Sunday, April 10, 2016

How To be Right With God (Part 10)

SERMON               GM16-079

SERIES:              Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained, and Applied

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (April 10th, 2016)


How to Be Right with God (Part 10)
Romans 4:17-22


"…even as it has been written, I have appointed you the father of many nations before God whom he believed the (one) making the dead live and calling the things that are not being as being, who beyond hope believed on hope for him becoming the Father of many nations according to what had been written, so shall your seed be. And not weakening in faith, he did not consider his body to have died, being about 100 years old, and the death of Sarah’s womb. Not hesitated at the promise of God by unbelief but was empowered (by) faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that he is able to do that he promised. Therefore, it was counted to him for righteousness.”

Central Proposition of the Text (CPT)

Theme:                 The nature of Abraham’s faith

Thrust:                the promise was fulfilled through faith
                             Abraham did not waver in his faith
                             God is able to perform in spite of circumstances
                             faith was rewarded

Full Statement:    Abraham’s faith produced fulfillment of the promise since he did not waver due to believing God was able to perform what He promised in spite of impossible circumstances which resulted in his declaration of righteousness.


2A     The Illustration of Righteousness (Vss. 4:1-22)

          1B     Faith and Chores (Vss. 1-8)
          2B     Faith and Circumcision (Vss. 9-12)
          3B     Faith and Commandments (Vss. 13-22)

                   1C     Because the promise is only obtainable by grace (13)
                   2C     Because faith would be emptied and promise would be voided (14)
                   3C     Because the law can only produce wrath (15)
                   4C     Because it opens the promise to all of Abraham’s seed (16)
                   5C     Because the faith is greater than the commandments (17-22)

                             1D     The Focus of Abraham’s Faith (17-18)
                             2D     The Force of Abraham’s Faith (19-20)
                             3D     The Foundation of Abraham’s Faith (21)

                                      1E     The Veracity of God
                                      2E     The Vigor of God

                             4D     The Fruit of Abraham’s Faith (22)

The Purpose of the Sermon (CPS)

To prove that God can be trusted to fulfill His Word regardless of impossible circumstance 

Please open your Bibles to Romans 4:17-22

How to Be Right with God - Part 10

Today’s Truth is: 

Abraham’s faith produced fulfillment since he did not waver due to believing God was able to perform in spite of impossible circumstances which resulted in his declaration of righteousness.

Our gracious Father, help us as we hear your holy Word read and taught to truly understand; and with our understanding, that we might believe and believing, we might be in all things faithful and obedient.

So Father we ask you, through your Holy Spirit to open our hearts and our minds for the sake, the honor, and the glory of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that as the Scriptures are read and your Word explained, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. 

We ask you Father to show us all that Christ is and what He has done for us by His atoning work on the cross of Calvary.

Father, will you enable me to clearly communicate the word of God to your people, I ask you for power and unction to preach your word. Amen.

Our text for today is Romans 4:17-22

Henry Ford came up with a revolutionary plan for a new kind of engine.  Ford was very eager to get his great new idea into production. He had some men draw up the plans, and he presented them to his engineers. As the engineers studied the drawings, one by one they came to the same exact conclusion. Their visionary boss did not know much about the fundamental principles of engineering. They had to find the right way to tell him—that his dream was impossible. This engine could not be built and made to work. Ford said, Ford told them, “Produce it anyway.”

They said, “It’s impossible.” “Go ahead,” Ford ordered them, “and stay on the job until you succeed, no matter how much time is required.”
For six months they struggled with drawing after drawing and design after design. They came up with nothing. Then another six months went by. Still nothing! At the end of the year Ford checked with his engineers and once again they told him that what he wanted was impossible. Ford told them to keep going. So they did.

And in the face of the impossible,  they discovered how to build what we know as the V-8 engine.
Abraham believed the impossible

This morning I want to speak to you about genuine belief or faith – or more specifically, Abraham believed God in spite of the seemingly impossible circumstances. Abraham believed God’s promise even though it was humanly impossible to fulfill the promise that God had made. Abraham was 99 years old. 

Typically a man, if he is still alive at that age loses his ability to produce children. Not only was Abraham nearly 99 years old Sarah was well past child-bearing years. As a matter of fact her womb was spoken as “dead.” The natural thing for both of them would be to do as Sarah did, laugh. Having a baby at 99 years old and well past menopause under most circumstances would be impossible.

Physical and biological factors normally would shut down any type of faith when these type of impossible circumstances were present. In our culture, we tend to want to see the end from the beginning and to know going in that the end result will come about. We have the tendency to concentrate on what we know, what we can see, or what we can or cannot do. We have the tendency to live our lives by sight and in the daylight rather than to live by faith and in the “dark.”

It is true that living by faith can be scary. I guess that is why so few do it. The ultimate question that you must face is whether you will trust God or believe God even when the circumstances seem to impossible.

There are times in our life when we are brought up against situations where there does not seem to be any answer, provision, or solution in sight. I have come to call those times, “He Can or He Can’t.” Our culture would shout loudly, “He Can’t, or He Won’t, or He Don’t” – the world believes or has faith in what they can see, touch, feel, verify, and etc.

Unfortunately even genuine believers have also encountered the “Can he or Can’t He” times and failed to trust God. They have tried to work through, solve, eradicate, or fix impossible situations or scenarios when they encountered them. I know I have. And in those cases, though God’s grace never vanished, they missed out on intended blessings.

There is no dispute from Scripture that Abraham believed God. This belief or faith resulted in God declaring Abraham to be just and God imputing righteousness to Abraham. You must remember, however, that He believed God in the face of the impossible. But, Abraham believed God.

We need to always keep in mind that God can do the impossible. God’s promises and provisions are often a matter of faith or absolute trust. Whatever you face today, or tomorrow, or in the future, God expects and requires you to have absolute faith, trust, and dependence upon God even if the circumstances seem virtuously impossible.

But like Thomas, an intimate disciple of Jesus who saw the impossible frequently conquered, we often falter or stumble in the face of impossible situations.

Let me suggest two (2) areas where we falter or stumble with lack of faith in the face of impossible situations.

Faith against the impossible 1: Giving or Living. There is no question that believers are encouraged to give to God. There are at least three (3) qualifiers to our giving; we are told to give cheerfully, sacrificially, and in relationship to our income. First, let me say that I know and am aware of the false, unbiblical, and even stupid teaching that exists in some of our churches today about giving. All most all of what is taught is not defendable by Scripture. We are to give in accordance with our income, we are to give sacrificially, and we are to give cheerfully. The Scripture teaches that we will be blessed by our faith in God demonstrated in our giving. But many believers are afraid to give, especially sacrificially. Believers can be financial hoarders. Many believers do not trust God to meet there needs. They believe that if they don’t take care of themselves no one will.

Philippians 4:19 says, "God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."  This verse is so chalk full of good stuff! I want you to notice several words. 

First it says, "God will..." It doesn't say, "He might meet your needs" it says "He will."  It's a fact.  He's staking his character and his reputation on it.  "I will meet your needs." 

Then it says, "God will meet all..."  It doesn't say "I'll meet some of your needs" He says all.  Our basic needs are food, clothing, and shelter. 

It doesn't say "I'll meet all your greeds." There's a difference between needs and wants. God's not going to give you everything you want; you'd be spoiled to death. But it says, "I will meet all your needs" according to his wealth, his riches.  It's not based on your assets. It's based on what God has and he doesn't run out of resources. 

Abraham believed God in the face of the impossible

Faith against the Impossible 2: God’s power in this dark and wicked world. Again, there is no question that this world is wicked, evil, and full of darkness. There seems, especially today to very little “light.” Many believers do not see God working. Even pastors get discouraged because God does not seem to be working – it seems impossible for God to do anything today. So, many believers excuse their lack of commitment or obedience. They excuse their worldliness their love of this world because they are not seeing God work, move, or bless in this wicked world.

Faith honors God and God honors faith!

Missionaries Robert and Mary Moffat are a good illustration of our point. For 10 years they worked faithfully in Bechuanaland (now called Botswana) without one ray of encouragement to brighten their way. They could not report a single convert. Finally the directors of their mission board began to question the wisdom of continuing the work.

The thought of leaving their post, however, brought great grief to this devoted couple, for they felt sure that God was in their labors, and that they would see people turn to Christ in due season. They stayed; and for a year or two longer, darkness prevailed.

 Then one day a friend in England sent word to the Moffats that she wanted to mail them a gift and asked what they would like. Trusting that in time the Lord would bless their work, Mrs. Moffat replied, "Send us a communion set; I am sure it will soon be needed." God honored that dear woman's faith. The Holy Spirit moved upon the hearts of the villagers, and soon a little group of six converts was united to form the first Christian church in that land. The communion set from England was delayed in the mail; but on the very day before the first commemoration of the Lord's super in Bechuanaland, the set arrived.

You might be like most believers, we believe God for the “little” or simple things. But when the impossible presents itself, many believers falter or stumble. We say we trust God and that God is trustworthy, but being human, we often fall to the temptation of becoming afraid and uncertain that God can really do what He has said He would or can do.

Abraham believed God in the face of the impossible

If you are tempted by your flesh or the enemy to stumble at God’s promises – take hope, do not fear, God is able to everything that He has said and promised to do regardless of our hopeless or impossible the situation looks.

Before we dive into our text let me give you an illustration where I had to believe God in the face of the impossible.

In my first year of Bible College Irene, our two older daughters and I had moved into a one car garage that had been converted into a one bedroom studio apartment. We moved in with the understanding by the landlord that my VA Benefits had not yet arrived and that the job I had lined up fell through. He would get his get in fees as soon as I received my VA check. Long story short, for some reason the check was delayed longer than a month and the landlord evicted us. We had never been evicted. Not only were we facing homelessness but my pride had taken quite a hit.

As the time approached for us to be out of this garage/studio, I was getting very nervous and frightened. I was depressed, scared, and very worried. I didn’t know how we would survive, where we would live, or what we would do. Even my prayers gave me no help or comfort.

One day, while walking down the street I saw a obviously handi-capped man painting a small duplex. As normal people do we exchanged hellos. He saw something on my face or in my posture because he asked me, ‘What was the matter?” I really didn’t want to tell him and the question just made me more sick, depressed, and angry. But for whatever reason I told him about me being in bible college, having moved into the little garage, my VA benefits being delayed and the job falling through, and our eviction. I told him I didn’t know what God was doing and what I was going to do, especially for Irene and the girls.

He simply said, “Why don’t you move in here?” I responded, “We’re being evicted, we don’t have any money right now, and I don’t know when I am going to get any money.” He said I have rented to other Christians who go to your school and they pay their rent on time and don’t destroy my property. Move in and pay me when you can.”

We did move in. We didn’t pay him a dime. And for a couple of months it seems we didn’t pay him a dime. But when my VA check came we paid him in full and lived there for quite some time. God kept his promise to provide our basic need of housing in the face of the impossible.

Abraham believed God in the face of the impossible

My purpose today is to proof that God can be trusted to fulfill His word and all his promises regardless of how impossible the circumstances are.

I refer you this morning to Paul’s assertion that Abraham believed God in spite of the impossible circumstances in Romans 4. As you may remember we are dealing looking at Paul’s Illustration of Righteousness which is found in chapter 4, vss. 13-22. We have seen that Paul has illustrated this righteousness by contrast. We have already looked at three (3) ways that Paul has contrasted Abraham’s righteousness.

 The question that our passage today addresses is what happened when Abraham believed God in spite of impossible circumstances?

As you know this passage depicts the fact that Abraham believed God and God kept His promise completely. Great things happen when we believe God and let God be God.

Today’s passage is full of hope and encouragement for every believer. Let’s see just how much hope we can garner by seeing that God has the ability or power to keep His word and promises.


We have already seen that Paul illustrates the Provision of Righteousness through several contrasts.


Abraham believed God. What happened when Abraham believed God? The Scripture says, “…it was accounted to him for righteousness.”


“…but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our Father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.”


Paul will developed the principle that salvation is built on the foundation of divine grace that is freely given by God and it is not given due to any human effort, including keeping the law. Thus far we saw four (4) reasons for this:

Because the promise is only obtainable by faith (Vs. 13)

“For not through the law the promise to Abraham or his seed to be the heir of the world, but through righteousness of faith.” (GDM Translation)

Because faith would be empty and the promise would be voided (Vs. 14)

“For if the heirs (are) of Law, faith has been rendered ineffective and the promise has been destroyed.”  (GDM translation from Byzantine/Majority Text)

Faith would be empty or ineffective and the promise would be destroyed

Because the law produces wrath - it cannot secure an inheritance or blessing (15)

“For the law works out wrath, therefore the law is neither transgression…”

Because it is only given through the righteousness through faith (Vs. 16)

“Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”


Our theme today is – Abraham believed God in face of the impossible

Proposition - Abraham’s faith produced fulfillment of the promise since he did not waver due to believing God was able to perform what He promised in spite of impossible circumstances which resulted in his declaration of righteousness.

5C     Because faith is greater than the commandments (17-22)

As we examine this section of Paul’s argument, we are able to see four (4) elements of Abraham’s faith, the focus of Abraham’s faith, the force of Abraham’s faith, the foundation of Abraham’s faith, and the fruit of Abraham’s faith.

                             1D     The Focus of Abraham’s Faith (17-18)

                                        (kaqws gegraptai oti Ptera pollwn eqnwn teqeika
                                        se katenanti ou episteuse qeou tou zwopoiountos
                                        tous nekrous kai kalountos ta mh onta ws onta.

                                      Os par elpida ep elpidi episteusev eis to genesqai
                                        auton patera pollwn eqnwn, kata to eirhmenon,
                                        outws estai to sperma sou.

“(even as it has been written, I have appointed you the Father of many nations) before God, whom he believed, the (One) who gives life to the dead and calls those things which are not as though they were, who contrary to hope, on hope believed so that he should become a father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’”

What or who did Abraham put his faith in? Our text actually supplies the answer because the actual answer is not in the Greek Text. Abraham put his faith in “The One”

Who is this one? It is…

·        The one who gives life to those who are dead

·        The one who calls those things which are not as being

Faith or trust must always be focused in a person. A genuine believer’s faith always is focused in or upon a divine person.
It is the very presence of God that draws out our faith, verifies our faith and guarantees our faith.

When our faith is totally focused on God doubts, fears, and uncertainties from our faith.

·        People will let us down
·        Pastors will let us down
·        Fellow believers will let us down
·        Organizations will let us down

Someone once mentioned to a pastor, “It is do hard sometimes to believe.” The pastor shot back, “To believe whom?”

Faith is real, it is concrete, it is definite – faith must be focused on God. Especially in the face of the impossible.

The emphasis and focus of your faith must always be on God and not on faith or the act of believing.

Not only was the focus a crucial element of Abraham’s faith, we see secondly

                              2D     The Force of Abraham’s Faith (19-20)
   kai mh asqenhsas th pistei, ou katenohse to eautu swma hdh
   nenekrwmenov  ekatontaeths pou uparcwn kai thn nekrwsin ths
    mhtros earras eis de thn epaggelian tou qeou u diekriqn apistia
    alla enedunamwqh th pistei, doxan tw qew
“And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”

Abraham’s faith was strong. It had great force.

Keep in mind there was the impossibility attached to his age. Not only that, but remember, Sarah was well past child bearing age.

But this didn’t seem to face Abraham in the least. Our text tells us that Abraham did not let the fact that he was about 100 years old and Sarah was well past her abilities to have a child was not considered a problem. Most men would have

The Revised Standard Bible just might have gotten this aspect a little more accurate. The RSB reads, He considered his own body as dead.

IOW, Abraham looked at the facts, he didn’t ignore them, he faced the problem head on, gave the problem careful attention but in spite of the circumstances the force of his faith in God was so strong it actually encouraged him and made the force of his faith even stronger. Can you believe that?

The force of Abraham’s faith was so strong that it encouraged him. When was the last time that your faith was actually encouraged when you faced what seemed like impossible circumstances?

O, to have a faith like Abraham’s!

Regardless of what translation is correct, we see the magnificent force of his trust and faith against all impossible circumstances.

Abraham rested, trusted, and believed God.

The focus and the force of our faith is what God expects, what God gives, and what God rewards.

There is a third element of Abraham’s faith and that is…

                             3D     The Foundation of Abraham’s Faith (21)

                                        kai plhroforhqeis oti o ephggeltai dunatos esti
                                        kai poihsai

“And being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”

We don’t have to spend a lot of time here, it is so clear as to what the foundation of Abraham’s faith was. The reason that Abraham was so convinced that He would receive the promise of God was he believed God. But he actually built his faith on the foundation of two critical elements.

                                      1E     The Veracity of God

                                                  “…what He had promised…”

Abraham believed God to be a “truth-teller.” He did not believe God would lie or at best mislead Him. He knew and he believed because God had promised it. God had said so!

Convinced or persuaded gives us the idea that Abraham was completely won over. The truth of God, the veracity of God had prevailed upon Abraham – Abraham believed that if God said it, God would do it.

The foundation of his faith was the truthfulness of God.

The question we all have to answer is, do we believe in the truthfulness of God. It is one thing to believe God, but deep down do we really believe in the truthfulness of God?

So, Abraham built his faith on the foundation of the truthfulness of God. Secondly Abraham built his faith on the foundation of…
                                      2E     The Vigor of God

          “…He was also able to perform.”

It is one thing to believe what someone tells you or promises you, but it is another thing if they are able to do what they tell you or promise you.

Abraham had incredible faith in God, but it wasn’t blind or unfounded faith. Abraham believed that God could do what He said He would do, no matter how impossible the circumstances were.

Abraham did not question God’s ability.

In all fairness there was a time when Abraham’s faith took a left turn. Abraham believed the promise and power of God, but when he saw the impossibilities he tried to help God out and produced Ishmael.

God came to Abraham’s rescue, God strengthened the faith of Abraham, and enabled him to trust in God completely, even in the face of the impossible.

Now and then our faith will falter or stumble. We will look at impossible circumstances and say, “But God…” And we will then try and help God out.

Thank God he will forgive us, come to our rescue, strengthen our faith and do what He said He would do.

As a side note here, faith finds its strength and strengthening power not mystically or mysteriously, but in the Word of God. Faith can only grow and be made strong by daily, regular, and deep intake of the Bible.

Weak, faltering, or shallow faith is the result of a lack of a steady diet of God’s word. Not just read – but meditated on.

But bottom line, the truth is seen in this quote by someone who once said, “God’s ability is the foundation of faith’s stability.” If your faith is weak or needs to be made stronger, the only means is get in the word.

Well, we have seen the focus of Abraham’s faith – God; we have seen the force of Abraham’s faith – strong, did not waver; we have seen the foundation of Abraham’s faith – God’s truthfulness and God’s power or ability.

                             4D     The Fruit of Abraham’s Faith (22)

                                        Dio kai elogisqh autw eis dikaiosunhn

                                        “…and therefore ‘it was accounted to him for                                                                   righteousness.”

This is the heart of our passage and the heart of the entire chapter.

Therefore indicates that Paul is going to draw or make a conclusion from what he has written in vss. 13-21. By doing so Paul believes he has explained Abraham’s means of justification satisfactory to be that of faith, and not chores, circumcision, or commandments (the Law.)

Genuine faith holds onto God’s promises despite the circumstances and is rewarded by God.

This was the way in which God rewarded Abraham’s faith. God honored Abraham by reckoning, considering, imputing Abraham as righteous.

Faith does not merit salvation or justification, but faith accepts salvation from God’s gracious hand. This is the means by which Abraham, you and me, and all genuine believers are justified.

God imputed or considered Abraham to be righteous, not by the law, nor by any works, but because Abraham believed God.

Keep in mind that Abraham’s faith did not deny the impossible circumstances, but genuine faith evaluates them in light of God’s word and power and still believes.

No trust or faith in chores or works, or in circumcision or ceremonies, or in keeping the Law will result in justification.

Listen, Abraham was not perfect. He stumbled – God picked him up and kept his promise to him. You may have or you will stumble. God will pick you up and keep his promises to you.

A. R. Habershom once said, “When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast.”


Let me conclude with this statement from Wilber Wilberforce – “Accustom yourself to look first to the dreadful consequences of failure; then fix your eye on the glorious prize which is before you; and when your strength begins to fail, and your spirits are well-nigh exhausted, let the animating view rekindle your resolution, and call forth in renewed vigor the fainting energies of your soul.” ― William Wilberforce


Let’s pray! J


nashvillecats2 said...

As always a wonderful Sunday uplift. Thanks Gregg.

shortybear said...