Abraham is the father of all who believe, and those who believe are heirs of God’s promise to Abraham. The fulfillment of the promise is guaranteed by grace sustained in faith. In today’s message, these truths will be unpacked and examined from the second half of Romans chapter 4.
Romans: The Glory of the Gospel Part 11
Heirs through Faith – Romans 4:11b-25
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Nov. 5th, 2017
- Last week, we examined the first part of this chapter where Paul cites Abraham as evidence of a person being declared righteous because of belief, not because of what he had done. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Rom 4:3)
- We also reconciled being “justified by His grace” in Rom. 3 & 4 with James 2 where it says “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” concluding that faith is counted as righteousness and completed by obedience as a “seal” that one’s faith is genuine. 4: 11a ESV says, “He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.”
- These two connecting truths are seen together in Eph. 2:8-10 ESV, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
- This morning, we pick up where we left off with the second half of verse 11 from chapter 4 where Paul continues by saying Abraham is the father of all who believe.
The father of all who believe
Romans 4:11b–12 ESV
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, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
- Paul continues to address the issue of reconciling Jewish and non-Jewish believers to the fact the Abraham is the father of all who believe, not just Jews, but those who “also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham has before he was circumcised.” This clarifies again that we are Abraham’s children if we have the faith of Abraham, not the physical DNA or becoming a Jew by the outward sign of circumcision.
- We then are one family of faith regardless of external appearances.
- It is important to note that Abraham(“the father of all who believe”) does not include those who exclude Jesus, God incarnate, the messiah, savior or Lord, as the fulfillment of the promise of the faith of Abraham.
- Now that we are children of Abraham through walking in his footsteps of faith, we are also heirs through the righteousness of faith.
Heirs through the righteousness of faith
Romans 4:13-15 ESV
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
- We cannot earn the inheritance. We can only receive it based on the promise of God to Abraham and his offspring. If we can earn it, faith does not matter and the promise does not count because it is something we worked for and it due us.
- The only way we can earn the inheritance is by perfectly following the law of God (which none other than Jesus can do). All the law does is bring the wrath of God, it cannot make us righteous because it does not have the power to do so. It simply sets the standard, it is not the substance. The law of activities and actions is not involved in faith: we either believe in the promise of God through Jesus, or we don’t.
- Notice it is not just “faith” but the “righteousness of faith” that our faith in Christ results in. We are righteous because of being in the righteous one. This is imputed righteousness based on who Christ is and what He did for us. (The “just and the justifier.)
- Abraham is the father of all who believe, which make believers heirs through the righteousness of faith, and is guaranteed by grace.
Guaranteed by grace
Romans 4:16-17 ESV
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have 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.
- Receiving the inheritance is dependent upon having faith or not. If you have faith, the inheritance is given to you by grace. It “rests on” grace and cannot be earned. Grace is a guarantee to all his offspring – both to the Jew and the non-Jew (Gentile). The implication being if you have faith in Christ and Christ alone for your salvation, it is guaranteed to you by grace. If you believe, you do not have to doubt you are going to heaven, but stand in confidence resulting in joyfulness and thankfulness.
- Paul also points out that Abraham is the “father of many nations” (plural) meaning that he is not merely the father of the natural physical descendants of Abraham.
- This God who we believe in “gives life to the dead,” (this is why Isaac is the “child of the promise” – given to parents whose womb was as good as dead), and points to Christ and also to us. This God also “calls into existence the things that do not exist.” No one else can do this. All we can do is manipulate what already exists. We are entrusting ourselves to the Supreme Being, the creator of everything and all.
- Abraham is the father of all who believe, which make believers heirs through the righteousness of faith. It is guaranteed by grace and sustained in faith.
Sustained in faith
Romans 4:18-22 ESV
In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
- Abraham “believed against hope, he did not weaken in faith, no distrust made him waver, grew strong in his faith, and he was fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” His faith was sustained until the promise was actualized; this is called “perseverance of the saints.”
- Abraham was clear on the promise, but he was unclear on the process. Abram was given the promise in Chapter 15 of Genesis. In Genesis 16, we see Abram having a child with his wife Sarai’s Egyptian servant Hagar. She thought that this was the way she was going to have a child. Abram listened to her and did what she suggested. Have you ever tried to help God? He should have listened to God and waited, verses listening to others.
- We cannot fulfill supernatural promises though natural means. We can cooperate with the plan of God, but we cannot create or complete it. The promise of God will be completed by the power of God for the glory of God for the good of all those who believe. Trust God not only on the promise, but also for the process.
- God came back to Abram 13 years after Ishmael was born, restated the promise, gave him the covenant of circumcision and told him the plan for the supernatural birth (from the God who gives life from the dead and calls things into existence): a son to be named Isaac in which the covenantal promise would be carried through.
Counted to us who believe
Romans 4:23-25 ESV
But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
- This covenant promise of God is counted to us who believe, not just in a generic God but “in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord.”
- Who was “delivered up” for our trespasses and raised for our justification. When we are justified, we are in right standing with God and are saved from the wrath of God.
- Abraham is the father of all who believe, which make believers heirs through the righteousness of faith and is guaranteed by grace and sustained in faith. It counted to us who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who died for our sins and was raised for our salvation.
- The foundation of our faith is through the promise of God to Abraham, the father of the faith. It is fulfilled through the perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ our Lord. Never doubt the promise of God: wait for Him to work out His plan, standing firm in the faith.
- Next week in chapter 5, Paul concludes these thoughts with practical application to our lives though what Christ has done for us.
Questions for the week ahead:
- How has your understanding of your relationship to Abraham grown from today’s passage?
- How has your faith been strengthened and impacted?