READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l Humans are under the wrath of God because of our ungodliness and unrighteousness. Romans 1-3 tells us that God shows no partiality as we have all sinned and fallen short of His glory. Paul built his case for Justification by Faith where the source of our Justification is God and His grace. The basis of our Justification is Christ and The Cross, while the means of our Justification is Faith.
In Romans 3:27-31, Paul mentioned two implications of the truth where we are justified by grace and not by observing the law. The core doctrine of this Justification is illustrated in Romans 4. Paul clarified the meaning of Justification by Faith through the examples of Abraham and David — Justification is the crediting of righteousness to the unrighteousness, while Faith is trusting the God of Creation and Resurrection. Both Abraham and David showed that Justification by Faith is God’s one and only way of salvation. The power of Justification by Faith has already been proclaimed in the Old Testament — Paul wanted the Gentiles to appreciate the rich spiritual heritage that they had entered by Faith, in Jesus. It is not correct to think that people in the Old Testament were saved by Works, while people in the New Testament were saved by Faith.
Why is Abraham called The Father of All Believers?
Abraham’s Justification by Faith meant that he was qualified to be the spiritual father of both believing Jews and Gentiles.
A. The Core Doctrine (Romans 4:1-17)
1. Not Justified by Good Works (Romans 4: 1-8)
The key words in Romans 4 are Credit and Righteousness. The concept of Credit as we are familiar with is related to our works. The word Credit used by Paul here is not given by our performance, but solely by God’s grace. To receive credit from God is most important for all of us because it determines our eternal destiny and how we live.
- No amount of good works can add to the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. In Psalm 32, David said that people who were blessed did not earn from God but received from Him despite their sins.
- The Good News is that God accepts us through Faith, just as we are. In His grace, He covers our sins, not counting them against us.
- This amazing awe should spill over to our worship.
2. Not Justified by Ceremonial Rites (Romans 4:9-12)
Abraham was the father of all who believed as he himself did. Paul explained the true significance of circumcision as a sign of righteousness that Abraham had by Faith. The ceremonial rite put a seal on what was already true. Paul showed how Faith enabled Jews and Gentiles to become the descendants of Abraham, to have the same footing as The People of God.
- Everyone has the same access to God. Paul concluded in Galatians 3:26-29 that we were all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. This inclusion of Gentiles as God’s people is the leading edge of a broader principle of the removal of all outward distinctions and the universal offer of the Gospel.
3. Not Justified by Law-Keeping (Romans 4:13-15)
Faith is distinct from the law. The law is something that must be done and commandments that must be obeyed. Faith is an attitude, of a willingness to receive.
- God accepts us because we have humbled ourselves before Him. Believing means we open our hands to receive God’s gift of salvation. Faith is a response to God’s gift.
4. Justified by Faith (Romans 4:16-17)
Salvation can only be received by Faith. The concept of promise is central to the story of Abraham. The promise is based on Faith, not on the law.
- The promise based on Faith unites Jews and Gentiles together into One People of God. The promise to Abraham is valid for all. Nobody is excluded because of their racial, religious, or ethnic background.
B. The Character of Abraham’s Faith (Romans 4:18-22)
Paul brought us to Genesis 15:6, which shows that Faith, not the law, secured the promise. The promise did not come because people obeyed the law but it came through the righteousness that comes by Faith.
- Abraham believed hope against all hope — trusting in God and His promises, even when the evidence went against it.
- Abraham responded with firm and unwavering faith to God’s promise.
- Abraham believed in hope that God had given him a specific promise and he was fully assured that he was able to realise it.
- Put our Faith in God. Faith has power not in itself but in God in whom we place our Faith.
- Put our Faith in God’s power. The Bible teaches us to believe in the God who works miracles.
- Put our Faith in God’s promises. Faith is based on God’s Word. Abraham fully confronted the physical impossibilities that he and Sarah could ever have a child. This did not keep him from believing that God would do exactly as He promised. Abraham had his doubts, but he did not allow those doubts to side-track him.
Faith is a struggle. There will be times when we feel like giving up. God has not forgotten us. We can count on Him to fulfil His promises in His time.
C. The Conclusion For Us (Romans 4:23-25)
God’s redemption plan is in v25 — Christ died for our sins and was raised again for our Justification. As Abraham believed in the God who gave life to the dead, so should we.
What God has done for us is Justification and what God has done in us is Sanctification. Together, they are God’s work of restoring creation into the right relationship with Him.
(Sermon notes by Honey Vreugdewater)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- How was Abraham made right with God? When was Abraham made right with God? Was justification different in the Old Testament compared to the New Testament?
- Why was Abraham called “the father of all believers”?
- Share which of God’s promises do you find hardest to trust? Why? How does Abraham’s example help you?
- God’s entire redemption plan is summarised in Romans 4:25. In what sense are our sins the reason for Christ’s death, and our justification the purpose of his resurrection? (cf. Isaiah 53:4–6, 8b, 11; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:17).
- How can the church live in unity across ethnic and cultural barriers? Pray for the unity in the body of Christ.