Romans Chapter 4

Part 5

KLMX Radio

December 2008

 

Bryan Kimsey

First Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

 

Good morning and welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program on KLMX.  Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines.  Weíve been working through chapter 4 of Paulís letter to the church in Rome and have seen quite a few interesting things this week.  To sum up, in this section of the letter, Paul is going all the way back to Abraham to show that his righteousness was not due to works that he performed but due to a simple faith that God could perform what God had promised.  Paul is using this to show how the Christian faith is really nothing new, but is rather a fulfillment of what was promised in the Old Testament.  Jesus is the visible manifestation of promises made way back in the beginning by God.  Before we move on to todayís passage, let me take a moment to ask Godís blessing on this message and let me ask that it may serve His purpose and lead people to the truth that is Jesus Christ- in His name, Amen!

 

As weíve seen this week, the key point regarding Abrahamís righteousness is that it was imputed to him.  That is, Abrahamís righteousness was not of him, but was laid to his account by God himself.  We can see this from several passages in chapter 4, which Iíve already discussed on previous days.  If you missed any message and want to get them, check the church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org.   The concept of imputation is absolutely key to an understanding of the gospel message.  One should ask from where the righteousness came that was imputed to Abraham.  Can God simply lay this righteousness on a person, or is transferred from another?  The definition of the term demands that it come from another and that person is Jesus Christ.  This is the argument that Paul is developing here.  Letís review this chapter and as I read it, watch for the concept of imputation, or ďaccounting toĒ:

 

Romans 4:1-22  What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found 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 ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."  (4)  Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.  (5)  But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,  (6)  just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:  (7)  "BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS ARE FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS ARE COVERED;  (8)  BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM THE LORD SHALL NOT IMPUTE SIN."  (9)  Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.  (10)  How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.  (11)  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,  (12)  and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.  (13)  For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  (14)  For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect,  (15)  because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.  (16)  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  (17)  (as it is written, "I HAVE MADE YOU A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS") in the presence of Him whom he believedGod, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;  (18)  who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE."  (19)  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb.  (20)  He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,  (21)  and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.  (22)  And therefore "IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

 

So, because Abraham believed that God  was able to do what God promised, ďIT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."  Watch what Paul says next:

 

Romans 4:23-25  Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,  (24)  but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,  (25)  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

 

Itís hard to be much clearer than that!  Letís look over what Paulís just said, though.  He says, first, that ďit was not written for his sake aloneÖbut also for us.Ē  Here heís telling us that the Old Testament was written not only for those following it as their sole guide, but also for those of the New Testament.  One of the unfortunate mistakes that I deal with is the idea that somehow the Old Testament doesnít apply to Christians.  Few things could be further from the truth.   Jesus himself says this:

 

Matthew 5:17-18  "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  (18)  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

 

While Paul says:

 

Romans 15:4  For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

 

And:

 

1 Corinthians 10:11  Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

 

So, we now have 4 passages that tell us that Old Testament was written for our instruction and example.   Therefore, the example of Abrahamís imputed righteousness should be understood by Christians because it sets an example and a precedent for us.  When we claim Christís righteousness by imputation, it is not a new thing.  Itís not a putting away of the Old Testament, but a fulfilling of the Scriptures.

 

Next, Paul gives us the point that Iíve been trying to teach all week, and that is that Abrahamís imputed righteousness is a model or a foreshadowing of what Christ offers.  Paul says:

 

Romans 4:24-25  Ö. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,  (25)  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

 

Abraham believed that God was able to make him the father of many nations, even though he was an old man, his wife was past child-bearing age, and they had no children.  God said He could do the impossible and Abraham believed Him.  Likewise, Christians believe that the works of Jesus Christ can be applied to their behalf.  They believe that Christ defeated death and that God raised him from the death to demonstrate this.  This is an impossible thing, but itís precisely what we see happening in Abrahamís example.  Recall Paulís words from earlier in this chapter:

 

Romans 4:19-21  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb.  (20)  He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,  (21)  and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

 

Abraham did not consider his own body, but believed in Godís promise.  Likewise, Christians should not consider our own bodies, but look to the example of Jesus who died, was buried, and then resurrected.   Paul says that Jesus was ďraised because of our justification.Ē  Christís resurrection serves a very real and very precise point.  That point was to show His victory over death.  Hereís what Paul says about it:

 

1 Corinthians 15:54-57  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY."  (55)  "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING? O HADES, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?"  (56)  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  (57)  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

And therefore, Paul says:

 

Romans 4:24-25  Ö. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,  (25)  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

 

This indeed is the gospel message.  The message is not that Jesus was a pretty good person and that we should strive to live like him.  The message is not that Jesus can help you get the things you want and help you live a happy life.  No, the message is that Jesus Christ by His perfect and sinless destroyed death for those who place their trust in Him.  The message is that when you believe that God raised Christ from the dead because of your justification, then your sins are imputed to Christ and His righteousness imputed to you, just as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.   Again, I remind you of Peterís words.  Speaking of Christ, he says :

 

1 Peter 2:24  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness- by whose stripes you were healed.

 

This faith is not optional.  Paul tells us later in Romans:

 

Romans 5:1-2  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  (2)  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

Paul does not give any other options here- peace with God comes through our Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone.  Jesus himself says:

 

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

 

There is no Option B.  Peace with God comes only through faith in the atoning works of Jesus Christ.  And itís not like this is not a grievous option!   Jesus says:

 

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  (29)  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  (30)  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

 

So, okay, on the one hand we have peace with God, imputed righteousness, rest for our souls, and a promised resurrection.  On the other hand, we have continued enmity with God, our righteousness as filthy rags according to Isaiah, and condemnation.   On which side do you want to be?  Consider the truth that is Jesus Christ.

 

Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines.  Thanks for listening this week- may God grant you faith and repentance.  In Jesusí name, Amen.

 

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