Summary: This is the eight message in a series that examines the reality of our sin problem based on Romans chapters 1-5. This message examines the fact that God declares us righteous based on faith and not works.
We have a hard time believing that anything is totally free. Whenever we see something free, we immediately assume that there are strings attached. The majority of us have experienced those hidden strings. “You have won a free vacation.” “Download the free clipart.” “Sign-up for a free no obligation quote.” The free vacation often requires us to buy our own plane tickets and to sit through some boring presentation about time shares. The free clipart comes with a lot of annoying adware that bogs down our computer. The free quote results in a stream of never ending inconvenient phone calls. Experiences such as these cause us to believe that nothing is truly free. This skepticism often determines how easy it is for us to accept God’s grace. Let’s be really honest here for a second, I have to work to get a paycheck; doesn’t it make sense that I would have to work to earn my salvation? This is exactly what the Jews struggled with as they heard the Gospel message. Even the Old Testament taught that justification came through faith but somewhere along the line that concept got distorted in the minds of the Jewish people. The Jewish leaders had constructed a religion that was almost completely dependent upon works. So the concept of grace truly went over their heads. So in our text Paul skillfully turns to the pages of the Old Testament to present concrete evidence using the patriarch Abraham that God declares us righteous based on what He had done not on what he had done. Today, we need to truly soak in Paul’s words and discover that there truly is something that is free. Although God’s grace is difficult to wrap our brain around, it doesn’t change the fact that salvation comes through faith and not by works.
I. Paul uses Abraham to show that God makes us right through faith.
A. An examination of the most revered character in Jewish history.
1. Paul is setting out to do one of the most difficult tasks in the world, changing someone’s mind when they are convinced that they are right.
2. Judaism constructed a view of Abraham that was not entirely correct.
a. They viewed him as being the first example of religious piety.
b. They viewed Abraham’s righteousness as a result of obedience to God’s Law.
3. The problem with their view was that Abraham came centuries before God had given the Law through Moses.
4. There was no written code for Abraham to follow, in fact scripture does not support the idea of Abraham being justified before God because of the things he did.
5. Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6—NIV 2011)
B. Abraham is not an example of great piety but an example of great faith.
1. Piety would require Abraham to flawlessly keep God’s written code which had not been given yet.
2. If you examine Abraham’s life and compare it to the Law you find out he was exactly like us, he sinned and fell short of God’s standard.