Faith-Works (Rom 4)

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Pastor Mark Mikels – January 10, 2010
(Romans 4; Genesis 12-25)

Intro … Today’s Key Scripture is one of the most significant, one of the most important in all Scripture. We find it in the third verse of Romans chapter four though Paul was merely passing along what Moses himself had written over 1,200 years earlier. Here’s what it says …

Today’s Key Scripture …

“Abraham BELIEVED God and it was
(Romans 4:3 – Genesis 15:6)

Abraham, the father of the Jewish Nation … Abraham, who lived 400 years before Moses led that nation out of Egypt and passed along to them the laws by which they were to live … Abraham, who was the only man in the entire Bible to
be designated “Friend of God” – this Abraham discovered (that is, experienced) the most important spiritual truth that God has ever passed along to man.

And that truth is this …

“The thing that pleases God is Faith – More than anything else, God wants to be believed and when he finds someone who truly believes Him – who takes him at His Word – who exercises faith in Him … He declares that person to be “Righteous In His Sight” and wraps His arms around him.

Salvation is just as simple as that – Salvation comes to those who exercise saving-faith – “saving-faith” that changes forever the destiny of fallen
sinful human beings.

This “Faith that Works” causes God to declare acceptable those who previously were not …

This “Faith that Works” results in complete spiritual transformation – one cannot possess this kind of “saving faith” – this “Faith that Works” and remain unchanged for you see (as our Key Concept this morning expresses it) …

Today’s Key Concept …

(James 2:26)
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

Just a few verses earlier, James had raised the issue this way …

“But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith
without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

Genuine God-Pleasing Faith has always been accompanied by God-Pleasing Deeds – James knew that – and as we will see this morning, Abraham’s life dramatically demonstrated that … Thus the somewhat “catchy” (perhaps even tricky) wording of our Key Concept …

“The Faith that Works” (genuine saving faith) “is Faith that Works”
(produces discernible, God-Pleasing outcomes in our lives).

Four Characteristics of “Faith That Works” … (Check if your faith is working these things out in your life).

Keep in mind that this statement about Abraham was written some 400 years after he died; it was a comment, an observation, a commendation from God Himself that looked back over the entire course of his life – We might say it reflected a “body of work” … a body of “Faith-Works”.

Four Characteristics then of Faith That Works or put another
way here are “Four Works of Genuine Saving Faith” …

As much as possible we will allow the Scripture to tell simply the story …

(Romans 4:17, 21; Genesis 12:1-3; 15:4-5; 17:15-16)

As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were … being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:17, 21-22)

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people
and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you
I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
(Genesis 12:1-3)

Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD … and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:4-6)

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” (Genesis 17:15-16)

Faith That Works Trusts God Completely:

Believes first of all that it is in fact God who is speaking;
Believes secondly that what God says is true;
Believes thirdly that God has the power to do what He says (Ro. 4:21);
(You will become a great nation – Sarah will bear a son).

Keep in mind it hadn’t all happened – it hadn’t come close to happening – by the time Abraham died but he died still believing in the Promise.

Faith that Works (Faith that Saves) Trusts God Completely!

(Romans 1:5; Genesis 12:4; 17:23-27; 22:1-2, 9-10; James 2:20-24)

Paul had pointed out this truth to the believers in Rome in the fifth verse of chapter one of his letter …

“We received grace and apostleship to call people from among
all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.”

Genuine Faith always leads to obedience – explicit obedience. Here’s how it worked out in Abraham’s life …

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him.
Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.
(Genesis 12:4)

On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, and his son Ishmael was thirteen; Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that same day. And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought
from a foreigner, was circumcised with him. (Genesis 17:23-27)

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac,
whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as
a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
(Genesis 22: 1-2, 9-10)

“… Do you want evidence that faith (words) without deeds is useless?
Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”
and he was called God’s friend.” (James 2:20-23)

Here’s the point … True Faith IS NEVER ALONE! True faith – saving faith always expresses itself in explicit obedience – Following the directives of the God we trust.
No one else in all the Scripture was called to perform such a sacrificial act as Abraham and he was willing to obey – No wonder God called him “Friend”.

Faith that Works (Faith that Saves) Trusts God Completely and Obeys
God Explicitly …

(Romans 4:18-21)

Here we see the Lord inspiring the Apostle Paul to be our interpreter of Abraham’s situation …

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:18-21)

God gave Abraham a promise and then allowed circumstances to pile up that would seem to make the promise unkeepable … Sarah was barren – Abraham was nearly 100 years old – but once God had clarified that it would in fact be from Sarah that the son would come, Abraham believed.

And when it seemed that the promised son was to be taken from them and the promise again put in jeopardy, Abraham believed.

Once the promise was clarified and his faith solidified, there was nothing that could shake him – He endured the adversity (the adverse circumstances) confidently.

The writer of the book of Hebrews even chimes in to tell us (Hebrews 11:19) …

“Abraham reasoned (even if the Sacrifice of Isaac had been made)
that God could raise the dead.”

You could say that Abraham took the position …

“It’s my job to obey and it’s God’s job to work everything out …
and I’m confident that He will.”
So when Isaac asked, “Where is the Lamb?” his father could confidently answer,
“God will provide” … “One way or another God will provide and
keep this whole thing moving forward, I’m sure of it!”

No wonder God loved him and called him “Friend”.

Now one last thing to say this morning … And this is especially intended to encourage you and me.

(Romans 4:7-8; Genesis 24:1)

Here Paul quotes another great Man of God (Romans 4:7-8) …

David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man
to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

Is there any greater blessing than to know deep down in your heart that you are forgiven of all sin by God Himself and thus acceptable in His sight? Heaven in your ultimate destination and a meaningful life of servant for Christ here on earth is your privilege.

The blessing of forgiveness itself and the gratefulness it generates produces fertile ground in which Faith can Work its wonders in our lives.

Here’s the final word the Scripture gives us on Abraham (Gen 24:1) …

Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the
LORD had blessed him in every way.

Faith that Works Trusts God Completely and Obeys God Explicitly and Endures Adversity Confidently and Provides Blessings Abundantly.

Final Thot …
The Faith that Works is FAITH that WORKS;
Allow it to WORK in YOUR LIFE!

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