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Summary: This message is the next in an expository series through Romans.

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“Father Abraham Had Many”

Romans 4:1-12

November 23, 2008

My parents are “slides people”. What I mean is this: go to the Harvey home in VA, and you won’t find photo albums. No, early on, my dad decided to use slides to document the Harvey family goings-on. I remember as a kid many times we’d get out the screen and the old projector (this in the days before carousel projectors). There was always this smell associated with the experience; I don’t know if it was the screen or the projector warming up after a period of disuse, like a furnace that’s been dormant for the summer waking up for winter usage. But that’s how we reviewed our memories. Then I married Karen, and she’s a family photo album person, and so we’ve got books filled with pictures to remind us of the memories that we’ve made.

Imagine the surprise we’d feel, though, if we were to one day open up the family photo album and find a bunch of strangers inhabiting its pages! “Who are those people, and how did they get into our lives?” Something like this is what’s going on when we get to today’s passage, because Paul makes the bold suggestion here that Father Abraham, revered by the Jews as the patriarch whom God used to bring about the very existence of the nation, has a family photo album filled with non-Jews—and further, that there are a whole lot of Jews who do not find themselves in that family album!

Paul has argued that his doctrine of justification by faith is buttressed by Old Testament examples and teaching. Now he supplies proof that that is the case, using “Father Abraham”, and supporting his usage of Abraham with the words of David, the king. Here were two of the most revered men in Israel’s history, two men who walked with God. If the evidence from their lives could be marshaled in support of Paul’s case, the case would be made even more strong.

Let’s consider a preliminary question: is there value in this argument for us? We are not Jewish. We live 20 centuries removed from the situation. How can we relate? In a couple of ways; Paul

• Elaborates more on his doctrine

o Justification is that which involves God justifying the ungodlike

o Faith is faith in the God Who created the world and raised Christ from the grave

• Demonstrates that justification by faith is God’s one/only way of making man right with Himself

o The Jews have a rich spiritual heritage of men who were justified by faith

o There are not two programs: works for Jews, and faith for Gentiles

o Jews do not have a separate way to come to God (as some teach today)

Why Abraham? He was “the rock from which Israel was cut. The basis of the Hebrew nation was the covenant promises God had made to Abraham, and that scenario takes place beginning at the end of Genesis 11 and stretching through Genesis 22.

Four “faith episodes” of Abraham’s life:

1. God’s calling and blessing of Abraham (Gen. 11/12)


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