Faithlife Sermons

Righteousness is counted to us when we believe God

Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Abraham modeled true faith for us by believing God, which is counted to us as righteousness when we believe that God raised Jesus from the dead for our justification

Notes
Transcript
Welcome
Welcome, we are glad you are here
We are here to worship God
Happy Father’s Day
Prayer

Introduction

What is the most unbelievable thing you have ever heard someone tell you?
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Springboard from - since we believe that God justifies people by grace through faith in Jesus, not by works of the law, do we then overthrow the law? Or are we saying that the whole Old Testament is pointless? Should we have a low view of the law?
Paul’s argument is going to be that God has always been about saving people by grace through faith, and he wants to explain what faith looks like. He has argued that ultimately, a Jew is a Jew inwardly, not outwardly, and righteousness is first a matter of the heart before it is a matter of outward conformity to rules and regulations.
To do this, he goes all the way back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish race and for all intents and purposes the beginning of their faith.
The question he opens with is, with regard to being saved by works or by grace, what did Abraham learn? What was gained by Abraham?

I. Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness

Romans 4:1–12 ESV
1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather 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 counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” 9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Romans 4:1–11 ESV
1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather 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 counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” 9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,
If Abraham was justified by works, he might have something to boast about
Romans 4:
Romans 4:1–2 ESV
1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
a
Jewish teachers held that Abraham was perfect
“We find that Abraham our father had performed the whole Law before it was given” - Babylonian Talmud
“Abraham was perfect in all his deeds with the Lord” - Jubilees 24:10

Belief in God means orienting life around trusting him

But in Paul’s mind it is unthinkable that someone could boast before God - no one can boast before God, so even Abraham could not boast before God
Paul then says the Scriptures teach that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness”
Romans 4:3 ESV
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Romans 4:3
What did Abraham believe God about?
Genesis 12:1–3 ESV
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 15:5–6 ESV
5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:
,
Extension of promise
Father of nations
God would make his name great
Land of Canaan as Israelite inheritance
All families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham
That God would bless all of the nations through his family
We believe this ultimately meant through the coming of Jesus through whom there is forgiveness of sins and restoration of life
Abraham was the beginning of God’s plan of redemption for a lost and broken world, and God’s promise to Abraham was that he would be the father of the nation that God would use to bring his blessing back to the entire world
Paul lays out a principle that law and grace are mutually exclusive
Romans 4:4–8 ESV
4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
Romans 4:4-
Wages are owed to the one who works
Righteousness is counted to the one who believes God who justifies the ungodly
If anyone can work for God’s favor, everyone has to - the standard is the same for all
If no one can work for God’s favor, they have to trust his grace
Example from David as well, another huge figure in Jewish history
Psalm 32:1–2 ESV
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Abraham’s belief and righteousness came before circumcision - verses 9-12
Psalm 32:1–2 ESV
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Belief in God means orienting life around trusting him
Romans 4:9–12 ESV
9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Romans 4:9-
Romans 4:9–12 ESV
9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
-1
Psalm 32:1–2 ESV
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
The statement about Abraham’s belief being counted as righteousness is found in
The covenant of circumcision was established in (after )
Circumcision symbolizes obedience to the law for the Israelites
Belief in God means orienting life around trusting him
Paul says that circumcision was given as a seal (symbol) of the righteousness that Abraham had already acquired through faith
The result is that Abraham can be considered the father of both the Jews who keep the law and the gentiles who have the same kind of faith that Abraham had
That means even though we are not Jews, if we believe God, we are counted among “Abraham’s family” - what applied to Abraham applies to us
Summary: The promise to Abraham did not come through the law but through faith (return to mutual exclusivity of law and grace)
Romans 4:13–15 ESV
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. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
This
To a Jewish audience, this is a RADICAL claim - it is that God has been working a plan of redemption and grace for all of humanity ever since his call on Abraham’s life, and that Gentiles are included in that plan of redemption
“Promise” is here a general word that summarizes all that God has promised
The phrase “heir of the world” is a difficult phrase - it most generally means the sum total of God’s promise to bring his blessing back to the entire world through Abraham’s family
Genesis 12:3 ESV
3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Because law and and faith are mutually exclusive (as we have already seen)
Because the law is only able to condemn, not to save
The law points out how flawed we really are (because it shows us exactly and precisely where we disobey God)
The law actually even stirs up our sinful hearts
Illustration: When we are told not to do something, we immediately want to do it (Lane wanting to take my glasses)
What was the promise to Abraham?
Genesis 12:1–3 ESV
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God would give Abraham’s people the land of Canaan
God would make Abraham a great nation
God would make Abraham’s name great
All of the families of the earth would be blessed in Abraham (ultimately through faith in Jesus)
Genesis 12:1–3 ESV
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Transition: So Paul is out to prove that Abraham was made righteous because he believed God, and God’s promise to Abraham was established not on the basis of Abraham’s works (law) but on the basis of God’s grace and Abraham’s faith.
What does this mean for us? Simply put, we are in the same position as Abraham; as Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness, so our faith in Jesus is counted to us as righteousness.

Our faith in Jesus is counted to us as righteousness

Romans 4:16–25 ESV
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 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. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 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. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 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.
Romans 5 ESV
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Restatement: The promise to Abraham
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We are counted righteous on the same basis as Abraham - we believe God
Romans 4:23–25 ESV
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.
But what does faith look like? What does it actually mean for me to believe God?
We believe God because of who he is
Paul starts be describing God’s character in two ways
Romans 4:16–17 ESV
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 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.
Romans 4:16-17
The promise of God is guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring in the sight of the God in whom Abraham believed - it is as though Paul is say
The one who gives life to the dead
Giving life to the dead womb of Sarah
Raising Jesus from the dead with the promise of raising us from the dead
The one who calls into existence the things that do not exist
The world
Isaac (offspring from Sarah’s dead womb)
The church
That he is who he says he is
The one who gives life to the dead
For us as it was for Abraham, faith means believing that God is who he says he is and will do everything he has said he will do
He is the creator of everything
The one who calls into existence the things that do not exist
What does faith look like?
The one
That he will do everything he has said he will do
Forgive our sins and justify us in Christ
Break the chains of sin that hold us - addictions, temptations, struggles
Take care of our needs
Grow his church and build his kingdom
Return a second time to judge, to renew and restore all things
Faith looks like hope even when hope seems foolish
The adherent of the law
Romans 4:18–19 ESV
18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
Romans 4:18–19 ESV
18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
Abraham had several good reasons to doubt God
Romans 4:18
He was 100 years old - for all intents and purposes dead
Sarah’s womb had been barren forever - she had never been able to have kids
This is to say, Abraham’s faith wasn’t blind to the facts of the situation
God doesn’t call us to have faith that is blind to the facts - he calls us to have faith despite the facts, because he is God
We think God can’t break our chains of addiction because we have been defeated by our temptations so many times before
We think God can’t grow his church anymore because the northwest is such a secular place
We think we can’t give to the kingdom of God and work of the gospel because our finances don’t seem to work on paper
God calls us to have faith not in our understanding of our circumstances, but in his power and sovereignty over our circumstances
Abraham’s faith wasn’t blind to the facts
Abraham had hope because he wasn’t ba
But Abraham also knew he wasn’t dealing with
The one who shares the faith of Abraham
Faith looks like worship even when we don’t understand what God is doing
Romans 4:20–21 ESV
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.
Faith looks like orienting our lives around believing that God is who he says he is and he will do everything he has promised he will do
Abraham’s faith “was strengthened” (passive) as he gave glory to God
Faith is not a muscle that we can just go to the gym and work out ourselves; it is a muscle that God strengthens through our submission in faith to him
Forgive our sins
When we come to a place in life that makes us doubt the goodness, provision or promise of God, we have two options:
Despair, shake our first at God and ask “why me”
Worship - when we choose to worship God in the midst of our struggles and sorrow, God uses our circumstances to strengthen our faith
Illustration: My faith grew in ways it never had before when I chose to worship God after the loss of my job
Faith means orienting my life around my belief that God is who he says he is and will do everything he has said he will do
Take care of our needs
This is not in the Romans text, but it is implicit in Paul’s reference of Abraham’s life
Hebrews 11:8–10 ESV
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Grow his church
Abraham left his whole land in order to obey God because he believed God
Faith means acting differently than we otherwise would because we have radical faith in God
Bring his kingdom
We want this church to be a place where we have a bet the farm kind of faith because we believe God
Restore all things in the new creation when Jesus returns
Because we believe God
We believe that he does transform broken lives
We believe that he does break the chains of addiction and temptation
We believe that he does forgive our sins and make us righteous before him
We believe that he does provide for us and give us everything we need
We believe that our ultimate joy is found in him and not in pursuing our own agendas
We believe that God desires this church to be a radical change agent in the city of Redmond for God’s glory and our joy
We believe that
We believe that God is reaching into the darkest places in our world to rescue lost sinners and bring them to himself
We want to have radical faith in light of who God is that would direct how we live in tangible ways
Faith that would give generously and dig deep even it is hugely sacrificial
Faith that would love boldly and genuinely even when it makes us vulnerable
Faith that would speak truthfully even when it might cost us a friendship, a business deal, or our reputation
Faith that would speak the gospel with confidence and passion
Pastor David Foster: Be bold enough to charge the gates of hell with a water pistol and not even stop to see if its loaded.
Ultimately, our faith - our belief that God is who he says he is and will do everything he has said he will do - is what defines this community. Not our behavior, our stylistic preferences, our family traditions, or our past sins. Let this be a community that believes God. Let this be a church that will charge the gates of hell with a squirt gun.
Invitation for you to choose to believe God for the first time
-The trajectory of your life can radically change if you will believe God, that your sins are forgiven through the blood of his Son, that the life he has called you do is for your ultimate joy, that the only way for you to truly live is through faith in him
-Talk with me after church
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