Romans 4:3 -† Abraham: Living Faith
Intro We saw last week in our studies where Paul began to discuss the miracle of Justification
A) That there is a righteousness apart from the law - that a man or woman could be declared righteous - Justified through faith in Jesus
B) Now to the Jews who clung so tightly to their rules Regulations† & to their rituals this would sound like a major heresy
1) †Paul suggesting that some one could be declared righteous apart from the law by simply having faith in Jesus Christ
C) So as we come to Ch.4 we see that Paul reveals to them that this is not a new thing at all -
1) †In fact Paul takes them back to Abraham the Father of Jewish nation
†† and uses Abraham as an example of one who was Justified by faith
Read 4: 1-3 4:1† What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2† For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3† For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
A) Paul says take Abraham - He simply believed what God told him & God said Abraham I am declaring you righteous because You believed
B) Now on Wed night we are going to look at the Doctrinal aspects of this teaching that Paul gives concerning Abraham
1) †Noting that Paul - reveals very clearly that Abraham was declared righteous by the Lord before circumcised / & before Law was given
C) †But this morning I want us to see that Abrahamís faith was also an active faith !
1) †In fact Abrahamís life was radically affected by what He believed ! What he believed shaped the way that he lived ! /
D) It was the Basis for all that he did !††† Been said We are saved by faith & not works - but our† faith is a faith that works
1) †That is clearly seen in the life of Abraham
E) So if you are taking notes there are several things I want you to notice about the faith of Abraham †Turn to Gen.12
1st That Abrahamís faith was based on the Person & Promise of God
A) "Vision that looks inward becomes duty. Vision that looks† outward becomes aspiration./†† Vision that looks upward becomes faith."
B) Abraham looked upward & saw God / His† Faith was based in the Person of God & Promise !
C) Abrahamís story begins in Gen 12 / Where he was living in the city of Haran . It was there that the Lord appeared to Abraham And said
†"Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.†† 2† I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
3† I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Now This† was the promise God made to Abraham? I will make you a great nation & I will† multiply your seed!
A) At the time of the Promise Abraham didnít even have one Child / in fact his wife Sarah was Barren
B) So God reveals Himself to Abraham & makes this Promise to Abraham & Abraham believed God - Put his faith in God
††††††††† 1) Then he put feet to his faith†† for we read there in v.4 of Ch. 12
4† So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
C) Abrahamís attitude could be summed up like this - God said it , I believe it so that settles it & now I am going to act on it !
1) †So Abraham believed God - and took off
D) Now here is something that I find really interesting is that the Lord continued to remind - Abraham of his promise / solidified the promise
1) †Each time it was after a difficulty that Abraham faced -
E) In ch. 13 after he and Lot separated† the Lord appears to Abe & says donít worry about being separated from Lot / Then He† says in v.14
"Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are; northward, southward, eastward, and westward;
15† "for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.16† "And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.† 17† "Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you."
What the Lord is doing here is He begins to define the promise & in doing so He is expanding - Abrahamís perception & Hope
A) Abe Iím not only going to make you a great nation - listen
B) I am going to give you all the Land that you can see & I am going to make your descendants like the dust of the earth !
Bb)†† Then we read in v. 18 Abraham Arose & moved his tent !
C) Then later on in Gen.15 after having battle w/ 4 powerful kings / victory / but seems to be afraid of some retaliation
1) †the Lord comes to Abraham again and reminds him of the Promise & expands his perception even more† when He says in v.5
"Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."
6† And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
D) Abraham hang in there & trust me! Lets go outside look up into the night sky - see all those stars - try to number them /
1) †That is what your descendants are going to be like !
E) What the Lord is basically saying to Abraham is I am going to do a work in your life that is totally beyond your comprehension
1) †Now Abraham says How will I know ? Note v. 9
9† So He said to him, "Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."
10† Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.
11† And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12† Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. †skip down to v.17
17† And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
18† On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates;
What was this all about ? Well in that culture the people had a particular ritual that they went through when making a Cov.
A) They would take these animals & cut them open as seen here & then they would meet in the middle of the† animals / light them w/ torch .
B) This meant the Cov. Was sealed & that both parties were agreeing to do their share - meet in the middle - equal partnership
C) Well Abraham gets everything all set up/ but† the Lord doesnít show up!
1) ††Abraham falls asleep & then the Lord shows up ! The Lord lights the sacrifices / & Abe† wakes up to the smell of these burning animals
D) What is the Significance of this?††† †Listen close - The Lord - was revealing to Abraham that this Cov. Wasnít an equal partnership deal
1) †See The Lord was not communicating to Abraham if you do your Part I will do my part / Instead† He was saying† I will do it all !
E) Abraham you just rest & trust in me - I will do the rest !
Guys the Lord says the same thing to you & me / What I am going to do in your life is beyond your comprehension †Listen
A) When You put your trust in me you are going to be Born again !
B) Experience new life / guilt removed / sins forgiven / fear of death taken away / and I am going to make you a new creation
1) †I am going to give you the Hope of Heaven & place my Spirit in your life as A guarantee
C) And† the Bible says there are over 3000† promises available to the Believer & those promises are in Christ Jesus
1) †The Promises to us are based on the person and finished work of Jesus Christ!
D) ††† Paul said in 2 Cor 1:20 -† For all the promises of God in Him are ††††† Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God
E) All the promises / all that God has for us revolve around who He is and†
††† what He has done,† what He continues to do!
1.) He who began a good work ... faithful complete; never leave †††††††††††††††††† or forsake; take care of needs
And What are we supposed to do ?†† Believe it & Rest in it /But itís an active REST†† /†† Not a lay on the couch kind of rest
A) Not a become Lazy & lethargic kind of rest - but a rest that is confident / that says† I know who I am in Christ
B) And I am going to† Walk in that† knowledge &† / Live my life† according to that knowledge
1) I am going to allow what I believe to shape the way that I live / to
†††† shape the way that I think !†††††††† †ACTIVE REST /
C) So Abrahamís faith was based upon the Person & Promise of God ! /†
††††††† Affected the way he lived
2nd thing to note about How Abrahamís faith affected his life is that it resulted in him becoming a pilgrim ! Turn to Hebrews 11
A) Hebrews 11 is the great Hall of faith - those who put their faith & trust in the Lord
B) We read of Abe in v.8 8† By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9† By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;† for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
C) Abrahamís faith resulted in him becoming a Pilgrim & a Sojourner
D) Being a Pilgrim speaks of not being at home ! Speaks of one who is on the move !††† /††††† Of one who realizes THIS WORLD IS PASSING !
There were 3 Characteristics to Abrahamís Life as a Pilgrim
1st read in v. 9 that they dwelt in tents
A) for close to 200 years Abe and his descendants - dwelt in tents! †††† Tents characterized their attitude toward the world!
B) That where ever they were they realized it was temporary
C) It is hard to get comfortable when you are living out of a suitcase / me it throws my whole life off course - / always late / I can never find things
D) My wife cracks up at me when we are staying in a hotel or at a retreat somewhere if there is a dresser & we are staying more than a day
1) †I always unpack !†† Try to get settled -
E) But when it comes to this world - the Lord doesnít want us to get settled He doesnít want us to unpack - - He wants us to live w/ our bags backed!
1) †Living in tents meant that† They would not let this worlds attractions blind them to spiritual realities!
F) That is a tragic mistake that many Christians make these days - they become so distracted by the cares of this life they lose sight of the next
††††††††† 1) The person living in tents realizes that this world is not their home
And That is the 2nd thing that marks the persons life who is living as a pilgrim† they are Living for eternity†† Note†† v.10 †They waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
We are called as Christians to live with the same mindset - pilgrims and sojourners - heaven is our home!
A.)††† Not overly attached to this place! † Living for eternity!
B.)††† Romans 12:2 -†† And do not be conformed to this world, but be††† transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
††††††††† 1.)†††† Lit. - don't let the world squeeze you into its mold
C.) Those who are of the worlds mold are those who are living for that which†
†††††† is temporal that which is going to fade away!
††††††††† 1) And that which is primarily meant to please self
D.) Paul says Don't be conformed to this world!† See beyond this place† / See past the temporal to the eternal
1.) May the† Characteristic of your life be that you are not seeking to please self - But the Lord!/ So their††† LIVING FOR ETERNITY
3rd thing that marked them in their pilgrimage was -they built altars
A.)††† Wherever they went - altars!†† This Revealed more than their desire to ††††††††† follow the Lord , but their devotion to the Lord!
B.) The Altar was used for worship Abraham was a worshipper ! He loved to express His heart to the Lord in Worship
C) Listen You ant to live for the next life/ w/heaven in view - be a worshiper
1.) Have a Life marked by living devotion to the Lord ! Doing everything† in His name & for His glory !†
Cc) Having a life that would be a LIVING EXPRESSION OF LOVE TO THE LORD !
D) We are called to walk by faith & not by sight - the person who begins to live as a pilgrim / lose grip on this place & this life / w/ eternity in view
1) †You can See a difference in their life !†
E) But the person who is† living by sight will† be a complainer!† Because There is a lot going wrong here in this life /
1.) But Person living by faith with eternity in view will be a ††††††††††††††††††††††††
††††† worshiper!† Because his Focus is on the Lord
So Pilgrims / living for eternity / worshippers - building Altars
3rd and final thing we want to note about Abrahamís faith is that it was Patient
A) In Fact we are told in Heb.6 that after Abraham† patiently endured to receive the Promise
B) See when God made the† promise to Abraham -that he would† have a son and from his descendants a† nation would come - all world blessed
††††††††† 1.)†††† Abraham was 86years old - wife - 76- no kids -
B.)But Abraham simply believed/ said okay great /† God said "Righteous"†††
C.) Thing to note is - gap of 14 years between presentation of promise and
††††† the performance!†††††† Why does the Lord make us wait?
Let me suggest to you - the Lord has us wait because He wants to teach us to endure, He wants to build character in our lives!
A.) Can you imagine what we would be like if we got everything we asked† for right away / right† when we wanted it ?†
B) Ever seen a spoiled brat ? That is what we would be like !
Bb) What is interesting about many kids who are brought up like that is
when they reach their teen yrs/††† they†† really arenít very close to their Parents
C) They know how to use them to get what want / But their often ††††† shallow people w/† no depth & no character!††
D) And that is what we would become like if God simply granted our every wish - or answered our every prayer !† Cosmic vending machine
1) †Say the right words put in the right amount & Iíll see you again when I have another need
E)By making us wait the Lord builds character and endurance in our lives††††††
Been said If we sow a thought, we reap an act;† If we sow an act, we reap a habit; If we sow a habit, we reap character;† If we sow character, we reap a destiny.
A) In those times when the Lord makes you wait, what are you sowing? What are you learning? Grumbling and complaining; getting upset?
††††††††† 1.)†††† Looking for those to come down on?†††† Listen
†††††††††††††††††† †that will be your character - lead to your destiny!
B) You will have a bitter unfulfilled life / always grumbling /always complaining / always pointing the finger /
C) The Lord allows us to wait & to grow us up because He is desiring to build Character into our lives & to Prepare us for greater task !
Jeremiah is a good example of this point / Jeremiah† had a difficult job; preach for years with no response!†† †complained to the Lord Ch 12
A.)††† The Lord responded "If you have run with the footmen and have †† wearied, how will you contend with those on horses?"
B.)††† The application is - "If you are not getting along in present situation,††††† † present difficulty; how going to make it when increase?"
††††††††† 1)This is key concept in the life of the believer -
C) God allows us run hard with footmen - because He knows we might be called later to run with horses!
1) †So He seeks to build us up now as we go through waiting periods and
††††††† trials/ because He is† preparing us for promise!
D.) JAM 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.†
†††††† But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and †††† complete, lacking nothing.
Why were they able to have patience?
A) V.11 - Answer - they judged Him faithful who promised!†††† It gets back to Godís person !
B) They Just believed God would come through on Promise! Do what He said
C) What promise are you holding on to? Know this - our Lord is faithful!
††††††† 1)†† His time frame might be† different!
Now patience carries with it the idea of carrying on!
A.) Of abiding which means to continue: of endurance and ††††††† perseverance
† †††††through the period of waiting!
B.) A person can be waiting but not showing patience!
††††††††† 1.)†††† My son - classic example - always asking/ there yet / time yet
C.)Some Christians are like that / they† might be† waiting but they're† not patient / complaining††† freaking out, worried, their stressed/
1) †Trying take matters into their own hands†† That's not patience - not
D) True faith that waits is that which is focused on the Lord and His ability to come through!
††† Romans 4:21 - Being fully persuaded that what He had †††††† promised, He††
††††† was able to perform!
Now wait you say - I know story of Abraham - he didn't patiently endure - He blew it - a couple of times! True -
A.) Time when famine hit & he decided not to trust the Lord but to go to Egypt / which represented going back to the World
B) Told Sarah to lie & pretend she was his sister / God spared her
C) Then there was the time where they felt they waited long enough & that Sarah suggested let's help God out! /† Hagar /†† have child through her!
D) ††† Later - He lied again about† Sarah his wife
So what does this mean Abraham patiently endured?
A.) Listen O.T.. brutally honest / N.T. gloriously gracious!† God †††††††† doesn't
†††††† mention failures
AA) this side of Calvary forgiven and forgotten - Lord says - Abraham††††††††
††††† showed great faith - patiently endured!
†B.)†† God forgives our sins - forgets - He chooses to put it out of His memory!††
Now you can reap consequences of sin!† Ishmael father of Arab nations† / Which are still in contention w/ Isaac† - Israel to this very day !
A.) And Isaac lied like dad!† So there are consequences to sin - reap what sow! /†††† But God forgives and forgets!† Declares righteous
B.)††† Abraham patiently endured to obtain the promise!
Listen we have been called to Patiently endure / The Lord's has given a promise to us!† I will come again!††
A.)††† James 5:7 -††† "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the †††††† Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting † patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain."
B.)††† That is how we are to be!† Pilgrims - but like the farmer!
††††††††† 1.)Now farmer plant his seed, then sit on porch wait for crop ††† to grow?
C.) No - always work to be done!††† He knows it is up to God to make the crop grow - but he lives his life in expectation of it coming
1) †So he gets his barn ready -† he goes through the necessary steps in
†††† preparing for the Harvest
CC) He rest in the fact that he knows that crop is in the Lordís hands / that there is nothing he can do to make it come quicker
1) †So he patiently waits - doing what he can do in the mean time !† It is
†† an active rest - active faith
D) We are Exhorted to do the same ! Live our lives like Jesus was coming tomorrow
1) †The Lord said to do† business until I† come & to not grow weary in †††††††††††††††† well doing!
E) So because I am believing in that promise I am going to get ready - do what I can to further the Kingdom - leave timing to the Lord
We are called to be patient - to persevere to endure!
A.) Knowing that In this life, trials and tribulations - but our God is faithful†††††††† and true
1.)†††† He says In world tribulation but be of good cheer ...
B.) And "I will never leave or forsake you"
C.) And It is good to know though that in times when our patience wears thin†† when our† faith falters / He says His mercies are new!
Ask You today : Who else can give you that kind of assurance ? That kind of Confidence
A) Jesus said if you are weary & burdened down - come to me & I will give you rest
B) That is a good description of some of your lives here today / weary & burdened - because you havenít committed your life to Christ
1) You have not given Him your heart
C) Instead you have been pursuing things in this life that you are hoping will bring you some lasting fulfillment & satisfaction
1) But it never does ! Each new pursuit leaves you after the initial excitement longing for something else
D) You realize that there is this void in your life that you cannot fill
1) Haunted by the guilt from your sin / your failures - deep down you are very frustrated !
E) Problem is you havenít come to Him ! The one who went to the cross for you !† Set you free give you life
1) Do a work in your life that is beyond your comprehension
Now some of you have professed faith in Jesus but you are still holding on to many of the areas of your life
A) You are still running the show & calling the shots / and you are weary & tired from carrying that burden
B) You thought Ok Lord I will meet you half way - but He says No that is not how it works You need to let go & trust me
1) †You need to let me lead you - Let me be the Lord of your life
C) You have a Profession of faith but unlike Abraham your life isnít marked by that Profession because You havenít surrendered the reigns
D) YOU NEED TO PUT FEET TO YOUR FAITH TODAY BY GIVING YOUR LIFE FULLY & COMPLETELY OVER TO JESUS