Summary: This sermon is from a series I preached on Romans.
Title: “Faith Alone” Script: Romans 4:16ff.
Type: Series/Expository Where: GNBC 3-7-21
Intro: Many people mistakenly think there is conflict between “faith” and “reason”. In their minds, “faith” is a synonym for credulity and even superstition, or even an excuse for irrationality. The British humanist, Bertrand Russell once quipped disparagingly : “Faith is a conviction that cannot be shaken by contrary evidence.” But is that really true? No! Although faith does go beyond reason, it always has a firmly rational basis. Faith is believing or trusting in a person or entity or object, and its reasonableness depends on the trustworthiness of that individual or item. It is always reasonable to trust the trustworthy, and there is no One more trustworthy than God! This is the lesson the patriarch Abraham learned in Genesis ( ). It is the lesson we all need to learn today. Our understanding should actually be easier than the patriarch, since we live after the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, Who proved His complete trustworthiness as the sole object of our faith. (From Stott, Romans, p. 133)
Prop: Examining Romans 4:16ff will demonstrate to us the necessity of faith for Justification.
BG: 1. Key word in Romans 4 is “reckoned”. From the verb “lego” – not Waffles! Means to put one’s mind together, calculations. Is God’s act of Justification. Declares God’s imputed righteousness and declared freedom from guilt. 2. References to Gen. 15 & 17.
Prop: Let’s Examine Romans 4:16ff to see the necessity of Justification by Faith.
I. 1st We See Faith’s Foundation vv.16-17
A. True Faith Only Works with Grace.
1. Justifying faith is narrowly defined. Read v. 16 – very narrow definition of faith given here. Justifying faith must operate with grace in order to be efficacious. “in accordance with grace” – grace – charis – can mean joy, favor, acceptance, a kindness granted. When we by faith, trust in the perfect work of Jesus Christ, God grants us favor and acceptance.
2. Illust: Many people will attempt to offer you help when going through difficult time by telling you the platitude: “Just have faith.” My response to that statement is: “In who or in what?” Some cosmic force? In faith? In myself? “In my dog?” “In the US government?” “In science?” No! “Just have faith.” Is confusing nonsense. In order for faith to be meritorious, in must be in someone or something that is credible and capable. Look to Christ!
B. Faith is Required by All.
1. The Apostle enumerates the universality of those who may experience saving faith. First he says it is for those “Of the Law” as well as “Those of the faith of Abraham”. Who does he mean by these designations? A. “Of the Law” means those Jews who have believed in Christ. b. The other group is Gentiles who have trusted Christ. Abram’s faith was a faith that operated before or without the Law, just as Gentiles did and do.
2. So again, notice the qualifying statement in this verse. “Of the faith of Abraham who is the father of us all.” Not just any “faith” that qualifies one before God. Rather, it is believing and having the same faith as Abraham had in focus. Illust: The Rabbis of Paul’s day had a phrase used to say: “What is written of Abraham is also written of his children.” What did they mean? The merits Abraham received by faith are equally applied to his children when they by faith believe on the same God the same truths.
C. This Faith is in God’s Power. V. 17
1. Abraham’s faith was not an abstraction. Rather, it was concrete-like in its solidity. It was focused on the unique power of God: “Who gives life to the dead”. In this context hope is used in two different senses. Hope in human ability and power (cf. vv. 19-21) versus hope in God's promise (cf. v. 17).
a. Nothing baffles 21st century man more than nothingness and death. Nothing causes the proud proclamations of modern existentialists and humanists more angst than their dread of the abyss of nothingness! We have seen this with crystal clarity in our world surrounding the Covid crisis. Death is the one event, in the end, which we have no control over and from which we cannot escape. So what do we do? We don our masks, we refuse to see our loved ones, we separate ourselves, we pray for vaccines and praise “Science”, we completely uproot the rhythm of our lives so that we may have one more day on this earth. Illust: Woody Allen epitomized this inability to cope with the prospect of death when he once said: “It’s not that I am afraid to die…I just don’t want to be there when it happens!” (Stott, p. 133)