Abraham, Our Ancestor, Jews and Gentiles (Romans 4:1-25)

Abraham, Our Ancestor, Jews and Gentiles (Romans 4:1-25)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7, 2021

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7, 2021

I recently re-watched some of the Star Wars movies. In the fourth movie, “A New Hope” Luke Skywalker is introduced. If you watch numbers 4, 5, and 6 Luke is a lot different in “Return of the Jedi” than in “A New Hope.” Luke matures and goes through Jedi training. His Jedi training took a lot of determination. 

How do people change like that?

I submit to you that for the Christian Jesus changes us. Jesus changes us and the change in us is instantaneous when we are saved. When we are saved Jesus gives us His righteousness.

Today, I wish to talk about how Jesus changes us.

I want to talk about “justification.”

Everyone say, “Justification.”

The theme:

Abraham was justified by faith and we can only be justified by faith.

This is a lengthy passage, so today we will only read the first 3 verses and then the last 3 later on.

Read with me Romans 4:1-3:

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.” 

  • First, let’s talk about justification.
    • In Romans 3:23 the Bible says that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
    • Then Romans 3:24 says that we are justified freely.
    • Romans 6:23 says the same thing.
    • At this point, Romans could almost be complete but Paul is now illustrating that we are justified by faith alone and Jews and Gentiles need Jesus.
    • I talked about justification when I preached through Galatians so some of this is review.
    • So, what is justification? Is it “just-as-if-I-never-sinned”?
    • Not really. Unfortunately, I have used that but there is so much more to justification then that.
    • Justification is a legal term.
    • Justification has two parts:
      1. Forgiveness of sins
      1. Imputed Christ’s righteousness
    • Without forgiveness of sins, we are guilty so this removes the guilt.
    • Imputing Christ’s righteousness takes the wrath of God away from us and makes it so that we can stand before God. Imputing Christ’s righteousness restores our relationship with God.
    • As an example, we stand before the JUDGE— He examines the defendant against the evidence (using omniscience). The judge is God, and He is examining us.
    • He pronounces judgment. Later, will follow the pronouncing of sentence.
    • HIS JUDGMENT = NOT GUILTY by reason of the Atonement of Christ.
    • Rom 4.5  “Justifies the ungodly”
    • The definition of justification is To Declare Righteous
    • NOT, To Make Righteous (Sanctification, and finally glorification).
    • Therefore, your right standing is a declaration of the judge, not the result of your actually being good.
    • Forgiveness of sins:
    • Forgiveness of Sins

Romans 4:8

         “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

  • Negative Side – clearing away
    • Imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

Rom 3.21-22:  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith inJesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile…

Positive Side – the merit of God’s son.

  • Justification implies a freedom from guilt.
    • Not that we were not guilty, but that we have been freed from its condemnation (Rom 8:1).
    • The forgiveness of sins by confession (1 Jn 1.9) should be fully accepted.  To do less implies an ineffective atonement.
    • “Go and sin no more”  (John 8).
    • Implication: God receives me as he would his own son (Heb 4.16).
    • So, that is justification.
    • Isn’t that awesome! We are not just forgiven! We are declared righteous in a legal way.
  • Example Abraham and his faith
    • In verse 3 we have the quote from Gen. 15:6: Abraham believed God and it was credited to Him as righteousness. Abraham was justified by his faith.
    • This was a big deal because the Jews would have thought Abraham was right with God because of circumcision, but as verses 9-12 say the justification happened prior to the seal of circumcision.
    • Abraham was justified some 14 years prior to circumcision.
    • The chronology of Genesis proves Paul’s case. Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (Gen. 16:16), and Abraham was 99 when he was circumcised. But God declared him righteous before Ishmael had even been conceived (Gen. 15:6; 16:2–4)—at least 14 years before Abraham’s circumcision.”
    • We are grafted in. Look at verses 23-25: 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.


How do people change? How do Christians change? The first step is accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. The first step is surrendering to Him. God will take it from there, if we surrender to Him.

This passage is not about Abraham but about God. God transforms people!

Have you been transformed? Is that worth sharing?

Go and share it!

Go and worship that you are not just forgiven but you are righteous.

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