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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Everything we have read in Romans so far has all been leading up to where we are today. Nobody is righteous, no, not one (Rom. 3:10) and then… we are all in the same boat… all have sinned (Rom. 3:23)!

Romans 3:24, 26b TPT
Yet, through his powerful declaration of acquittal, God freely gives away his righteousness. His gift of             love and favor now cascades over us, all because Jesus, the Anointed One, has liberated us from the   guilt, punishment, and power of sin! So now, because we stand on the faithfulness of Jesus, God     declares us righteous in his eyes.

What? He freely gives away his righteousness? How can this be?

Have you noticed something about little kids? They really want you to watch them! They say nonstop, “Look! Look what I can do! Watch me!” as they jump up and down on a trampoline, ride a bike, or do something new.

The truth is even though adults don’t say it anymore, inside we are often still looking for the same things we looked for when we were children – acceptance, validation, and worth in what we do.

This was the condition of the Jewish people in the Roman church. They were saying, “God, look at me. Other people, look at me. Have you noticed how holy I seem?” Paul came along and told them that in the kingdom, you don’t get acceptance based on what you do, but what He did!Paul developed his point by looking at two of the most famous people in Israel—Abraham and David—and used them as examples.

Rom. 4:1-8 ESV

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,and whose sins are covered;blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

The heart of Paul’s message – Rom. 4:3 NLT

For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

Rom. 4:3 TPT

Listen to what the Scriptures say: Because Abraham believed God’s words, his faith transferred God’s righteousness into his account.

If, as followers of Jesus we don’t understand this, we spend the rest of our lives trying to earn what we cannot earn, and we will miss the joy we could be walking in. We would forever wonder, “Am I in or out with God?”

Travel the world and you’ll find one thing in common among people – most are trying to figure out how to be right with God.One of the biggest turning points in your life is when you discover that in Christ, you are accepted, and that has nothing to do with what you do, but what you believe!

HOW CAN WE BECOME RIGHT WITH GOD? It may be a lot simpler than you think.

Believe God.| 4:1-3 

If Abraham was justified by good works, by “his good deeds,” we could make a list of his good deeds… but none of these things are mentioned. No, the Scriptures tell us, “He believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6).

We tend to complicate things—relationships with others and our relationship with God. We complicate hearing Him; we even complicate salvation – being right with God.

The more we try and do what we cannot, the more of a mess we make of things. Stop trying and start believing today! ONLY BELIEVE. Grab onto that!

There is one thing needed… ONLY BELIEVE! It’s only by believing that you can be saved.

In Mark 5:36, Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Paul introduces a very important word in this chapter and uses it 11 times: “COUNT.” 

In Greek, it’s an accounting term.

COUNT: To credit something, to confer a status that was not there before.

The Apostle Paul doesn’t say that Abraham was made righteous, but rather that God counted Abraham as righteous! Our justification is not God making us perfectly righteous, but counting us as perfectly righteous.  After we are counted righteous, then God begins to make us truly righteous, culminating at our resurrection.  YES!!! It means that God treated Abraham as though he was living a righteous life. Abraham was not in himself righteous or blameless, but God treated him as though he was.

When you believe in the message of the cross, you are not made righteous, you are declared righteous!

Salvation Stages—the Scriptures teach us that:

  1. You are saved: Justification. He transfers His righteousness to your account.
  2. You are being saved: Sanctification. 1 Cor. 1:18
  3. You will be fully saved: Glorification.

You have to believe the right things.Saving faith is not believing that God is there, in a God who saves. It is believing God when He promises a way of salvation by grace. You can have strong faith that God exists, that He is loving, that He is holy. You can believe that the Bible is God’s Holy Word, yet all the while, you can be trusting in yourself, your own performance, in your great moral character to save you.

He did this for Abraham… and He’ll do it for you. Believe Him!

Receive what you cannot earn.|4:4-8 

Rom. 4:4-8 ESV

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Works has to do with earning; grace is about receiving.

“A Christian is somebody who stopped working to be saved, not somebody who stopped working.” – Tim Keller

When does God justify somebody? When you are ungodly. He justifies the ungodly!

He forgave us when we were wicked; He justifies the ungodly.

Here is the truth: When you receive your credited righteousness, you are still wicked.

What is justification? God’s righteousness credited, transferred to your account.

You don’t become righteous, you are declared righteous!

Counted as righteous: It would be like you looking at your mortgage, getting ready to make the payment, but when you look at your account it reads:  “Paid in Full!”  A status was given to your account and you had nothing to do with it. But what do you have to do? Just receive it.

When speaking of David, Paul was quoting Psalm 32:1-2. David knew what it was like to be a guilty sinner; he understood the weight of shame… but he also knew what if felt like to be forgiven, to be declared something other than what you know you are! We are all guilty; however, in Christ, God has declared you to be something other than what you are… He justifies the ungodly!

Here is a tragedy—many listening to this message today are justified, you have been counted as righteous, you have received the score of Jesus, but you do not know the joy of what is yours! A lack of knowledge has led to a lack of joy, a lack of peace. Many that have been faithful followers of Jesus for years still ask, “I wonder if I’m right with God? I wonder if I’ll go to Heaven?”

Some know so little about these beautiful words:  Accepted in the Beloved. Justified, Redeemed, Adopted.

Justification. This miracle transfer means more than being forgiven; more than you are let off of your penalty. You also need to hear: You may come! You are welcome into relationship with me!

Romans 5:10-11

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Being right with God does not depend on your ability to hold onto His hand…

but His ability to hold onto your hand!

Some of you are holding onto Him like He’s weak,

like He’s not going to be able to hold onto you.

God did this for David… and he’ll do it for you. Trust Him!

Romans 4:9-12 NLT

Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. 10 But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!

11 Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. 12 And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Romans 4:12 ESV

…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.

The Roman Church was comprised of Jews and Gentiles.

“Our father Abraham” – the Jews guarded this phrase as theirs. If a Gentile converted to Judaism, they would have to refer to Abraham as “your father.” This must have shocked the Jews… the link to Abraham was faith, not circumcision.

Walk in the footsteps of Abraham’s faith.|4:9-12

We are on a faith journey. It’s not just any faith… it’s the same kind Abraham had!

Look at Abraham’s faith starting in Genesis 12… it was a journey, it was practical, it showed up in everyday life. From his relationships and how he treated his nephew Lot; to his battle against kings as if he had been a man of war his whole life; to the facing of disappointment—he lived with delayed promises for years.

This is the kind of faith that justifies you, counts you as something entirely that you were not—righteous.

It is the kind of faith that is lived out on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…

It was an imperfect faith. It’s important to note that while Abram’s faith in God perfectly justified him; his faith was imperfect.

Perfect is not the goal… progress in the area of believing is the goal.

We too can pray like the disciples did: “Lord, increase my faith.” But know this: Your faith may not be perfect… but it will justify you through Jesus!

Genesis 15:7

“I am the Lord that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit.”

Do you see this is all the Lord’s doing? He called, He brought Abram out. Why? To give to him.

The more you understand grace… the more you will understand your calling, and what the Lord has given you.

Abraham was blessed, called out, received this promise before he was circumcised. He received the promise at age 70, was not circumcised until 99!

Have faith to receive forgiveness… you are the reward for His suffering.

What does that look like? Go back to the beginning and BELIEVE GOD.

Receive what you cannot earn – His accounting system that counts you as something entirely different from what you are. That is good news for you!

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