Text: Romans 4
Let me start with a little housekeeping here. Randy brought this up Wednesday and I appreciate it. Since Paul is scolding self-righteous people who used the law inappropriately, it may sound like the law is bad as we read this first part of Romans. It may not be clear that the law is good when used properly. And faithful people obeyed the law. People like Zacharias and Elizabeth. And their faithfulness to the law of God was a blessing to them. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego obeyed the law forbidding idolatry. And God rewarded that righteousness. What the law could not do and cannot do is bring about eternal redemption. It does not offer a solution to death. And it does not offer eternal life.
Paul uses Abraham to illustrate justification by faith.
Pop quiz: Who came first in chronological order, Moses or Abraham? Was Moses a descendant of Abraham or was Abraham a descendant of Moses?
Paul assumes his readers know a few things. And this may be a sad thing for some of you that you’ve been in church all your life or 10 or 20 years, but don’t have enough working knowledge of the Bible to understand the point Paul is making.
So how were people justified by God before Jesus Christ? Well, Paul is about to explain this. It’s by faith.
- Ethnic Jews were adamant that Abraham was their father. And according to DNA, the flesh, that’s true. But that isn’t what makes people related to God and heirs of eternal life.
- John 8:39-59 Jesus argued with this same mentality of physical, carnal relationships being the true relationship to God.
- Synagogue of Satan in Revelation 2:9
- Let’s be reminded of Romans 2:28-29
- Works means works of the law. Remember that’s the subject Paul’s on and he hasn’t changed the subject.
- When Paul says works here he means works of the law. Some people think works versus faith means behavior versus faith. That’s not what that means. Romans 9:32 The Jews sought justification by the works of the law. The Jews are self-righteous and use the law to justify themselves.
- Works of faith are not works of the law. The Jews relying on the works of the law meant they told themselves that they didn’t murder, they didn’t steal, they kept the sabbath, therefore they’re justified.
- Paul uses David to illustrate justification by faith even under the law. Worse yet, he was found guilty of sins punishable by death under the law. Yet, he was justified. How? By the works of the law? No. The law condemned him. How was he justified? Well, because he justified God.
- Let read the psalm Paul is quoting from and learn how a man under the law, condemned by the law, is justified by God. Psalm 32
- So is justification by God a Jewish thing only? No.
- Father of all them that believe (vss 11-12)
- Now, if you don’t realize that chronologically Abraham is 400 years before Moses gave the law, then it’s impossible to understand Paul’s explanation of Christianity. This becomes really bad when people who think they are teachers of the Bible don’t even understand the basic explanations presented.
- Galatians 3:5-11, 26-29, 6:16. So Abraham, just like anyone else before the cross or after the cross, are all children of God, in the household of God by faith, also known as the church of God, or just the church. The church has wrongly been thought of for years by many as an AGE, the church age. The church is not a TIME, it is a group of people.
- There are three groups of people, Jew, Gentile, and church of God. The only group that are heirs of eternal life and are related to God is the church of God.
- Being a Jew doesn’t give people eternal life. Being a Gentile didn’t give us eternal life.
- Being a Jew didn’t make someone justified as Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus about why he needed to have a birth from above showed so clearly.
- Church references throughout history
- Upon this rock I’ll build my church.
- Hebrews says the church of the firstborn.
- Also Hebrews referencing Psalm 22, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. That’s David speaking 1000 years before Christ.
- Book of Revelation someone said the church disappears after chapter 3. The problem is that’s not true. The entire book of Revelation is addressed to churches as Revelation 22:16 sums up and the first 3 chapters explain.
- Jew, Gentile, church of God. God’s people have existed for most of human history if not all. Within the nation of Israel were faithful people who were God’s people. Before Moses and the law there were faithful people who were God’s people according to Hebrews 11. After Jesus Christ, there are faithful people who are God’s people. This group is broadly classified as the household of God, church of God, cloud of witnesses, etc.
- Let the record show that Abraham was justified by faith, not the works of the law. Therefore whoever trusts the God that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead can share in that justification.