The anticipation I had Sunday morning before the start of Sunday school was like waiting to go get some ice cream when I was a little kid… I couldn’t wait to get there to dig my teeth into the rich creamy ice cream and I couldn’t wait to get to class and teach what I had learned about God’s grace. That it’s God’s grace that enables us to believe. I probable was a little overly excited and probable had a few too many espresso in the morning, but this was great truths that Paul was going to tell us and to share it with the class was, well exciting!
We just finished up Romans 4:13-15 and starting verses 16-18
For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, 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, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” Romans 4:16-18
Paul says “For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace” We learned that the law produces God’s wrath (Romans 4:15), not His justification, but we must not miss this point that the power of justification is God’s grace, it’s NOT man’s faith… A man’s faith can NOT save him, it is God’s sovereign grace that provides the way. You see when grace comes in, it enables us to believe and it’s a done deal, because He will not fail us Hebrews 6:16-19. It’s He who begins the work of salvation in us, it’s He who continues to work in us and it’s He who will bring us home to glory Philippians 1:6.
Paul tells the church at Corinth “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
God calls Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and as I told the class “he was a pagan”. There was no Jew or Gentile at this point, but God declared Abrahams faith as righteous before there was a distinction of Jew or Gentile, so Abraham faith was a universal faith and he was the Father of all nations and all people not just the Jews. As one writer puts it “Abraham was the spiritual prototype of every genuine believer. He was a pagan, idolatrous, ungodly sinner who trusted not in his own efforts but in God’s gracious promise.”
There is so much more in verses 17 and 18 that I want to continue this on Thursday… but for now Paul says “For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace” For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8, 9
The key point here is Jesus Christ our Lord and our God is the object of our faith… The power of justification is God’s great, great sovereign grace, not man’s faith, no! But God’s irresistible efficacious sovereign grace.