Sermon: Our God Who Gives Life to the Dead Romans 4

Our God Who Gives Life to the Dead
Romans 4


Truth Taught- Our faith is counted to us as righteousness when we believe the God who raises the Dead.

Introduction
Salvation is by grace through faith. Now to capture our new Disciple Hour Series…Salvation is All of Grace. Now, to say salvation is by grace through faith we must understand that where formerly or even today, mistakenly people get the idea that salvation is by works. In other words if I behave a certain way God will accept me and give me salvation. But we must understand that if salvation is given based on my performance then it’s not God’s gift to me but it is something I’ve earned like a wage being paid for a job well done. Salvation is not a wage but a gift. The only way it can be a gift if its something I do not work to earn.

In our text today, we’re going to see how it is that sinners are made right with God or as Paul calls it, justified.

No matter who keeps score there are only two possible ways humans can be right with God. The first way is to work for salvation by upholding God’s Law perfectly for your entire life never once failing in it. This is the way most people go. The problem is that no one has ever achieved righteous perfection nor will anyone ever meet God’s perfect standards. In fact, James wrote about this in his epistle…

James 2:10 (ESV)
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
So, we’ve all failed on at least one point of God’s law. Even if we’ve kept all the rest perfectly failing at one part of it is enough to be considered a sinner before God.

The truth is it’s even worse than this. Not only does God condemn us because we’ve failed to keep the law but God condemned us even at birth because we are born with a nature that’s sinful. Sin is simply the result of a disposition toward sin. We have evil hearts and we are evil people who do what evil people do. So, it’s not so much the sin itself that condemns us but our sin nature as well.

So, the human need is desperate.

Human Need

We must be made righteous before God by an external force not our own. Because we are born with a sin nature and then from that commit sin we stand condemned before God. So if something is to change God is going to need to do it.

Romans 4:1–25 (ESV)
4 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

This section is very clear that Abraham was not made right with God (justified) because of his great law keeping or even because he obeyed God and was circumcised. Paul tells us that he was not made right with God because of the Law or because of circumcision because God declared him righteous because of his faith before he was circumcised.

13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

1. Faith in God and His Promises

13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
In verse 13 Paul speaks about a promise God made to Abraham. The promise is found in Genesis 15

Genesis 15:5–6 (ESV)
5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Lets read it again slowly and notice with me that this promise that God makes to Abraham has no works on Abraham’s part to fulfill it. God is saying that this promise will come to pass no matter what. There were no conditions, requirements or anything else from Abraham in order for God to do what He promised He would do.

Now the promise was that God would give Abraham a great number of offspring. Now we find out later that God was not speaking of physical descendants but spiritual offspring who were God’s through faith. So, with this promise of offspring , Abraham believed God.

14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
Paul says it again. If adhering to God’s Law made one right before God (justified) then faith is of no value but hard work is. There is no promise either because the offspring would not be given by God but would be those who work hard or they get the credit.

Since God made the promise and in the promise God said He will do it then we honor God by believing what He tells us. It is faith or belief in the promise of God that God took all Abraham’s works and cancelled them and in the plus column wrote…He is Mine by faith.
Paul also gives us another reason why works righteousness is impossible…15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

Here’s what Paul is getting at, because the Law of God is God’s do’s and don’t’s then it is the law that makes our actions sin. Because sin is a transgression or a trespass then it receives God’s wrath.

If I’m walking in the woods and come to a sign that says No Trespassing, for me to continue on is to break the law. However, if there is no sign then continuing on doesn’t break any law. Because salvation is not found in keeping the Law of God but in faith, there is no law and because salvation is not found in the law there is no wrath for sin.

2. Faith in God and His Promises, Justifies

17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

A. Abraham believed in God who has the power to raise the dead

God promised Abraham that from his descendants there would be a righteous number who would also believe God. There is one catch to this promise. They had no children and their hope for children had long since become a forgotten wish. Abraham was a hundred and his wife Sarah was over 90. He looked at himself and his wife and years ago concluded that if we couldn’t have children when we were young then we definitely can’t have children now. That was his thinking before God made the promise to him. Now, let’s look at what he thinks…

17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
There is a factor in the equation that changes everything. Before it was Abraham + Sarah = 0 children. Now, look at the equation…Abraham + Sarah + God (who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.) = A multitude of offspring

B. Abraham believed in God even when His promise looked impossible

19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

Notice what Paul tells us about what Abraham thought of himself. He thought that basically when it comes to the ability for him and Sarah to have children they were as good as dead. But he believed that if God said it would happen then God would need to make it happen and give life to the dead. Abraham’s faith never wavered. He believed God that even after a physical assessment had be done and even after he realized that there was no human possibility that he would ever be a father or Sarah a mother that God could and would have to do it in order for His promise to come true.

He also knew that God’s promise would have to come true because God said it. God cannot lie. When God says something, even if it seems absolutely impossible, He has to do it or He is a liar.
gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb

3. Abraham’s Faith and Our Faith Focuses on God Who Raises the Dead

23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

What’s important here is that we notice how the Apostle Paul intends this to be meant for us. His words are for Christians from all times. He gives us a particular way of applying Abraham’s faith to ourselves. What exactly did Abraham believe? He believed that God would make him into a great people while at 100 he still didn’t have any children. He believed that God could resurrect his and his wife’s bodies in order to conceive a child. That’s why Paul captures this thinking when he writes in our text that Abraham was as good as dead.

19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.

Hebrews 11:11–12 (ESV)
11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

So, Abraham believed everything God told him even before any of it took place.
Look with me at what Paul tells us…

23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,
Just as Abraham believed all God told him and just as impossible as it was for him and his wife to have a baby, his faith never wavered as he trusted all God told him.

Here’s where Abraham faith and our faith connect. He believed in the resurrection of he and Sarah’s bodies and it was counted as righteousness…

24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,

The promises we believe include everything God has told us about the resurrection of His Son. Sarah and Abraham are illustrations of the power God has to resurrect the dead. They we still alive but as far as having babies go they were as good as dead. Our Lord did die. He was in the tomb for three days, dead and buried.

I want us to consider that it should be easier to believe in the resurrection of Jesus than for Abraham and Sarah to believe they could have a baby. Why do I say that? Well, when God told them and expected them to believe they were still as good as dead. God expects us to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ now after it has already taken place. God counts belief in His promise as righteousness.

Matthew 16:21 (ESV)
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Matthew 17:22–23 (ESV)
22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

So, I want us to see this morning that we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus coming at us from both directions. We have His statements that it was going to happen before it did. Then we have the cross, death and resurrection of Jesus just like He foretold. Then, we have multiple witnesses to the fact that Jesus was actually dead and that He now is actually alive.

1 Corinthians 15:3–8 (ESV)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

God calls us to believe His promise. Jesus said I will die and I will not stay dead but will rise again. Do you see we have prediction, fulfillment, and proof that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Now what was accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
delivered up for our trespasses-

In simple terms, the horrific event of the trials and scourging and crucifixion was what we should has suffered for our sin. The cross event was God’s wrath being poured out on Jesus for our sin. The lashes Jesus took were intended for us. A Roman scourging often killed the victim before he ever made it to the cross, through blood loss and damage to vital organs. A person’s insides were usually visible and sometimes dragging behind them as they were lead away to the cross. That should have been us.

That’s what Paul means by delivered up for our trespasses.
raised for our justification-

Literally, He was raised because of or on account of our justification. In other words, the death of Jesus paid for our sin and because the sin of God’s people had been paid for Jesus rose on the third day just like He said He would. Death had no claim on Him.

Luke 24:1–12 (ESV)
24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Genesis 21:1–7 (ESV)
21 The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Application
Believe God and live. He has risen just like He said.

1 In hope against all human hope,
Self-desperate, I believe–
Thy quickening word shall raise me up,
Thou wilt thy Spirit give.
2 The fact surpasses all my thought;
But faithful is my Lord;
Through unbelief I stagger not,
For God hath spoke the word.
3 Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries–It shall be done!—Charles Wesley

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