Summary: The "ledger of life" has the debit side filled with sins...the sheet must be balanced.
Faith Accounting 101
* Institutions of higher education have a system of numbering their classes which allows the student to know the difficulty (in theory) of a class. As you know, these range from numbering beginning with 1 for freshman to 6 or 7 which is doctoral level. The courses numbered 100 are (most of the time) basic studies giving a basic knowledge of the subject. In a basic studies class you would use a text book designed for that particular level of study. Two years later, you may study the exact same subject, but this time there would, in all likelihood, be a different text which has a more in depth approach. The Bible is a book which can be use at any level of study. Its subject is faith, it’s object is Jesus. Whether you a looking for a 100 course level or a doctoral study, it’s here.
* Hebrews 11 begins, “Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For by it (faith) our ancestors were approved.” Approved. Think about that word. In other translations it reads “a good report,” “commended,” “earned a good reputation,” and “obtained testimony,” However, it is my belief that the most accurate reading is found in the RSV where it reads, “received divine approval.” Now that’s a direction we can get our hands around. Most of us truly desire to gain God’s approval for eternal life in heaven.
* Paul is giving a basic course in faith. In our last message on Romans we considered the truth that “It’s all about faith” as we ended Romans 3. Do you recall that in this journey of faith we discovered the “Exclusion of Sin”, the “Experience of Salvation”, and the “Expectation of Sanctification?” It’s all about faith.
* Now Paul uses 2 visuals to teach us about faith. (TEXT)
* Some of us are old enough to remember the debilitating disease named “Polio”. It was one of the most dreaded or feared diseases of the 20th century. Through its epidemic many thousands of children were rendered crippled for life. Then Jonas Salk and Albert Sabine with their vaccine. I remember going into Purvis High School on at least 2 Sunday afternoons and eating my sugar cube. Our Faith was that the medicine was in the cube.
1. The Mystery of Faith – Verse one asks the question, “What did Abraham find?” Of all the Jewish legacy, history, and “fathers”, Abraham was considered the “Patriarch” and the “Father” of the faith. Heaven was equated with Abraham and was referred to as “Abraham’s bosom.” Every self-respecting Jew knew that Abraham was justified before God, so Paul asks the question, “How did Abraham do it? How did he get justified?”
* Would you consider something with me, you know in just plain ole, every day, Alabama logic? Consider the life of Abraham, well at least a part of his life. Before God speaks to “Abram” in Genesis 12, Abram is basically living the life of a pagan. Haran was a seat of worship for the moon-god, SIN. There is no reason to think that Abram was anything but a part of this godless, pagan society UNTIL, he heard the voice of Jehovah God.
* How similar our lives are to his. Until we hear and respond to God’s voice calling us to Him, we are as pagan as Abram was.
* God’s call to Abram was, “get up and go, leave it all and follow me.” No word about the destination, no word about the route, no word about a lot of things, just the directive to go where I want you to go and down the road, I’ll be giving you some huge reward. By the way, Abram was no spring chicken when this happened, he was 75. Can you imagine the conversation between him and Sarai? Men, can you imagine offering that news to your bride? “Hon, God told us to move.” “God? Who? What? Where?” “Ah, He didn’t tell me the where, He just told us to go.” “What have you been drinking? Have you lost your mind!?” “Hon, God said that if we do this, that He will do some great things in our behalf.” Okay, what would you have said? Candidly, we try to put such a spiritual spin on the understanding of Biblical characters like Abram that we forget they were HUMAN and did not have the benefit of reading the end of the story. Would you have trusted?
* I submit that it is a sad day when we cannot or will not trust God completely? We tend to want things “laid out for us.” Yet, we applaud, say “amen”, and claim to walk by faith, not by sight. Faith 101 tells us that we follow God at His word!