v.3)?
2.    Only God can CHARGE or CREDIT our account (4:3)
 We can’t make payments to make up for the debt we owe.
This is the Biblical statement of how Abraham became righteous. Abraham moved, had lots of trouble, but still believed God. Count the stars Abraham, and Abraham believed though it seemed inconceivable (Gen 15:6).
The Scripture doesn’t say Abraham, worked, obeyed, or in any way earned (spiritual progress) his righteousness.  Believe God will do what He says He will do and you will be righteous. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
We cannot keep making deposits to pay off this infinite debt.
3.    To “WORK” for our salvation makes it “WAGES” owed rather than a “GIFT” (4:4-5)
 this is the simplest illustration. If we tried to earn, it is not a gift anymore. Paychecks are earned.
The point is clear, when we get a paycheck it is earned.
Believe in the one who justifies the ungodly. If you are a Christian, you are ungodly apart from Christ. The person trying to earn it, it is opposite mindset, thinking they deserve salvation. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God.
To make that point, he quotes Psalm 32, which is what David also experienced. The Psalm also uses accounting terms.
4.     God not only credits us Christ’s RIGHTEOUSNESS, He also clears all CHARGES on our account (4:6-8)
 Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven. God does not charge us for our sins. Our sin is not credited to our account anymore. “I want God for my spiritual accountant. This is the deal of the Universe.”
Looks like God is cooking the books on behalf of all who believe. He is giving us all we need.
Receive it by faith.