Sunday, April 3, 2016

How to be Right with God (Part 9)

SERMON               GM16-078

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

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (April 3rd, 2016)

How to Be Right with God (Part 9)
Romans 4:13-16

"For the promise of Abraham or his seed to be the heir of the world, not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if the heirs (are) of (the) law, faith has been rendered ineffective, and the promise has been destroyed. For the law works out wrath, where there is no law there is neither transgression.

Central Proposition of the Text

Theme:                 The promise was given through faith
Thrust:                so that the promise would be all the descendants of Abraham
Full Statement:     The purpose for which the promise was given by faith is to ensure that all the children of Abraham would benefit from the promise.


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)

[Announce the Text]

Please open your Bibles to Romans 4:13-16

 [The Title of Today’s Message is]

How to Be Right with God - Part 9

Today’s Truth is: 

The purpose for which the promise was given by faith is to ensure that all the children
of Abraham would benefit from the promise.

Prayer for illumination & understanding

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.

Re-announce and read the text

Our text for today is Romans 4:13-16 

[Main Introduction]

Attention Getter

Martin Luther once said…
God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing.”

Orient the Text:   (CPT) “The promise was given through faith”

This morning I want to speak to you about the promise made to Abraham – or more specifically that the promise was granted by faith and not by the Law of God. We rob God of glory and ourselves of blessings when we fail to remember that Abraham was not blessed by what he did, but by who he placed his trust in, or believed. Our natural inclination is to always discover or determine what we need to do in order to receive God’s blessings.

Jerry Bridges call this type of thinking “performance based acceptance. He wrote, “Do you ever have trouble accepting the grace of God … accepting His undeserved and unmerited favor?  If I am totally honest, I have to say that I struggle with fully accepting God’s grace in my daily living. Now I know full well that I am saved by grace alone through faith alone.  I am definitely not trying to work my way into heaven.  But, I have a strong tendency to fall into the trap detailed in Galatians: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).  That kind of living is called performance-based acceptance.  It is one of the devil’s chief tools to rob us of the peace and joy found in God’s amazing grace.”

Paul reminds us that the promise made to Abraham was not going to be fulfilled or realized by Abraham’s keeping of the law. God’s promises were only going to be fulfilled through the avenue or vehicle of faith. 

This is the type of thinking that I can be accepted by God by what I do – it is a thought process that places me in the driver’s seat and at the very least tempting me to attempt to gain the blessing or approval of God by what I do. Allow me to suggest at a couple (2) ways we attempt to earn blessings or approval by what we do rather than who we belief.

Raise a Need: Performance based expectations and their vanities

Performance based expectations 1: If I have daily devotions I will have a better day because God is happier with me now. I mean He will treat me better because I did something. How else can we explain the alarm going off late, the flat tire, my boss yelling out me? I just isn’t true! God accepts us, loves us, and even blesses us if we miss our daily devotions.

Performance based expectations 2: If I go to church, sing, pray, then God must accept me, after all that is what he wants us all to do right? If I keep God happy by doing the things he wants or expects then I should get what I want right? We can’t work our way to answered prayer or blessings. This is not “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Our acceptance by God and His choice to bless us is not based on what we do, or by what we keep. The Christian life is lived out by faith not by keeping the law or rules or regulations.

Abraham was blessed by God because of faith. Abraham believed God. Abraham was not blessed because he kept the law or did something.

State the Purpose

My purpose today is to provide evidence that the covenant made with Abraham by God could not have been made any other way than through faith and not by keeping the law than through keeping the Law of God. 

[Sub Introduction]

Paul painstakingly proves this principle that promise or the covenant was granted through faith and not by keeping the Law in Romans 4:13-22. If you haven’t already done so, please turn to Romans chapter 4 as we continue to answer the question, “How to be Right with God?”

[This morning we will pick back up our examination of our second main point of this division that I call…]


[But first, let’s take a minute or two and…]


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

[The first contrast we examined was between:]


Right off the bat Paul used a rhetorical question to head off or deflect a real or anticipated objection. Paul made it very clear that Abraham was not an exception. He could not and did not obtain righteousness and the blessings of righteous by doing chores, or by working.

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

[The second contrast Paul gave us was the contrast between:] 


Paul brings in some evidence from Genesis 15:6 and the events in Genesis 17:24 which contain a period of time that is at least 14 years. I say at least, because Jewish chronology puts the elapsed time at 29 years.

Whether 14 years or 29 years have gone by doesn’t really matter. The issue is that Paul has shown that Abraham was justified by faith prior to his circumcision. Therefore, circumcision does not make one justified or a member of the God’s family.

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

Being born a Jew is not a free ride. Being circumcised does not get you in. This might have been the biggest shock yet to the Jewish readers. They must walk in his steps through faith.

[So, now let’s move to the third contrast and that is…]



Paul continues his explanation that the doctrine of justification is by faith and not through keeping or obeying the law. And he will show that this is not a new teaching but is grounded in the OT.

He has already shown in verses 1-12 that according to the Jews own Scripture, the OT obtaining the “status” of being considered righteous by God is not based on works or merit but on faith and thereby by Grace.

He has also shown that it is not by rituals or by circumcision. Abraham is the spiritual father of all Gentiles and Jews who believe, or exercise God-given faith.

Now, in our current paragraph (vss. 13-22) Paul will develop 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.

Our theme today is - God grants the promise through faith

Proposition - The purpose for which the promise was given by faith is to ensure that all the children of Abraham would benefit from the promise.

Interrogatory Sentence:  Why was the promise granted through faith rather than by keeping the Law?

Transitional Sentence:  This passage supplies at least four (4) principles why the promise was granted through faith, rather than through the Law.

[The first principle supplied by our passage is…]

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

At 17 I decided to become a Marine. The only way that I could become a Marine was by completing one of the most grueling training programs in existence, which was Marine Boot Camp. I had to do it because they only way to receive the title and privileges as a United States Marine was by completing the training.

The only way to receive the benefits of justification was through faith, no other way. Look at verse 13

ou gar dia nomou h epaggelia tw Abraam h twspermati auton to klhronomon
auton einas tou kosmon alla dia dikaisounhs pisews

“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)

First of all, Paul’s theme of the promise or what we know as the Abrahamic covenant runs from vs. thirteen (13) through vs. twenty-two (22).

Second, this is the first time that the word or term “promise” is used. It is used four (4) times.

This is the promise that God gave or granted to Abraham. The promise was granted with an emphasis on how is was given – through faith. This faith is built on the miracle working of God on Abraham and Sarah’s bodies.

Now, the word “for” tells us that Paul is giving us an explanation. From this we can actually see why Paul did not mention on “The Law” earlier, say in vss. 11 or 12

Paul did this in order to make sure that his readers did not tie God’s blessing of Abraham with any work that Abraham might have done or with any obedience he might have performed. Paul is making sure that no one gets the idea that anyone could secure the blessing of God or obtain the blessing of God and become a child of God through keeping any or all of the Mosaic Law.

Paul makes it clear that the promise – the Abrahamic Covenant came through faith and no the law.

Let’s stop for a minute and remind ourselves of what the promise was or what the Abrahamic Covenant contained.

[First let’s define the word covenant…]

A covenant is an agreement between two parties. There are two basic types of covenants: conditional and unconditional. A conditional or bilateral covenant is an agreement that is binding on both parties for its fulfillment. Both parties agree to fulfill certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party has to fulfill the expectations of the covenant. An unconditional or unilateral covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the two parties has to do something. Nothing is required of the other party.

The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant. God made promises to Abraham that required nothing of Abraham. Genesis 15:18–21 describes a part of the Abrahamic Covenant, specifically dealing with the dimensions of the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants.

The actual Abrahamic Covenant is found in Genesis 12:1–3. The ceremony recorded in Genesis 15 indicates the unconditional nature of the covenant. The only time that both parties of a covenant would pass between the pieces of animals was when the fulfillment of the covenant was dependent upon both parties keeping commitments.
Concerning the significance of God alone moving between the halves of the animals, it is to be noted that it is a smoking furnace and a flaming torch, representing God, not Abraham, which passed between the pieces. Such an act, it would seem, should be shared by both parties, but in this case God’s solitary action is doubtless to be explained by the fact that the covenant is principally a promise by God. He binds Himself to the covenant. God caused a sleep to fall upon Abraham so that he would not be able to pass between the two halves of the animals. Fulfillment of the covenant fell to God alone.

[Second, what did the covenant contain or promise?]

There are three main elements contained in the Abrahamic Covenant:

1. The promise of land (Genesis 12:1). God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees to a land that He would give him (Genesis 12:1). This promise is reiterated in Genesis 13:14–18 where it is confirmed by a shoe covenant; its dimensions are given in Genesis 15:18–21 (precluding any notion of this being fulfilled in heaven). The land aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant is expanded in Deut. 30:1–10, which is the Palestinian Covenant.

2. The promise of descendants (Genesis 12:2). God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of him. Abraham, who was 75 years old and childless (Genesis 12:4), was promised many descendants. This promise is amplified in Genesis 17:6 where God promised that nations and kings would descend from the aged patriarch. This promise (which is expanded in the Davidic Covenant of 2 Samuel 7:12–16) would eventuate in the Davidic throne with Messiah’s kingdom rule over the Hebrew people.

3. The promise of blessing and redemption (Genesis 12:3). God promised to bless Abraham and the families of the earth through him. This promise is amplified in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31–34; cf. Hebrews 8:6–13) and has to do with “Israel’s spiritual blessing and redemption.” Jeremiah 31:34 anticipates the forgiveness of sin. The unconditional and eternal nature of the covenant is seen in that the covenant is reaffirmed to Isaac (Genesis 21:1226:3–4). The “I will” promises again suggest the unconditional aspect of the covenant. The covenant is later confirmed to Jacob (Genesis 28:14–15). It is noteworthy that God reaffirmed these promises amid the sins of the patriarchs, which fact further emphasizes the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant.

God’s method of fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant is literal, inasmuch as God partially fulfilled the covenant in history: God blessed Abraham by giving him the land (Genesis 13:14–17), and, centuries later, the sons of Abraham took control of the land: “So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there” (Joshua 21:43). God blessed Abraham spiritually (Genesis 13:81814:222321:22); God gave him numerous descendants (Genesis 22:1749:3–28). An important element of the Abrahamic Covenant, however, demands a still-future fulfillment with Messiah’s kingdom rule:

(1) Israel as a nation will possess the totality of the land in the future. Numerous Old Testament passages anticipate the future blessing of Israel and her possession of the land as promised to Abraham. Ezekiel envisions a future day when Israel is restored to the land (Ezekiel 20:33–3740–4236:1–37:28).

(2) Israel as a nation will be converted, forgiven, and restored (Romans 11:25–27).

(3) Israel will repent and receive the forgiveness of God in the future (Zechariah 12:10–14). The Abrahamic Covenant finds its ultimate fulfillment in connection with the return of Messiah to rescue and bless His people Israel. It is through the nation Israel that God promised in Genesis 12:1–3 to bless the nations of the world. That ultimate blessing will issue in the forgiveness of sins and Messiah’s glorious kingdom reign on earth.

So, why is that the law cannot grant the covenant? It goes back to the purpose of the law.

The purpose of the law was to reveal to Gods’ people the perfect standard of God of what righteousness is and what he requires. The law was designed to show mankind that they cannot by their own strength, energy, design, or effort live up to the God’s standards or requirements. The law was designed to drive men to God. Galatians 3 calls the law, “a tutor to lead us to Christ.”

God has never recognized nor accepted any righteousness but what Paul calls the righteousness of faith. The law cannot produce what God requires. This is the first reason why the promise was granted through faith.

Before we leave this point and move to the second, there is one more thing that I think we need to look and be clear on, and that is the phrase:

“…heir of the world…”

Dean Alford stated, “The inheritance of the world then is not the possession of Canaan merely, either literally, or as a type of a better possession – but the ultimate lordship over the whole world which Abraham is the father of the faithful in all peoples, and Christ as the Seed of Promise, shall possess: the former (Abraham) figuratively and only implicitly – the latter (Jesus) personally ad actually.”

Adam had been given dominion over all of the earth. But we know that he blew it. He lost the control and the oversight that had been given him. But one day a new world order will come.

Abraham became the spiritual father of the seed of faith, all those in the world who believed. Christ descended from Abraham and will one day return to this world and establish his kingdom and have dominion over the entire world as Adam once had.

And so as Paul builds his case that justification is through faith and not by keeping the law, he does so by contrasting faith and the covenant or commandments. The first thing that we have seen is that the law cannot obtain the promise.

Our theme today is - God grants the promise through faith

Proposition - The purpose for which the promise was given by faith is to ensure that all the children of Abraham would benefit from the promise.

[Let’s move to the second reason the promise is granted through faith and that is…]

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

I sold cars for about 10 years. Of course all the new cars sold came with a warranty. If anything went wrong with the car during the course of that warranty, GM would fix it or make it right. Unless, you broke the item, tampered with it, or attempted to fix the problem yourself, the warranty was then voided. GM would not honor the warrant unless the terms were inviolate.

If someone tampered justification with or attempted to fix themselves then the promise would be void or destroyed. Let’s read vs. 14

ei gar oi ek nomou klhronomoi kekeuwtai h pistis kai katahghtai h epaggelia

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

This is the second reason why the promise could not be obtained by the Law. Paul gives us two (2) reason why this is so:

Faith would be empty or ineffective.
Promise would be destroyed

What does it mean that faith would be empty?

It means to make empty or to void. It is the opposite of the Greek word to fill up. It is used of Jesus in Philippians when we are told that Jesus emptied or voided himself of his position in the Trinity.

In our context it means to bring to nothing, to fail to accomplish a purpose or objective. So if the law were to be the means of obtaining righteousness then faith would be powerless to obtain it.

Secondly, the promise itself would be destroyed. Remember the fulfillment of the promise or covenant is totally on God’s part. He alone is responsible.

He word Paul used for “destroyed” or “no effect” is a compound word. The first part of the word gives the idea “to make to cease.”

An illustration of this would be Hebrews 2:14:

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death that is the devil.”

Of course we know that the devil has been stripped of the power of death. And he will one day be destroyed.

So why was the promise granted through faith rather than by keeping the Law?

The promise can only be obtained by faith and because the promise was granted and based on faith, if it could be obtained by the law it would destroy the promise making it useless or empty.

[The third principle supplied by our passage is…]

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

There is an old saying that goes something like this, you cannot make a silk purse of out of a pig’s ear. The idea is you cannot make anything good out of bad material. A pig’s ear does not contain silk, so no matter what you do you will not obtain silk.

The law is the same thing. You cannot get anything good from the law. Look at verse 15.

o gar nomos orghn katargazetai ou gar ouk estin nomos oide parabasis

“For the law works out wrath, therefore the law is neither transgression…”
First take notice of what the law cannot do – the law, or really keeping the law cannot secure or obtain a blessing. The law cannot reward you. Why?

The only thing the law can do is produce or bring out God’s wrath. Why does the law bring out the wrath of God?

Because where there is no law the next phrase reads, there is no transgression.

What is a transgression? The root gives us the idea of “going aside,” or an “overstepping,” It is always used as a breach or breaking of the Law.

Now there is a differentiation that must be made or someone can charge |God with being unjust. The law does make a man a sinner – the law does not force a man or cause a man to sin. The law makes a man a “transgressor” Man, who is a sinner and with his sin oversteps God’s rules or regulations.

Next we have to be clear on what it means that where there is no law there is no transgression.

Sin existed before the Law was given by angles to Moses. Adam sinned. Cain sinned, all men transgressed or overstepped God’s rules and or regulations.

5:13 says, (For until the law, sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law…)

2:12-16 makes it clear that the wrath of God has been revealed

Now, the reason that God’s wrath is activated or drawn out is because people fail to keep it, they overstep it. Failure to keep the law prevents men from obtaining the law.

Now, remember the Gentiles did not have the law of God, except in their hearts. So in is not revealed as a breach of God’s standards until the law exposes it. Sin is sin and before the law sin was active, but the law came to show that sin is a breach of God’s law and that man cannot keep the law and therefore needs another remedy for his sin.

So if you try to keep the law then that would prevent Abraham or you from receiving the promise of God because you could never keep the law of God.

So, the promise could not come from the Law because God determined the only way to obtain the promise was by faith, because faith would be empty or useless and the promise would be destroyed, and because the law draws out the wrath of God when it is broken.

[Finally, the promise could not come from keeping the law…]

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

Most people love pie. Apple pie, rhubarb pie, cherry pie, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there is only one way to make or produce a pie. You must follow a given recipe. The only way to receive the promise is through faith.

dia touto ek pistews ina kata crin, eis to einai bebaian thn epaggelian panti
tw spermati, ou tw ek tou nomou monon, alla kai tw ek pistews Abraam, os
esti pathr panthn hmwn

“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.”

This sentence is actually the conclusion to Paul’s argument that justification is granted through the vehicle of faith and not by keeping the law. Always pay attention to the “there fore’s.” Especially Paul’s, they almost always are a summary of what he has just said.

What is his conclusion? The receiving of the promise by faith ensures – “to be fixed, to be certain, some that you can “build on.” It means “that which does not fail or waver, it is immovable, and therefore it can be relied upon. This is a strong word in the Greek.

Paul’s point is this, if the promise – the covenant with Abraham was obtainable by keeping the law, then the covenant with Abraham would not depend on God’s grace but on human effort, energy, or endeavors.

This is why any works based plan of salvation or justification is so odious to God. The covenant is made with Abraham, who because of his faith, is the father, not of the Jews only, or even of the believing Jews, but he is the father of all, Jews or Gentiles who believe.

It is important that we understand this and get this.

·        First it gives believers great comfort that our justification does not depend on us
·        It enables us to explain salvation & justification more clearly to sinners

So, the promise could not come from the Law because God determined the only way to obtain the promise was by faith, because faith would be empty or useless and the promise would be destroyed, and because the law draws out the wrath of God when it is broken, and because in God’s sovereign wisdom purposed the covenant and all of its benefits to be granted through the vehicle of faith and not by any human works.

This is the only way that God receives all of the glory in man’s salvation and justification and man receives none, zippo, nada, zero, or zilch.

Our theme today is - God grants the promise through faith

Proposition - The purpose for which the promise was given by faith is to ensure that all the children of Abraham would benefit from the promise.

 [What do you say we wrap this up?] 


Let me conclude with this statement from John Piper –

Who then are the heirs of the precious and very great promises made to Abraham and to his seed? You are. To whom can it be said: Your sins are forgiven; God is for you; with all his power, goodness, and mercy he will pursue you all your life, and you will rise from the dead; your name will be great; your assembly as the stars of the heavens; you will possess the gates of your enemies, and the land of Israel and all the earth will be your inheritance; and you will fill the new world with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord? To whom can all this be said? To you, the children of Abraham through faith in Christ. "For all things are yours . . . whether the world or life or death or the present or the future, all (the promises) are yours, for you are Christ's and Christ (the seed of Abraham) is God's" (1 Corinthians 3:21–23).


Let’s pray! J

1 comment:

nashvillecats2 said...

Wonderfully uplifting Gregg.
Joyus Sunday to you.