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February 19, 2018 9:51 am
Well if you're visiting. Let me tell you were going systematically through the book of Romans, and this morning we come to Romans chapter 4 and were going to look at verses nine through 17 enough call this message. Justification apart from works. We been learning which was losers great tax that the just shall live by faith and thinking of this great truth that we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone and all of God's grace mask. It was great. We begin this morning.
What makes you feel close to God as some church buildings have many symbols statutes alter stained-glass clergy with special ecclesiastical cause, and so on and the incense surrounding some people say that they feel feel very close to God and we ask ourselves whether by these religious ceremonies. What about all the symbolism and ritualism. At what place in particular the sacraments on the ordinances and religious ceremonies have in the Christian faith and in particular, these religious ceremonies.
These rituals, they sacraments these ordinances are they necessary for our salvation, are they essential for our salvation and is our studying Romans helpless, as indeed it does all his eyesight has been writing on this central theme of justification by faith. He has been explaining the meaning of justification by faith in giving us the very basis of it and I will in chapter 4 as we saw last week.
As we look to the first aid verses of Romans eight Paul gives us to subpart B examples of men who are justified not by their words but by faith. And he takes Abraham the greatest of the patriarchs very father of the nation of Israel, and he demonstrates the Abraham was justified by faith. And then he takes David and David, Israel's greatest king, a brilliant man, a man after God's own heart with a man who also failed and he deals with David and also establishes that David was justified by faith. Both of them being declared righteous, not by working for their salvation but by believing not true that achievements but rather through the faith in God and it appears that some of Paul's readers, as Paul anticipates certain objections, particularly from his Jewish leaders may still and wondered about circumcision and the law. Surely God's grace.
Surely God's righteousness come to us through circumcision and the law, there must be a place for these is the argument in our salvation, and so another passage, Paul is going to deal head-on as he does with this important issue and is going to make it clear that this blessing of salvation this justification by faith.
This forgiveness of sins is available not just for the Jews what is available for everyone. You have your Bible turn with me to Romans four and I want to read the last two verses over message last week. Romans four verses seven and eight, and that your tightening their let me ask you is there any greater blessing generally does not, is there any greater blessing than having your sins forgiven. Can you think of anything better than being a natural relationship with God so that you are able, through the grace of God to know that if you're to stand before God as all of us will that you have been justified that you have been declared righteous was in the Paul as he quotes the Old Testament in verses seven and eight Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven.
One of one of the wonderful words of the Christian gospel is forgiven. Our society is riddled with guilt with people who are ashamed with people have messed up in here and the wonder of God's salvation that is promised forgiveness. Blessed are those whose lawless deeds like David's like cures like mine are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. This yes would lawless yeses.
Paul would broken the law. But think of David, a man who had many many sins on the debit side, but in the grace of God and in the mercy of God.
God does not count into these sins against David within the grace of God than the compassion of God and through David crying out to God for mercy and compassion is sins are covered in tears forgiven the experience that you ready to meet God literally gone.
As we look first of all, it verses nine through 12 and Paul is going to establish that this justification by faith. This is a central motion message this justification by faith is apart from religious rituals is apart from religious ceremonies. Verse nine is this blessing was a blessing the blessing of sins forgiven the blessing of not having your sins come to the against your is this blessing than only for the circumcised, the Jewish people but also for the uncircumcised. We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness then wasn't credited to him was a before and after he'd been circumcised, was not after, but before he was circumcised.
Verse 11, he received the sign of the circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.
The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised so that righteousness would be counted to them as well and to make him the father of the circumcised were not merely circumcised but who also walked in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised upon you to make an argument. He's saying I can think of a brother principle that religious rituals religious sentiment is do not save us, saying that God in his grace justifies the ungodly member that astonishing statement in verse five that God justifies not a good person. Another moral person.
The church person but God justifies the wicked, the ungodly month here in verse seven is the question what would my circumcision. Paul isn't circumcision key to having a right relationship with God. After all, it was God in the first place. Who thought of this idea of circumcision. He gave this ritual of circumcision to Abraham and Israel was commanded by God to circumcised baby boys when there were eight years old.
Surely Paul when you're dealing with a right relationship with God you can't be sweeping aside circumcision. It was a very signing of the Abraham a covenant. The sign that God was calling a special people to himself. Special relationship with God and the sign of that was circumcision so you're pushing her aside now. No disciple deals with it in verse 10, when did God declare Abraham was righteous. Paul is already established, as is quoted from Genesis 15 verse six is already established that God declared Abraham righteous. Verse three what does the Scripture say Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness is already established that. Now here's the question. Did God declare Abraham righteous before or after he was circumcised or there's no question that, if you know your Bible Abraham was declared righteous by God long before he was circumcised. Circumcision was introduced in Genesis 17 that is after Genesis 15 when Abraham was declared righteous and is about 14 years between Genesis 15 and Genesis 17. So there's no diet. As Paul says in verse 11 is no doubt that Abraham was declared righteous while he was still uncircumcised. Verse 11 but perhaps someone would say what what about circumcision now member in the New Testament was a big debate about their civic council in Jerusalem as someone converted Jews said all right to believe in Jesus and you must believe in Jesus, but in order to be truly saved. You also had to be circumcised. Luke writes in acts 15 verse one when some men came down from Judea and were teaching of the brothers unless your circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved. Verse five. They said it is necessary to circumcised them. The Gentiles and to order them to keep the law of Moses. All right, so your follower of Jesus, but in order to be truly saved.
You've got to be circumcised and you've got to follow the law of Moses and then there's the debate you can read about the details and accepted 50 and Peter who had seen the grace of God, the Gentile Cornelius remember next turn in acts 11, Peter makes it very clear in verse 11 that both Jew and Gentile are going to be saved exactly the same way that is saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus, I wonderful not one way of salvation for the Junior is another way of salvation for the Gentile. No and Paul addresses this very question at length in the book of Galatians and categorically assert that it is not necessary to be circumcised in order to be saved. Abraham was circumcised many years after he was declared righteous by faith. First, he was justified by God and then he was circumcised, so you can say that circumcision is necessary for salvation notes clear that neither circumcision nor on circumcision determines anyone's relationship with God. Religious ceremonies religious rituals whether there in the Old Testament of the New Testament do not say why do I emphasize that some of you are saying. That's pretty obvious. John may be obvious to you but is sadly not obvious to everyone because I regularly speak to people about spiritual things, and how it is with her soul and asked them where they are in their spiritual journey, and quite frequently, one of the first things they say it is past that I'm all right because I was baptized. Your baptized. I want to say we not say quite as bluntly.
So what you rebaptize is wonderful but do you think that your baptism do you think that taking communion do you think that being a member of a church that that get you into the kingdom of God. Do you think that this righteousness of God is imparted to you through some sacrament through some religious ritual is the catechism of the Catholic Church to go right from the catechism number 1213. Hearing this, you ask yourself, do you agree with this or not, could you question the catechism of the Catholic Church. Some of your saying well here it is. We believe there's only one in their Scripture, and that is the holy Scriptures, but here is the catechism of the Catholic Church. Holy baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the spirit and the daughter which gives access to the other sacraments. Through baptism notices carefully. We are freed from sin and rebar in the sons of God, we come members of Christ are incorporated into the church and made sharers in admission sacrament. Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the work that you believe that the sacramental is him is the belief that the sacraments, such as infant baptism. In the end of themselves conveying the grace of salvation and accomplish the individual salvation with timely mediation of faith obviously little baby that you baptize can't believe in Jesus Christ. But the belief is that the actual sacrament as administered by the priest conveys the grace of God to that individual.
So the Roman Catholic belief is that baptism conveyor confirms the grace of justification that will Paul is writing in Romans.
What's he saying about circumcision. What Paul is saying about these religious ceremonies. They are signs and seals mothers verse 11 Abraham received the sign of circumcision.
Notice the word sign as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith Noah circumcision didn't save him.
Did that mean that circumcision was unimportant. No, the circumcision was a sign. It was a seal.
Most of you know that I married, and that because I married, I will arrange in the field violence where good news from there wear it on the right hand, but as a Scotsman in American we went on the left-hand and when I got married when the federal violence with a dinner ceremony with Danish friends here today. Let's welcome them sometime. There's not sure what exactly I agree to, but there it was what I was from that day I have Warren arriving it as a sign of my marriage.
It is a symbol of my marriage is in the marriage. No, I take the ring off.
I'm still married. If I never watering. I would still be married, but I wear it it tells you, and it reminds me of a certain commitment I made to a certain young woman many years ago. It's a symbol it's a sign of my love and commitment to good night so circumcision was a sign in the seal of the Abraham a covenant between God and his people.
Circumcision pointed to their faith in God, it pointed to saving righteousness in God. But it was a sign you're somewhat in South Carolina and you get lost and you see a sign pointing to Charlotte this sign is not Charlotte you know make a big deal about the sign you're thankful for the sign but the sign points to the reality each covenant in Scripture has a sign sign of the covenant between with nor was a rainbow. The sign of Abraham a covenant with circumcision. The sign of the Mosaic covenant with the keeping of the Sabbath, the sign of the Lord's sign of the Lord's supper of the nuclear pictures with the sign of the new covenant is the Lord's supper as we break bread as we poured wine but my point is this. The reality is greater than the sign I was a young woman gets married or gets engaged. She's very proud of the ring and holds her hand in a certain way so we all can admire the ring and this wonderful Deluca the ring but the ring is a pointer to something much more important and would all be concerned if that young woman a month later, a year later, 10 years later was more concerned with the ring than with the reality of her love and her commitment to her husband know the sign points to that which is greater now in the New Testament we have two ordinances. We preferred that word rather than sacrament, but with two ordinances baptism and the Lord's supper is very important. Yes, that important.
Their commands of God and can I say, incidentally, it concerns me greatly that some of you who are professors of faith in Jesus Christ have never been baptized is of I don't need to be baptized in order to, the people would know on the Christian people know that I'm a Christian. Well don't be wiser than God will be surprised when would you Baptized. John says his commandments are not grievous or some of you when it comes to the Lord's supper this thing.
Well, we can, not come it's commands very important commands, but these commands of baptism and the Lord's supper are not essential for our salvation, and in fact you can get baptized with was a baby with her as an adult you can take communion and still not be justified by faith. If you are trusting the garden to have heaven because of your baptism, or because of communion or because of a church membership. I have to say to you that Paul is saying over and over again. Look back to chapter 3 verse 24. For example, he saying where saved through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. These ordinances point to Christ. They point to the cross. I trust is not in my baptism although unbaptized my trust is not in my taking of the communion. Although I take communion regularly. My trust is in Christ and in Christ alone. We ordinances as a where the shadows are the signs pointing to the substance. They are not a condition of salvation, but floor from June saving faith very chill the siding will not save us, were saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. So I say to you, my dear friends, I trust you not trusting in your baptism to get you into heaven this evening with the privilege of baptizing some of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but that baptism doesn't save them the waters of baptism don't wash away our sin, they don't cleanse our hearts that they symbolize the washing away of our sin. They symbolize the baptism of the Spirit where you can go through the ritual and missed the whole reality of personal faith in Christ. So what am I saying first, the reality, and then the site first. The reality, and then the sign and never confuse the reality with the sign knows is what Paul is saying here in verse 12, see the central issue is not whether you being circumcised or no, the central issue is not whether you been baptized or not. Central issue is this. Are you walking in the footsteps of faith is not what Paul says here the end of verse 12, who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before. He was certain size religious ceremonies are not the issue. It's faith in Jesus is faith in Christ and those who receive the grace of God as a gift of God were justified by faith. Now this is the way we live. Paul presents this beautiful picture of Abraham going ahead in these leftist footsteps and I'm to follow him. I'm following in the footsteps of Abraham, the man of faith. This is the way I'm Philip this is the way that you are to live, being justified by faith, but also living by faith.
Now in verses 13 through 17 we see that justification by faith alone is apart from legal observance verses 13 through 17.
Let me read first of all verses 13 through 15 were Paul makes it clear that Abraham's righteousness was independent of the law. It's independent of circumcision, and is also independent of the law are trying to follow this as I read verse 13 for the promise to Abraham and to his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For it is the adherence of the law who are to be the air, but if it is to be set again, this 40 foot if it is the adherence of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is no and the promise is void for the law brings raw, but where there is no law there is no transgression. So the argument is all right Paul you, you're saying that circumcision didn't determine Abraham's relationship with God. But what about the law, perhaps keeping the law justified Abraham,Paul, you're still wrong. God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 15 verse five and six was 413 years before Moses received the law in Mount Sinai. Abraham did not receive God's promise of an air by obeying the law by fulfilling any requirements. Verse three warrants through the righteousness of faith. In fact, this was argument.
If you're saying that adherence to the law was necessary for Abraham then is faith is no verse 14 foot if it is the adherence of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. Faith has no value and that the promise is worthless know God's promise is the keyword God's promise to Abraham was not based on his obedience to the law if it hadn't been, it would fail as the law demands obedience. If you want to go the way to the of the law.
If you want to think that you can get into heaven by obeying the law, remember this, the law requires perfection. You have to obey the law. 100% 100% of every situation. No salvation is received by faith apart from the law law and promise are opposites and find verse 15. The law brings raw law by itself brings condemnation and wrath not because there's anything inherently wrong with the law. The law is good comes from God. The problem is us always establish this all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. But all of us are under the wrath of God because about ungodliness and unrighteousness.
Romans one verse 18. So if you want to go the way of the Lord. Remember this, you're going to experience condemnation and the rise of God. Obedience to the law trusting in these rituals, such as circumcision, do not bring salvation. I've spoken to people that some of you have two people who are trusting in the goodness trusting in the law, trusting in the church to get them themselves in the heaven, nor the fines sometimes there's tremendous pride.
Let me tell you all that I have done.
Let me tell you about my church, let me tell you about my Christian heritage.
Let me take you back and tell me about your father and your grandfather and your great-grandfather in this wonderful Christian heritage you have, let me tell you all that I do to promote great probably tend to Paul he said with a comes to salvation posting is totally excluded. We saw that a couple of weeks ago within the room and sleep, but more commonly you probe a little deeper to someone who is trusting in the church, trusting in themselves, trusting in the baptism was great and there's great frustration by because none of us are perfect and the most conscientious of people the most spiritual of people. The kindest of people the most honest of people are not always kind are not always honest and so when they compare the standard of God's then look at little in life. This doesn't and frustration.
How good do I have to be many good deeds have I to do many prayers of I got to say how much time do I need to spend in my Bible how much money do I have to give in order to be declared righteous by God. This is what Paul is saying in verse 15.
The law brings wrath, instead of achieving salvation.
If you go the way of the law you want to achieve salvation you will achieve God's wrath.
So don't confuse law and promise. We are opposites law points to works law makes the man's law requires obedience.
This is what you must do do this and God will accept that's law promise is the opposite of promise points to a gift. A promise is to be received. A promise is to be believed, and this is the gospel. This is the great truth that Martin Luther 500 years ago after this tremendous struggle which spread like wildfire throughout the world that we are justified not by achieving certain things but rather believing God in Jesus Christ has done what we could never do as we saw last week on this and was body he takes our guilt and our sin and our transgressions and offers you and me. Salvation is a wonderful gift to be humbly received by faith and the promise to Abraham was fulfilled by faith based on the grace of God. Verse 16 and 17. This is why as we conclude this morning. This is why it depends on faith, get depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace, not works, not circumcision, not the law, but that our salvation would rest on grace. Grace is the foundation of it and be guaranteed to all his offspring, not only to the adherence of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who was the father of us all as it is written. I've made you the father of many nations in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist in the case. But if you trusting in your religious rituals, trusting in your goodness. Trusting in what you do that you will never have the assurance of salvation.
Your mother have a guarantee that when you stand before God. You will be accepted into heaven. You will just hope for the best.
People say to me and say to many of you I'm sure when talking about the spiritual life as they describe it, and then the kind of stop and say I'm trying to do better than trying to do better.
That's the answer I give my dentist when she asks about my flossing of my teeth. I learned a long time ago. What do you do to the hygienist.
The dentist from the look in your mouth, and they realize that your flossing habits are not the best coming as a pastor I can't lie, and so I learned to say she begins a little lecture and I feel impact Primary school with Miss McDonald telling them wrong, I say to isolate them. I'm trying to do better is the perfect answer to give to your dentist about brushing your teeth and flossing her teeth. I'm trying to do better is not been worked with God is trying to do by the sincerity of course is all important. We must be sincere, but trying to do by others accountable answer is in the when asking about salvation because it means you don't understand the very basis of your salvation. It's all of grace. For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of your own doing is not the result of words that anyone should boast. Ephesians 289 no. If we understand that our salvation is all of grace is based on the promise of God, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be say. That's the promise guaranteed by the word of God. My dear friend today.
If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You shall be saved and one should believe you have that guaranteed by God himself that you are saved, not by what you do but entirely by the grace of God so we can sing blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Jesus is mine and wonder of the gospel is policy here in verse 16. This was not just to have Abraham, was a remarkable man an incredible man, one of the greatest man in history were just ordinary human beings, but says Paul is not just to Abraham but to the one who shares the faith of Abraham. Jew and Gentile.
This is it, Paul says if the power of the gospel that is not ashamed of because he knows that the gospel is the power of God to everyone who believes little boy sitting there seven years old you look to Christ come from your sin and cry out to Christ as Savior. 90-year-old senior sitting there today. If you cry out to Christ who Savior, whoever you are, whatever your nationality. Whatever your background, however deep your sin however proud you are out of your ecclesiastical heritage, whoever you are to trust Christ will be saved. This is all free sheer grace is why Luther called this the purest of gospels of knowing Christ.
Notice what Paul says here the end of verse 17.
Who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. You know, we have nothing to offer a will is good as dead when it comes to our salvation, but this is why we need a new birth being born again by the spirit of God that God gives his life in our soul. God does the impossible within the wonder of the gospel. We, who were dead in their trespasses and sins were met with the Christ gives us his very spirit as our sins are forgiven and we have new life in Christ.
Don't go the tragic way of trusting in religious ceremonies don't trust in the symbol trust Christ and trust him with all of your heart and to those of us who are saved by God's grace I ask you, are you walking in the footsteps of the faith of Abraham. Some of us have been privileged to have man and woman ahead of us who provide a wonderful example of faith perhaps apparent a friend the pastor the mission right dear colleague someone that we saw who not only said they believed but truly lived for Christ to follow in their steps that day by day in this crazy world. This crazy society that we live in here in the United States that we would be people of faith people looking to God. People displaying and proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ today trust Christ in every day of your life. Walk in the footsteps of faith. Father, help us to do that if we thank you that you call into existence the things that don't exist, but you can do the impossible is you do through the wonder of Christ's death and his glorious resurrection that you give life to the dead and may some even know be passing from death into spiritual life that is our prayer in Christ name