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Summary: In our passages we see that 1. Our Spiritual Journey starts with GRACE 2. Our Spiritual Journey continues through FAITH 3. Our Spiritual Journey continues in a WALK OF PROGRESSIVE HOLINESS

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Scripture: Romans 4:1-5; 13-17; Genesis 12:1-4; John 3:1-17

Psalms 121 (Call to Worship)

Title: Grace, Faith and the Walk of Holiness

In our passages we see that 1. Our Spiritual Journey starts with GRACE 2. Our Spiritual Journey continues through FAITH 3. Our Spiritual Journey continues in a WALK OF PROGRESSIVE HOLINESS

INTRO:

Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world.

As you can quickly surmise, all of our passages this morning center on what it means to have a corporate and personal relationship with the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY? From these passages we should be able to answer some of the following questions:

+ How does one begin a relationship or a covenant with the LORD?

+What is required to have an intimate and growing relationship with our LORD?

+What does having a relationship with LORD accomplish in our lives and how we then live out our lives here on earth?

These are just some of the questions that the Apostle Paul was doing his best to answer in his letter to the congregations in Rome. These are some of the questions that Nicodemus wanted Jesus to answer that night long ago when he came to talk to Jesus. They are good questions for us to look at this 2nd Sunday of Lent. These questions and their answers allow us to better understand the true nature of salvation and what is called genuine humanness and the life abundant and eternal. These questions and their answers remind us that justification, regeneration and sanctification all are gifts from our Heavenly Father and are not attained through personal achievement, self-disciple or through a series of good works.

This morning, let's delve into these passages (especially Romans 4:1-17) and see the riches the LORD wants to share with us.

I. Our spiritual journey begins with God's Grace

Mankind's rescue and salvation story starts back in the Garden of Eden immediately following the Fall but this morning our Old Testament passage takes us to the 12th chapter of Genesis where we the story of the life of Abraham begins.

The first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis is a compendium of stories about man's progressive slide towards wickedness that followed the Lord's wonderful gift of creation. Humanity seems to be on a freefall towards a state of compete degradation and disintegration. We start with the story of Adam and Eve's rebellion (Gen. 3), we go on to the story of Cain killing of Abel (Gen. 4), and then find ourselves in a world enslaved in sin ( 5-9) which leads of course to the divine judgment of the Great Flood. Given a fresh start we might expect the remaining two chapters to show us man's improvement but instead we see another series of declines that leads to the Lord confusing the languages so that man will not destroy himself and/or the world (10-11).

It is into all of this chaos, degradation and wickedness that our story begins to takes a pivotal turn in chapter 12. Beginning with our Old Testament passage (12:1-4) the Biblical story goes from dealing with all of man's brokenness to a story of sharing the Good News - the story of how God is going to bring about rescue, salvation and restoration. Starting in chapter 12 we see the story of man's salvation which we must be careful to point out - begins not with us but with our LORD. It is God's initiative that begins our story of salvation.

Without much fanfare and rather shockingly, the LORD calls a particular individual named Abram and his family to have faith in Him and obediently follow His leadership. Over the next 13 chapters (Genesis 12 - 25), our writer shares with how this Abram begins to take on a new identity and a new name as he transforms into of one of Israel's greatest patriarchs of faithfulness and obedience. Now, let's take a moment and look at this man a little closer:

+Abraham is from the line of Shem (Noah's oldest son). Shem is a man whom many Jewish scholars believed later went by the name Melchizedek.

+ Abraham family were natives of the city of Ur in the land of the Chaldeans. The ancient city of Ur was located very close to ancient Babylon which was a hot bed of false gods and idolatry.

+ Joshua 24:2-3 shares with us that Abraham's family worshipped these false gods. Like so many of their contemporaries they had joined the majority of humanity that were continuing man's downhill trek into human degradation, decay and wickedness. What is so amazing about all of this is that the great man of God, Noah is still alive during the time of Terah and Abraham. One might have thought that Noah's presence on the earth would have been enough to cause a majority of people to stay true to the LORD. Sadly, however that was not the case.

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