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December 17, 2017

"ABRAHAM AND THE RECKONING OF FAITH"

TEXT: Romans 4: 9-17
READING:  Galatians 3: 1-18

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SUBJ: The manner of the reckoning of Abraham’s faith and that taking particular note of the time in being before both circumcision and the Law; we note the gospel implications of this being called out.

AIM: That we might look to that which was promised to Abraham and see Christ revealed therein and so be moved to rejoice that we as Gentiles were included and have it so proven.

INTR: The use of the word “reckon” is generally lost in our thoughts today and yet it resides in the vocabulary that is connected to substitution, imputation, and justification.
1. Here we would have it apply to the either the time or manner is which the righteousness of faith was imputed to Abraham – when he was justified.
2. To reckon has many meanings: to account; to think on value or approval; conclude. Here it is to account as being the possession of Abraham with all it qualifying attributes.
3. Much is made of the division of nations with Jew and Gentile being the primary line of separation.

THESIS: The reckoning of faith is that where it exists the righteousness of God has been applied through Christ our Lord. Thus, we are reckoned, and we do reckon that we have been made the righteousness of God in Him and that as to our human nature, we reckon ourselves as dead.

I. It was reckoned to Abraham before circumcision (vv. 9-12)
1. The question is how and so points to both time and circumstance
1) Paul presents proof of this in the reference to the biblical record and that circumcision was not implemented until just before the birth of Isaac.
2) The promise: And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15:6, had been given at least thirteen years earlier.
3) It was a seal of righteousness which he already had received but implied the putting off of the deeds of the flesh.
2. The fact of Gentile inclusion may have been a matter of the will of God in His determination to save whom He wills.
1) Moses heard that in no uncertain terms
2) But the promise came before Abraham himself was circumcised
3. The purpose was simply declared in that he would be the father of all them that believe
1) This would arguably make Abraham the most important of Old Testament men.
2) It was even to them that are not circumcised and
3) It was then that “righteousness might be imputed to them also…”
4. The issue was then and remains that it is them that “walk in the steps of faith.”
1) We note this as a recurring theme in this book and elsewhere that there is a walk of faith and by faith that follows salvation.
2) The circumstance is that at this point faith is identified by obedience and that what came was believing God with regard to Christ – merely saying “I believe” doesn’t get it.

II. It was reckoned to Abraham before the Law (vv. 13-17)
1. This promise of such far-reaching implications came through (by way of) the righteousness of faith – Christ
1) It was specifically not to Abraham or his seed through the Law
2) Only through the righteousness of faith – so would be the manifestation of it all along.
2. At this point Paul begins to point out absurdities with the beliefs of many.
1) Promise would be meaningless in a system where obedience rendered up would be the cause of receiving what God made to Abraham as a promise.
2) The Law works wrath in that
i. It actually exposes the unrighteousness of men rather than providing a means to obtaining it thereby subjecting them to the righteous wrath of God.
ii. If there were no law, there would be no sin – the thought here is not that law did not exist and the evidences of divine judgment and the calling out of sin were obvious.
3) So, that which happened 430 years before the Law cannot have that Law as a means to either obtain or confirm it.
3. We love to sing of the grace of God and we make general applications of it.
1) Care must be taken that we adhere to the strict definition of Grace:
i. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. Romans 11:6
ii. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Galatians 2:21.
iii. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 2 Timothy 1:9.
2) Grace is as much an absolute as anything pertaining to God and salvation!
4. We note the reasons in verse 16
1) Faith so that it is all of grace – leaving no room for the consideration of any contribution of any kind.
2) In that way the purpose of God and the promise is made sure to all the seed – the elect of God – Jews and Gentiles alike
5. All who are the of the faith of Abraham before God in whom Abraham believed:
1) As Him who quickeneth the dead and
2) Gives the sure word of prophecy (those things that are not seen as though they were).