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March 15, 2021 12:00 am
Frankly don't know how much God told Abraham about the coming Messiah.
But we do know that God announced the gospel to Abraham. Listen to this verse in Galatians 3 rather interesting revelation. Paul writes the Scripture for seeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, reached gospel before hand to Abraham. So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham the believer. Can you imagine that God is the preacher using the Old Testament Scripture reveals to Abraham was an active song with a lot of motions. I think my teachers wanted us to sing it primarily to help me and my classmates get rid of some of our energy. However, there is an important truth in that song Abraham is the father of our faith, as Stephen mentioned a moment ago God preached the gospel to Abraham, but fast forward to now. How is what we experience different from what Abraham experienced. For example, when God initiated his covenant with Abraham, it was accompanied by a sign. God commanded that, among all his people all of the males were to be circumcised.
It was a sign it was evidence that they were in a covenant relationship with God.
How does that relate to us are Christian males required to be circumcised and if not, has God given a new sign to his people to indicate that they are in a covenant relationship with him, and if so what is that sign all of this is our theme today here on wisdom for the hearts with Stephen Davey Stevens working through a series called father Abraham. Today's lesson is called the sign and seal of faith. What will learn today is that there is a sign, but it's not something physical in our bodies. It's spiritual stay with us today as Stephen explains this and more from God's will would you take your Bibles and turn to Romans chapter 4, Romans four, we have seen, Paul is attempting to illustrate that justification is not earned and deserved to result not of a perfect life of obedience.
But the work of God in the life of the center comes by faith alone to Christ. Paul has illustrated this by using two very prominent men and Jewish history. Abraham the greatest patriarch and David the greatest monarch, and he has shown us. We have taken time to go back into the Old Testament and rediscover the lives of these men and have discovered sin.
Abraham who lied on two occasions, putting his life at risk disobey God's instruction when God told him to leave his family and his landing took along his idolatrous father and his nephew, they would cause great division and delay in his obedience when the famine came early on in his departure, he instead of trusting in God trusted in Pharaoh and went and lived in Egypt certainly was. Amanda did not deserve have any was a sinful man, David. We have also rediscovered was guilty of adultery and murder and lying hypocrisy. Paul is simply attempting to prove by way of illustration that these two men do not deserve heaven. Something must happen to them as an act of God's justifying grace whereby they would be capable of entering the gate of that wonderful city. Now Paul is anticipating the response of his Jewish audience who would naturally at this point say okay Paul you've proven that our great Abraham and our great David aren't good enough to get into heaven.
However, we can fall back on this fact.
They have both been marked by the covenant sign. Don't forget Paul Abraham was circumcised and Paul will respond to that. Then, in this next portion of the text in Romans chapter 4 verse nine is this blessing, then upon the circumcised. This blessing of justification, or upon the uncircumcised also for we say faith was imputed reckoned to the account of Abraham as righteousness.
How then was it reckoned while he was circumcised or uncircumcised. Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised, and he received the sign of circumcision seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised. Righteousness might be also imputed or reckoned to them.
So what Paul does. First of all, is simply reminded you of the timeline of history go back to see what the Scriptures say 20 encourage them to do at the beginning of this chapter, go back and look at what the Bible says about his circumcision and its relationship to his justification, the declaration that he was righteous before God will go back to the text to go back to the book of Genesis, you discover that he was circumcised as a 99-year-old man God giving the mark of that future Jewish people to Abraham.
First of all, but if you go a few chapters earlier, you discover in chapter 15 verse six Abram believed in the Lord and God reckoned it to him as righteousness. The same thing.
We just read in Romans chapter 4 verse nine through 12. So in other words, what Paul is reminding the Jewish people is that Abraham was justified when he was 85 years old circumcised when he was 99 years old, which means he was considered righteous before God, justified, say 14 years before he was circumcised. All of the Jewish rabbis and readers would scurry back to the Torah that check out the timeline again and they would come up with all goodness. Paul is right again wrong. So verse 11 tells us that Abram received the sign of circumcision, the seal of righteousness that he had while he was on circumcised. In other words, circumcision didn't give Abraham righteousness before God. Circumcision was simply the sign in the seal that he was in fact considered righteous already. Another problem is, of course, by the time the apostle Paul, the Jewish nation had forgotten the purpose of the sign. The authority and the meaning behind the seal they had simply fallen in love with a sign. The rabbis taught circumcision say from how in the mid-ration Jewish commentaries recorded quote God swore no Abraham but no one was circumcised. Whatever be sent to hell. In fact, it was further developed the just in case somebody slipped through the cracks in the Jewish or circumcised believer was headed for hell, even though he was circumcised. Another Jewish commentary taught quote Abraham since before the gates of hell and does not allow that any circumcised Israelites should enter their support.
Abraham is confined to sit in the ghetto how to make sure none of his descendents go and imagine. I kind of existence are the great patriarch one auditing enjoying the greater part of paradise confined to sit at the gateway of hell to make sure no Jew gets an accidental. What I do that was so despicable and sinful literally so he has to go to hell.
What about that one is also been circumcised, but despicably sinful little rabbis took care of that little problem by teaching the Jew was so bad he just had to be condemned by God that there was an angel whose job it was to make these men uncircumcised again before they went out there was so much confusion about this issue that in the early church in Jerusalem by the timing and acceptor 15.
The church is divided in their factious and their disagreeing there wondering do we make Gentiles to come to faith in Christ circumcised. We make them Jews in order fulfill all renovations of what salvation needed course the answer was no.
You make them Jews you receive them because the mark is the mark of face so circumcision here.
According to Paul was just a sign and seal.
Let me give you a couple of thoughts along that line was assigned circumcision was first of all assigned that the Jew was a distinct race of people, Jew is simply a derivative of the word Jew. That night, transliterated to refer to these people who are marked in this way assigned. Secondly, that the Jew had a covenant with God wonderful truth. Their third assignment, the Jews were separate from all other nations under God listens sign is in itself with God intended to be, it points to something deeper.
It points to something wonderful is the sign that we focus on its what the sign points to.
That's the critical if you've ever traveled across country may be a bit of the car to get kids into the backseat asking when we get to be there with area. With area driven nearly the point of insanity, but finally see the first sign with the word Raleigh on Raleigh 135 miles and you begin to rejoice. You don't pull your car over get out Glover. The sign say were how will know you did reach that point of insanity and you need help keep you keep driving you keep moving. The question for Paul in Romans four, nine is not was circumcision important for Abraham. The question was did circumcision save Abraham. What was it a sign to say was a sign that said Abraham belongs the word of God.
Let me try to clear up this way I I wear a sign on my hand.
It's a wedding ring and I've been married for 21 years and and it's been assigned wherever I go, whether it somewhere here in the area or I get on the plane to go to some of the state or some of the country where this and this tells people that married now if I took this ring off if I could take this ring off. It wouldn't mean that I'm suddenly unmarried simply points to something deeper. I am not married because I am wearing a wedding ring. I wear a wedding ring because I am married. Truth is, I can wear a wedding ring and not be married. I can be a single felon does not want to have any trouble, and sought but the song when I travel around some using it as to think about that. Not a bad idea. No, I wear it as a symbol that there is in fact something deeper and there is a reality but I haven't fallen in love with a Sino I love my ring, I'm in love American 11/21 years now and I asked her to marry me know.
Again, I need help from St. notes a symbol it's a sign likewise with or without circumcision. A person can be a true believer in God through Jesus Christ. Paul also said verse 11. The circumcision was a seal. What is the mean seal in biblical times was that melted wax placed on the document number.
Even the tomb of Christ was seal those cords run across that stone and that wax therein into that wax placed imprinted, pressed the seal of of authority representing the Roman government. I recently got a passport for my youngest that you solved your decision travel with me as I try to take all my kids overseas should be going with me to the island of Malta as a minister to missionaries from Eastern Europe and the Middle East in a few weeks, so we had to go through the process of getting her passport. It arrived this past week in the mail and there was great excitement there stamped on top of her photograph was the seal of the United States of America behind that is the authority of this great country. It communicates a message that she is a citizen recognized by the authority of the United States and the United States of America stands behind her as she travels abroad, just as Abraham was given a physical seal communicating the fact that he was a citizen of the Jewish nation covenanted people to God. So, by the way, we have also been given a seal of our faith know what it is.
It is in the physical mark is in anything you do to your body or with your body.
By no means is the ever be equated with baptism.
That is something you do, which is nowhere in the New Testament equated with circumcision that would become a works part of salvation, though ours is in the physical mark is a person who indwells us. The third person of the triune God.
We refer to as the Holy Spirit of God.
He is our seal and behind him as all of the authority of habit that declares you are a citizen of habit. Listen as Paul writes in second Corinthians. Now he who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God who also sealed us, giving us the Spirit in our hearts is a play in Ephesians 1. In him you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation having also believed, you were sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who was given as a pledge of our inheritance that is a down payment with a view to the redemption of God's own possession to the praise of his glory and the old covenant. The seal was temporary and the new covenant, the seal is permanent in the old covenant.
The seal was physical and the new covenant, the seal is spiritual. And here is the stunning application to this paragraph as the Jewish reader read it. Paul is basically saying Abraham is not the father just been circumcised, in fact circumcised or uncircumcised. He is the father of those who have also placed their faith in the words of a coming Redeemer or in our case, one who is already come. Here's the shocking truth that frankly for us in the 21st century we we miss it really didn't mean as much to us, but here's what he's telling them we know it to be true, but it was it was shocking that then he was saying this, a Gentile does not get into heaven by becoming a Jew, a Jew gets into heaven by becoming a Gentile, just like that old Gentile Abraham. He was a Gentile to God intersected his life with Revelation and in 14 years after his conversion of faith to God gave him the mark he is the father than of both Gentile and Jew. What is what is it mean when when Paul calls the father of those of face. Well we call William Carey, the father of modern missions. Why was the first among others, to leave and go to a foreign land. We can refer to Martin Luther as the father of the Reformation. Why because he was the figurehead of the protesting church risked his life and following the Scriptures alone.
In this way, Abraham is the father faith. He was the first one who would become a nation of followers, and he also blazed this trail of faith, so to speak, risking his own life out of obedience to the words of God. So Paul uses this wonderful phrase to illustrate now for both Gentile and you. In verse 12.
The middle part of those who follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham. How do we emulate our father Abraham. In this way for them to give you a couple of reasons or ways. Number one Abraham believed in God's word without ever experiencing the fullness of his promise that even though Abraham would see his son born miraculously, he and Sarah were decades beyond conception and childbearing age is yet that promise did come true. But think about the promise of the land go back to Genesis and the early part and there's always the land.
The amazing thing about Abraham as he never owned any of the land except for that one parcel of land that had in it or on it. The cave of math bailout in which he buried his beloved Sarah solely spent his life walking through the promised land wandering through the promised land is a nomad, but he never possessed it. In fact, it would be over 500 years after Abraham that his descendents would possess a what he believed in the promise without ever having the full benefit of the promise given to him. He was 1110 tells us that Abraham was looking forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God doing Abraham was looking forward to the future kingdom of God. Do you know what you're looking forward to the future kingdom of God. Have you realize that yet. Have you seen the full benefit of it yet and you know one of the greatest challenges to us as we walk this path of faith is the challenge that Abraham so well emulated for us to believe God's word without experience without experiencing the fullness of his promise is that a challenge for you to read the Bible to read the promise and to know to say that it happening in my life right now. I may never see that particular thing happened. And yet, by faith, believe the words of God. Secondly, Abram only believe in God's word without ever experiencing the full expression of his promises. Secondly, he believed in Jesus Christ without ever seeing him face-to-face is a lot more like you than we thought, even while Abram knew a lot less about Jesus Christ and those of us who have the New Testament all the details of his birth and his life and his death and his burial of his resurrection, we frankly don't know how much God told Abraham about the coming Messiah.
But we do know that God announced the gospel, though Abraham listen to this verse in Galatians 3 rather interesting revelation. Paul writes the Scripture for seeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel before hand to Abraham. So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham the believer. Can you imagine that God is the preacher using the Old Testament Scripture reveals to Abraham the gospel and what is the gospel that burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So Abraham heard the story of Jesus Christ and believed without ever seeing face-to-face. Wouldn't it be great if ever thought in your life.
I know I have it be great if I could just get five seconds or I could just see just see I could just see by not seeing and believing you become like your father Abraham remember when Thomas the upper room and doubted.
Of course the risen Lord Jesus Christ appeared to sort of materialize. On the other side of that door and there they sat in Thomas. Imagine stood seeing Jesus Christ gave the great exclamation my Lord and my my God Jesus mildly rebuked them and gave us a great promise autonomous. You believe not because you've seen, but how much more blessed are those who, without seeing believe those who become away like father Abraham to believe without see. So Abraham becomes according to Paul here, the father of all those who walk in his footsteps of faith.
I just been reading this week and studying and putting my feet up on my desk and thinking about what this would mean that would mean that he would become the forerunner of face followed by men like Caleb Caleb is an older man saw the mountain God and promised him and he said I want that mountain and by faith begin to pursue it.
Trusting God to defeat the enemies he would follow in the footsteps of faithful Abraham, even Mary and Joseph, who on that particular day walk by faith, to Bethlehem, bewildered and amazed at what God had said that God was going to do.
They simply believe the word go back earlier not discover that Abraham would be the father of Rahab who desperately wanted to leave her sordid past of prostitution and clean to the people of God and so she risking everything said that Joshua and the others I want to go with you taking a great step of faith. He would become the father of Ruth, the Moabitess who would leave her family and her land and cling to Naomi and say I want your God to be my God. Abraham would become the father of the Magi would leave Persia seeking the one who had been born king of the Jews it would become the father of Ethiopian another Gentiles who reading Isaiah was troubled about his soul and God said to him, Philip the evangelist to explain it, and he believed Abraham would be the father of Cornelius. The Roman Gentile soldier who risked everything including his career and even his wife who dared Caesar's wrath to follow Jesus Christ. Abraham would be the father of Luke, the Gentile or wrote the gospel buys name and also the book of acts he would become. In fact, the father of a man named tertius, who wrote the passage we just studied as Paul dictated to. But that's just my friend. Those who come to Christ placed their faith in his work alone believe without seeing who believe that experiencing your sons and daughters of not because of some physical mark, but because of the spiritual life brought about by the spirit of God in the hearts of all those who have placed their faith in the son of God, you are son, your daughters of Abraham and saying that you are the son or daughter of Abraham is to say that you have been saved by God and that you are a spiritual descendent of Abraham's faith in God. I certainly hope that's true of you today. You're listening to wisdom for the heart with pastor and author Stephen Davey Stevens working his way through a series from a section in Romans called father Abraham. Today's lesson is called the sign and seal of faith and a couple moments I want to share with you some ways that you can connect with us, but let me first share with you what some other listeners wrote to say here's one.
Thanks for taking care of getting your resource to me. I wanted you and your team to know that I've used your materials for years in my own personal Bible study and in my group studies I host in my neighborhood three years ago I invited my entire building, which consisted of 10 total apartments to our study and seven of the 10 showed up in every case, none of them had ever opened up a Bible. It was their first study in a few weeks.
About half remained due to time and interest and commitment. Some left.
However, my next-door neighbor accepted the Lord last year as a result of this study, the material that I used focused on the gospel of John and I used your materials from John to teach the lessons.
Thanks again for what you and the ministry does to spread the word that came from vents in Williamsburg, Virginia. Here's another. I especially enjoyed your message I heard on the broadcast this morning. I've used your sermon outlines when I present devotions to the trustees in the county jail. I plan to add the sermon. I just heard to the list. Thank you for preaching the word and being biblically correct. You are an inspiration to all of us who believe in walking with God and not bowing to the world that was from George and then one more your reminder in a past issue of heart-to-heart magazine gave me additional confirmation that God was in control when he called my baby brother into his presence. Thank you for your timely message of love, hope and faith. You are a blessing to me and countless millions around the world and that's from Shirley and San Antonio, Texas will thank you, Shirley, Vince and George. It was great to hear from you and if you friend would like to send Stephen a note as well. Here's the three best ways to do it. You can write to us at wisdom for the hearts.
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