The Faith of Abraham

The Faith of Abraham

Scripture: Romans 3:31, Genesis 15:6, 1 John 3:4
Date: 11/04/2017  Lesson: 5
"As justified sinners, we have been made the recipients of grace and undeserved favor from God, against whom we have sinned. How should this fact impact how we deal with others? How full of grace and favor are we toward those who have wronged us and don’t really deserve our grace and favor?"

God Cares: The Message of Daniel by Mervyn Maxwell

God Cares: The Message of Daniel by Mervyn Maxwell
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Good morning, everyone. Welcome, again, to Sabbath school study hour here at the Granite Bay seventh-day adventist church. I'd like to welcome those who are joining us across the country and around the world. I know we have online church members that tune in every week to study with us, as well as many other friends that participate in our Bible study together. I'd also like to welcome the members and the visitors right here at the Granite Bay church - always good to see you here, week after week, coming to study the Word of God together.

Now, over the past few weeks, we have been studying our lesson quarterly, dealing with the book of Romans - actually, the lesson quarterly is entitled salvation by faith alone: the book of Romans. Today we find ourselves on lesson #5 in this study and that is entitled the faith of Abraham - a great champion of the old testament - an example of faith - and that's going to be our study for this morning. Now, for those of you joining us online, if you don't have a copy of the study that we're going to be doing this morning, you can download one at the amazing facts website, just amazingfacts.org. As I mentioned, we're studying lesson #5 entitled the faith of Abraham. Download the lesson and you can study along with us.

We also have a free offer that goes along with our study, dealing with faith. It is a book entitled heroes of faith and this is our free offer for today. For those in North America, if you would like to receive this, call 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #826 - we'll be happy to send this to you and, as mentioned, this is for those in North America. If you're outside of north America, I would encourage you to go to the Amazing Facts website and there are a number of free resources that you'll be able to read right there online. I don't know if this book, specifically, is available to read online, but again, for those in North America, give us a call on that number and we'll be happy to send this to you.

Now, usually, for our Sabbath school study hour, we like to begin by lifting our voices in song, but we've got a special treat today. Instead of having our regular congregational singing, we have kirsten clark. She is from the seattle area - seattle, Washington - she is a student here at the afcoe program. Afcoe is the Amazing Facts center of evangelism, it is a four-month training program and she is going to be playing a special musical item for us on the piano this morning. Following that, we'll have our opening prayer for our study and then we'll have our lesson.

Amen. Thank you, kirsten - appreciate that. I'd like to invite you to bow your heads as we open with a word of prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, what a privilege to be able to gather in your house on this, your day, the Sabbath, and open up Your Word and study a great Bible character - one that is set forth as an example of faith. I pray that you'd bless our time as we look at the story of Abraham.

We pray, Lord, that we might learn those very important lessons that you would have us understand, especially in the context of the message of the book of Romans and the Gospel, so bless our time this morning, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson today is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug. Thank you, Pastor Ross, and thank you for that beautiful music. I appreciate that very much. Morning.

Morning. How is everybody? Good to see you. I want to welcome those who are watching, again, our extended class and some who are actually members of the Granite Bay community from around the world. We're continuing our study on Romans and today we're on lesson #5. Just to give you a little background, before we get into it, we always have people who are tuning in for the first time or maybe are here visiting for the first time.

What's going on in the book of Romans? The jews who heard Peter preach at pentecost from rome - it mentions them in acts chapter - they accepted, they were baptized, they went back to rome and began to share their faith. The church began to grow in rome before Peter or Paul or the apostles were even there. Well, eventually, by the time that Peter preaches to cornelius and they realize that God is now taking the Gospel to the gentiles - because, at first, the jews in rome preached to other jews - there were Jewish communities all over the world and they had synagogues in rome way back in the time of Jesus. And when they realized that God had given a message that the Gospel should also go to the gentiles that were in rome, well, the jews in rome started saying, 'okay, you can accept Christ, and don't forget, you need to keep the ceremonial feast days, you need to be circumcised, you need to practice a lot of the ceremonial laws and even some of the man-made laws.' And you'll see, this is a big battle throughout the new testament - not just in rome. Paul, before he ever gets there, he says, 'look, let me explain how the Gospel works: jew or gentile, you are not saved by keeping any law.

' And so, in the book of Romans, Paul lays out one of the most beautiful examples of what is the Gospel, and he continues to go back and forth between the jew and the gentile through the whole book, presenting arguments that Paul could understand because Paul came from, of course, a Jewish background, but he was born and raised in a gentile city. He spoke Hebrew, he spoke Greek. The Bible says Paul says, 'I speak with tongues more than any of you.' He spoke with many different languages. And so, he understood how he could relate to both. And so, he does a masterful presentation of what the Gospel is, that has, you know, become the foundation for the reformation.

Now, it is no accident - I was back at the general conference last week. Some of you were tuning in for some of the proceedings there. One of the things they shared is the plan for the Sabbath school lesson. You notice, the last two quarters we've been dealing with Galatians and with Romans, and there's some overlap in our lesson today. That's not by accident, it's because we are now on the cusp of the five hundred-year anniversary for the reformation - a great reform movement within Christianity that, well, martin luther sort of gets the credit for when he nailed his theses to the doors of the church in wittenberg, but the reformation goes back to wycliff, huss - they predated luther.

They were calling for reform that Christians get back to the Scriptures. In almost every case, you know what their principle manuscript was for the reformation? Romans. And so, it's really important for us, as protestant Christians, to understand what Paul is saying in Romans and understand the distinction between faith and works. This is one of the more common misunderstandings we run into. So, our lesson today is the faith of Abraham.

Paul decides to use Abraham as a great example - what was Abraham's religion before he became a jew? It's a trick question. Were there jews before Abraham? Was Abraham a jew? No, Abraham was a Hebrew. Jews - that's a word that has, sort of, become an all-encompassing word for modern Hebrews, but the word 'jew' really is a derivative of the tribe of judah - those who came back from the Babylonian captivity, from the southern kingdom, were principally from the tribe of judah and it sort of became the word 'jew'. But the word 'Abraham' - or the word 'Hebrew', I should say, it's - believes it goes back to the person named eber who was one of the descendents of Abraham, but they were a people who - it means 'to cross over'. When Abraham was called out of the land of the chaldees - ur - he crossed over the Euphrates, which was a major boundary back then - and so, these were the people that were called the Hebrews - they're the ones who crossed over.

Joseph is referred to as a Hebrew when he was in Egypt - some of the people who had crossed over. And so, Abraham is considered The Father of the Hebrews and the Jewish nation, but he's really The Father of the Israelites and the promised seed. So we'll say more about that. Was Isaac a jew? Isaac was not a jew, neither was he an Israelite, because Israel had not been born yet, so he's really in no-man's land. But these were the great patriarchs.

Alright, let's go ahead and look at our memory verse. The memory verse is Romans 3:31. Amen. And I invite you to say that with me, Romans 3:31. Ready? "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.

" Now, you can tell right away the - the battle that they're having here in this book. Now someone is going to look up, for me, Romans 2:13 - you'll have that in just a moment. When you talk about the faith of Abraham, we talk about faith, when you talk about belief, when you talk about righteousness by faith, a common misunderstanding is that all you have to do is believe and, because you believe, you never have to obey - or obedience is not expected - and that's a myth. And so, there's a number of verses we're going to look at in our next section here under the law, that help explain what is this relationship between faith and law. I'm going to go ahead and have dan read Romans chapter 2, verse 13 for us.

"(For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;" I might just throw it out there to you - thank you very much, dan - where do people get the idea that when you're Christian, you no longer need to keep the Ten Commandments? Have you heard any verses? Have you ever heard 'not under the law'? Name another one. Where do people - a lot of people - how many of you have run into folks that think that, you know, once you're saved - we're saved by faith - we don't need to keep the law. Why do they believe that? Nailed to the cross. It's nailed to the cross - Colossians chapter 2. What else? I'll repeat what you say so that people listening can hear.

What are the other reasons people get that idea? Delivered from the law. Every day is alike. Where's that verse? Let no man judge you in regards - that's Colossians 2, again. There's a number of verses, but one thing I want you to know - or notice - who is the writer of virtually every verse that is used where people get the idea that you don't have to keep the law? Paul. In almost every case, he is the one who says these things.

Look, with me, in the second book of Peter, chapter 3. I want to show you something. Peter 3 - go to verse 15, "and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation - as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand," - now Peter is writing - he's talking about our brother Paul who's written to you many epistles, and he talks about salvation, but in his epistles, there are some things that are hard to understand. It says, "according to the wisdom given to him," - Paul was probably the most educated of the apostles. We're going to be talking, a little later today, about the apostle andrew - and you'll see, most of the apostles, with the exception of Judas and Matthew, who was an accountant, and, later, Paul is considered an apostle - they were uneducated - they're fishermen, they're shepherds, and Paul spoke many languages, widely traveled, studied at the feet of gamaliel, one of the wisest professors in Jerusalem, wrote deeper things, and some of it was sophisticated and even Peter understood there are some things that he said that are hard to understand, and those - I want to finish what Peter said, "and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation - as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

" Now, it's interesting, he compares Paul's writing to Scripture. So Peter is not diminishing the inspiration of what Paul writes. "You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall form your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked." Now, that word there 'wicked' is 'lawlessness'. Peter is saying, 'don't follow those who twist the things that Paul says, so that they're lawless. Lawless means 'without law'.

People take the things that Paul says and they try to make it sound like you don't need to keep the law. What did Jesus say about the relation between the law and salvation? Matthew chapter 5 - what is it, verse 19 [17]? - "Think not that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For....heaven and earth will pass away before one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law....whosoever therefor breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven;" - 'good master, what good things should I do that I might experience eternal life?' Jesus says, 'why do you call me 'good'? There is one good, that is God, but if you would enter life keep the commandments.' And he said, 'which?' 'Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not lie'' - and he starts to go through the Ten Commandments. Not that we're saved by keeping them, but you're definitely not going to heaven deliberately breaking them.

Now, let me see if I can illustrate it this way: are we saved by faith or works? Faith. Faith. That's just simple, right? The children of Israel, were they saved from Egypt by works or by faith? Faith. What happened? Moses said, 'take a lamb, take the blood of a lamb, the angel of judgment will pass over you because of the blood of the lamb and you will be free from your slavery.' And after the passover, they left. Right? Then, after they crossed the red sea, he brings them to Mount Sinai.

What does the red sea symbolize? Baptism. When does he give them the law, before or after the red sea? After the red sea. Were they saved by keeping the law or were they saved by the lamb? The lamb. But after they are saved, does the Bible say, 'go therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of The Father, son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I've commanded you.' Is there teaching to observe commandments that comes after baptism? Yes. And why do we obey? If we love him.

How does the Ten Commandments begin? "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" - in other words, 'I've saved you from slavery, if you love me, here's my law.' So even the preamble for the ten commandments - part of what God spoke and wrote - is saying, 'I've shown you I love you. Now, do you love me? Obey my law.' So, it's always been that way. The idea that we're saved by faith is not a new testament concept, it's an old testament concept. You find the new covenant in the old testament. I've said that several times.

Alright, so let's get back to what we're talking about. I brought out a few of these verses here - I shouldn't say 'I did' - they're also in the lesson - because it illustrates that even Paul understands that. Paul said - cannot be misunderstood - Romans 2:13, "(for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law..." Didn't Jesus say, 'it's not everyone that says 'Lord, Lord', but they that do'. And James says, 'don't be just hearers of the word, be doers...not hearers, deceiving your own selves.' So the Bible writers are pretty clear, Jesus and the apostles - we're not just to hear the law, we're to do what? Do the law. Do the will of God.

And - but why do we do it? Genesis 26, verse 5 - now we're going to talk about Abraham. Abraham was saved by faith, so he didn't need to obey. But you look in Genesis 26:5, "because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statues, and my laws." Boy, that covers the whole gamut, if you say, 'well, it's just talking about ceremony here' or 'it's just talking about the statutes - it covers them all - 'my voice, my charge, my commandments, my statutes, my law' - if you do all that, you're in good shape.' But why did Abraham do it? To be saved or because he loved God? Did he show his love for God? Romans 6:1 - 4, again, lest anyone misunderstand, Paul writes, "what shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" - Alright, what is sin? Transgression of the law. Among other things, sin is breaking the law. Do we continue to break the law so we can have lots of grace in our lives? Boy if I - you know, whenever I sin, I turn to God.

He extends grace to me. If I want more grace, I need to just sin more.' Well, that's the way some people interpret it - where sin abounds, grace abounds - so let's just abound in sin. That's not what he's saying. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!" I was sharing my testimony in Texas, years ago, and afterward a lady came up to me and she was married and a member of the church and a leader in the church and she - she said, 'Pastor Doug,' - she said - 'I envy you. You know, you were out there in the world and you did everything and then you had this dramatic conversion and now you're so excited about your faith and you're sharing your faith' - and she said - 'I've been in the church for several generations.

I feel like, maybe if I just get out there and experience the world, then I'll fall in love with the Lord.' I said, 'oh, heaven forbid!' I thought she was just kidding. A few months later she left her husband, moved in with a girlfriend and went way out in the world. And I never heard she came back. And I thought, 'did I ever say anything that gave her that idea?' That's not what God's saying. Don't - don't say, 'oh, I'm just going to go sin and then I'll have lots of grace.

' You know, other people look at mary magdalene - to whom - he, to whom much is forgiven, loves much' - you know, that verse. And they say, 'well, if I just go out - and the more I sin and I repent, then I'll love him more.' No, Paul is saying, 'God forbid! Don't think that way.' People who think like that often reach the edge and never come back. And so, he's saying, "how shall we who [died] to sin" - I'm still in Romans 6:2 - "how shall we who [died] to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were [buried] with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of The Father," - what should happen after we're crucified with Christ, we're raised? - "So we also should walk in newness of life." Now what does that new life look like? Paul says, 'old things are passed away, all things are become new'. You're a new creature. So, are we living the old life of the old man if we're new creatures? No.

No, this is what he's saying, 'God forbid that you think I should continue in sin.' Alright, let's go to the section where it talks about grace and debt - in Hebrews 11 it says, 'by faith, when he was called' - Abraham - 'to go into a place that he should after receive for inheritance, he obeyed and he went out not knowing where he went.' So, something you'll notice is the age of Christianity is divided in three great epochs. The first two thousand years of Bible history you have the age of the patriarchs. From the time of creation - and no one knows that exact date - I think bishop usher used to surmise that it was 2004 b.c. - To the time of Abraham, who was born about 2000 - rather bishop usher was 4004 b.c. - Abraham was born 2004 b.

c. - You've got the age of the patriarchs. Who are they? Adam, methuselah, Noah, Enoch - they're all saved, okay? There's others I didn't mention. Were they circumcised? I ask because that's going to come up in this chapter today. Then Abraham's born - God now calls Abraham - calls him to leave the land of mesopotamia, where the settlers from the flood had begun to turn to other Gods - 'come out.

I'm going to call you to a nation where you can be a light to the world.' And Abraham goes out - now, for the next 2,000 years, God works through the Hebrews - the jews - makes a special covenant with them. Then, about 4 b.c., Jesus is born. It's 2,000 years later. Now, Christ appeals to whosoever will - spiritual jews - whether jew or gentile, the Gospel goes to everybody. You've got 2,000, 2,000, 2,000 - a total of 6,000 years - brings us to today.

Right now, you and I are living about, if we went back 2,000 years, Jesus would be or something now. He was born about or 4 b.c., Right? You still with me? So it's interesting, we're living exactly 2,000 years after Christ - more than 2,000 years after his birth, less than 2,000 years after his death. It's just interesting. And then, how long do we spend in heaven living and reigning with the Lord? It's like a thousand-year Sabbath, right? Many of the ancient protestant reformers talked about the great week of time and that these millennial weeks are filled with thousand-year epochs. Anyway - and so you've got these three different ages.

When Abraham is called, he is called to go to a place that he's not seen, and he obeys and he goes and God begins this new age. Go to Hebrews 11:17, "by faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son," - now why do you think Paul is using that language 'only begotten'? Where do you hear the words 'only begotten'? Speaking of who? Jesus. Speaking of Jesus. Didn't Abraham have another son? Why is Isaac called his only begotten? Because one was born of the flesh and one was born of the Spirit. One was born by works and one was born by faith.

And he offers up his only begotten son, "of whom it was said, 'in Isaac your seed shall be called,'" - the promises, the messianic promise would come through Isaac - "concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense." - I mean, he was about to kill him. It's like he had said, 'he's dead'. When the angel stopped him it was like a resurrection. And he is a figure means he is a type of Christ who rose from the dead. And Abraham offering his son has become an allegory, to us, of God offering his son.

So that's a lot of faith. Abraham is the great patriarch of the Jewish nation. Someone's going to read, for me, James 2:21 and 22 - alright? Before you do that, I'm going to read John 8:56 and 58, Jesus said, "'your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.' And the jews said to him, 'you are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' " - I mean, obviously, he's speaking in figures. Jesus lived 2,000 years after Abraham - and he said, 'Abraham longed to see my day'. Isn't that interesting? Abraham was longing to see the coming of the Lord and he had to wait 2,000 years.

Well, he didn't wait ,000 years, he died. But it took 2,000 years. And then the disciples were longing to see the second coming of Jesus. How long has it been? 2,000 Years. 2,000 - Does God forget his promises? No, he'll come again.

But Jesus said, 'Abraham longed to see my day and he saw it and was glad.' When did Abraham see Jesus' day? On the mountain when he offered his son. The beauty of the Gospel, the story of salvation that God would offer his son, finally became clear. God revealed, through the spirit, to him, through that whole experience, 'Abraham, you might be wondering why did I ask you to offer my son? Because you're going to be the father of a great nation and they will be saved because I offer my son. And what you did, you are worthy of being The Father of this nation, because you were willing to make that supreme sacrifice.'' This is, you know, I'm reading between the lines here. God doesn't say it just like that, but I think you all know that's the implied story that's happening here.

Alright, go ahead, read, for us, James 2:21-22. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?" Thank you very much. You know, when I first started doing evangelism, I would use this illustration - I heard another evangelist use it and I just permanently borrowed it - that there was a man who used to ferry people across the river, and he was a Christian. And when they would climb in his rowboat, you know, he'd start taking them across the river and, as they were sitting there in the brief little passenger section, they noticed that he had burned, in his oars, two words - one oar said 'faith', the other oar said 'works'. And, invariably, somewhere across the river, they would say to the old man that was rowing them, 'why do you have 'faith' on one paddle and 'works' on the other?' He'd say, 'I'm glad you asked.

' And he would pull in one oar and he'd row with one. Of course, they'd go in a circle. Then he'd put that one back in the water and pull on the 'faith' oar and he'd go in the other circle. He'd say, 'if you want to get across the river, you need faith and works together.' Amen. Well, I don't share that illustration anymore because it's not accurate.

It's a good story though. Do works get us across the river. Yes. Got to be very careful, here, because this is what the catholics said to luther, 'it's a combination of faith and works' - luther said it's faith alone. What is the - what is the story of the reformation? Sola fide - faith alone - sola scriptura - Scripture alone - gracia - sola gracia - grace alone - for the glory of God alone - I'm forgetting one of the five premises there, of the reformation.

But it's not the oar of works along with faith - that's not the best illustration. Will there be works in the faithful life? Yes, but we are not rowing our way across by our works. The works come in the wake of your faith. So you've got two oars that say 'faith' and you've got a rudder that says 'works'. See what I'm saying? It's happening because of the power of faith.

And so, I think it's just important to make that distinction. Now, it's interesting - John was just reading a verse from James where it says 'Abraham was justified by works' and then we read 'Abraham was justified by faith'. Did you notice I just read, in Hebrews, about Abraham's faith? Here James says 'works'. Can you think of another Bible character where it says that they showed their works and they showed their faith? The Bible says rahab. Was not she saved by faith when she hid the two messengers? And then, James says, 'was not rahab saved by works?' He doesn't use the phrase 'saved by works', but didn't she show her works? And so you go, well, which is it? Could you come up here for a minute? I want to do an illustration.

Yeah - no, no, no, deanne, I'm pointing to the guy behind you. He's one of our afcoe students. Thank you, I know it looks - it's hard to tell, at that distance, where I'm pointing. (Laughter) I just forget your name and so I pointed. Bogdan.

Bogdan, that's right. Okay, you don't find that on a key chain so I can forget it. In three seconds, lightning is going to strike the spot where you're standing. He believed me. Now, he didn't need to believe me because it's not going to happen.

Just in case. Thank you, that's all I wanted to illustrate. I didn't make him move, I just told him something was going to happen and he acted based on faith in what I said. So, when the Bible says, 'for God so loves the world he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life' - that's a very important verse, but that verse is misunderstood by a lot of people. Why? Because they misunderstood 'believe'.

People think 'believe', in our language and probably others, means that it is true - that we believe that God died for us, we believe that God loves us - but to believe in Jesus means not just to believe he died on the cross, it means to believe the teachings of Jesus and act according to that belief. In the Hebrew mind, if someone said, 'lightning's going to strike. Do you believe me?' They move. If Jesus said, 'only those who take up their cross and follow me have eternal life' - if you believe him, you deny yourself, you take up your cross, you follow him. That shows you believe him.

You see what I'm saying? So real faith is going to be seen in action. Does that make sense? Yes. You still with me? There's a lot of - they call it 'sloppy agape' and 'disgrace grace' and 'blab it and grab it' and there's all these different verbs for irresponsible Christianity - the idea that you can say, 'well, I've got faith and I'm just going to continue in a life of sin.' This is what Paul says: 'do we continue in sin that grace might abound? God forbid! You don't understand what faith is.' Real faith means you believe in the Word of God and you act upon what you believe. You believe he forgives you when you ask him and you, accordingly, are happy. And, because he says 'I give you eternal life as a gift', you say, 'wow, Jesus died to save me from my sins.

I am so thankful for that gift, i, now, want to follow his word.' You're not following His Word to be saved, you're following His Word because you are thankful to have the gift of eternal life. Am I right? Does anyone disagree with me? This is how it works, but it's not always how it's taught. Alright, let's keep going. Galatians 3:5 - we haven't even gotten to Romans yet and I want to read Romans 4:1-17. Galatians 3:5, "therefore he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law," - by the way, it's interesting to notice that Paul, writing to the Galatians, said that there were even miracles still happening among them at that time - "does he do it by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? - Just as Abraham" - now Paul, again, is using Abraham as a model - "just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

' Therefore know that only those...are sons of Abraham." - And the Scripture - yeah - "therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'in you all the nations shall be blessed.'" - It wasn't just the jews would be blessed, who else would be blessed? The nations. All the nations - even the gentiles. Through who? Through Abraham. Now this went against some of the - the hard line Jewish believers in Christianity that were saying, you know, 'you've got to do the laws of Moses and you somehow earn salvation by doing that.

Paul said, 'no, jews are saved by faith, just like Abraham was a jew - or Hebrew - saved by faith, gentiles are saved by faith.' And the promise was that all nations would be blessed through Abraham, and that promise came before the law of circumcision. Alright, I am going to read - go with me to Romans chapter 4 - this is our principle study for today - just to make sure we get through it, I'm going to read Romans 4:1-17 - bear with me - and then we'll back up and look at it together. "What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 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 accounted to him for righteousness.'" - He's quoting Genesis 15:6 - "now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on him who justifies the unGodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:" - when David wrote, in psalm 32 - "'blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.

' Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be The Father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and The Father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised." - I'll break this down in just a minute - "for the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression." - Now, by the way, that's a very important verse - 'where there's no law there's no transgression'. Will there be - is there transgression in the world today? Yes.

Then there must still be law, right? - "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all" - and then the last verse - verse 17 - "(as it is written, 'I have made you a father of many nations')" - not just the Hebrews - "in the presence of him whom he believed - God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did." So even before these other nations were born, God declared that, through Abraham, they would all be redeemed. Alright, let's back up now, we're going to be breaking this down, here, in a little bit. Let's talk about the promise that God made to Abraham. Now, there's several promises. Go with me, first, to Genesis 12.

Now, which comes first, Genesis 12 or Genesis 15? Genesis 12. That's, of course, a rhetorical question. That's important, and what Paul says here - he wants you to notice that. Go to Genesis 12 - notice - you don't have to look it up; take my word for it - Paul - Abraham does not practice circumcision or get the covenant of circumcision until Genesis 17. So when does he get the promise that he's going to be a father of nations? While he's a jew or while he's a gentile? See, what Paul is doing is he's writing to the jews who are struggling with the ministry to the gentiles in rome.

He says, 'you guys don't understand. Your father, the one who's the most revered jew of all, Abraham, God called him while he was a gentile. He made the promises to him. He accepted them by faith, while he was a gentile. Genesis 12:1, "now the Lord had said to abram: 'get out of your country, from your family and from your Father's house, to a land that I will show you.

I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 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.' So abram departed..." So God makes a promise to Abraham to go to a country he's never seen. He couldn't look it up on the internet. Sarah was probably saying, 'what will it look like?' He said, 'I don't know.' She said, 'you sure we want to do this?' I mean, don't you think they had some conversations? 'You're moving to this new country, do you have guaranteed employment?' 'No.' 'And you're moving? Do we have any family there?' 'No.' 'We're going away from our Father's house.' We've often seen that when a person moves with their spouse and their family's in another part of the country, it's hard. They have to go back a lot.

Abraham - that took faith. Now, does he act on this faith while he is circumcised or uncircumcised? Uncircumcised. So, technically, he's still a gentile, you see, at this point. This is what Paul is arguing to the believers in rome. And so, it says he departed.

He went out by faith. Well, this isn't the only place. So we're looking about the promises. He obeyed the promise of God, he believed him. Peter 1:4, "by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

" - Exceeding great and precious promises. Have you ever accumulated a compilation of Bible promises? Why would you do that? Ammo. When you pray and you claim the promises of God, does God honor His Word? Yes. If you've got a promise that you can bring to the Lord when you pray, you've got a potent prayer. Peter says we've got exceeding great and precious promises, that through these, you might be partakers of the divine nature.

How many of you would like to have the nature of Christ? How do we get it? You're thinking the promises of God are promises that say, 'I'm going to have money, and I'm going to have a new pick-up truck, and I'm going to have health, and...' - A lot of prosperity preachers say the promises of God are all about you being wealthy, healthy, and wise. Why does Peter say we want the promises of God? That we might be partakers of the divine nature. What is the most important thing we should pray for as believers? Be like Jesus - that's first. All the other things are ancillary blessings - but God has promises on those things too - "having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." He'll give you the divine nature to escape the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. And through these promises we're transformed.

Romans 4:13 - it says, "for the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." Now, we just read that. It's righteousness that these promises become true. Now we read the promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 12, now let's look at the promise in Genesis 15:13, "then he said to Abraham: 'know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.'" That's actually not the promise I was going to read. I wanted to read the promise where it says Abraham believed God and he accounted it to him for righteousness.

Well, tell you what, let's go to the next section here because I'm running out of time and that gets covered up ahead. Someone is going to read, for me, Romans 2:29, in a minute, okay? Let me read Galatians 3:7. What is a real jew? "Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham." Now every jew is going to say, 'I'm a son of Abraham.' Did Jesus, sometimes, tell certain jews that you weren't really jews? That they weren't children of Abraham? They said, 'we're Abraham's seed. We haven't been slaves to anyone.' Jesus said, 'no, you're the devil's children and you do the works of your master. If you were Abraham's children, you wouldn't try to kill me.

' That's pretty straight language. So, how do you qualify to be a child of Abraham? You do what Abraham did, which was believe like Abraham. Did Abraham believe in the Messiah? Yes. Jesus said, 'if you were of your father Abraham, you would believe me because he looked for my day.' Galatians 3:29, "and if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." So how many here would say you're Christ's? Every hand should have gone up, if you're a Christian, right? If you're a Christian you're Christ's. Paul says then you are Abraham's seed and heirs - all the promises God made to Abraham belong to you, if you are Christ's.

Alright, go ahead, read, for us, please, the next verse. "But he is a jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." See, when one rabbi would circumcise a little boy at eight days old, he'd say, 'I'm the one. I'm the Godfather' - so to speak - 'I circumcised him.' The praise of men - they'd take the credit for it. Paul said 'no, it's not the physical circumcision, it's the heart circumcision.' Because what was going on in rome - you remember Paul circumcised Timothy, even after Timothy was an adult, which is a little more painful procedure and takes a while to heal, but they would go around - the Christians in rome were bragging about the gentiles they'd circumcised. And so, they were taking the praise - he says, 'no, no, that - that doesn't matter.

It's the circumcision of the heart, and that glory belongs to God.' Because it's something that happens by faith, it isn't a surgical procedure. If I could surgically have my carnal nature removed, I would run to the doctor. If I could surgically have a new heart placed in me, I would run to the doctor. But you can't do it that way, can you? It's something that God does. It's a supernatural surgery.

Let me give you another one, Matthew 3:9 - I think this is John the baptist speaking here, "and do not think to say to yourselves, 'we have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones." Was there a risk that, back in the time of Christ, people were saying, 'well, Abraham's our ancestor so you've got to save us. We're the chosen frozen' or the people of God. Now that was just the jews back then. We don't ever do that, right? We don't ever say, 'I'm a third or a fourth generation Christian.' 'My uncle's a pastor.' 'My father's a pastor. I get extra credit when I stand at the pearly gates.

' Does anyone get saved by virtue of your Christian genealogy? But how many of you have heard someone sort of boast about their heritage in the church? Sometimes that can work against you. In the time of Christ, did those who had been in the church for generations start getting swallowed up by their own customs? The laws of men? Does it still happen today, where we forget about the importance of genuine faith? Let me give you another one. Luke 13:28, "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. Then they will come from the east and the west," - the gentiles - "from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God" - with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Obviously, the saved prophets are there, the patriarchs are there, and there'll be many faithful there, but there's going to be others who will come from the east and the west - the gentiles - and they might have the dna of the Jewish people, but they're not in the Kingdom if they don't have faith.

Now, is that a stretch or is that what he's saying? It's pretty clear what it means. Now, some people think, 'Pastor Doug, are you teaching replacement theology?' Do you know what replacement theology is? That once Jesus died, God has no more promises to keep to the jews - that there's nothing special for the Jewish nation - that has all been replaced by Christianity. No, I don't believe it like that. I do believe that God still has things that he's doing with the jews - there's promises and prophecies that apply to the jews, but I do think it's clear that gentiles are grafted into the stalk of Israel and we get to lay claim on all the promises. How do I know that? Are we saved under the new covenant or the old covenant? New covenant.

New covenant. You're afraid to answer because you say, 'Pastor Doug always has these trick questions. We don't know what he's up to.' Where's the new covenant? What does the new covenant say? 'I will make a new covenant after those days, says the Lord, with the house of Israel and the house of judah.' So, does God make the new covenant with gentiles or with the house of Israel and the house of judah? So if you are saved under the new covenant, you have to be adopted into the Spiritual children of Abraham, right? If you're Christ's then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. Heirs of what? The new covenant. Amen.

So you get the new covenant because you are adopted in through Christ. Alright, so that's not the same as replacement theology. The law and faith - alright, "does this blessedness" - Romans 4:9 - "come upon the circumcised only, or upon the circumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness." - And go to verse 10 - "how then was it accounted?" - I'm in Romans 4:10 - "while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be The Father of all those who believe," - now if you look in Genesis 15:5 - this is the one I wanted earlier. Which comes first, Genesis 17 where there's circumcision or Genesis 15? Comes first.

Where is Abraham accounted righteous? After he's circumcised - Genesis 17? Or Genesis 15? Let's read it: "then he brought him outside and said, '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.' And he" - Abraham - "believed in the Lord, and he" - God - "accounted it to him for righteousness." You know what that's called? He was righteous by belief or faith. This is righteousness by faith. Abraham believed the promise and he was declared righteous because he believed - he trusted in God. Did that happen while he was circumcised or uncircumcised? Uncircumcised. Do you see the argument Paul is making to the Christians in rome, now? And to the jews - Jewish Christians? He's saying, 'the gentiles can accept the salvation of God, just like our father Abraham did.

' Now, if you're appealing to jew - Jewish readers, who could you appeal to that's more magnificent than Abraham? I mean, they all trace themselves back to Abraham. He's saying, 'Abraham was declared righteous by faith, while still uncircumcised. So how dare you say to these gentiles - these Romans - these Greeks that are coming to Christ, 'oh, you can't be saved by faith until you're circumcised'? God didn't even require that of Abraham. How can you say it to them?' You see the argument that Paul is making here? He's trying to deal with a specific problem and he's using good biblical arguments. And, of course, you have Genesis - he was received by faith there, also.

So go to acts 10:28 - Peter, here, just to remind you what the challenge was they were having. Peter said to them, "you know how it is unlawful for a Jewish man to keep company or to go in to one from another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean." When Peter goes to the house of cornelius, he said, 'you realize we've believed, for generations, we're not even supposed to come under your roof because you're unclean, but God's shown me that's wrong, that God has said that gentiles can now receive salvation through Christ - through his sacrifice. And go to acts chapter 11, verse , "and when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, 'you went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!'" - Non jews! - Acts 11 - when they heard this, Peter told them about the experience, how God's angels told him to do it - acts 11:18, "when they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God," - listen to what they said - "then God has also granted to the gentiles repentance to life.'" Did that word reach rome? They said, 'yeah, he's granted you repentance but you still need to be circumcised.' Paul said, 'no they don't.' And that was the big debate that's going on here. You know, there's an interesting quote from the book Desire of Ages, here, and this is page 35, "the principle that man can save himself by his own works lays at the foundation of every heathen religion.

Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin". The idea that we can work our way into righteousness, it just destroys the barrier to sin. It is only through faith that we can overcome and anyone who's trying to work their way to holiness - martin luther tried it and he became so frustrated, he would whip himself. He beat himself. He'd crawl around on his knees and say these long prayers and he's trying to work his way to finding peace.

And it actually becomes an obstacle. You get the power through faith, by embracing the gift that God has given us. And then we have one last verse that you're going to read for us, and that would be Romans :20 and this is where we started. It's a good place for us to conclude. "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

" So does the law still have a very important purpose? It shows us our sin. Then we repent of our sins, we turn to Jesus for mercy, and he gives us grace, not only to forgive us, but grace to live a new kind of life. And that's what the power of the Gospel does. Alright, I've got a little more to say, but I am out of time. I think we've covered the main points.

I want to remind those who may have tuned in late, we have a book I think you'll really enjoy, it is a special premium book. It's called heroes of faith: inspirational stories of salvation, by yours truly. Just call the number on the screen - 866-788-3966 - that's -study-more - and ask for offer #826 and you'll be glad you did. Please read it and then share it with somebody. God bless you, friends, we'll study His Word together again next week.

Five hundred years ago, God used martin luther to inspire a great reformation; however, in the centuries that followed, the church has slipped off the bedrock of truth into the valley of Lukewarm worldliness. That's why, this fall, I'll be presenting a brand-new nine-part series called foundations of faith. Please plan, now, to join me in person, online, or on television and be sure to invite others to join you as well. The reformation continues. For life-changing Christian resources, visit afbookstore.com.

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