Sermon Title: God's Greatest Promise
Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:1-8
PowerPoint verse: Isaiah 40:8
MAIN IDEA: Abraham’s life illustrates THREE REASONS the blessing of salvation is yours ONLY because you believe, and NEVER because you ARE something, or you DO something.
Paul hammers home the teaching, righteousness comes by faith. Justification is a gift. 3:26 God is the justifier of those who are by faith.
Chapter 4:3 picks up the argument again. Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness. Abraham becomes the model of this truth of righteousness comes by faith. God only justifies the ungodly. Paul wants us to be sure of pointing out this is what the Bible teaches. For example, quoting the Psalm written by David. Not just Abraham, not just David, but the entire Bible teaches this principle.
Verses 9-17 speak of the life of Abraham, and the “timing” of his imputed righteousness. There is, and always has been, only one way of salvation: grace alone, faith alone, through Christ alone.
- The Bible TELLS me – Abraham’s FAITH, not his WORKS, was credited for righteousness (4:9)
Paul has been preaching the Gospel for decades now, and he knows questions/objections and so he addresses them. The extension of salvation to Jews and GENTILES is controversial. In the early days of the church age, it was almost strictly Jews who heard the Gospel (Pentecost). Certainly Jesus ministry was to Jews exclusively. God gave visions to Peter and Cornelius. It took miracles for it to happen. It was a hard sell to preach the Gospel to the gentiles.
Paul asks, is this blessing on the Jew only or the Gentile? Genesis 17 is where circumcision comes from.
Circumcision was a sign of the covenant nation. Could those who are not of that sign take part in the blessing? Because faith credited to Abraham his righteousness, it was not because of circumcision. So, religious ritual, does not save us or give us righteousness.
- The Bible SHOWS me – Abraham was JUSTIFIED before he OBEYED, and so are we (4:10-12)
Abraham was justified before he performed the religious ritual of circumcision. Timing is key. Genesis 17 comes after 15. Abraham was already made right with God. His righteousness was credited before his religious ritual (circumcision). Abraham is the model of how and when a person is saved. Religious rituals have nothing to do with how we are saved today either. Circumcision is a sign of the faith; it ratified the reality of his faith. The faith came first, then the outward sign.
It is important (v.11) so that Abraham would be the father of all who believe. It happened in that order for that reason. So everyone, jew or gentile, could receive salvation. The father of many nations. Verse 12, those who follow are following in Abraham’s faith.
Abraham believes God, it is credited to him as righteousness, he is made reconciled to God and as a sign of faith, he becomes circumcised. He was post-saved when he was circumcised.
We want to understand how to stand on truth and think properly. This verse is the proof text for infant baptism (4:11). The logic says this, if circumcision was the sign of Abraham’s faith and administered to subsequent infants, than salvation baptism would be the same. The logic is not off, it is the theology. There is not a relationship with circumcision and baptism. Circumcision is for the setting aside of a nation. In the nation there were unbelievers (not all Israel is Israel; not all out of Egypt entered into the Promised Land). There is not a parallel. Circumcision identifies you as part of the Nation, not the faith, of Abraham. (people need to understand covenant theology).
(insert Challies article here http://www.challies.com/articles/anti-catholic-or-pro-gospel)
9th, 24th, 12th cannon statement of the Council of Trent referenced. Catholics say we are anathema. It is the exact opposite of what Paul is teaching in Romans. Galatians 1:8.
The Law is the systematic way to live before God. It was a way of life, how to be a good worshipper and a good neighbor. Makes you a lover of man and of God, to fulfill the two greatest commandments. The Law exposes sin.
Were the good works of the law a necessary part of Abraham’s salvation.
We need to be so enamored with salvation is by faith alone, grace alone, through Christ alone, that we share there is something much better when people oppose this. This is the heart of the Gospel.
Don’t follow the example set by the council of Trent by pronouncing people.
Be ready to say what God says and dare say it because God has said it.