Justification and the Law

Date: 07/31/2010 
Lesson: 5
Paul uses the example of Abraham to demonstrate that salvation comes only by the grace of God for both Jews and Gentiles alike.
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Jolyne, myself, jennifer and baby william would like to welcome you to "central study hour" this morning. I will introduce you quickly to william. William eric henry kippel was born on June the 29th at :51 in the morning--he was an early bird--weighing pounds and 14 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long. So he's here with all his hair and fast asleep which is excEllent, so we can sing.

Right? Okay, so we are going to sing number 75 this morning. Okay? Nope, 76, "oh love that will not let me go." And this is a request from opal in Alabama, monica, vanessa, kenyan and felicia in australia, hosanna in china, inez in england, kenisha in florida, janice in France, kendra in Georgia, courtney and norda in jamaica, hermaneve in saudi arabia, grace in tennessee and teresa, appaleno and emmanuel in uganda. So 76, and we're going to do all 4 stanzas this morning. [Music] Did you notice the words on that--opps--third verse, yep. [Laughs] "I trace the rainbow through the rain and feel the promise is not vain, the morn shall tearless be." I like that. You know there's sometimes, and it's way too often in this world, that we go through experiences, and you can't see the sunshine because of the clouds. Think about that if you're going through a hard time this morning, that there is a rainbow up there. And there's Jesus who loves you with an everlasting love this morning. Our next song, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," 334 And we're going to do all three stanzas. This is from inez in Alabama, jessica, ariel, Mark and denisha in australia, norma, donna, ted and carmeta in bahamas, amporn, starry and arielynne in California, seka and anye in Canada, jeff in florida and the members of the granville Seventh-day Adventist Church in grenada, bob and Paula in Idaho, nadeen, jesette, shane and nakesha in jamaica, shem in Louisiana, Christina in Maryland, olive in nigeria, Michael in Ohio, angel in the Philippines, delaney in saint vincent and the grenadines, andrea in Texas, steve and dwayne in trinidad and tobago, and eleanor in the u.s. Virgin islands. So this is a favorite. It's one of my favorites too, all three stanzas.

[Music] Father in Heaven, we thank you so much this morning. We thank you for dying for us, for rising again and giving us the hope of everlasting life. We thank you so much this morning for each one that is here, those who are joining us from across the country and around the world, that you will just pour out your spirit on us as we open up Your Word and we study together this morning. We thank you so much for creating the Sabbath day so that we can come apart and just rest and spend time with you. I pray that our hearts will be open and that we will be receptive to the things that you have to teach us this morning.

And we pray that you'll be with our speaker as he brings us the lesson study. Be with Pastor Doug. In Jesus' Name, amen. Amen. At this time, our lesson study will be brought to us by our senior pastor here at Sacramento central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor.

Thank you. Thank you, debbie and william and our singers and musicians. Morning, friends. I want to welcome those who are members here at central church in this building, and our visitors. And then we have members of central church that are out there around the world watching via the internet.

And some of you may not know that there are people that do not have a local church they can attend. And so we've developed a program where they can be members of central church, some of our cyber members. We want to welcome you. Maybe there's some watching who are in that category. You, for whatever reason, don't have a local church you can attend.

We want you to be connected. And so if you go to saccentral.org, you can discover more about how you can be a member of our church family here. And we'd love to have you. There is a process involved, but we'll walk you through that. Just go to saccentral.

org. And we want you to be connected with a church family. We have an offer. And this is the same offer we had last week, 'cause our subject is still dealing with justification. And it's called, "assurance: justification made simple.

" We'll send it to you. If you've not received this before, and you'd like a copy of this, it's free. Ask for offer number 727, and call the number. It's 866-study-more, -study-more. And that's 788-3966.

We'll send you a copy of this book that will hopefully help enhance your study on the subject of justification that we're delving into now as we go through our study guide in Romans. Romans, it's "redemption in Romans," is our lesson. And we're principally dealing with chapter 4 in Romans today, verses 1 through 17. But we're going to touch a little bit--we didn't finish up on chapter 3. Some of the thoughts in Romans bounce around from week to week.

And we have a memory verse. The lesson is called, "justification and the law." And the memory verse is Romans 3:31, Romans 3:31. I always like if you can say the memory verse with me. Are you ready? Here we go. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.

" And now we're talking about the relationship between faith and justification and the law and what is our relationship with the law? And so we're going to be again dealing with venturing out into holy ground. And we're really talking about some of the most complex issues in new testament theology. Matter of fact, it doesn't really get more complex than this. We're talking about the two main ditches into which professed Christians stumble. Legalism and presumption.

One group believes you're righteous by obedience. And the other group believes that you obtain righteousness with presumption. And we've got to find where the middle of the road is. And Paul is sometimes the most misunderstood of the Bible writers in this area. Take your Bibles.

We're not going to start in Romans. We're going to go to 2 Peter. Peter 3 and here Peter talks about the day of the Lord coming as a thief and being ready for that. And you can read here, oh in verse 14, "therefore beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, without spot and blameless." So here Peter's challenging us to be diligent, to be found, when the Lord comes, "in peace, without spot, blameless and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, has written to you, also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand." Now this is notable in that you've got one Bible writer pointing to another Bible writer and acknowledging that though he is wise, some of the things that he says are hard to understand. You know, I think this study today is what Peter's talking about.

When Paul talks about justification by faith, and how we are saved by faith without the deeds of the law, people stumble. They get confused. And so we're delving into that very issue today. Oh, by the way, I got to finish what Peter says here. It says--he says and then, "some things that are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable--" so you've got to study.

You've got to be taught to understand these things-- "those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures." So that's important. He calls the writings of Paul, "Scripture," but he says that, "some people who are untaught twist them to their own destruction." I'm not done yet, still in Peter 3:17, "you therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked," or the lawless. Misunderstanding justification by faith can allow you to stumble down the road of lawlessness or inequity. And so this is a very important study to understand these things. Why don't we start by going to Romans 3.

This is where the lesson first takes us. Matter of fact, Romans 3:20. And this really sets the stage for what we're talking about. "Wherefore by the deeds of the law," or doing the things that are obeyed or commanded in the law, "no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Is anybody found righteous or justified because of the law? There is a parable. Now this is not in your lesson, and I don't think I distributed this.

Luke 18, go in your Bibles quickly please. Luke 18:10. And I'll read this for you and then I've got some microphones, I'll have some of you read some other verses. What Jesus is talking about-- I take that back. What Paul is talking about, understanding righteousness by faith, he's really talking about what Jesus talked about and the old testament talked about, not by the law.

There was a real misunderstanding because God gave the jews the law, they thought, "well, we obtain righteousness by the law." Nobody obtains righteousness by the law, but it was misunderstood. Luke 18:10, "two men," Jesus is speaking, "go to the temple to pray, one is a pharisee." Did the pharisee know what the law said? The pharisees were a religious sect in the time of Jesus that reveled in the law. And they were very meticulous and fastidious about every detail of the law. And they prided themselves that they were going to be righteous because of the law. You might need to know where did the pharisees come from? Pharisees did not exist in old testament time.

When the children of Israel were carried away to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness, and finally they were able to come back to--in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah--come back to Jerusalem, they said, "look, we were carried off because of our disobedience. So we're going to be very careful to obey every letter of the law. And they had laws about laws. And they had laws about the laws about the laws. And they had laws about the laws that were about the laws that were about the laws.

And they just--i mean they would measure everything. And they would strain their water, because you don't want to eat anything unclean. And heaven forbid some microscopic gnat might get into your drinking water and you would swallow or ingest some unclean animal. So they'd strain out the gnats from their water. And you might walk too far on the Sabbath.

And instead of it just going to visit your neighbor, it might turn into work. And so they would carry a ball of string with them and measure off what a Sabbath day's journey would be. And they would argue about how far that would be. And if you carried a handkerchief, it could be a burden. But if you pinned it to your clothes, it's part of your clothing, so you could blow your nose in the handkerchief if it was pinned to your clothing.

They had all these laws. So they trusted in their obedience. Now you ought to just understand who Jesus is talking to when they talk about this and who Paul is talking to, 'cause they had some pharisees that converted to Christianity. Paul was one of them. And they were living in rome.

And they were telling the gentiles that were converting to Christianity, you've got to keep the law and you'll get your righteousness by this obedience. And so Paul's grappling with this problem there in rome. So Jesus sets the stage here with this parable. "Two men go up to the temple to pray." They're seeking God; they go to church. "One a pharisee," very zealous of obedience; the other a publican.

Publicans were the opposite of the pharisees. Publicans were--now I don't want to say tax collector in the sense of tax collectors today. Tax collectors today, they work for the government. They're reputable. They're technically not extorting money for themselves.

Not too many people here like tax collectors, but back in Bible times, they were the rejects of society, 'cause they betrayed the Jewish people. They would collect taxes from their own nation, and then give them to their enemies, the Romans. And because they were considered lost, because they betrayed their own people, they just kind of hung out in the salons with the prostitutes and they cursed and they were considered very evil people in lifestyle as well as in practice, as in their occupation. So Jesus takes these two people in church, opposites. Now listen to what happens.

"The pharisee stood, and he prayed thus with himself--" I always thought it was interesting, he prays with himself. He's not praying to God. "God, I thank you that I am not like other men: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector." And he scornfully looks over his shoulder at this tax collector who's on the back pew, which is where they usually sit. Nothing against those who might be on the back pew today. "I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.

" Notice that i, i, i, i, i. Who's he thinking about? Is he trusting in God's mercy for righteousness or in his deeds of obedience? Got that? "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, and he beats upon his breast--" he's in the back, standing afar off. He feels separated from God, but he's come to church. He's looking for mercy. And what does he say? "God, I'm very obedient, so please forgive me.

" No. "Be merciful to me a sinner!" He doesn't even waste the Lord's time identifying all of his sins, because they're so numerous. He just summarizes the whole thing and says, "Lord, I just need mercy, 'cause I'm a sinner." Now listen, "I tell you," Jesus finishes the parable, "this man," the publican, "went down to his house justified," aren't we talking about justification today? Who goes home justified? The publican. Based on his obedience or based on faith and God's mercy? "He goes down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Here you've got the key to obtaining justification and righteousness is you come in faith asking for mercy and grace. Now, here's the big question.

When that pharisee went home, and he had faith that God forgave him--without faith it's impossible to please God. He must have believed that God was going to have mercy on him. Did he live any differently? Did he go home and say, "alright, well I'm glad that I've been forgiven." And kind of like some churches where you confess your sins to the priest. Now you go back and work for the mafia and visit the bordello. Did this publican act differently? I'd submit to you I think he did.

He was so thankful to God for mercy and justification that he wanted to live a different kind of life. Whereas the publican, he went home trusting in his own righteousness. And he was not justified. So this sets the stage for what Paul is saying here in Romans that is so important, talking about justification by faith. Now go to Romans 3:21.

"Now the righteousness of God apart from the law--" in other words, without the obedience of the law-- "is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets." What is that righteousness of the law that is revealed in the law and the prophets? Do you remember in the Gospel of John in tells us that after Philip and nathaniel find Jesus--or Philip goes to nathaniel, he says, "we have found the Messiah of whom Moses and the law and the prophets did speak, Jesus Christ." So what is the righteousness of the law, testified by the law and the prophets? It's Jesus. Christ our righteousness. Isn't that right? Isn't that what the Bible says? So I just want to try and unpack a little bit what he's talking about here in verse 21. That "righteousness of God--" the righteousness that comes from God is Christ. God sent his own son.

This righteousness comes from God. It's apart from the law. It comes in a person. "Even the righteousness of God, which is through faith in Jesus Christ, to all," not just the jews, "and on all who believe." Why it doesn't matter if you're a publican or you're a pharisee, if you're a jew or a gentile, if you are a man or a woman, if you are slave or you are free, this righteousness is available to all who believe. Right? "For there is no difference;" for we are all equally guilty.

It says, "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Are jews less or more sinners than other people? Doesn't the Bible say that they were a stiff-neck people? Does that mean more than other nations? Or are we all that way? Are the jews, the nation of jews, are they really an illustration how God saves all people? Were jews a purebred nation? Or when you read the genealogy of the jews, do you find out from time to time they intermarried with other nations? They really represent the whole family of God. Did judah only take a Jewish wife, or did he marry tamar and a canaanite woman? She died, but he ended up having two children with the canaanite woman that are ancestors of Christ. Did boaz only marry a Jewish girl, or did he also marry Ruth? Well, not also, he just married Ruth, a moabite. Let's keep going. Joseph, did he marry within the church, or did he marry the daughter of a pagan priestess, priest rather? And help me; there's so many more.

You just go on down through the Bible and it seems like--Samson, did he like the church girls, or did he go after the philistine gals? Of course, we don't know that he ever had any children. Moses, did he marry a jew, or did he marry, does it say, an Ethiopian, zipporah? And even if you don't think that's the one it was talking about, if you think the Ethiopian was another wife, zipporah was a midianite. Alright, so the jews are really a sampling of people from all over. And so what God did to save the jews represents everybody. "Everybody's sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

" We've all sinned, right? So, everybody's saved by faith. It's not just--have you heard it said before, "God in the new testament saved the gentiles by faith; the jews were saved by the keeping of the law"? Have you heard that? They teach this kind of dispensationalism. Nonsense! That's a doctrine of devils. That's foolishness. What kind of God would do that? I've got one type of salvation for this race of people, and I've got a different type of salvation for this race.

Does the Bible teach that God's a racist? Or does it say that he's, "made of one blood all nations." God who would have, "all men to be saved." God is, "not willing that any should perish." God's very inclusive in his salvation. He did give the Jewish people the oracles so they could be a nation of priests and teach all nations. Right? It wasn't that he had one kind of salvation for one group of people. It angers me whenever I hear that. Alright, kathleen, go ahead and read Romans 3:31.

"Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law." This is a very important verse, because as we're talking about being justified by faith without the deeds of the law, what's the natural mistake that people automatically make? "Since I'm justified with absolutely no contribution from the law, I don't need the law anymore." See how people draw that conclusion? Have you heard that done before? What does Paul say when he hears that? "God forbid, yes, you're justification and your salvation are the result of your coming just like you are, through faith." But after you've come to the Lord through faith, do you then cast aside the law? How does Paul respond? Alright, I'm going to read Romans 6:1-4, "what shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" Isn't that asking the same question? Shall we continue in disobeying God's law, so we can say, "oh, grace is abounding, 'cause where sin abounds, grace abounds. The more we sin, the more grace we have, so let's all sin!" Isn't that what that logic says? Where sin abounds, grace abounds. Since we want more grace, we need to sin. I've heard adventists say, "well, we know Jesus isn't gonna come until there's a Sunday law. And so the answer is, if we want the Lord to come, let's lobby for the Sunday law.

" Do you see what I'm saying? Isn't that the same kind of convoluted logic? And yet you hear people say that. Alright. Well, wait, I'm going to finish. Hang on, jim. I haven't forgotten you.

I want to finish reading Romans 1--Romans 6:1-4, "shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" God forbid! "Certainly not! How shall we who are dead to sin--" wait a second. When does that happen? When you are justified by faith, it's through coming to Christ as you are, repentance, a death to self. You are dead to sin. If you're dead to sin, "how do you live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us are baptized into Christ Jesus are baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of The Father, we should also walk in newness of life." You walk in a new life. When the pharisee--no, no.

When the publican went home from the church being justified, was he different? "Walk in newness of life." If the thief on the cross looked at Jesus and simply looking in faith said, "Lord, have mercy on me. Lord remember me." It's the publican who said, "Lord, have mercy on me." The thief said, "Lord, remember me." Same thing really. And what did Jesus say? "Verily I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise." Was he justified by faith? Absolutely. So, suppose someone got a great, big, ol' roman crowbar, and they said, "look, we've decided to give you another chance." And they pull out the nails and they take that thief off the cross, would he go back and start stealing the next day? Or would he walk in a newness of life? So this is where people abuse the grace of Jesus. They say, "since we're justified by faith, I can keep being justified by faith and live the old life.

That is very offensive to the Lord, and that is deadly. Yes, you are justified by faith so that you might live in a newness of life. Isn't that what Paul said? I just read Paul. Romans, Romans, it's all connected. You got to read it all.

Alright, go ahead, jim. Read for us, what did I say? Romans 2:13. "For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified." Wait a second now. Isn't Paul contradicting himself? I thought we were justified by faith, and here it says, "the doers of the law are justified." Well, doesn't the Bible tell us you'll know them by their fruits? Meaning the doers of the law demonstrate they have been justified by faith. Does that make sense? Those who are living lives of surrender can only do that because they've been empowered by the Spirit, and they are justified by faith.

Does that make sense? Do you see a conflict there? I don't see a conflict. I believe when we are justified by faith, we walk in a newness of life. Okay, let's go back now. I've got a lot left to say. And turn with me now to Romans 4, Romans 4.

And tell you what, I'd like someone to read for me. I don't know that I gave it to anybody, but I want someone to read for me, a volunteer, Romans 4:1. "What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh?" Read verse 2 also. Yes, sir. "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

" Now why does Paul chose of all the samples of old testament characters that he could point to to demonstrate justification by faith, why does he choose Abraham? Because the Jewish people looked upon Abraham as exhibit-a in obedience. Let me see if I can give you a couple verses here that demonstrate that. In Genesis 25, go to Genesis 26 rather, Genesis 26:5, Genesis 26:5. The jews would read this verse and they would assume this was the reason Abraham was justified, not all the jews but some of 'em. "Because Abraham obeyed my voice, kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

" Why was Abraham so special to God? They point to this and say, "because he obeyed. Because he kept the commandments. He kept the statutes. He kept the laws." By the way, how long had the Ten Commandments been around in Genesis 26:5? A long time, but not written down yet. Exodus is when you find the Ten Commandments.

And here, does God still have commandments and statutes and laws back in Genesis 26? So the idea that God dreamed up the Ten Commandments when the Exodus happened, that's just not biblical. Ten Commandments, the principals of the Ten Commandments existed long before the world was even made. But see they look at Abraham, and they think of him as the great obeyer. And so Paul then has to remind them, "no, no, no. The Bible doesn't say Abraham was justified by obedience.

Abraham was justified by faith." And you'll find that if you read in Genesis 15:5-6. Alright, who has Genesis 15, mike, 5 and 6. "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 believed in the Lord, and he accounted it to him for righteousness." Alright, Abraham believed and he gets credit, he puts it on his account: righteousness. He's declared righteous based on believing in something that hasn't happened yet. What's the first book in the Bible? Where do you first find righteousness by faith? It doesn't show up in the new testament.

Here in the old testament, in the very beginning, we are always declared righteous by faith. Will anybody--i say this, you've heard me say this many times, but I want to repeat it, 'cause there's always visitors. Some might miss it. We have new viewers. Is anyone going to be in heaven by virtue of their obedience? No.

There'll be a lot of people in heaven that obeyed, but their righteous by virtue of faith. And it tells us here that Abraham was righteous by virtue of faith. Now did Abraham obey God? We also just read that verse. It is true that the consistent behavior of Abraham's life was one of obeying God's commandments and statutes and laws. We just read that, Genesis 26.

But did he always obey? Genesis--no, Abraham in Genesis goes to Egypt. But he's got a problem. He's got a wife that is really something, because even when she was like 67 years old she was so beautiful that he was sure the Egyptians would kill him to take his wife. So when he gets down there and he's doing the introductions, he says, "who is this?" He says, "that's my sister." Now was she his sister? Half. But was the relationship a sister-brother relationship? You better not be doing with your sister what Abraham was doing with Sarah.

He wasn't being totally honest there, and he got into trouble for that, right? It was a lie. That was not just a half truth; it was a lie. And finally the pharaoh even confronted him. And by the way, his son Isaac, those girls back then must have really been something that came from haran because Isaac did the same thing with Rebekah. He thought that the philistines were going to kill him for Rebekah.

And abimelech looks out his window. Isaac had said Rebekah was his sister. She wasn't even his full sister. She was just a cousin. And he's flirting with her the way you do with a wife, not a sister, or a cousin-- except in some parts of the country--and he says, "surely, she's your wife.

" And he's confronted for that. It was dishonest. What about when God says to Abraham--Abraham believed him. He says, "through your wife, Sarah, you're going to have a son. And your children are going to be like the stars of heaven.

" Abraham believed God. He counted it to him for righteousness. And then he said, "well, you know, it's taken a long time, Lord. I believed you're going to do this, but maybe you meant for me to help you with my works." So Sarah goes and fetches hagar. And she says to Abraham, "look, you know, we probably--God's expecting us to help him out.

You know?" 'Cause after all, Benjamin franklin said, "God helps those that help themselves." "So we're gonna help God fulfill this promise. If you'll sleep with my handmaid, hagar, we'll help the promise come true. Well God didn't need that kind of help. That was disobedience. It was to be through his wife.

Did Abraham sin? Did he lose faith? That wasn't his plan, 'caused all kinds of problems. Matter of fact, even later, it refers to hagar as the law and works, 'cause Abraham tried to fulfill God's promise through works. And Sarah and Isaac represent the faith part of it. It was through a miracle of God's faith. When you receive the power of the Spirit to live a new life, is that because of your straining and stressing, or is it a gift of God, a new heart? It's something God gives you.

And first by faith you believe that God forgives you. And then through faith he gives you a new heart and new power to live a new life. You can't do it in your own strength. That's like you trying to make offspring through hagar. And so Abraham did sin.

He was not declared The Father of the faithful because he was sinless. So Paul chooses Abraham as exhibit-a. By the way, this verse where it says, "Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness." That's Romans 4:3. It's also found in Hebrews. And it's also found in James.

So you find all these new testament characters or writers are pointing back to Abraham's believing in God and getting credit of righteousness because of his faith. We are made righteous by virtue of faith. Now in Genesis 15:13, we read Genesis 15:5-6. Oh, wait a second here, I'm getting ahead of myself. Alright.

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, of whom it was said, 'in your seed Isaac--'" in your seed-- I'm sorry, "in Isaac your seed shall--" you know what happens to me? I don't know if this ever happens to you. I have memorized a lot of verses in the King James version. Sometimes I cut and paste them from another version, and my mind is trying to do it from my memory, but I'm reading something different and it really messes me up. You ever have that problem? Some of you have memorized Scripture for years in king James, and then you're reading another version. It's like, you know, you're trying to drive in reverse.

Anyway, or you go from an automatic to--you ever forget you're not driving a stick shift and you get an automatic and you slam on the brake thinking it's the clutch? I nearly sent a family through a windshield once just because I forgot. Alright, I just want to know I'm not alone. So let me read this the way it's here in this version. "For by faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promise offered up his only begotten son--" notice the words, "only begotten son." It's--didn't Abraham have another son called Isaac at that--ishmael at that time? But it calls Isaac his only begotten son. Aren't we called sons of God, yet it calls Jesus the only begotten son.

Because he was The Son of promise. By the way, I don't want to lose your train of thought completely, but I just got to mention this. You're going to run into people who believe that Jesus was created, because it says that he was begotten. And they don't believe in the trinity teaching. And they keep saying begotten, begotten, begotten.

That means there was a time when he was begotten. He was born. Well, it calls Isaac the only begotten son of Abraham even though he had other children, because he was The Son of promise. Jesus was the promise of God coming to earth in the form of a man. The only time that God was incarnate, he is the only begotten of God when he is begotten in this world.

See what I'm saying? It doesn't mean that Jesus was born at some point, 'cause he's from everlasting to everlasting. He's the alpha and omega. And so don't be fooled by that if you run into it. "The only begotten son of whom it was said, 'in Isaac your seed shall be called.'" The seed of Abraham is not through ishmael; it was through Isaac. It was through the promise from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

Now one of the greatest examples of Abraham's faith was not just when God said, "your children will be like the descendants." And Abraham believed God, and it was given him credit for righteousness. When is one of the greatest examples of Abraham having faith? Wasn't it when he took this promised only begotten child up on a mountain and was willing to obey God and taking his life and still believe that God would raise up a nation through Isaac even after he took him and sacrificed him. Accounting he was able to raise him up. Isn't that what it's saying? He believed that he was even able to raise him up again. By faith, Abraham came out of ur not knowing where he went.

He obeyed. Matter of fact, I'm going to read it to you from king James, Hebrews 11:8, "by faith, Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place to which he should later receive his inheritance, obeyed." By faith, he did what? He obeyed. So we are saved by faith. And it's by faith we obey. Some people fall into that ditch of the sloppy agape, the presumption.

And they, "we are justified by faith. We are saved by grace. Anytime you talk about obedience, you're getting into legalism." They misunderstand. It is through faith, we obey. I'm going to read John 8:56, Jesus is speaking, "your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.

" When did Abraham--Jesus is talking about when Abraham saw his day. When did Abraham the most clearly see Christ's day? On the mountain, when he was about to offer his son. And God said, "Abraham, Abraham, don't slay the lad. For now I know that you believe." Basically he was saying-- I think there's some unspoken communication here, but it's seen in the picture-- "Abraham, you've been willing to offer your son. You've had so much faith.

You've been willing to offer your son of faith. That's a symbol of when I am going to offer my son. And he is the one who will make you righteous." Abraham saw the day of Christ and he rejoiced. Was Abraham rejoicing on the mountain that day when the angel stopped him from slaying his own son? God said, "I so love you, I'm going to give my son." So Christ says that Abraham had faith and he was saved by faith looking forward to Christ. Alright, now 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?" By his works, his faith was perfectly demonstrated. You got that? I mean think about it. What could demonstrate more faith in the promise of God when God says, "a great nation will issue from you, Abraham, through Isaac. And now I want you to take and I want you to offer him." All these years they've been looking forward to Isaac and training Isaac, because he's going to be The Father of a multitude. And Sarah is so careful in her latter years and nurturing.

She knows she's not going to live long. Matter of fact, she died before Isaac even got married. That must have broke her heart that she didn't even live to see that. But she trained that son knowing someday he'd be The Father of this great nation of righteous. And then to say, "now I want you to take him and sacrifice him.

" By faith, he obeyed. Through his obedience his faith was demonstrated. That's what James is saying. So those who say, "oh, don't talk to me about obeying God's law. I've got faith.

You've got works; I've got faith." They're liars. "If any man says, 'I believe,' and they keep not his commandments, he is a liar." I'm quoting the Bible, friends. So you've got those two errors that Paul is telling us to guard against. It is through faith we receive righteousness. We are justified by faith.

And when we are justified by faith, he then gives us a new heart to walk in a newness of life. And that newness of life will be a life of obedience. Does that make sense? I hope so, friends. Like I said, we are right now in the vortex of Christian controversy, these issues of righteousness by faith, related to obedience. That big apparent conflict between love and legalism.

Is obedience legalism? No, it's not. I'm going to read Romans 4:13. Matter of fact, I'll have someone else read it. I haven't given this out, so just a volunteer. Hold up your hand if you have not read.

Here we got a hand. Read Romans please, 4:13. This is part of our study today. "For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." You got a good voice for radio. I got to make a note of that.

Didn't she have it nice--? Got a nice voice for radio. Alright, so here he's making this promise that righteousness is going to come through faith. And it comes on The Sons of Abraham. Who are The Sons of Abraham? They sing this song in Sabbath school called, "father Abraham." And I guess they have the kids sing it to work the ants out of their pants, 'cause it's a very interactive song. But it actually says, "father Abraham has many sons.

" Well, who are The Sons of Abraham? I am. That still doesn't make it clear, because I'm half Jewish. But you are also if you are a believer. Let me give you some more verses. Galatians 3:7, "therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

" It doesn't matter if you are a jew or a gentile. Only those who are sons of faith are sons of Abraham. That means there may be a lot of jews who are sons of Abraham, but they first must be sons of faith. And there may be gentiles who are sons of Abraham, but they must be sons of faith. Paul--this Scripture can't be any more clear.

And then you look in Galatians 3:29, "and if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." So when it said that through Isaac, this great nation would come. There's much more there than you think. It's not just through the dna of Isaac's blood that the nation of the faithful were to come. It is through the picture of Isaac, The Son, The Son of promise, the only begotten son being sacrificed. That is a spiritual picture.

He is The Father of the faithful. It is through Christ, The Son, the beloved son, the only begotten son you've got this nation of faithful. There's a spiritual analogy there. You get that? Through Isaac, this son of promise. Was Isaac a miracle birth? Sure he was.

Not so much because Abraham had lost his potency, 'cause he had more children later. But Sarah had passed the time. And it was a miracle. So Isaac was a miracle birth like Christ. He is a type of Jesus, right? And by the way, what does the word "Isaac" mean? Laughter, happiness, good news.

His very name meant good news, glad tidings, that makes you just rejoice. Isn't that what the angels said? So Isaac is a type of Christ. And so we are all, if you are children of faith, descendants of Isaac. Alright, read for me now Romans 2:29. "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.

" He says, "he is not a jew who is one outwardly," meaning there is some visible difference in the flesh. "But he is a jew who is one inwardly." It's something on the inside that we become children of faith. Alright, I was going to read for you Genesis 15:13-14, so here you get 13, 14, 15. Stay with me, this is very important. In this vision, God is telling Abraham that he's going to have his children in a foreign land, and they're going to be servants there.

And God says to Abraham, "know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will serve them, and they will afflict them 400 years. And also the nation whom they serve--" and we know this was Egypt-- "I will judge; afterward they will come out with great possessions." Now keep in mind, something had happened to Abraham. Abraham went to Egypt during a famine. He lied about who his wife was. The pharaoh didn't know.

He took Abraham's wife, Sarah, into his harem. Hadn't known her yet, but things weren't looking good. And all these plagues came on pharaoh's house. And finally pharaoh said, "ah, now I understand what the relationship is." And he sent Abraham and Sarah out and he gave them great possessions as they left. What happened to Abraham in this story happened to Abraham's descendants.

They went to Egypt because of a famine. The pharaoh didn't know what the relationship was to God, that they were the bride of God. Right? The church of God. Took them to be his own, great plagues came upon pharaoh. Finally he's forced to let them go, and he sends them out with great possessions.

What happened to Abraham, and what happened to Israel, literal Israel, happens to the church. Doesn't the devil take the bride of Christ, the church, and afflict them? Isn't this world a barren wilderness? Isn't there a famine for the Word of God in this land? And isn't Jesus going to come and take us out and we will leave with great possessions, have great riches and live in that great kingdom? So everything that happened to Abraham, literally it happened to Abraham, and it happened to the Israelites, ends up being an allegory of what happens to the church. And so in the same way that the jews were the literal descendents of Abraham that were introduce Christ to the world. The church then becomes spiritual Israel. Luke 13:28-29, it says, "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth," Jesus is speaking to the jews, "when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

And they will come from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, and sit down in the Kingdom of God." He says the Kingdom of God is not just going to be literal jews. Matthew 3:9, John the baptist even said this. "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." There's no dna in a stone. God is able to take the gentiles and make them children of Abraham. See what he's saying? And then Paul, and there's more in our lesson, so I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, Paul then also talks about how you take the graft of the gentiles, and they're grafted like an olive tree into the stock of Israel.

And so those that are Christ's, they are Abraham's seed because they are saved by faith. They recognize that they are justified by faith. Alright, under "law and faith," Romans 4:9, "does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also?" And the obvious answer to that is of course we just said it's not just outward, it's inward. By the way, the idea of spiritual circumcision first appears in the old testament or new testament? Old testament. Moses said, "circumcise therefore the foreskin of your hearts.

" So this idea that circumcision is just something outward, it really is talking about an inward concentration. It's an old testament concept. You know, one of my favorite loves is showing the Gospel in the old testament. It's all there. They understood it all the way back in Genesis, Exodus; they knew.

Peter, you remember what a struggle Peter had? I'm running out of time, but I got just a couple more thoughts. Acts 11, when Peter went to cornelius, and he preached the Gospel, they weren't supposed to do that, 'cause he was--cornelius was a roman. He was latin. He was of the italian band. And to go in the shadow of the house of these uncircumcised gentiles was forbidden.

And he ate with them. And Peter explaining this to the church, acts 11:2-3. "And Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision," the Jewish believers, "contended with him, saying, 'why you went in to uncircumcised men. You ate with them!'" Peter later explains it in acts 11:18, and then they said, "when they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, 'God has granted to the gentiles repentance to life.'" They finally realized, it finally began to dawn on them that it wasn't just for the jews, that through faith the gentiles could be declared spiritual jews. And so this was a big epiphany for them.

And then of course our last verse is Romans 3:20. I gave that to somebody. "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." It's like what James said, "whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues therein. Not being a forgetful man, but a doer. This man will be blessed.

" And he compares the law to a mirror. There is no redeeming value in the law; the law is a cold, dead letter, except that it helps us recognize our need of Christ. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." And so it's by faith in Christ that we are justified and declared righteous. And that's probably a good place for me to mention our free offer again today. We'll send to anybody that asks for it.

If you've not received this before, please call that toll-free number and ask for number 727, "assurance: justification made simple." We'll send that to you. Thank you, friends, for joining us for Sabbath school at central church. God willing, we'll study again together next week. And if you'd like to find out more about how you can submit a hymn, go to saccentral.org. God bless.

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