Summary: This is the ninth message in a series over the first five chapters of the book of Romans. this message examines the importance of faith and grace.
Have you ever lost your faith? Maybe we should phrase it this way, have you felt your faith begin to get shaky? A small boy riding a bus home from Sunday school was very proud of the card he had received, which had a picture and a caption that read: Have Faith in God. Then to his dismay the card slipped from his hand and fluttered out the window. “Stop the bus! He cried. I’ve lost my faith in God!” The driver pulled the bus to a stop, and as the lad climbed out and went to retrieve his card, one of the adult riders smiled and made a comment about the innocence of youth. A more perceptive adult observed, “All of us would be better off if we were that concerned about our faith.” As we enter the last part of chapter 4, Paul is presenting the summary of the argument he has presented so far in the letter. He continues to hold Abraham up as the ultimate example of being justified by faith. Abraham’s faith was shown by his willingness to take God at His word. This great faith allowed God to display His grace and power in Abraham’s life time and time again. Paul wanted his readers to simply get out of the way and take God at His word. As we bring chapter 4 to a close today, we need to discover what we must do to display the same bold faith that Abraham had. It is this type of faith that will allow us to take God at His word even when it doesn’t make sense.
I. Why is faith such a big deal?
A. What God gives by grace can only be accepted by faith.
1. Faith requires a trust in God that reaches out to Him realizing that there is nothing that we can do to change our circumstances.
2. If God’s promises rested upon human achievement they would not be sure because God demands perfect righteousness so a promise based on human effort would only serve to highlight our weaknesses.
3. Faith is accepting that God will do exactly what He promises even though we do not deserve it.
4. Grace freely gives what is not deserved and what is impossible to be earned. Faith is accepting the gift and fully believing that we possess what has been promised.
5. D.A. Carson states it this way, “Faith has no value and the promise is worthless if inheriting Abraham’s blessing depends on doing the law.”
B. Faith is required to believe God’s promises.
1. When God promised Abraham countless descendants He was talking about spiritual descendants as well as physical.
2. God made a promise to Abraham which by human standards was impossible.
3. The promise God made to Abraham depended upon the power of God, Abraham did not have the power to bring it about.
4. Consider a couple of issues that arise from the salvation based on works view.
a. This would put the spotlight on human frailty.
b. How could someone ever know if they had done enough to receive God’s promise?
5. Faith allows us to believe that God continues to forgive us when we fail which enables the promise to remain in effect.
II. Abraham: a man whose faith seems to tower over the rest of ours.
A. Examining what makes Abraham’s situation so unique.
1. God promised Abraham that He would reward him with countless descendants but Abraham had no children and he and Sarah were past the child bearing years.
2. Abraham was all set to give his estate to his trusted servant Eliezer but God said that he and Sarah would definitely have a child of their own.
3. To accept this promise Abraham would have to believe that God had the ability to override any circumstances.
4. Abraham’s faith is not a shot in the dark, it was a rational decision to believe that God was perfectly capable of doing all that He said He would do.
B. Paul’s observations about how Abraham responded to God’s promises.
1. Abraham believed God even though it seemed as though there was no hope of the promise coming true.
2. Abraham took God at His word and did not spend time worrying or doubting that God was capable of making it happen.
3. Although Abraham had to wait fourteen years to realize the promise, despite the obstacles Abraham’s faith grew stronger.
4. Abraham fully trusted that God was able to do exactly what He said.
5. This was not a test of circumstances, it was a test of how big Abraham’s God was.
C. God’s response to Abraham’s faith.
1. Living in a pagan culture full of false gods that people would often manipulate, Abraham trusted a God that he had no control over.