Romans 4:20-25

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

December 9, 1998

Introduction

Paul has been establishing the fact that our salvation is not based on good works or upon our obedience of the Law. Instead, we are saved through Godís unmerited gift towards us, by sending Jesus to pay our penalty of death. As we put our trust in Jesus to pay for our sins, we are made righteous.

He has been showing how this righteousness through trusting God is demonstrated in the life of Abraham, the one the Jews proudly pointed to as their "father". He quotes:

(Gen 15:6 KJV) And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

He then went on to point out that God gave Abraham this standing of "righteousness" before Abraham was even circumcised, showing that righteousness doesnít come from being circumcised, but through believing.

Instead, Abrahamís circumcision was only a "proof" or "seal" that God had already made him righteous. Itís that way for us and baptism. We arenít made right with God through baptism, it only was meant to be an outward demonstration to others of what God had done to us on the inside, washing us.

We saw how that because our salvation is based on grace and not upon our works (vs.16), our salvation is sure, itís solid. Our relationship with God doesnít depend on what laws weíve kept or broken, it depends totally upon what God has done for us.

We saw:

:18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

Even though there was no possible earthly hope of Godís promise for a son to be fulfilled, Abraham still had hope.

:19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:

Abraham didnít allow his circumstances to dictate what he believed. Even though the circumstances looked grim, he chose to believe Godís promise.

:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief;

staggered Ė diakrino Ė to separate, make a distinction; to oppose, strive with dispute, contend; hesitate, doubt

He didnít fight with himself over the promise.

Itís the same word thatís found in:

Mark 11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Romans 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

How can we not waver in faith?

I think itís important that we clearly know what God has promised.

Thatís the first step to Abrahamís faith. He knew what God has said to him, and he believed God.

Lesson

Know His promises.

I think the place we get into trouble in our faith is telling the difference between what I want and what God wants.

How clear was it to Abraham that God had promised him a son?

(Gen 15:1-6 KJV) After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. {2} And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? {3} And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. {4} And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. {5} And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. {6} And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Did Abram want a son? Did God want him to have a son? The answer to both is YES! Even though he wanted a son, God clearly spoke to him. He had a vision.

We look at verses like Mark 11:23 and jump to the conclusion that if I pick something out to believe in, any old thing, and if I just believe enough, then I can have it.

But thatís not the whole picture. The thing weíre believing for has to also be in Godís will as well:

(1 John 5:14-15 KJV) And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: {15} And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

When it comes to finding out whether things Iím asking for are Godís will, Iím going to get three possible answers:

1) Yes, itís His will.

2) No, itís not His will.

3) Iím not sure.

Frankly, there are plenty of times when we just donít know for sure. Does this mean we shouldnít ask? No, I think we should keep asking, but we need to be willing to be open to whatever God wants.

Lesson

Let God show you His promises.

How is God going to show me His promises?

Youíll find His clearest promises in His Word.

Salvation

Keep in mind that in Romans, weíre really talking about salvation here. Hereís Godís promises:

(Acts 4:12 KJV) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

(John 3:16 KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Has God clearly promised all of us that if we would simply trust in Jesus, that we would be saved? YES!!!

Victory over temptation

(1 Cor 10:13 KJV) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

God clearly promises that He will always provide a way of escape from our temptation.

Trials

There are some people who have got this crazy notion that we shouldnít be going through any hard times. Deliverance from every sickness, along with the other trials of life are not part of what God promises to us. In fact, He will sometimes allow trials in our lives for our very good, to refine us and strengthen us.

(1 Pet 1:6-7 NLT) So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. {7} These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Can God speak to me directly like He did to Abraham?

Yes. But when He does, youíll know Heís spoken. And when God clearly speaks to you, there comes a point where you need to buy into trusting Him completely.

:20 but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

strong Ė endunamoo Ė to be strong, endue with strength, strengthen; to receive strength, be strengthened, increase in strength

Hereís another aspect of Abrahamís faith. His faith was demonstrated by being able to praise God.

Lesson

Praise Him.

Illustration

Pastor Chuck writes:

Years ago while pastoring in another area, I was working at a supermarket to meet the family's needs. We had three children and the church only paid twenty dollars a week. My mother-in-law had died in Phoenix, and we went there to take care of the funeral arrangements. While I was gone my union dues at the supermarket lapsed. When I returned to pay them, the union had attached a fifty dollar fine. I couldn't afford to pay the fine plus the dues. I was in a bind, because the union wouldn't let me work, and I couldn't get the money without the work. Since my income from the supermarket had stopped, things were pretty tough and I became discouraged. I've always believed in keeping my accounts up to date as a witness for Jesus Christ. Now for the first time in my life I started receiving letters from my creditors. One morning I got up and totaled our debts. They came to $416.00. I laid them before the Lord, but I was very disheartened. "Where in the world am I ever going to get $416.00?" About that time the phone rang. I picked it up, and a friend said, "Chuck, I'm calling to let you know that I put a check in the mail for you. I sent it special delivery, and you should get it tomorrow morning. It's for $425.00." Was I ever elated! I ran into the kitchen, grabbed my wife, and danced her around the room. I was praising the Lord. "Victory! Bless God! Hallelujah! We'll be out of debt! We even have enough money to go out for dinner!" Later, after I had settled down again, God began speaking to me. "How do you know that he sent the money to you?" "Lord, I've known my friend for many years. He wouldn't call me unless he'd done it. I trust his word, Lord." "Very interesting," said the Lord . "You had My word this morning that I would provide the money, but I didn't see you dancing your wife around the kitchen. Instead, you were down in the mouth and blue. Now that you have a man's word for the money, you're all excited. Tell Me, whose word is greater?" I had to repent. My faith didn't include praising God for His promise before it was fulfilled. We often become defeated and discouraged even though we have God's guarantee of victory and success.

:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

fully persuaded Ė plerophoreo Ė to bear or bring full, to make full; to be persuaded, persuaded, fully convinced or assured

able Ė dunatos (from dunamai, dunamis) Ė able, powerful, mighty, strong

to perform Ė poieo Ė to make, to do

Hereís one more aspect to Abrahamís faith, knowing that God was able to keep His promises.

(Heb 11:6 KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Lesson

The key is Godís ability, not yours.

Illustration

Vic Pentz writes, About a year and a half ago, I bought a new navy blazer at Nordstrom. It was one of those cases you may have gone through where you buy an item of clothing and the more you wear it, the more you realize you don't like it. My blazer wasn't the right color, and to make matters worse, it attracted lint like it was going out of style. After wearing it pretty regularly for six months or so, I stuck it in my closet and didn't wear it for a long time.

Tucked away in the back of my mind all the while was that famous Nordstrom unconditional-return policy. I thought, I've had this thing for a year and a half. I've worn it lots of times, and there's just no way they're going to take it back. About two weeks ago I decided I had nothing to lose. I pulled the blazer out, threw a lot of lint on it to make it look bad, and took it down to Nordstrom's men's department. I walked in, and immediately I felt nervous. I felt like I was about to pull a scam of some sort, but I played it straight. I walked right up to the first salesman I saw and gave this little prepared speech. I said, "I am about to put your famous unconditional-return policy to its ultimate test. I have here a blazer. I've worn it lots. I've had it for a year and a half. I don't like it. It's the wrong color, and it attracts lint like it's going out of style. But I want to return this blazer for another blazer that I like." Then I stood there.

I couldn't believe it. This guy with a big handlebar mustache just looked at me and shook his head. He said, "For heaven's sake, what took you so long? Let's go find you a blazer." Ten minutes later I walked out with another blazer that was marked seventy-five dollars more than I paid for the one that I brought in. It was perfect for me. Didn't cost me a penny. God is like Nordstrom.

-- Vic Pentz, "A Twinge of Nostalgia," Preaching Today, Tape No. 88.

We may have a hard time believing that God could possibly keep His promises to us, but all we have to do is to give it a try. Try trusting Him. Try putting your life in His hands.

Paul writes,

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

imputed Ė logizomai Ė to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over. This is an old Greek accounting word which simply means to "set down accounts". Itís to write numbers into a ledger. Itís to record your checks in the check register.

This is the word we saw several times last week, translated "counted" (4:3), "imputeth" (4:6), "reckoned" (4:9).

:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

The parallel is that Abraham believed that God can give life to the dead (4:17), we believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.

:25 Who was delivered for our offences

As we saw earlier (3:25), Jesus was the "propitiation" for our sins. His blood appeased Godís righteous wrath towards our sins.

:25 and was raised again for our justification.

Having been raised from the dead was proof that He had paid completely for all our sins.

What Paul has been saying is that all we have to do to know we are saved, is to trust the Lord. We have to believe that He will save us.

Illustration

Dr. Harry Ironside, for eighteen years pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago, told of visiting a Sunday School class while on vacation. The teacher asked, "How were people saved in Old Testament times?" After a pause, one man replied, "By keeping the Law." "Thatís right," said the teacher. But Dr. Ironside interrupted: "My Bible says that by the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified." The teacher was a bit embarrassed, so he said, "Well, does somebody else have an idea?" Another student replied, "They were saved by bringing sacrifices to God." "Yes, thatís right!" the teacher said, and tried to go on with the lesson. But Dr. Ironside interrupted, "My Bible says that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin." By this time the unprepared teacher was sure the visitor knew more about the Bible than he did, so he said, "Well, you tell us how people were saved in the Old Testament!" And Dr. Ironside explained that they were saved by faithóthe same way people are saved today! Twenty-one times in Hebrews 11 you find the same words "by faith."