Summary: Let’s look at a few thoughts that will help us understand how faith can make us right with God – nothing else can! Trusting God that what Jesus did on the cross was enough to take away our sins – that is the faith we all need today!
Who Picked Up the Tab?
Intro: Back when we were young, dumb, and kid-free, we rode AmTrak all the way from Southeastern Nebraska to Baker City. At some point on our return trip (which started in Portland), we realized that we hadn’t planned very well and were short on food and cash. We weren’t starving or anything, but certainly weren’t fat and sassy either. I thought we were being discreet and quiet about it, but somehow an older couple figured out our situation and offered to buy a meal for us. I honestly don’t remember if we took them up on it or not. We weren’t looking or asking for anything, but out of the blue, someone offered to pick up our tab so we could eat. How generous… and how rare!
-Have you ever had someone pick up your bill at a restaurant? As you go to pay you are informed that it has already been paid. Wow! Positive Life Radio has promoted something they call, Drive Through Difference, where you tell the person taking your order in the Drive Thru that you want to pay for the order from the car behind you. Then you give the cashier a note to pass on to the other car, saying something about how God loves them. One guy at Starbucks felt like the Lord wanted him to offer to pay for the man’s coffee in the car in front of him. Come to find out the man in front of him had forgotten his wallet and was amazed at the timing of someone offering to pay on this day of all days!
-None of us is more deserving of forgiveness or grace than anybody else! As I’ve heard and said before, when we share our faith, we are like beggars telling other beggars where to find bread! God is the One who provides the bread, but He gives it freely to all who will trust Him for it.
-In our reading today, Paul is speaking primarily to the Jews who are part of the church at Rome. In chapter 3 he has used Jewish Scriptures to show that we are all guilty before God – we all have sinned and are under sin. Now in ch. 4 Paul is using the example of one of the greatest heroes of the Jewish faith and history (Abraham) to show that forgiveness and grace cannot be earned or deserved. We have nothing to offer to pay for our sins or to save ourselves. Even on our best day we fall miserably short of the mark of making ourselves right with God! It cannot be done by human effort – it only comes by faith! And when I say faith, please understand that faith is more than just mentally agreeing with a fact. Biblical faith always operates in the context of relationship. We can trust God because He has introduced Himself to us through the Bible and through His Holy Spirit. He is always showing us Who He is! He claims to be faithful and trustworthy, and if we believe Him and respond to His love for us, and begin to do life with Him, that is what faith is all about.
-Let’s look at a few thoughts today that will help us understand how faith can make us right with God – nothing else can! Trusting God that what Jesus did on the cross was enough to take away our sins – that is the faith we all need today!
1. Make No Boast: We cannot cover our own tab!
1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?
2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-- but not before God.
Reasons why Abraham was chosen as the example”
▸ Abraham lived about 2,000 years before Paul wrote this letter, demonstrating that the principle of salvation by faith rather than by works was not new in Judaism. Abraham was the first and foremost Hebrew patriarch. He lived 600 years before the Old Covenant was established through Moses. He therefore lived long before the law was given and obviously could not have been saved by obedience to it.
▸ Paul used Abraham simply because he was a human being. Until this point in Romans, Paul has been speaking primarily about theological truths in the abstract. In Abraham he gives a flesh and blood illustration of justification by faith.
▸ Possibly the most important reason that Paul used Abraham as the example of justification by faith was that, although rabbinical teaching and popular Jewish belief were contrary to Scripture as far as the basis of Abraham’s righteousness was concerned, they agreed that Abraham was the O.T. supreme example of a godly righteous man who is acceptable to the Lord.