Summary: Living a life of faith
Romans 4 - Living by Faith - 2/1/09
Turn with me this morning to Romans 4. Romans is a real letter to real people about a real question - the key question of life: How can a sinful man be made right with a holy God? Paul tells us we can never find right standing with God on our own. In chapters 1-3 Paul talks about condemnation -- all men are condemned: ungodly sinners, moral people, and even religious Jews. In Romans, Paul gives us as explanation of the gospel. The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” The essence of Paul’s letter to the Romans is that there is good news: we have no righteousness of our own, but in Christ we came be made in right standing with the God of all creation. Last week we saw in the end of chapter 3 our second big word: justification. We are declared “not guilty” of our sin -- not because of keeping the OT law, the 10 commandments, or anything we might DO, but because of what Jesus Christ has DONE for us. God takes the righteous perfection of Jesus Christ and “credits” it to our account. Our bill is marked “paid in full” when we trust Christ for salvation.
Paul tells us in 3:20 we are justified apart from the law; in 3:22 we are justified through faith in Jesus Christ; and in 3:29 all men are justified this way, whether Jew or Gentile. This could be very hard for Jews to accept, for they thought they had special favor with God. We’ll talk about the Jews in a couple weeks and see “what’s up with Israel.” But God is just - and cannot just overlook sin, even for the Jews. Many Jews thought they were saved by keeping the OT law -- just like many today think they are saved by what they do: being baptized as a baby or going to church. And many thought they were saved just because they were Jewish, just like many think they are Christians because they were raised in a Christian home.
To answer the Jews who prided themselves on their heritage, Paul explains that this idea of justification by faith has been God’s plan all along. And he uses the example of Abraham, the father of the Jews, to show this is true. That brings us to chapter 4. Look at 4:3 - “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Paul clearly tells us, with the authority of God, that Abraham, the father of the Jews -- if anyone could have claimed his credentials as a Jew it was Abraham -- that Abraham was saved by his FAITH, not by any works he had done. Down in verse 23, we find that Abraham is an example for US of how we are saved: The NLT states it this way: Now this wonderful truth--that God declared him to be righteous--wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was for us, too, assuring us that God will also declare us to be righteous if we believe in God, who brought Jesus our Lord back from the dead.
So Paul tells us that we also are justified, made right with God, by faith. That’s what the book of Hebrews tells us: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. [Heb. 1:6] So we understand that we are saved by faith, just like Abraham was. Today we want to ask the question, What does it mean for me to live by faith? And we’ll find some answers to that question in Romans 4. Let’s look at the first 12 verses. Read 4:1-12 pray.
What does it mean for me to live by faith? And we’ll look at that question negatively, and then positively. The first thing it means is . . . (Living by faith means . . .)
1. We don’t trust in what we do on our own strength as a means of our salvation. We are not saved by Conduct. God doesn’t weigh all the good in our life against all the bad. Regardless of what some may think! Salvation is not a wage, it is a gift. That’s the point Paul is making in verse 4 - Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. Paul is saying if you could get saved by your works, then God would “owe you.” There would be no gift, no grace in salvation. It would be owed to us.
If your boss comes to you on Friday and says, “I decided to give you a gift today” and hands you your paycheck, you would think - “That’s not a gift; I worked for that!” Well, that is the point Paul is making about salvation: we don’t earn it, it’s a gift! Eph. 2:8-9 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no-one can boast. Titus 3:5 - He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.