Abraham, Paul and David: Romans 4:1-8

Let me just begin in a word of prayer. Father, as always, we’re totally dependent upon your grace to enable us to understand your word rightly. Thank you that you have given us a new mind, and that you’ve put your holy spirit within us, and he is our teacher. I pray that you would cause your word in Romans to be clear, plan to our understanding, and move us to live for your glory. In Christ’s name. Amen.

 

We are in Romans chapter four. That just sounds good to say Romans chapter four. That means we’re making progress- huge progress. We are in Romans four, and the subject continues to be justification by faith. This is a major doctrine in the Bible. In fact, Luther, Calvin, the reformers, they understood that this was the cornerstone. We are majoring on the majors to be in a lockdown mode here on justification by faith alone. To this point we have looked at two major paragraphs under justification by faith. We are now moving to the third major paragraph. Everything began in chapter three verse twenty-one as it relates to justification by faith. In verses 21 to 26, that’s the instruction. Paul lays out the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

 

Then, last time we noted in verses 27 to 31, the implications of justification by faith. Just to remind you, and I didn’t say it in exactly these three words, but this succinctly summarizes the three implications, meaning the application: humility, unity, and obedience. Those are the three implications of justification by faith that we looked at last time. Verses 27 and 28 is humility, where then boasting is excluded. Verses 29 and 30, unity. God is not only the God of the Jews, but also the God of the gentiles. There is only one way of salvation and it is by justification by faith alone. The third implication is obedience in verse 31. That just because we’re not justified by the law does not now nullify the law. The moral law of God continues to be a guiding light in our sanctification and in our Christian life.

 

Those are the three great applications for justification by faith. Let me say it again: humility, verses 27 and 28; unity, verses 29 and 30, and obedience, verse 31. I stated it slightly different last week, but I like a “less is more” outline, and to tighten it down one word for each application. We all need all three of these. We all need greater humility. We all need greater unity, one with another, and we all need greater obedience. We come now to chapter four in verse one, and Paul just continues to roll this out. This is like a 777 taxiing down the runway. This isn’t a crop duster. This isn’t a helicopter that’s going to go straight up. We need a long runway to get – this big doctrine, as this truth is, up in the air and going.

 

As he comes to chapter four now, we move to the illustration. We’ve gone from the instruction to the implications. Now the illustration. Paul will use the supreme example to make his point, and he uses Abraham. If anyone was saved it was Abraham. If anyone was right with God it was Abraham. Paul even passes over Moses to get to Abraham, and he even uses David, as we’ll see in verses six through eight, to establish Abraham. This is going to be an argument from the greater to the lesser. If the supreme example is justified by faith alone, then how much more so everyone else who would come into the kingdom of heaven. I want to begin reading in verse one, and Lord willing we’ll get through verse eight. These are some of the most important verses for the Gospel that there are in the entire Bible. How important is the Gospel to you? Very important. These verses are some of the signature text in the entire Bible.

 

Let me begin by reading starting in verse one: “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him his righteousness. Now, to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” Just as David also speaks of the blessing, “On the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works.” He now quotes Psalm 32:1-2, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sin has been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” Well, it would be hard to find any more positive verses than these, any clearer verses than these, and it would be hard to find any more important verses than these.

 

I want to break it out this way. You know I like an outline which helps give me the roadmap through a text. This is very simple. In verses one through three, what Abraham found. Verses four and five, what Paul taught. In verses six through eight, what David declared. We go from Abraham, to Paul, to David. Let me just put a footnote on this. This speaks to the unity of the Scripture. The perfect harmony from one Biblical author, writer to the next. They all speak with one voice. They never contradict themselves. There are no contradictions in the Bible whatsoever. It’s a seamless tapestry. Every thread woven together perfectly to make one large tapestry of truth.

 

WHAT ABRAHAM FOUND

 

He begins with Abraham. What Abraham found, verses one through three. In verse one Paul begins by putting it in a question form. He said, “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?” As I’ve already said, he goes to the top of the ladder. He pulls off the top shelf. The one supreme example of who is right before God. What is interesting is he goes back to the Old Testament to make his case. This shows crystal clear there is only one way of salvation in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament. As Paul teaches justification by faith in the New Testament, he uses the Old Testament to make his point. That can only be legitimate if there is only one way of salvation in both Testaments. We want to be crystal clear on this: that anyone who has ever been saved in the history of the world has been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Period paragraph. End of discussion.

 

What did Abraham discover? What did Abraham find regarding how to be right with God? This was the whole issue of the Reformation. How can a sinful man be made right with a holy God? That’s what the Gospel is all about. How can we find acceptance with God. We being sinful, God being perfectly holy, how can we be reconciled to this holy God? That’s what the question in verse one is all about. Now, verse two. It’s a hypothetical. “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God” Now, when he says justified by works he’s talking about his self-righteousness. He’s talking about his own morality. He’s talking about his own self perceived goodness. What he can do to contribute to his salvation whether it be in full, or whether it just be in part.

 

If Abraham was justified by works then he could legitimately have reason to brag about this, could he not? That he has purchased his own salvation. He has contributed to his own right standing before God. Well, it’s a hypothetical because in his own works he cannot be justified. Paul is saying, “All right, let’s just trace this out. Let’s go with this for a moment. If Abraham could be justified by works, then when he gets to haven he can look in the mirror and sing “How Great Thou Art.” I mean he can pat himself on the back knowing that he got himself there, and it would be the same with you and me as well.

 

At the end of verse two Paul just slams the door shut in the face of this argument, and he says, “But not before God.” There can be no boasting before God. Zero. God is a jealous God, and he will not share his glory with another. God never sings a duet. God only sings a solo. He will not share the spotlight with anyone. One, because there’s no way that good works can remove the stain of sin. Second, it can’t be true because if it were true then God would have to share the glory with someone else, but God is a jealous God for his own glory.

 

Verse three now is the knockout punch on this. This is what Abraham found. Abraham – for what does the Scripture say? I love how Paul is always appealing to the Scripture, to the word of God just to anchor the point. He will now quote from Genesis 15:6, and again, this shows that what Paul is teaching is nothing new. This goes all the way back to Genesis. This goes all the way back to the earlier chapters in Genesis. This has been on the books for centuries. He says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now let’s just think this through for a moment. Abraham was an idolater. Abraham worshiped the moon God. Abraham was as rotten, filthy, idolatrist as anyone could have ever been, as he lived in the Ur of Chaldees. When God called Abraham there was absolutely nothing good in Abraham. The pollution of sin reeked in his life. We’re talking about a man who had nothing good whatsoever to commend himself to God.

 

Now, when we think of Abraham we think of Abraham the believer. Well, he wasn’t when God first called him. He was Abraham the blasphemer is what he was. Notice, Abraham believed God. In the original order that the words appear in the Greek New Testament. The word believed is frontloaded. This literally reads believed Abraham God. That’s the order of the words. When you want to draw attention to a work, you just lift it up and put at the beginning of the sentence. We call that the emphatic position to draw our attention to this word. What Paul wants us to see clearly is the word believed. Abraham believed God. That’s all he did. He simply took God at his word. Abraham believed God. What was the result of Abraham believing God? God had promised Abraham that a great nation would come from his loins. A part of this great nation there would be the Messiah, who would be the redeemer of Gods people.

 

The Gospel according to John 8 was preached to Abraham. Abraham knew the Gospel because God made it known to him. Abraham believed God. That’s all he did. Not believed and worked, just simply believed. What was the result of this? “And it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now this word “credited” you will find in this chapter is mentioned nine times. This morning I woke up early and took my little ballpoint pen and drew a circle around every time I see the word “credited” in chapter four. Only one time in chapter eight is it translated a different way taken to account, but you’ll notice verse three, “It was credited to him.” Verse five, “His faith is credited as righteousness.” Verse six, “God credits righteousness.” Verse eight, “God will not take into account.” That means not credit.  In verse nine, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” Verse 10, “How then was it credited?” Then in verse 11, “The father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them.” You come to the end of the chapter verse 22, “It was also credited to him.” Verse 23, “It was credited to him.” Verse 24, “To whom it will be credited.”

 

Hello. I mean, a blind man could see this. Nine times in one chapter. This word “credited”. It comes from a Greek word. I’m going to pronounce it because you can hear the English word in it, logizomai. You can hear logarithms. You can hear logic. The word – it’s a bookkeeping term. It’s an accounting term. It means to post to the account of. It means to credit to the account of. It means to put to the account of. You move something out of one ledger account, and you transfer it to a different ledger account. Financial banking, you take an asset out of one account and you transfer it over to a different account. It’s very simple. That’s exactly what the word means.

 

Abraham believed God, and there was credited to him. Now please note the him. I want to make a big deal out of a small word, him, H-I-M. Not to him and Sarah. Not to him and his children. Not to him and his servants. Only to Abraham. Every person must believe on their own. Just because the father believes doesn’t mean the whole family is in. Just because mom believes the Gospel doesn’t mean all the kids are in. It is only the one person who believes, and it is credited to him as righteousness. That’s what’s transferred. It’s transferred from God’s account. Purchased by Jesus Christ. It’s transferred to Abraham’s account. The perfect righteousness of God. There can only be perfect righteousness transferred out of God’s account into Abraham’s account. Abraham has done nothing to deserve it, to earn it, to work for it. It is purely by the grace of God, right?

 

This righteousness – the word righteousness means perfect conformity to a standard. It is perfect conformity to God’s own holiness. That’s what’s transferred into Abraham’s account. Now, let me just give you some words that describe this transfer. It happens immediately. It’s not progressive like sanctification. This transfer happens in the twinkling of an eye. It happens the moment, the exact split second that someone believes immediately the transaction occurs. Literally one second you’re bankrupt, the next second you have all the riches of God’s grace transferred to your account. Also, it’s a complete transfer. It doesn’t come in installments. You get it all. It’s a present transfer, meaning in this lifetime.

 

There is some false doctrine being taught by a man named NT Wright, who has a new perspective on Paul. Who says that, “This righteousness is not transferred until the final day, the final judgement, and will have to evaluate your works on the last day to see if this transfer will take place.” That is a false Gospel. This righteousness is presently transferred the moment you believe. Look at the verb tense. Look at it in your Bible. Abraham believed God and it was. Not will be. Was credited to him as righteousness. I want to give you one more word, it’s irrevocable. Once it’s transferred over into Abraham’s account, it will never be reversed. It will never be counter transferred back to God’s account where Abraham will then be without it. It’s a once and for all transaction. It is a finished transaction. It is credited to him as righteousness.

 

Now, turn with me, if you would, to the book of Philemon. I’ll give you a moment to find it. It’s a little one chapter book, as you well know, tucked away before the book of Hebrews, and after the Pastoral Epistles. After first and second Timothy and Titus comes Philemon. I want you to see verse 18. You’re familiar with the story of – that’s behind the book of Philemon. Philemon was a man in the ancient world who had a slave named Onesimus. Onesimus didn’t like being a slave so he ran away illegally, and ran to Rome to start all over to get a new life. In the amazing providence of God, guess who Onesimus runs into? Paul, in his house arrest.

 

Somehow, someway Onesimus is brought by someone else into Paul’s house where he’s under house arrest. Paul preaches the Gospel to Onesimus, and Onesimus is saved. So Onesimus says, “So now what do I do?” Paul says, “You’re going to have to go back, and you’re going to have to make things right with your master. You’re going to have to go back and serve him. You’re going to have to take this up with him whether or not he wants to release you or not, but just because you’re a Christian now doesn’t cancel out all your other obligations.” For example, if you go buy a brand new car, and you’ve made four of sixty payments and then you become a Christian, you can’t call the car dealership and say, “Well, this just wipes everything out. I don’t have to pay you any more money because now I’m a Christian.” That’s just not going to work, and it didn’t work in the first century either. Paul says, “You’re going to have to go back,” but he says, “I’m going to write a letter that you can take with you and hand to Philemon, and I am going to speak on your behalf, Onesimus, and let him know what’s happened in your life.”

 

When we read verse 18 here, Paul makes a very important statement. He says to Philemon, “If Onesimus owes you any money, just put that on my account. Just charge that to me and I’ll pay for it.” Look at verse 18, “But if he,” referring to Onesimus, “has wronged you, Philemon, in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. Just transfer that over, or I’ll just transfer from my account to your account. I’m good for it. I’ll back it.” It’s like, “Whatever it is I’ll pay it.” That’s the same idea over here in Romans chapter four, and that’s the perfect illustration. Onesimus did nothing to work for Paul in order to earn this money that Paul would then give to Philemon. It’s just purely a gracious gesture on Paul’s part.

 

Multiply that 10,000 times 10,000 times 10,000, and that is what God has done for us in the Gospel. In essence, God is saying, “I’ll pay it all. I’ll just transfer from my account to your account the perfect righteousness that you need.” Verses one through three, is what Abraham discovered. I trust that you’ve discovered this. That you have found this. For those of you who are watching us on live stream, it’s our desire that you have found the grace of God, and that by faith you have believed in Jesus Christ. If you have believed in Jesus Christ, immediately the righteousness of God is transferred from God’s account to your account, and you have now the perfect righteousness that you need to stand faultless before God. This righteousness does not come from you, and it does not come from anyone else. No other person, no church, no pastor, no denomination can make this deposit into your account. Only God can transfer from his account what you need in your account.

 

WHAT PAUL EXPLAINED

 

Second, what Paul explained. In verses four and five Paul now explains this. This shows that Paul and Abraham are in perfect agreement. Now, verse four is one scenario. Verse five is the other. He says in verse four, “Now to the one who works.” In other words, works to earn his salvation. Excuse me, it’s just a general principle, “To the one who works.” If I came over to your house and mowed your yard, and we had worked out a deal that you would give me $20 to mow your yard, and I come knock on the door and say, “I’m mowed your yard,” and I’m just like sweating like a pig and you go, “Well here, I’ve got a gift for you.” “Gift? No, these are wages. I’ve earned this. I’ve worked hard for this.” Now, it could be that I’m out on the street corner and I don’t have anything, and out of the goodness of your heart you walk up and hand me $20. That wouldn’t be wages. That would just be a gift based upon your own graciousness and benevolence towards me.

 

Paul is making this contrast between wages and a gift. Wages you have to work for it. You earn it the old-fashioned way. The other way is as a gift. It’s just freely given. You haven’t done anything to merit a gift. A gift is a gift. Notice in verse four now, “Now to the one who works. His wage -” it wouldn’t be a gift. It would be his wage. “Is not credited as a favor, but is what is due.” I mean Kent has to make payroll here at his company. When he meets payroll, the people have earned it. I mean, they’ve gotten up early. They’ve come to work. They’ve done their job description and leave at the end of the day. That’s not a favor. That’s a wage that’s due. That’s one principle.

 

Now the other principle is in verse five, which is how the Gospel works. Verse five it says, “But to the one who does not work. They have done nothing to earn it or deserve it, but believes in him,” in God, in his word, “who justifies -” please note, “the ungodly.” God never justifies the godly, and you want to know why? There are none who are godly. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Chapter three verse 23, the word ungodly means wicked and irreverent. That’s exactly what Abraham was before he believed.

 

Paul says, “But to the one who does not work, but believes, and just only believes in him, and only in him who justifies.” Remember the word justifies means to declare righteous. Again, it’s the idea of transferring from God’s account, his perfect righteousness that was secured by Christ in his sinless life and substitutionary death, transferred over to our account. Look at the result of this. His faith is credited as righteousness. His faith activates the transfer that God has put into motion, and is credited as righteousness. It’s abundantly clear to us that it is by faith alone in God alone.

 

WHAT DAVID DECLARED

 

Paul adds a third heading to this section. In verse six, what David declared. He’s not using David so much as an example, but using David, what David wrote as the confirmation for what the case that he has made with Abraham. “Just as David also speaks.” Well, we could say what David shouts and declares. “Of the blessing,” and blessing here refers to divine favor in salvation. “On the man whom God credits righteousness apart from good works.” Now in verses seven and eight he quotes Psalm 32:1-2. Let me just say at the outset, this is a slam dunk case. For someone to miss this you would have to be reading you Bible in a dark room at midnight with blinders on, and your Bible closed, and your Bible upside-down, and you’re in a dark cave. There is no way to miss this.

 

“Blessed -” now the word blessed means the opposite of cursed. You’re either blessed or you’re cursed. There’s no middle ground. To be cursed means you’re under the wrath of God. To be blessed means you’re under the favor of God. You’re under the smile of God. You have acceptance with God. I mean, can you think of a greater blessing than that? “Blessed are those,” and the word those is very emphatic, and we could translate it – we could transliterate it this way. This word is not in the original, but this is the idea, “And those only. Blessed are those only whose lawless deeds have been forgiven.” Now, lawless deeds is in the plural, and the idea is all of one’s lawless deeds: past, present, and future. Sometimes someone will ask me, “All right, when I was saved God forgave all of my sins up until that point. What about my future sins?” I said, “Listen, all of your sins were future 2,000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross. They were all out on the horizon of time. When Jesus died they were all future. He paid for every single sin a person would ever commit in the entirety of their life. The entire slate whipped clean.”

 

He says, “Forgiven.” The word forgiven is a very picturesque word, and the word forgiven means to send away. It’s actually used sometimes in the Scripture when a man would divorce his wife and send her away. In other words, she’s out of the house. She’s sent away. That’s the idea here for forgiveness. It means to send a debt away. To put away an obligation that is against you. That is what the word forgiveness means. Here’s another synonym, to cancel it out. Just to cancel out the debt completely and send it away. It’s no longer around. The Bible says that, “God has taken our sins and buried them in the sea of his forgetfulness.” God has taken our sin and placed them behind his back. God can remember our sin no more. It’s not that they’re just still here in from of us. No, they’re sent away as far as the penalty that would have to be paid for that sin.

 

Now, he follows up with a parallel phrase after he says, “Our lawless deeds.” By the way, all sin is a breaking of the law of God. The moral law of God. That is another reason why the law, the moral law of God is still in effect. Because if there was not the moral law there would not be sin. It is a violation of the moral law of God. “Our lawless deeds have been forgiven.” Please note the verb tense. It’s already happened. It’s not a progressive forgiveness. It’s not one day we’ll be forgiven. It’s already happened the moment you believe in Jesus Christ. Now he follows up with the next line in verse seven, “And whose sins have been covered.” So not only are they canceled and sent away, they’re also a different metaphor here, they’re covered, meaning they’re covered over such that God can no longer see them.

 

When he says sins at the end of verse seven, again, it’s in the plural. It’s not an isolated sin. It’s all of them. The whole package has been covered up. The verb here means to conceal. Then in verse eight he repeats, David repeats and Paul here quoting David, “Blessed,” and by saying blessed twice at the beginning of verse seven, and the beginning of verse eight, it also reinforces the idea of a plurality of blessedness. A multiplicity of blessedness. In the Hebrew and in the Old Testament it’s actually in the plural, “Oh the blessednesses.” By repeating it here is to emphasize the over flowing abundant blessedness that comes from God. “Blessed is the man.”

 

Please note the individual who believes. Not the family. Not the household. The individual who believes. Because in many households the mother believes but the father doesn’t, or the father does the kids don’t. Everyone has to believe on their own and for themselves. “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” When he says sin, this time it’s in the singular. He’s already stressed the plural, now the singular, and it’s all sins, every sin, even each individual sin the Lord will not take into account. It’s the same verb that’s translated to count, or credit to the account of.

 

Now, let’s just have a little theology lesson here just for a moment. Number one: there are three creditings that happen in the Bible. We call it three imputations. A good theologian knows these three. Number one: when Adam sinned, his sin was charged to the account of every person who would ever live. At the moment that Adam sinned, you and I actually became a sinner thousands of years ago. When Adam sinned, he was our representative. It’s kind of like when one man jumps off side in football, the whole team is penalized. When Adam jumped off sides, the whole team, the whole human race was penalized.

 

You may say, “Well that’s not fair.” Listen, you would have done the same thing if you were there. In fact, you would have probably done it quicker. You’d a done it on your own without your wife handing you the apple. Adam acted on our behalf. In Romans 5:12 is the verse to back that up. “Therefore just as one man’s sin – just as through one man’s sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” That’s the first transfer. Adam’s sin to your account.

 

Second transfer, all the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Jesus Christ, were transferred to Christ 2,000 years ago. “And him who knew no sin, God made to be sin for us,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. Adam’s sin impeded to the entire human race. The sin of all believers transferred to Jesus Christ at the cross. The third imputation is what we’ve been talking about here, which is the imputation from – the righteousness of God in Christ transferred to everyone who believes. Follow the bouncing ball and you’ll understand salvation.

 

There is a negative and a positive that he talks about here on crediting to the account. He says in verse eight, “There is something that’s not credited to our account.” In the act of justification, which would be let’s say verse six, there’s something that is credited to us. Something that’s not credited, and something that is credited. What is not credited to us according to verse eight is sin. Our sin is no longer credited to us. Instead, our sin has been credited to Christ at the cross. Jesus suffered, and bled, and died in our place upon the cross. Now, the righteousness of Christ is credited to us. Our sin credited to Christ. Christ’s righteousness credited to us. That is – that’s God’s accounting. That’s God’s bookkeeping in salvation. We could call it the great exchange. The worst about you was credited to Christ. The best about Christ was credited to you. You gave up dirt for diamonds. He gave up diamond for dirts – for dirt. This is a summary of the Gospel.

 

APPLICATION

 

Now, let’s just think of some application, and then we’re going to go to Q&A time. First application, the so what. You see how important the Old Testament is? Paul makes his case for justification by faith. He’s just going back to the Old Testament, back to the Old Testament, back to the Old Testament. This shows the Old Testament is still in effect. Obviously, the ceremonial law has been abolished, and the civil law is not in effect for us, but the moral law is, but the wisdom, the promises, the prophecies, all of this shows that we need to be reading our Old Testament. We need to be very familiar with our Old Testament.

 

Second thing that we learn here is how important sound doctrine is. That Paul is belaboring this doctrine of justification by faith. Sometimes we get in the middle of these theological sections and we go, “When are we going to get into something practical?” Well, we’re going to get there, but this tall skyscraper has got to rest on a deep foundation of doctrine. All duty rests upon doctrine. All behavior rests upon beliefs. Paul is just clearing out a space that he will come here in a little bit and add to what we are to do. Do you know there’s not even an imperative verb given to us until chapter six? We’re not even told to do anything until we get to Romans chapter six. Paul is just laying this doctrinal foundation. It shows how important theology is.

 

Third, what we learn from this is the hopelessness of our works to save us. If we get anything out of this, we see it’s not by our works. As I told you last time, we can’t even throw down the tip for the bill. Christ paid for salvation, and we can just throw something else on the table on top of what he’s done. No, it’s all or nothing. Our works contribute zero to our right standing before God.

 

Then fourth, here’s the power of the Gospel. Now just think about this. God called Abram an idolatrist heathen to make him the premiere example of a true believer, and to be the father of a nation, and to be the father of the faithful. Through his loins the Messiah would come into this world. This is the power of the Gospel to take someone who’s nobody, and make them somebody through the merit, and through the power, and through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel. This ought to encourage us that God can transform people who are far away from him, and bring them into a saving relationship with himself.

 

This ought to encourage us. You may have a family member. You may have a work associate. You may have a good friend from school, and you may think, “Well, if anyone is not going to be saved it’s this person.” God delights in taking the one who’s furthest away from him, and bringing him to himself. That’s exactly what God did with Abraham. That’s exactly what God did with the one who wrote the book of Romans. Saul of Tarsus. No one could have been further away than Abraham and the writer of this book, Paul. God loves to show off. God loves to showcase his glory, and his power, and it’s in the Gospel.

 

This should be a great encouragement to us in our witnessing to other people. Abraham wasn’t the one who grew up in a Christian environment, went to a Christian school, and had Christian friends. No, Abraham was as pagan, and as idolatrist as any person could possibly be, and yet God’s grace found him out, and God just reeled him in. Abraham believed God and immediately God credited to him his righteousness.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Let me just throw it open for questions, and let’s just start around the table here. Then we’re going to move to folks who have contacted us. What strikes you about this? What do you like about this? What helps you from this? I’m going to keep throwing out something until I hit a nerve. What do you not like about this? How are you encouraged by this?

 

From Anthony Melondez. He says he would like clarification on Acts 16:31. He says, “I’ve responsibly preached the Gospel to my children, can I rely on Acts 16:31 as a promise of God even though I don’t see real fruit or repentance on them.” He says he struggles with this, and being sad that he doesn’t them searching the Lord. They are good kids in general, are respectful, but he doesn’t see them searching the Lord. I’ll read Acts 16:31.

 

Yeah, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

 

You and your household.

 

Yeah, you and your household. Well, the household is going to have to believe. There’s no promise there that everyone in your household is going to believe. There are many a believer who have children who do not come to faith in Christ. That would be a vain promise to claim. We can turn to it here real quick in Acts 16:31. Because later it says in this very context that everyone in his household actually believed. Yeah, verse 34. At the end of verse 34, “Having believed in God with his whole household.” Everyone in the household believed. So I mean you can pray, but – look at even Jacob I loved and Esau I hated. I mean, the twins within one household. One was elect, the other was non-elect. So I would just keep preaching the Gospel. It’s really not real until there’s the fruit of repentance. There will always be the fruit of repentance. That’s what makes child evangelism so difficult.

 

We have to approach that very cautiously. Because it’s easy to get a five year old kid to pray something. You don’t want to go to hell do you? You don’t want to be separated from mom and dad do you? Well, what else are you going to say? But as far as denying yourself and taking up a cross, and following, and repenting, you would encourage a child to pray and commit their life to Christ, but you can’t really, I don’t think except in maybe some rare situations, actually really have an assurance. Just even a self-perceived assurance until there’s some issues on the table that they have to deal with deny, resist temptation, et cetera. That’s a good question. I’m thankful that God loves to put elect children into the families of those who are already believers, so I would be encouraged, but it’s no promise.

 

Yeah. Okay, around the table. Guys, anything? Like it, don’t like it? I’m going to start calling names here.

 

What a comfort.

 

Yeah.

 

What a comfort it’s not based on our work. It’s resting in the righteousness of Christ and being found in him. So many verses in the – when we are found in him there is a change, and there is a new trajectory of life. It gives us the motivation. Moving away from works to earn something to working because you actually possess something. It’s just so great.

 

Yeah, amen to that. Say by grace through faith in Christ unto good works. Yeah. Thank you Briton. So who else around the other table?

 

Well, I was thinking what Briton was saying, like if all of a sudden you become rich overnight, the kneejerk reaction of everybody would be just to go play golf and enjoy your life and not do anything, right? To just enjoy. But what Briton was saying, “Now you work onto Christ.” You work for the Lord, so this doesn’t mean that you have and early retirement. This means that you’re going to go out there and you’re going to proclaim to the rest of the world what Christ has done for you. So this doesn’t mean that we’re going to sit on our behind and do nothing. You were given much, and I’m going to require much from you. I give you a treasure, now you need to go use it for the Lord. That’s what I think we see in Scripture, and that’s a big responsibility for each and every one of us. We’re sitting here under your teaching and are under each other’s pastor’s teachings. If they meant that I have given my life to Christ and proclaiming his Gospel, we now have that responsibility of going to our house, proclaim that Gospel to our children, to our coworkers, to our family, and to everybody in our circle of influence.

 

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we don’t want to go to heaven alone, and we want to take people with us, and begin with loved ones. We want to spend eternity with them. So obviously it’s all in the Lord’s hands, but God works through names, works through us to carry the Gospel. Yeah, someone else. Who else has got a great insight?

 

Great insight is an awfully high bar.

 

I guess you could kind of lower the bar just a little bit or none of us would get over. Yeah?

 

I really love the synergy, as you pointed out, between the Old Testament and how Paul fills his case. Because so often it’s easy for me to get fired up reading through the New Testament. Then I get back and start strong, and then it kind of peters out. Often times difficult for me to see how it all ties together. It’s really interesting to see how he uses that to reinforce his case and to make his point.

 

Yeah, absolutely. It’s interesting, too, just think about this, the only Bible Jesus had was the Old Testament. The only Bible the apostles had, certainly, in the book of Acts at the beginning is the Old Testament. James in Galatians were the first to be written. Galatians at the end of the first missionary journey, so in that sense that was beginning to circulate during the second missionary journey. Nevertheless, what they had was the Old Testament. That was basically it. Certainly for Jesus and John the Baptist, and it was fully sufficient for them to carry out their ministry. It should go along ways with us as well. Yeah, someone else?

 

I think the New Testament is needed as well because a lot of the false religions, the Muslims. They look at Abraham as the father of faith.

 

That’s a good point. Yeah?

 

But they don’t bring it all the way through to what Paul is saying in the New Testament of how it works, how that actually is credited.

 

Yeah, and then believing Jesus did the same thing _____ _____.

 

The same thing. The same exact thing.

 

Yeah, so I mean we need both don’t we? Someone has said it’s the two lips of God speaking to us, upper lip, lower lip.

 

That’s good.

 

Old and New. Some people call it really – instead of the Old Testament and New Testament they call it the first testament and the second testament. Well, anything else? We’ve got just a minute here.

 

One thing that kind of hit me was this passage convicted me on my need to be far more forgiving. When you think about the sin that we’ve been forgiven, and how heinous the crimes are we committed against God, and he’s not counting those against us, what business do we have getting angry or bitter over these tiny little infractions that people commit against us. I mean, it’s not a deep theological point, but that’s a –

 

That’s a hugely practical point though. No, I’m so glad for you to mention that. I’m going to write that in my notes. That’s a great application point on this of how forgiving we should be, to put a covering over it and just send it away. Not chew on it. I’m not going to say anything, but on the inside I’m grinding on this every time I see this person. No, I mean we need to be like God. In fact, we’re commanded. If we don’t forgive, according to Mathew six, God won’t forgive us. He’s not talking about eternal forgiveness, he’s talking about parental temporal forgiveness. Listen, I need to be forgiven big time. Well, then I need to forgive big time and learn how to drop it.

 

Yeah.

 

I recall an occasion where I reflected on running with a friend, how bad he felt with his foot and I just made a comment. Then I mentioned to him, “Can you imagine how our sins spill out to the Lord?”

 

I was wondering where you were going with this.

 

Yeah, that’s where that belongs. I mean, of how just offensive when you consider sins. Just a scent of the sins of the Lord.

 

Yeah. No, we need to forgive one another. Even our forgiveness is a sweet smelling aroma of life unto life. Yeah, Mark?

 

To build on both those comments, you said earlier about he hadn’t even got to a command yet. He’s not even an imperative. We look at this as very doctrinal, but the application is is that when you – it’s achieve verses receive. So it should because we are receiving. You read verse eight, “The Lord is not taking our sin into account.” It should produce humility because we didn’t achieve it. It should produce as you – the three points you made last week of unity. It should produce a desire to be obedient. Rightly understood. Now, as it’s always, doctrine is practical is my point.

 

No, absolutely. That’s a great point, and I’m thrilled for you to make that point. There’s nothing more practical than doctrine. Now some people in their teaching make it such a head knowledge thing that they almost conceal the application. The fact is it’s built into the doctrine. Truth transforms. Well men, we’re going to be off for a while, which is why I really wanted to meet this morning. I just want to take in, I love this study, and I love you men, and this is so good for my soul. I’m getting so much more out of this than anyone.

 

Paul wants to plow into this some more, and they are brilliant points. I’ve kind of peeked ahead and reminded myself what lies ahead, and it’s all phenomenal. We’re at the heart of the filet. I mean, this is as about as pure and as good as it gets. I mean there are a lot of people who say if I was on a deserted island and had one book in the Bible, what would it be. I mean, there’s a lot of people who say Romans, and we’re like right in the middle of Romans. This is a great portion of Scripture in which we find ourselves.

 

Yeah, I’ve got in there how to interpret the Bible, how to live the Bible, what is the Bible. Some really good things that we’re going to be looking at, but I’ll look forward to being back here with you. Then I’ll be here for a little bit as well, so I won’t be immediately leaving. All right, let me just close in prayer.

 

Father, thank you for this study. Work it into our hearts and souls. I think of the last word there, help us to be forgiving toward one another. Help us to put a covering over the sins that are committed against us. I hear Christ say father forgive them, they know not what they do. Help us to imitate this. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Dr. Steven J. Lawson is President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. Dr. Lawson hosts The Institute for Expository Preaching in cities around the world. Dr. Lawson is also a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. Moreover, he is Professor of Preaching and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, where he also serves on its board. Dr. Lawson is also Professor in Residence for Truth Remains, a work designed to promote and proclaim God’s written Word. Further, Dr. Lawson serves as the Executive Editor for Expositor Magazine published by OnePassion Ministries.