Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P16 (12-02-19)
From the book of Romans, in the rest of Romans chapter 4, Paul is contrasting law and grace. The law condemns a person as a sinner, but grace sets a person free. Grace is Jesus. He is the only one who could take away the cause of death, which is sin. Having no sin of his own, being God in the flesh, he laid down his life to pay the price of death for sin.
That is what the apostle Paul described as reconciliation. Reconciliation is an accounting term, where a person writes off a debt that is owed. It would be like a man who owed a tremendous amount of money and then went bankrupt. The merchant pays the debt and writes it off the books. That is what Jesus did.
Now to be clear, the cross is how God reconciled the world to himself. That is preparatory for salvation but it is not salvation. If salvation was getting your sins forgiven, then that would be universal salvation. But that is not salvation. Salvation is the receiving of new life.
Jesus did not stay dead, God raised him from the dead. He died first, as was necessary to take away the cause of death, which is sin. If he did not, then the next time man sinned, he would die again. So Jesus was raised from the dead, so he can now offer the life that raised him from the dead, to us, as a gift to be received by faith.
In Romans, Paul is talking to the Jews and telling them that everything they have been taught is wrong. Now, that would not be well received. Who likes to be told they are wrong? So Paul tells the Jews about Abraham and David, and how their faith alone, in what the promised Messiah came to do, is what saved them. We are saved by the life of Christ, not the death of Christ. His death was necessary in order for life to be given.
David trusted God, and God foretold about a day coming of how blessed the man would be whose sins the Lord will never count against him. David spoke about the blessedness of the one to whom the Lord credits righteousness. David believed God.
Abraham also trusted God, that God could raise the dead. So when God promised him in his old age a child to be born through him, that was tied to an earlier promise that all the world will be blessed through him. So by a son to be born through him in his old age, he believed God. That faith was credited to him as righteousness.
Abraham, without weakening in faith, when God tested him, when God told him to sacrifice his one and only son, he acted in obedient trust and went to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Such was the faith of Abraham. Of course, God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice his son. That was only a test of Abraham’s faith, and a ram caught in the thicket was sacrificed instead. In Hebrews, we read that he reasoned that in order for God to fulfill his promise, he would raise Isaac from the dead.
Jesus, in the distant future of Abraham, was sacrificed to take away the sins of the world, and was raised again to give life to all who would have the same faith as Abraham and take God at his word. And all this was believed by Abraham before the law was ever given through Moses. That would be an important point to make to those whom their whole lives believed righteousness was obtained through observing the law.
5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
Guys, again, this is a totally foreign teaching to the Jew, who all of his experience has been: “I am working. I am trying to obey the law. I am obeying the dietary laws in order that I might be righteous in the sight of God. And here these guys are saying that everything that I was taught is wrong.” Don’t you love it when someone points out to you that you are wrong. “Oh good. Thank you for pointing that out to me.” No, we do not like to be told we are wrong. How do you like someone saying to you: “Guys, everything you have been taught is wrong. You have put the emphasis in the wrong place. You have misused the law just like a person would take a hammer that was developed to build a house and put it into the hands of a murderer and hits somebody in the head with it. You misused it. You are wrong. Righteousness is by faith and faith alone.” Paul had to stand up in the face of people who hated his guts for what he was saying. He was saying to take David as an example. The same thing he speaks about. Blessed is the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from work. And he quotes the scripture.
“Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”[Psalm 32:1-2]
That was David’s belief, that God in due time, would provide a way where our sins will be taken away.
9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised,
Now, who was the circumcised? The Jews.
or also for the uncircumcised?
In other words, is this blessedness, is it only for the Jews, or is also for the Gentiles?
We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!
So Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness before the act of circumcision ever took place.
11 And he received circumcision as a sign,
It was the seal of the righteousness which he had by faith.
a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.
It was before he was circumcised. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness before the act of circumcision ever took place.
11 And he received circumcision as a sign,
What was the purpose of the sign of circumcision?
a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.
Folks, we do not have a big deal going on with circumcision. That is not a big teaching in Christendom today, is it? If it does, it only applies to half the population. It is not one of those things that is really emphasized. So we have a little difficulty grabbing a hold of what is the importance here. But to the Jew, that was a sign, that was a seal of righteousness.
Let us apply something else that some people say today. Any time you add to Jesus, you subtracted from Jesus. We wouldn’t say circumcision but there would be a group that would say baptism? Well, could you not then put the substitute and apply the same principle? After he had received the sign of baptism, which was an indicator of the righteousness that you had by faith while you were still unbaptized. Would that also be true?
You see, what we have here is, again, was your faith credited to you as righteousness before you were baptized, or after you were baptized? Well, before. So what you are dealing with here is the same choice and the same principle that people use today, who claim that you are saved by baptism, which would be the same as saying you are saved by circumcision. No difference. It is just a sign. So he is saying, under what circumstances? Was it before being baptized or after being baptized? Did you receive the sign of baptism, which he received by faith while he was still unbaptized.
So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.
The same argument is taking place here, guys. The same thing you are dealing with today with people who say that you are not saved unless you speak in tongues, you are not saved unless you are baptized, you are not saved unless you do this, and there is no difference. It is the same principle of saying that you are not saved unless you are circumcised. The same principle applies here. What he is trying to express here is that you are saved by faith and faith alone! What you do after that could be multi-fold. If you were saved back then you would probably get circumcised. Today, you would go get baptized.
Does baptism have anything to do with your salvation? Not a thing. If it did, then Paul could not have said that he did not come to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, because if baptism was in the gospel, he could not make that kind of statement, could he? Some people would say that he did not come to baptize, he just came to preach. No, he did not come to preach. He came to preach the gospel. There is no baptism in the gospel. It is merely a fact of saying that you come to Him by faith and faith alone.
This argument today, as it relates to circumcision, is as strong today as it was back then, because of all the other things we have added to what salvation is. The so-called Christian world has added to salvation, such as church membership. Other things people have said that add to salvation. “You cannot be saved unless you are a Catholic.” “You cannot be saved unless you are a Protestant.” “You cannot be saved unless you belong to our assembly.” “You cannot be saved unless you are dunked in our waters.” “You cannot be saved unless babble in tongues.” We can go on and on and on and every year the Christian world comes up with a new hula hoop to tell you what you have to do to get saved. Paul is stringently saying to us. There is only one way to salvation and that is through a simple faith in Christ Jesus. Period, period, period. He is strong in what he is saying.
12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. 13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
The law came through Moses. How is Abraham saved? Through faith. Faith in who? Faith in God. Faith in the same God that David said: “Blessed are those whose sins have been taken away”. He had faith in this. God credited that to their account. That is how the Old Testament people were saved. We know the object of our faith on this side of the cross. I am glad I live on this side of the cross, don’t you?
When I was in Israel at the sea of Galilee, and I was looking at those guys in those boats, the same kind of boats that the disciples were in when they met Jesus. I thought to myself. There is somebody standing on that sea saying “I am God”. I am glad I am on this side of the cross. That would be a hard one to believe? We almost make fun of the doubting Thomas. If you had been there you would have been doubting too. How can this be? This is a fisherman. This is a carpenter going fishing with us, eating with us. How can he be God? But he is.
He proved his deity, through not only the miracles that he did, but through ultimate miracle, the resurrection of Christ Jesus. There is also a brilliant proof of the deity of Christ and salvation by faith. Do you realize that after 2000 years, people just like you and me, have been testifying. All over the world people are listening to our voice on the internet. All over the world people are saved the same way as you and I were. In a point in time in history we recognized something about ourselves, not that we have not been to church lately, or haven’t done this or that, but we recognized what the bible said about us. Bob recognized he was dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
You see, you can go to people and say: “Do you know you are a sinner?” I know many, many people. There are so many people who took objection to that, saying: “I am not that bad. Basically I am a nice person. I just killed my mom and dad, but basically I am a nice person.” You hear that all the time. On death row, someone says: “I am basically a good person. Yes, I made a mistake but basically I am okay.” God says that is not true. It does not matter how nice you are. It does not even matter how bad you are. The issue is how dead you are. How dead is dead? If you ever looked at a dead dog or a dead person, they are dead. You can tickle their feet. You can tell them a funny story. They are not going to laugh. They are dead. When you and I are called dead spiritually, it means you are dead spiritually. You are dead to the life that vacated us when Adam sinned. Your human spirit is not dead. It is dead to what vacated it. What vacated it is the life of God living in us. My human spirit is alive to the world, dead to God. That is why I used to bounce prayers off the ceiling until I was saved. So he is saying to us this comes by faith and faith alone.
14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless,
So if you are going to live by the law, then your faith is worthless. Then the promises God made to Abraham are worthless, if you want to live by the law. People who want to live by the law hate this stuff. So a person says, “Maybe he was only talking about the dietary laws?” No, he was talking to all of them. You do not go to Mt. Sinai, period. You go to the empty tomb. There you are going to find who is going to guide you into all truth and his name is Jesus.
15 because the law brings wrath.
23 For the wages of sin is death
What is the wages of sin under the law? Death. What do we hear? That when you sin, you are out of fellowship. Is that true, according to the bible? No. Do you ever find a place in the bible, that when you sin, you are out of fellowship? No. It is not there. People teach it as if it is there, but it is not there. The wages of sin is not going to the woodshed. The wages of sin is not God going to get you. The wages of sin is death. Until you have been freed from the law of sin and death by the law of life, you remain dead.
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
And that is exactly what salvation is. Salvation is being transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Salvation is being changed from death to life. There is only one source of life available to us and that is Christ Jesus.
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
The law brings wrath. The wages of sin is death. If you want to be under the law, then you are under the consequences of sin, which is death.
15 And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Do we understand that? Was there law prior to Moses? Did Moses bring in the law? He did. How was Abraham and David and the Old Testament people saved? How were they saved? By faith in the promises of God, period. Therefore. What is the “therefore” there for?
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law [Jews] but also to those who have the faith of Abraham.
Abraham was not under the law. He lived by faith in the promises of God.
He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[Genesis 17:5] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed –
Abraham believed God, and that was credited to him as righteousness. What God did Abraham believe in?
the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
That is the God we believe in. The one who gives life to the dead. Do we understand this? When you are talking to someone who is not in Christ, you are talking to a spiritually dead person. If you are sitting in this room today and do not know God personally, then you are dead spiritually, dead as a hammer. And if you are dead, then the only thing you need is life. He already cleared the deck for the divine action of bringing life to the dead. That is why it says in Romans that there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Why? Because the law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
So it says we believe in God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[Genesis 15:5] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.
Now that would be tough to believe, being a 100 years old, to be having children. She also was going to struggle in believing this, having a baby, too.
20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,
In other words, when God said, “Abraham, you are a 100 years old, and Sarah’s womb is dead too”, he said that strengthened his faith. I do not know what that was, but it strengthend his faith. He then gave glory to God.
21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Remember Paul was persuaded that nothing could separate him from the love of God. That is the faith that bring us to the point where we are rock solid, totally convinced, about something.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Are you convinced nothing can separate you from the love of God? Abraham was fully convinced and persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised. Do you believe that? If God promised, does He have the power to pull it off? Yes. “I do not have power”, Abraham is thinking to himself, “since I am a 100 years old. But God promised it, and I do not know how, but He is going to pull it off.” That is where we make mistakes. We ask how God is going to do something and then since we cannot comprehend how, we stop trusting. Just how he is going to pull it off I do not know, but he promised something and I believe him.
22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
He was persuaded that God had the power to do what He promised to do.
23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness –
God will credit righteousness to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Who raised him from the dead? God. Are you going to believe in Him, who raised Jesus from the dead?
25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
At the cross is where reconciliation took place. Reconciliation is like an accounting term. Any of you bookkeepers? If I owed you a hundred thousand dollars. If I bought a hundred thousand dollars worth of merchandise from your firm, and I went bankrupt, what would you do with that debt? You would write it off. You would being paying a debt you did not owe for me, who owed a debt I could not pay. You would write it off your books. That is what reconciliation is, an accounting term. He wrote it off His books.
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. The world, not just a select few. The world unto himself. Not counting your sins against you.
Jesus died to take away the sins of the whole world. But that is not salvation. It is a part. It is what prepared us for salvation. That is where people get messed up. If you believe that salvation is getting your sins forgiven, you cannot accept that God died for the sins of the whole world, for that would be universal salvation, if that was salvation. That is not salvation. It is preparatory for salvation. He died to take away the sins of the whole world. There is not a sin in the whole world that Jesus did not take away. That is what prepared us for salvation.
What is salvation. Jesus is saying, “I took away the cause of death, which is sin, so that I can give you life eternal.” Do you know why you and I have eternal life today? It is because of the eternal consequence of the cross. The cross took away the cause of death. That is the divine action. He took it away.
10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
While we were yet enemies, we were reconciled. Already done. How come? So I can be saved by his life. Saved how? With temporal life? No, eternal life. When did eternal life begin? The very moment you have the Son.
1 John 5:12-13
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
It is all life and death. So he was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to new life for our justification. In Him we are justified. That means the whole package has been pulled together, reconciliation at the cross and life from the dead, the complete package in Christ Jesus.
We will pick up in Romans 5. Another “Therefore”. We will pick up there. We will be talking about that.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Since we have been justified with God, we have peace with God. Do you know, folks, people are trying to find peace in their hearts. We talk about the fact to be anxious for nothing but in all things, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God, and the peace of God will quiet your hearts in Christ Jesus.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Lots of times people say, “I do that, but I do not have the peace of God.” Why? Because you do not have peace with God. You cannot have the peace of God until you experience the peace with God. You cannot have peace with God until you settle the issue that Jesus took away the cause of death at the cross so he can give you and me life eternal. The issue is, “Do we want life?” Do we want to be functioning like a light bulb without electricity, like a car without gasoline, or an oil lamp without oil. Finally made an automobile but it won’t run. Or, do we want to be made complete whereby we have oil in the lamp, gas in the car, and electricity in the bulb and able to function according to an intelligent purpose for what God created you. The issue is: “Do you want life or do you want to remain dead to God?”
In your heart, do you want to put aside this kind of life you were searching, where you were looking for something in all the wrong places? Maybe you heard, for the first time, where you could have life. Then I would ask you to receive life today. Come to the Lord Jesus Christ in me is the simplicity of faith. You do not have to walk an aisle or lift your hand. In the quietness of wherever you are, to be able to say “Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for taking away my sins at the cross. Thank you for giving me eternal life. I ask you to come into my heart and to give me life.” If that is your heart’s desire and you have never done that, then I would like to challenge you today to take the biggest step you will ever take in your life where you come to God for the first time, in Christ Jesus.
God, you see every person’s heart, You know the emptiness that is there until we have come to find our rest in you. There is no rest or peace until we have met the prince of peace. So, Father, I would ask if there is anyone listening to the sound of my voice today, that has never really come to the point of surrender, totally surrendering your life to you, to say, “Jesus, I cannot do it, but you can. That is what Abraham said, ‘I can’t but you can.’ To be fully persuaded that you can and you will. Invite him to come into your heart to be your Lord and to be your Savior. Father, we thank you for the fact that when the word of God is proclaimed, that it reaches hearts that need to be set free. We thank you for that in Jesus name and we trust you that your word does not return void but it accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish. We thank you for that, in Jesus name, amen.