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December 3, 2017

"ABRAHAM AND JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH"

TEXT: Romans 4: 1-8
READING:  Psalm 32: 1-11

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SUBJ: Abraham as the divinely appointed example in justification by faith and the most complete illustration to us would follow him who is called the “father of the faithful.” (see v. 16)

AIM: That we might seek to be found in the way of faith as was Abraham and to be known by the evidences of faith in all we do.

INTR: The persuasion of Paul is thorough and so having provided many proofs regarding salvation and righteousness without the Law, he provides us with the designated example of faith and justification.
1. Abraham first appears to us in the last part of Genesis 11, and his death is recorded in chapter 25.
2. Of course, that is not the end of the story and that which we learn from his life lives on in the Gospel testimony that was delivered to him.
3. Paul devotes most of Romans 4 to the biblical testimony of Abraham and we do well to give attention to it in that the pattern for our own faith in practice is set forth.

THESIS: As we have before encountered justification is a most precious truth to those who receive it by faith and who are found after the example of faithful Abraham in believing God and so claiming the righteousness that is without the works of the Law.

I. The truth asserted (vv. 1-3)
1. We are challenged with yet another question from Paul (v. 1)
1) He claims, as do other Jews, to be descended from Abraham but only incidentally.
2) It is rather that something has been discovered that is of importance to all and so
3) It is not what we have found – but what Abraham has found and left as a heritage for us.
2. Paul’s conclusion is that the prominence of Abraham would be owing to his works if, indeed, this were the case.
1) Not only would Abraham glory in his works but so would all if such were the way of salvation.
2) But, there again, as we have said before, men just do not glory in the presence of God – they do it for themselves and before other men.
3) Certainly, there is no boasting with him (see v. 3:27)
3. The question is resolved in Scripture: And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15:6.
4. What was it that Abraham believed (first promised in chapter 12): 1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. Genesis 15:1-5.
5. More importantly is who Abraham believed. He certainty desired what the Lord had promised and the fact that he believed him.
6. Counted to him for righteousness – Christ was the righteousness to be received!

II. The truth contrasted (vv. 4-5)
1. The thought of working is connected to the reward and how it comes. Abrahams’s real reward was not merely of lands and nations – It was the Lord himself (Gen. 15:6)
1) There are two benefits we share with Abraham the first being that the Lord is our shield and
2) The second is that He is our “exceeding great reward.”
2. If any aspect of this is related to works or obedience outside of faith, It would be of debt
1) Many today proceed to teach men to make deals with God
2) One might make the same demands of God that one does for wages owed.
3. It is rather to him that offers no works but rather takes the Lord at His word believing that it is He that justifies!
4. Faith does not equal righteousness, but is counted so because of what it believes – that justification is by grace, by the blood, and has no connection at all with works.
5. God does not make deals – He mercifully justifies through Christ – Faith is the outcome and the vindication of divine justification.

III. The truth applied in the testimony of David (vv. 6-8)
1. David calls this a matter of blessedness (happiness)
1) The pride of many would dictate that they claim some credit for themselves
2) Yet, true blessedness comes in knowing Christ and that His righteousness is imputed and that “not of works lest any man should boast.”
2. There is forgiveness: sin and iniquities removed
3. There is covering: out of the sight of justice through the atoning work of Christ and so: As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:12.
4. Having imputed their sins to Christ, the blessedness is in knowing that God will not impute them to those who come unto God by Him
5. The prospect before us because of these things of mercy and grace produce happiness now and assure that it shall be so forevermore.