Abraham: Father of our Faith

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Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:03
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After seeing the unrighteousness and wickedness of mankind, ourselves included in Romans 1:18-3:20, we finally saw a solution. Our unrighteousness was bringing God’s wrath and judgment upon us. There was nothing we could do. We could not earn righteousness, because no matter how much good we would do, we were still unrighteous. That unrighteousness is the issue that keeps us separated from our Creator and Lord who loves us.
Finally, last week, we saw the solution for our unrighteousness—God giving us righteousness freely. God gives it freely to those who believe in Jesus Christ, who God had sent to be the mercy seat for us through his sacrifice.
Romans 3:21–25 NIV
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
These are verses that are well worth our time and effort to memorize. This is the good news, the gospel.
Romans 4 -
Righteousness is a gift, not earned
All who believe, belong
An example of faith
Today, we are picking up Paul’s divinely inspired argument to help the Jews in particular understand that righteousness is freely given and not earned. In the process of showing this, he is also going to show the Gentiles that they truly belong in this people who have been justified, declared righteous, by faith.
Prayer
Romans 4:1–5 NIV
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

Abraham was credited righteousness - Credited, not earned

A common Jewish misunderstanding was that Abraham was justified by works of righteousness. As one Jewish source, Jubilees 23:10, says, “Abraham was perfect in all his dealings with the Lord and gained favor by his righteousness throughout his life” (for quotes on Abraham in the Jewish tradition see Bird, Romans, 143). And another Jewish source says, “Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness?” (1 Macc 2:52 NRSV).
Tony Merida, Exalting Jesus in Romans, ed. David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2021), 61.
Next, Paul quotes from David who speaks of the blessing of having sins forgiven, which is necessary for our righteousness.
Romans 4:6–8 NIV
David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

Forgiveness of sins is necessary for righteousness

This is the first time Paul speaks of forgiveness of sins. He has been emphasizing the free gift of righteousness through Jesus, because of the Jewish, actually, human, misunderstanding of righteousness being earned. But he quotes from David, as an example where we see the need for forgiveness.
Then he returns to the example of Abraham to bring home the point that Abraham did not earn righteousness.
Romans 4:9–10 NIV
Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!

Righteousness was credited before Obedience of Circumcision

Life of Abraham:
Genesis 12 - called to go to a place God would show him when he got there, and the covenant
Genesis 12:1–3 NIV
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 13 - Abraham and Lot separate, God promises Abraham the land will be given to his descendants who will be like the dust of the earth
Genesis 13:14–17 NIV
The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
Genesis 14 - God gives Abraham victory over 3 kings to rescue Lot, and Abraham shows his reliance on the Lord
Genesis 14:22–24 NIV
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”
Genesis 15 - God reiterates his covenant with Abraham, telling him that he will be his very great reward, and goes through the covenant ceremony.
Genesis 15:1–6 NIV
After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 16 - Hagar and Ishmael
Genesis 17 - Circumcision, the sign of the covenant
Genesis 15 was about 14 years prior to the circumcision (Ishmael was 13 when circumcised, Genesis 17:24-25)
Romans 4:12–17 NIV
And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

All who believe, belong

Romans 4.1 - our forefather
Romans 4:11 - father of all who believe
Romans 4:12 - father of the circumcised who believe
Romans 4:16 - all those who have the faith of Abraham
Romans 4:17 - Father of many nations
Now Paul goes on to show the example of faith of Abraham.
Romans 4:17–22 NIV
As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Example of Faith

Against all hope he believed
Without weakening in his faith
did not waver through unbelief, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
This example is from the birth of Isaac, which took place after he was 99 years old.
Up to that point, Abraham had believed God and showed his faith by his actions.
Genesis 12 - Go, Abraham goes in faith, but then goes to Egypt
Genesis 13 - Abraham was promised the land again, Abraham lives there
Genesis 15 - promise of a son
Genesis 16 - Hagar
Genesis 17 - circumcision, can’t you use Ishmael?
Genesis 18 - next year a son
Genesis 19 - Sodom and Gomorrah
Genesis 20 - lies to Abimeleck
Genesis 21 - Isaac born
Genesis 22 - The test, maybe 37 years after the first promise, and Abraham has grown in faith
This is an encouragement to me. We believe God, but often we try to figure out how to make things happen on our own. Like Abraham, we need to grow in our faith, be strengthened in our faith by the Lord.
Romans 4:20 NIV
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,
Why give glory to God?
Romans 4:23–25 NIV
The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Conclusion
Righteousness is a gift—credited, not earned
All who believe, belong
An Example of Faith, (which needs to grow)
Conclusion, it all comes back to Jesus, who was delivered over to die for our sins, and who was raised to live for our justification.
Do you believe this? You may need to grow in your faith, learning to live in complete reliance on the righteousness God gives you through faith, and how that changes the way we live. But as soon as you believe, you belong!
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