Scripture Text: Romans 4:13-25
In this section of Paul’s letter to the Romans we have read about the importance of faith. As Christians, we talk a lot about faith. We say we must have faith. Some of us will pray that we are faithful in serving God. But why is faith so important? What’s the big deal about faith? Faith is closely linked to justification — the means by which God declares someone right with Him. Because all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, we can never attain God’s righteousness on our own. There has to be something other than what we can do to put ourselves in a right relationship with Him. We have already seen that our standing with God is not based upon anything we do, but entirely upon God’s grace and our response in faith to it. Because salvation is completely God’s work we have absolutely nothing to boast about. Last week, I focused primarily on one verse that described our justification with God. In verse five, Paul wrote the following:
Romans 4:5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…
From this verse, there are several things about justification: We must not rely on ourselves (do not work) but rather, we must trust in (believe) God. God declares the unrighteous (the ungodly) as righteous. The one who believes, his faith is credited (counted) as righteousness. This pretty much sums up justification. We cannot work for it. We cannot earn it. It is God’s work. It is His doing and the one who believes in Jesus Christ, his or her faith is credited as righteousness. Paul even provided a couple of examples to prove that a right standing with God does not depend on following rules or being good enough. We saw how Abraham was considered righteous by his faith (before the Law) and David was blessed even though he was a Law breaker.
In the passage today, Paul continued the subject on the importance of faith in having a right standing with God. There are four points from this passage I would like to make:
Faith is the way by which God declares us righteous
Faith involves trusting in God’s promises
Faith results in glory to God
Faith means justification for all who trust in Jesus Christ
Faith is the Way by Which God Declares Us Righteous
In verse three of this chapter, Paul quoted Genesis 15:5, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” God promised Abraham that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. Paul used Abraham as an example that God justifies people by faith alone. Abraham believed God and God “counted it to him as righteousness.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) Faith is trusting God because He is trustworthy. Like Abraham, faith in God will lead to obeying His commands. Before Abraham proved himself righteous by his deeds, he was regarded as righteous because of his faith.
We do not become righteous by doing righteous things. We do not become righteous by believing in God. God declares us righteous when we believe Him and trust in what Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary. God credits to our account righteousness because there is no way we could ever earn it. We are debtors to God’s grace. The righteousness we receive from Jesus Christ by trusting in His work on the cross is a gift. It is imputed from Christ to us. It is through faith that God declares us right with Him.
Faith Involves Trusting in God’s Promises
In verse thirteen, Paul revealed that the promises of God come through faith.
Romans 4:13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
God had already promised Abraham that his family would become a great nation, he would have a great name, and through him all families on the earth would be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3) Later, God reaffirmed His covenant with Abraham and promised Abraham his very own child from whom would come a great nation. What was even more incredible about this promise was that Abraham was well past child bearing years and Sarah’s womb was “dead”. Despite this, Abraham believed God’s promise and God credited it to him as righteousness. Abraham trusted God and was rewarded for it.
If Abraham’s inheritance was gained by observing the law, then righteousness would have been no longer by faith but by works. Faith means trusting in or relying on a promise of God’s work and not depending in any way on human performance. Paul used the fact that Abraham and Sarah were old and Sarah’s womb was “dead” to emphasize the faithfulness and the power of God. It does no good to have faith in the wrong things. The object of our faith must be strong enough to sustain that faith. God can accomplish what man is incapable of doing.
Romans 4:17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
It is the children of promise who are blessed by God because they are born of God. Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah when naturally it should not have happened. This demonstrated God’s power and faithfulness. When God says He will do it, you can take that to the bank. If God can create the universe by merely speaking it into existence, He can also give life to a barren womb or bring a dead person to life. Paul used this truth to affirm God’s great power. Abraham believed God could raise the dead and bring into existence what did not exist, even if it was through two elderly persons well beyond child bearing years. If God can and has done these things, what can He do for you? Are you standing on the promises of God? Are you trusting in Him today?
Faith Results in Glory to God
Many folks have little problem believing that faith is what puts us in a right standing with God. In fact, some desperately want to believe that since they cannot work themselves into heaven. Sometimes, however, we miss the goal of having faith in God. Think for a moment about what you get by knowing Jesus Christ — forgiveness, eternal life, seeing family and friends who have passed. Indeed, all these things are true. Is that the purpose of having faith in Jesus Christ, though? Is it really about what we receive from God? In chapter one, Paul mentioned the main problem all humans have, aside from sin itself, is something more insidious. Claiming to be wise, people foolishly exchange the glory of God for things resembling creation. (Romans 1:22-23)
The main problem with humans is that we are thieves. We steal God’s glory. We exchange the glory of our Creator for what He created. We replace God as the object of our worship with things such as family, friends, work, money, cars, computers, reputations, education, titles, Facebook, etc. We excel at exchanging God’s glory for all sorts of created things. Since we cannot work ourselves into heaven and no amount of good deeds is enough to put us in a right relationship with God, the only thing we can do is to completely trust in God’s grace and work. Trusting God gives Him glory.
Romans 4:20–21 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the 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.
Abraham not only had faith but he also grew in faith. As he continued to trust in God, he gave glory to God. The reason our faith in God gives Him glory is because it means we trust Him. I remember a scene in the movie Days of Thunder when the young stock car driver, Cole Trickle, was in the last race and coming up on a wreck on the race track. He had to decide what to do. His crew chief told him to go around the wreck, but Cole could not see the way around the wreck. He had already been in a bad wreck in a previous race and was fearful of getting in another one. So, he had to decide whether to trust his crew chief or not. What did he do? He trusted his crew chief, won the race, and his crew chief became a hero. Cole’s trust in him made him look good. The same is true for God. When we trust in God, we receive the benefits of that faith — justification, forgiveness, adoption and righteousness — and God gets all the glory. Having faith in God makes Him look good. In fact, it is what we were created to do — to bring glory to God.
Faith Means Justification for All Who Trust in Jesus Christ
Lastly, the faith Abraham had that was credited to him as righteousness was not reserved for just him or the Jewish people. It is for anyone who believes.
Romans 4:23–25 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.
Paul’s example of Abraham’s faith was for our benefit. Because God credited Abraham’s faith as righteousness before there was the Law, righteousness is credited to us as well for those who trust in Jesus Christ. The object of our faith is Jesus Christ who God sent as payment for our sin and who God raised from the dead for our justification. We are given new life and counted as righteous when we trust in Jesus Christ. This is reminiscent of God’s power Paul mentioned earlier. If God can create the universe by speaking it into existence, give life to Sarah’s barren womb, and resurrect a dead person to life, then He can most surely give abundant life to an ungodly person who is dead in his sin. We serve a powerful, loving, and faithful God. Do you trust in Him?
Who are the children of promise? Anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Our salvation, our righteousness, our right standing with God is completely dependent upon God’s work in you. You can take no credit in it, just as Abraham and Sarah could take no credit in the birth of Isaac. If you are born again, you are born of God and it is His doing, not yours. In fact, the very idea of birth precludes action on the child’s part. A child does not work to be born just as a believer does not work to be born again. God’s promise to you is that if you turn from your sin, reject working your way into heaven, and trust in Jesus’ work on the cross, you will be saved. He will declare you right with Him.
In closing, I have several questions regarding your faith. How is the object of your faith? Do you serve a God capable of creating life from nothing or do you serve yourself? Are you trusting in yourself or some other things to make your life right? Do you believe you need to pray harder, read more Scripture, come to church more often for God to accept you? Do you serve a God able to bring life to dead men — even men dead in sin? In fact that is what Jesus Christ came to do — to raise the dead!
How do you deal with the obstacles of your faith? When trouble or tragedy happens in your life, do you still trust God? Do you still believe in the God Who loves you and has promised you eternal life? Are you still trusting in Him today in the midst of various trials? The size of your problems does not invalidate the power of faithfulness of God. There are no big problems for God to solve. Trust Him and He will see you through whatever trouble you face.
What is the objective of your faith? Do you seek to bring glory to yourself, to make much of you, or do you seek to bring glory to God? Having faith in Jesus Christ mean we put aside any sense of entitlement or accomplishment and give Him our very lives. We must trust in Jesus Christ. He alone paid your debt, and to Him you owe everything. Surrender to Him and trust Him today. Amen!
All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.