:::: MENU ::::

Justification Illustrated by Abraham’s Experience (Part 1) – Romans 4:1-25

Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

Justification Illustrated by Abraham’s Experience (Part 1) – Romans 4:1-25

Download Notes in a .MD file

Justification Illustrated by Abraham’s Experience (Part 1)

Romans 4:1-25 (Pastor Heo)

Abraham Justified by Faith

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 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: 7 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” 9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? 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! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 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. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 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 but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the 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.” 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. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 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—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.


Last Sunday, we made “justification” clear (i.e. how to have a right relationship with God). In the second half of chp 3: It is only by:

  1. The grace of God (the root)
  2. The blood of Christ (the power of the death and resurrection – the foundation, ground)
  3. Faith (condition – not method – for justification)

In chp 4, this is Abraham’s story. Why? What relationship do we have with Abraham in this matter of justification? At least there are more than 6x repeated “Abraham is our father.”

  • v. 1 “…Abraham, our forefather…”
  • v. 11 “…he, Abraham, is the father of all…”
  • v. 12 “…he, Abraham, is also the father of the circumcised…”
  • v. 16 “…he, Abraham, is the father of us all…”
  • v. 17 “…he, Abraham, is our father in the sight of God…”
  • v. 18 “…against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and became the father of many nations…”

Abraham is the “father of the faith.”

What does this mean when we call Abraham “our father”?

If you are Christian, you have 4 fathers:

  1. Physical (biological) father
  2. Father God (our Creator)
  3. Adam (the first man)
  4. Abraham (father of the faith)

The fact that Abraham is our father means at least 2 things (let’s focus on one):

#1: Abram (Abraham) was an example, chosen by God, and shown in history HOW to have a right relationship with God.

Abraham’s story of how he was justified is the SAME as our own experience to be justified. Every single, individual person can be justified by the same God, the same grace, power, and faith.

Abraham = “the father of faith” = he was justified in the same way we are justified today.

#2: Abraham is the promise, the covenant, of how this is being fulfilled today.

In chp 4, HOW was Abraham justified? His story is the same as ours.

  1. Negatively: by what he was NOT justified (today)
  2. Positively: by what he WAS justified (next week – very important to attend)

Four things that DID NOT justify Abraham

#1: Not by his good works / character

v. 1-2 “1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.”

Yes, Abraham was not perfect before God. He told many lies about his wife (“she’s my sister”). What would you think? He said that many times before kings (in fear of losing his physical life by pagan labors). “Wherever we go, tell them ‘this is my brother'”.

  • Abraham’s character is NOT perfect (don’t idolize him).
  • Abraham’s justification has NOTHING to do with his justification.

#2: Not by circumcision

v. 9-10 “9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? 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!”

Abraham was circumcised at the age of 99. The Jews (at that time) gloried in circumcision because they thought it was the method of justification (they thought it was one way to have a right relationship with God). In fact, they looked down on Gentiles as “dogs” who were not circumcised.

Actually, Abraham was justified 14 years earlier in Genesis 15. So, actually, from a Jewish point of view, Abraham was a Gentile by the time he was justified.

Actually,

  • In Genesis 12 (24 years before circumcision), God called him to bless all nations.
  • In Genesis 15 (14 years before circumcision), he was declared righteous because he believed God.
  • In Genesis 17, he was circumcised.

#3: Not by observing the Law

v. 13-15 “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. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.”

It is clear that Abraham was not justified by observing the Law. Abraham was the man of Genesis – but the Law was given through Moses (Exodus). This was much later.

At the time of Abraham’s justification, there WAS no Law.

#4: Not by his own power

v. 19-20 “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. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,”

Abraham has an only son (Isaac). Spiritually, this was the son of the Promise, the covenant, through whom all nations will be blessed. The spiritual truth of this is – HOW Abraham received this promise is a symbol of how he was justified by God.

The method by which Abraham received his Promised Son is symbolic of how he was justified by God.

He received this son at the age of 100. Wow! His wife was 90. Double wow!

This is IMPOSSIBLE!~

What does this mean? This is a symbol of spiritual truth. He was NEVER justified by his own power. He was totally powerless, helpless, when God started to operate his power in their bodies.

How was he NOT justified?

  1. Not by character
  2. Not by circumcision
  3. Not by keeping the Law
  4. Not by his own Power

Also, we are the same. Can you say “my character justifies me”? Not by communion, baptism, circumcision. Not by keeping the Law. Not by our own strength.

So then, HOW WAS Abraham justified? Next week….

Let’s pray.

Comments are closed.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen
%d bloggers like this: