Summary: If we received a phone call from Abraham, we would conclude that God has ALWAYS saved people by grace through faith – always. And we would conclude that without faith, it is impossible to please God.

It’s the Same Old (But Wonderful) Song

(Romans 4:1-25)

1. PITTSBURGH (Reuters)- "One felony, extra crispy, please." City police on Friday said they were looking for a man who called a KFC restaurant and placed an unusual takeout order — a robbery.

The man called the restaurant March 31 and told the manager he was a police officer. The caller told the manager that a robber was on his way to the store and that the store employees should cooperate so nobody would get hurt. Police planned to grab the robber as he left the store, the caller said.

Moments later, a robber showed up and took $200, but no police arrived to arrest him — fueling police suspicion that the telephone "cop" and restaurant robber are the same person.

Police said at a news conference Friday they believe the same man is responsible for at least 10 other robberies in the city since late January. The other stores weren’t called ahead of time.

The robber was caught on video at the KFC, and the images match a description given in the other heists.

2. Phone calls can be used creatively, as in the above case.

3. But don’t you wish you could give God a phone call? Prayer is pretty close…

4. But what would some of the great men and women of the Bible tell us if they phoned us? Sometimes we know.

Main Idea: I. God Saved People Before ___Christ__ Came Just As He Saves Us (1-8)

1. In the last chapter, we saw that the atonement of Christ is the basis for all salvation (OT and NT)… see Romans 3:24-26.

2. God justified (saved) Abraham at the __point___ of belief

(1) Abraham is revered by Jews, Christians, and Moslems, so his example is powerful and convincing

(2) Some Jewish Christians were unconvinced of salvation by grace through faith apart from works, just as many folks today remain unconvinced….Abraham was considered the “rock from which (the Israelites) we cut,” according to Isaiah 51:1

(3) Now many forms of Christianity teach a plan of salvation that is foreign to the NT (salvation by sacraments, baptism); the proper plan of salvation should transfer back into OT times…if it does not, you hold to an error…Paul certainly accepted this standard…if it’s new, it’s not true!

(4) So how was Abraham justified? Turn to Genesis 15:6 and read it out of there!

(5) This means that Paul’s teaching of justification by faith is not something he pulled out of the air!

(6) If the God of the Bible is the true God, we would expect a continuity between the testaments (both unity and diversity)

3. Saving faith occurs at a __point___ in time, but it shows itself over time; true believers, ”walk in the footsteps of the faith” (4:12). Faith is taking God at His Word, responding to what He has believed…

(1) in previous sermons, we saw that we exist to glorify God, to highlight what is unique about God’s character and enjoy His blessings

(2) When we trust God, we are saying that He has good character; when we doubt Him, we are insulting His integrity…

(3) faith aligns us with God; unbelief puts us in an adversarial position, so faith has a lot to do with an attitude of submission, and the issue of faith is God’s integrity…

(4) even we human beings dislike it when others we know do not trust us…

4. We should not think of saving faith as a one-time decision with no residual effect….it is the beginning of a walk by faith….but that initial faith is what saves you, the walk merely flows from genuine faith and evidences its genuiness…

(1) Jesus’ parable of the sower

(2) only the ground that bore fruit represent SAVING faith…

5. Verses 4 and 5 provide a contrast to what most people think…you might memorize these…

6. The second most respected man by the Jews was King David. If David was saved the same way Abraham was saved, and Paul was teaching salvation in the same way these two men taught it, then Paul’s argument is potent indeed…and it is!

7. Notice David’s words quoted in verses 7 and 8 from the 32nd Psalm…

II. God Saved People on an __Individual_ Basis Back When, Just As He Does Now (9-12)

1. Many Jews, like many forms of Christianity, thought that salvation came by being born within a believing nation or a “group plan.”

2. In the Jewish New Testament Commentary, David Stern writes, “There can be no doubt that in the 1st Century…the doctrine was widespread that descendants can benefit and even claim salvation on the ground of their ancestors’ righteousness…”

3. Many Jews believed they were automatically saved because they were descendents of Abraham. As John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:9, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”

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