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Thursday, May 28 2020

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
We have heard today’s topic several times: “Abraham was justified by faith”. A very amazing concept that leads one to ask: “What is this faith; seeing he did not have a blueprint to follow?” Faith in a broad sense is one of the most misunderstood words in the world today. For some, faith is simply believing in oneself, an attitude of self-confidence. Others are vaguer and say faith is just believing anything, right or wrong. And the modern day liberal theologian would tell us that faith is having a positive attitude towards God and men, fanning the spark of divinity within us. In the second part of last week’s study of Romans 4: 1-15, Paul used Abraham as the supreme illustration of how a person is justified (declared righteous) before a holy God. In today’s study we will look at this “Faith” Abraham was justified by and learn “how it works” from Paul’s analysis of Abraham's faith.

1. Romans 4:16 - 17 –We Share in Abraham’s Faith
“16 The promise depends on faith so that it can be experienced as a grace-gift, and now it extends to all the descendants of Abraham. This promise is not only meant for those who obey the law, but also to those who enter into the faith of Abraham, the father of us all. 17 That’s what the Scripture means when it says: “I have made you the father of many nations.” He is our example and father, for in God’s presence he believed that God can raise the dead and call into being things that don’t even exist yet.” TPT

Verse 16 is a follow up from verse 13 which says: “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.” Abraham became the father of the Jewish race because he was the first Jew; the Jews are the physical seed of Abraham. But because he is the chief example of one who was justified by faith, he became the father of all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who believe in God and His promise. All who trust in God alone for salvation through faith are the spiritual seed of Abraham. Paul, in verse 17 quotes Genesis 17:5. God changed Abraham's name from Abram (high father or father of many) to Abraham (father of multitudes). But he had been justified fourteen years before God changed his name, because he believed God's promise. God, at the point of changing his name, only reaffirmed His covenant promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations. However, many years passed after God made the original promise, and Abraham still had no heir. When his name was Abram (father of many), he had no son, which was quite an embarrassment for an Oriental. It was the desire of every great man to have an heir, and Abram and Sarai had been childless in Canaan ten years. So, one day, with much persuasion from his wife, they took matters into their own hands, thinking they would help God fulfil his promise. The result was Ishmael, a son born by Sarai's Egyptian handmaid. And we know the consequences still being borne by the Jews as a result of this move.
This tells us that genuine faith in God can at times become very weak and we make mistakes or fall into sin, but the person and others may pay for that mistake for generations. So we must be careful!
Abram may have been proud of this son, but Ishmael could never be Abraham's heir. Ishmael was part Egyptian, and archaeology tells us that the Egyptians are descendants of Ham who was cursed by God. The reason the promise was reaffirmed to Abram is that he had to know that this son of the flesh, Ishmael, was not the son of promise. God would send another son to be the promised heir.

2. Romans 4:18-19 - Faith Believes the Impossible & Looks Beyond the Circumstances
“18 Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfil it. He took God at his word, and as a result he became the father of many nations. God’s declaration over him came to pass: “Your descendants will be so many that they will be impossible to count!” 19 In spite of being nearly one hundred years old when the promise of having a son was made, his faith was so strong that it could not be undermined by the fact that he and Sarah were incapable of conceiving a child.” TPT

When you read this verse and discover Abraham was pushing 100 years old, past the age of procreation, and Sarah was about ninety, physically unable to have children. You will not need further convincing that it was certainly a humanly impossible situation. But Abraham had faith in God to do the impossible. He believed God when there was absolutely no hope for fulfilment. Abraham did not find in the realm of his senses, feelings, or sight any basis for hope. He looked beyond himself and his circumstances to God, and accepted God's Word (promise) as the basis of hope. He believed in an all-powerful, miracle-working God. Faith is nothing more than trusting in God's faithfulness. So, after the promise was reconfirmed, Abraham's faith was even stronger. He believed in a God who "makes alive the dead," a direct reference to the fact that he and Sarah were dead sexually, and possibly an indirect reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Abraham had no physical seed, there could be no Messiah because Messiah had to come through the promised line and no other. Abraham believed in a sovereign God with a sovereign plan. God knows the end from the beginning, and when He promises something, it is sure to come to pass. Abraham knew his God and realized that God would fulfil his promise in every detail, that He "calleth those things which be not as though they were."
Abraham sized up the situation and concluded that he and his wife were dead as far as producing a child was concerned. The circumstances were against them, but he was not weak in faith. He believed in a miracle-working God, a God for whom nothing was too hard to accomplish. He faced the obstacles squarely, and by faith trusted God to get him over the circumstances.
 

3. Romans 4:20-21 - Undivided (Absolute) Faith Rests in God's Promise and it Empowers
“20 He never stopped believing God’s promise, for he was made strong in his faith to father a child. And because he was mighty in faith and convinced that God had all the power needed to fulfil his promises, Abraham glorified God!” TPT

Abraham had no mental struggle; he did not doubt or waver in unbelief concerning the promise of God. He looked at the situation from a divine point of view and he was made strong in his faith. Until a person gets a divine point of view towards life, he or she will always be frustrated and would struggle with doubt and unbelief. We must look at life through God rather than through human circumstances. Abraham believed God for the impossible, and throughout the episode he was glorifying God. As Christians we must be willing to give God the glory in impossible situations. It is when we resolve to doing this that we will receive deliverance from them. Abraham had absolute confidence in God, and rested his case there. He relied on the fact that if God promises something, He surely is able to perform it. If God promises, He must produce, for He cannot lie and He cannot go back on His Word. Abraham did not "push the panic button." He was fortified with faith in a Sovereign, Omnipotent, Miracle-working God. All these without having prior knowledge, experience or guidance from another!

4. Romans 4:22-25 - Faith Is to Be Exercised by All
“22 So now you can see why Abraham’s faith was credited to his account as righteousness before God. 23 And this declaration was not just spoken over Abraham, 24 but also over us. For when we believe and embrace the one who brought our Lord Jesus back to life, perfect righteousness will be credited to our account as well. 25 Jesus was handed over to be crucified for the forgiveness of our sins and was raised back to life to prove that he had made us right with God.”

When God first called Abraham and Abraham believed God's promise, God declared Abraham righteous before him. But Abraham had not one shred of physical evidence that this promise would be fulfilled; he had only God's promise. His saving faith lapsed at one time and produced Ishmael, the son of the flesh, but it was not extinguished. After 14 years his faith was revived when God reaffirmed his covenant. This shows that the faith he originally exercised was genuine faith.
Verse 23-24a says: "And this declaration was not just spoken over Abraham, but also over us."
These things about Abraham were recorded for all men that all might know the way to be justified before God. As an example for us, Abraham believed God and was declared righteous. To be justified today a person must also believe the promise of God, which includes the full revelation of the crucified and resurrected Christ who alone can forgive sins. It is not enough just to believe in God. One must believe in the God who put Christ to death for sin and raised Him from the dead.
God put Christ to death to be the sin bearer. In His death, Christ made a complete and perfect sacrifice for sins, and there is none other, that can forgive sins.
He died to pay for the sins of His people, and His resurrection makes their justification possible. There is no forgiveness of sin, no justification, no eternal life, no heaven, and no hope for the one who has not made the death and resurrection of Christ personal in his or her life by faith.
Without Christ, there is only separation from God in time and separation and eternal punishment in eternity.

CONCLUSION
For the Christian: God has made some seven thousand promises for the child of God. Abraham had a promise from God and believed it. He shall see its fulfilment because he knew his God and did not lose faith. The Bible is God's Word for us today, and God has given promises that we must trust by faith. When a Christian does not trust God's Word, frustration and confusion result. In short, the Christian must learn to take God at His Word! For the non-Christian: God has promised salvation to anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour from sin and Lord of his life. But you must come to Christ and receive him by faith. He alone can forgive sin and fill the vacuum in the human heart.

Culled from: http://www.cleartheology.com/expo/45Romans/NT.Arnold.Rom.22.html

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 06:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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