Summary: In this sermon we observe seven characteristics of true, saving faith that are found in the life of every believer.
The apostle Paul has been using the patriarch Abraham as an example of faith in Romans 4:1-25. Today, as we examine the final section of this chapter we shall observe the characteristics of true, saving faith. Let’s read Romans 4:18-25:
"18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ’So shall your offspring be.’ 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning theou promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was ’counted to him as righteousness.’ 23 But the words ’it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification." (Romans 4:18-25)
Today is Super Bowl Sunday. The New York Giants take on the New England Patriots in the match later today.
Tom Brady is the quarterback for the New England Patriots. He has already won three Super Bowls, and was twice named the Most Valuable Player in previous Super Bowls. He is arguably the best quarterback ever to play the position of quarterback.
He is often in the news for his superior ability as an athlete.
Unfortunately, Tom Brady has also made news for his disappointing personal life as well. This past year he fathered a child out of wedlock in a messy love triangle.
Prior to this tragic set of events, Brady shared some telling words in a 60 Minutes interview.
He mused, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be, what it’s all cracked up to be.”
Steve Kroft, the interviewer, then asked, “What’s the answer?”
Brady replied, “I wish I knew. I wish I knew.”
Until we find our purpose in God, life will remain elusively meaningless.
The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism is, “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
I would like to say to Tom Brady and you who wonder what life is all about that you will never find meaning and purpose until you glorify God. And you will never glorify God until you first come into a right relationship with him.
But how do you come into a right relationship with God?
You enter into a right relationship with God through faith.
But what is faith? What does faith look like? What are the characteristics of faith?
Abraham’s faith is a case study for us. Let us observe seven key characteristics of faith that are true in the life of every believer.
I. Faith’s Object (4:18)
The first key characteristic of faith is its object.
The apostle Paul said of Abraham that in hope he believed against hope (4:18a).
The term hope is not the same as faith, although they are related. In this instance, hope is the desire for something to be true or to happen, whereas faith is the firm confidence that something is true and it will happen.
Abraham believed when, from a human point of view, there was no basis for hope at all.
The object of Abraham’s faith was God, and in particular the promise that he, that is, Abraham, should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be” (4:18b).
God had called Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. After many years, when Abraham still did not have any descendants, God took him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.”
Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
And Abraham believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:5-6).
The object of true, saving faith is God.
True, saving faith saves because of its object. It is not the amount or sincerity of faith that saves. A person can have a great deal of faith or be extremely sincere in his or her faith, but that is not what saves a person.
You may have a great deal of faith and be extremely sincere in your faith that if you step off a 10-story building, you will reach the ground unharmed. The problem is not the amount or sincerity of your faith but rather with the object of your faith. You believe that the laws of gravity will be changed in order to allow you to float to the ground, unharmed. And, of course that will not happen.