This is Darren Kuhn with the Masculine Journey Podcast, where we search the ancient paths to find ways that God brings light into a dark world and helps set men free from the struggles that we all face on a day-to-day basis. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it.
Share it. But most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network. Do you feel like you're on a religious treadmill? Do you feel like Christianity is just a system of rules and regulations?
I can do this, but I can't do that. Do you feel like your efforts to reach God, find God, and please God are futile? Do you feel like your faith is dead or alive? Looking at scripture will help us answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living.
For more information on the ministry, please visit online at findingpurpose.net or connect with us on Facebook. Let's listen to guest speaker, Pastor Kenny Jones, as he leads us through Romans, teaching us how to be a Christian without being religious. Well, tonight's message is entitled, How is a Man Saved?
Don't you all think that's a pretty important question? Charles Spurgeon once said, The whole Bible is about salvation by grace through faith, not by works. The whole Bible is about salvation by grace through faith and not by works. And tonight we're going to see this primarily in the life of Abraham. But before we get into Romans chapter 4, which is the chapter you had to read for tonight, I want you to take your Bible and turn with me to Genesis chapter 12, verses 1 through 3. Here in Genesis 12, we're going to see that God makes a major promise to Abram, who became Abraham, his name was changed later, but in the text, he's addressed as Abram.
So Genesis 12, look at verse 1. The Lord has said to Abram, Leave your country, your people, and your father's household, and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse.
And all people on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram left. Now what did Abraham do that revealed his heart towards God?
He left. He believed God's promise, and he got up and left his land and his family, and he went to the land that God was going to show him. And so what did we learn from his example?
Well, here's what we learned. Obedience is the real evidence of faith. Obedience is the real evidence of faith. Now take your Bible and turn over to, before you do that, I want you to turn to Genesis 15, but I want to say this one thing. This verse 3 in Genesis 12 where it says, All people on earth will be blessed through you, the Hebrew translation is very important, and we miss it in the English. God, verse 3 literally says, All people on earth will be blessed through your seed, through your seed.
And that noun, seed, is singular. And so God is promising Abraham that a descendant from his line will one day bless the entire world. And that person, that descendant, would be the seed of Abraham. So who is the seed of Abraham?
Jesus. All you have to do is read Matthew chapter 1 and you will see that Jesus' lineage is traced all the way back to Abraham. And don't lose sight of this incredible promise to Abraham that all the people of the earth would be blessed through this coming seed. Now Genesis 15, verses 1 through 6, I want to show you another major promise that God made to Abraham. Verse 1 begins like this, Abraham, after this the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your very great reward. But Abram said, O sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless?
So a servant in my house will be my heir. That's the way Abraham was thinking. But then the word of the Lord came to him, this man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. He took him outside and said, look up at the heavens and count the stars if indeed you can count them. Then he said to him, so shall your offspring be.
And then verse 6 is critical. Abraham believed the Lord and he credited it to him as what? Righteousness.
I want you to really understand what's being said here. At this time, Abraham and Sarah are in their 90s and so as far as childbearing was concerned, their bodies were physically dead, yet God promised Abraham that he would have countless offspring and Abraham believed this promise from God, therefore God declared him to be righteous. And man, this is the key to salvation, credited righteousness. Credited righteousness.
Just take that away in the back of your mind for a minute and we'll come back to it later. Now take your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 4. This is what you had to read this week and I hope you read it. In this chapter, and again using the life of Abraham, I want to answer the question that I posed at the very beginning, how is a man saved? And I want to share with you tonight two truths about salvation. And here's truth number one, a man is saved by faith, not by works. Look at verses 1 through 8. Now after hearing Paul explain to the Jews in Romans chapters 1 through 3, which I've all read, hopefully so far this year, Paul is explaining to the Jews that they could not depend upon circumcision or in their keeping of the law to become God's children. And so they must have been asking Paul, how can you say this when you consider our father Abraham?
Didn't he obey the law and wasn't he circumcised? And here's Paul's response. Look at verse 1. What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If in fact Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. What does the scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.
Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. And then he points to David, another one of their ancestors that they highly esteemed.
I'm talking about the Jews. And he said David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works. Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.
Don't y'all find that amazing? How does this impact your thinking? This should be the greatest news that you've ever heard and this gives me such great hope knowing that the God that I worship is a God of grace and mercy. And men, no matter what you've done, he stands ready to forgive you the moment that you repent and turn to Jesus by faith and that's all you have to do.
You know, Paul is going to show us in Romans 4 that Abraham's salvation came the same way it does for men today, by faith and not by works. So a question that comes to my mind is what is the problem with works or so-called good deeds? Well, the Bible says very clearly in Romans 3, there's no one righteous, not even one. There's no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless. There's no one who does good, not even one.
Isn't that very clear? No one is good in the sight of God until you're born again. You see, there are three problems with our so-called good deeds and if you ask most people, most people believe that they're, by what they say, that they're really working their way into heaven by trying to be a good person. But the Bible says that without faith, it's impossible to please God.
That's Hebrews 11.5. Non-believers who do a lot of philanthropic work may look good honorably and outwardly on the outside. However, because they don't do these deeds by faith and they really don't give God any consideration, their works do not please God in the least no matter how good they may appear to mankind. Because you can only please God if you're one of His children and you believe in Him.
That's the only way that you can please God. Secondly, another problem with our so-called good deeds is that we're all born with a sinful nature. Therefore, for our good deeds are often tainted by pride because if you think about it, most of us want to be recognized when we do something good, don't we?
That's because we have this problem with pride. Isaiah 64 says, all of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. That's what God says about our righteous, our so-called good deeds.
No one can do anything righteous. No one can perform a good deed until you've been born again and you belong to God. Third, if a man is relying on his good deeds to get him into heaven, what he's doing is he's making God a debtor. What he's implying by trusting in his good deeds is that God owes him eternal life. Look at all that I've done, Lord. This makes God a debtor.
Do you see that? And God is a debtor to no one. So how does a man receive eternal life and gain interest into heaven? Well, he must take God at His word and place his trust in Jesus. And the moment that God sees that you believe in Jesus, just like the thief on the cross, he credits you with righteousness.
But what does this mean? What does it mean to be credited with righteousness? By the way, this word credited is used nine times in chapter 4, so it must be very important. Credited is a banking term that simply means to put to one's account.
It's a credit. It's a credit that God gives as a gift to a man who takes him at His word. Do you take God at His word? Do you believe His word?
Or are you relying on your works? Abraham did not work for salvation. He simply believed God's promise that a savior would one day come from his lineage to do the work on his behalf. And Jesus was his promised seed, and He did the work for Abraham and all who believe, and therefore Abraham was credited with righteousness. Did you know that Abraham understood the gospel just like we do today? He didn't have the New Testament. We have more information than he does, but he understood the basics of the gospel.
Did you know that? We know this because of what Paul writes in Galatians 3. In verses 8 and 9, Paul writes, the Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and he announced the gospel in advance to Abraham. God, in essence, explained the gospel to Abraham, that all nations will be blessed through you. That's the gospel, that all nations will be blessed through this coming seed. So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Here's what happened. Abraham looked into the future toward this promised savior who was coming into the world from his lineage, and he simply believed God. He trusted in God's promise.
We look back to this same savior, and if we believe the promise of God, then just like Abraham, God declares us righteous in His sight. So what is the promise that we're to believe? Well, God makes a lot of promises in the New Testament. He makes a lot of promises throughout Scripture. But one key promise that God makes is John 3.16, which you should all know, for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have what? Eternal life. So do you believe John 3.16? Do you believe what it says?
Here's an important question. What does it really mean to believe? I think American Christianity doesn't really understand what the word belief means.
Churchgoers just don't seem to get it. To believe is not mental assent. In other words, mental assent is just knowing a fact to be true, and that's part of it, but that doesn't save you.
Mental assent must be accompanied by biblical faith. You must not only believe that, but you must believe in. And most of the time when the Bible is talking about faith, it's talking about believe in. It's not talking about believe that. Do you see the difference? The difference between believe in and believe that is the difference between heaven and hell. And I hate to say this, but most people in America don't get it.
They don't understand the difference. They think if they recite the Apostles' Creed, if they believe what the Apostles' Creed says factually, that that saves them. You can say the Apostles' Creed until you're blue in the face, and unless it's real faith within you that you're trusting in God and the Gospel, it does you no good. Biblical faith means that we place our full trust in Jesus. What does it mean to place your trust in something? Well, think about a hammock. You can walk by a hammock all day long and say, I believe in it, but how do you show you believe in it?
Yeah, you get in the hammock. So this is what it means to trust in Jesus. You put your all in, and you must believe in His work on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for your sins. Jesus was our substitute man.
I know you know that. He stood in our place. So let me ask you, have you truly believed? Do you believe in, or do you just believe that? Now what comes with this credited righteousness according to David, who also believed God's promise, and then David repented of his sin, and he trusted in this coming Savior. So what comes with credited righteousness? It's a very important word, forgiveness. Look at verse 7. David writes, blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Isn't that awesome, to know that God will cover all your deepest, darkest sins that you've ever committed, and He'll wipe the slate clean? What does it mean to be blessed? It means to be saved. It's a reference to salvation. David, Israel's greatest king, understood this. Blessed refers to salvation. Now if you're familiar with King David, you'll remember that he had a great fall.
You're familiar with that, I hope. He committed several egregious sins when he had an affair with his next door neighbor's wife named Bathsheba. Meanwhile her husband Uriah was off fighting, where David should have been. And then David later had Uriah put on the front lines and instructed the commander to pull all the troops back except for Uriah, and Uriah was killed. So what was David guilty of?
Murder and adultery. But you know the Bible says that David is a man after God's own heart. Didn't that give you hope, this hope for you and me? That if he can say that a murderer and an adulterer is a man after God's own heart, that he could do the same thing with you and me? What was it about God? What was it about David that God loved so much? He had a repentant heart. Right after he had this affair with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan comes in and confronts him with his sin, and David acknowledges sin, he didn't make up any excuses, and he repented.
And he turned back to God. In Psalm 51, David cries out to God. He wrote this psalm right after his affair. He cries out, and I love this psalm, it's one of my favorite ones in the Bible. David cries out, have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions, wash away all my iniquity, and cleanse me of my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. You do not delight in sacrifice, I would bring it, David writes. You do not take pleasure to burn offerings. The sacrifice of God, or a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Now I want to point this out to you, because this is really important. What does it mean when David writes, you do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it? You do not take pleasure to burn offerings. Did God ordain these sacrifices and burn offerings?
Why does he not take pleasure in them? Because most of the time people are just performing religious rituals, and they're not practiced with genuine faith. God does not take pleasure in our religious striving, and that's what so many people are doing today in America.
You may have heard this before, but just sitting in a church makes you no more of a Christian than sitting in a garage makes you a car. See what God desires to see in you and me is a heart of repentance, and a turning in our hearts to Jesus to be saved. Even God, who is rich in mercy, will forgive us of our sins, and guess what? He will remember them no more. Jeremiah 31, 34 declares this truth, for I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
How good is that? I'm so glad that God has forgiven me, because I had a lot to be forgiven of, and that He remembers my sins no more. Oswald Chambers said, the most marvelous ingredient in the forgiveness of God is that He also forgets, the thing a human being can never do. Forgetting with God is a divine attribute. God's forgiveness forgets.
Did you hear that? God's forgiveness forgets. I don't know about you, but that gives me great comfort. So we see in truth number one that we're saved by faith, not by works. Here's truth number two, a man is justified by grace, not by the law.
Now I want you to look with me at Romans chapter 4, focus on verses 9 through 17. Paul writes in verse 9, is this blessedness only for the circumcised or also for the uncircumcised? We've been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness.
To what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised or before? It was not after but before, and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith, while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, that's pointing to who? Gentiles, in order that righteousness might be credited to them, I'm sure this shocked the Jews.
He's also the father of the circumcised, that would be the Jews, who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. And then he writes, it was not through law that Abraham is offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless because law brings what?
Wrath. And where there's no law, there's no transgression. Therefore the promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace, did you hear that? By grace and it may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring, which includes you and me. Not only to those who are of the law, the Jews, but also to those who are the faith of Abraham, the Gentiles. He's the father of us all. As it is written, I've made you a father of many nations. He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed. And I love this, the God who gives life to the dead and costs things that are not as though they were.
You know, there's a lot in there. We could do four lectures on those verses, but let me just point out some critical things in this section. Number one, this blessedness of forgiveness was and still is available to both Jew and Gentile today. The gospel is available to everyone, Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, Hindus.
All you have to do is repent and believe God's Word. That's the one way that God has provided. Secondly, this circumcision was simply to serve as a sign that was given to Abraham to identify him or to mark him as a man who had been credited with righteousness because of his faith, not because of his works.
But see, here's the problem. The Jews of Jesus' day and many Jews today pride themselves in both circumcision and in keeping the law. They believe that their circumcision and their obedience to the law marks them as the chosen people, the true children of God.
Let me ask you a question. Are not many Gentiles guilty of the same thing? Don't many people look to their baptism and their good deeds and then say, I'm a Christian? The truth of the matter is that circumcision and baptism count for nothing if there's not a changed heart, if there's no genuine faith.
This is what Paul says in Romans 2, 28 and 29, which you've already covered. A man is not a Jew, that is really, he's talking about a child of God, if he's the only one outwardly. Nor is circumcision really outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew, belongs to God, if he is one inwardly and circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit, not by the written code.
You follow that? It's all about what takes place on the inside. Both circumcision and baptism were ordained by God to simply serve as a sign that a man's heart has been changed by the Spirit. And if the heart has not been changed, then these signs count for nothing. Man's salvation is a matter of the heart. God looks at our heart to see if we truly believe in Him. That's what Jesus did with the thief on the cross. The thief on the cross didn't say the sinner's prayer, did he? He didn't say much. He just said, will you remember me when you come into your kingdom? But Jesus looked into his heart and saw that he really trusted in him.
And what did he say? Exactly, today you will be within paradise. When God sees that you have real faith in His Word, He will declare you righteous. And this is what it means to be justified.
This is another one of those important words. To be declared righteous, that's what it means to be justified. When a man believes, it's a declaration that God makes in the courtroom of heaven that will stand forever. It's a declaration that He makes over you. The moment he sees belief, he says, I declare you righteous. And man, this is great here. It comes with his guarantee, a guarantee from God.
Does it get any better than that? Who's the guarantee? The Holy Spirit who marks and seals a man as a true believer. If somebody ever asked me, kind of, what are the ABCs of becoming a Christian or being saved? I always think of Ephesians 1, 13 and 14, which declares this truth, and you also were included in Christ. When you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, having believed you are mocked in Him with a seal, who is that seal?
The promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit in you, guaranteeing our inheritance. Do you believe this? Do you take God at His Word? Do you believe every word in the Bible, or do you believe the lies that have been put forth in many religious institutions in our college system, that the Bible is full of errors? Don't believe a word of it. Do you know for certain that you have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit?
This is really the key. Do you know for certain that the Holy Spirit resides within you? So how can you know it? How can you know if the Holy Spirit's in you? Well, first, the Holy Spirit will testify in your spirit that you belong to God. Romans 8, 16 says, the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we're God's children. So let me ask you, have you sensed the Holy Spirit in you, testifying with your spirit, that still small voice saying, you belong to me? You are one of my children.
Have you heard that voice? Secondly, the Holy Spirit will gradually change your life. You begin to recognize the sin in your life. You begin to understand what sin does and how it keeps you apart from God. Your desires will begin to change. Your actions will begin to change, and you will have to desire more and more to obey God, and you will actually begin to obey Him more and more as you see your heart changed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. In other words, you will become a new creation.
The old has gone, the new has come. That means you're truly born again. Had you been born again? It was, and we never hear that in church much, that you must be born again. That's what Nicodemus, that's what Jesus said to Nicodemus, who was the most religious man on the face of the planet at the time.
He told Nicodemus, Nicodemus, you're missing one thing. You must be born again. Second Corinthians 5, 17 says, therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. Now back to Romans 4.
Let me ask you another question. What is the problem with the law? And what is meant by the law? Well just think of the Ten Commandments. Ten Commandments.
And if you look at the Ten Commandments personally as if you're looking into a mirror, what should you see? Being a Christian is not about being religious, but about having a dynamic, alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at findingpurpose.net or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at findingpurpose.net. This is the Truth Network.
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