March 6, 2011
Romans #8

Romans 4:1-8

3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Acts 16:21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

The Jews accused Paul and Silas of teaching unlawful things; that is, things contrary to the Jewish customs of the day.

So throughout Romans, Paul continually points out to the Jews that the doctrine he is teaching is not new, but had already been clearly taught in the Old Testament. The New Testament was new in the sense that this new covenant was put into effect and sealed with the blood of Christ.

I noticed that the preachers who draw a crowd use many homey illustrations to hold the attention of their hearers. Paul uses Old Testament illustrations. My favorite illustrations are also from the Old Testament.

In chapter 3, he used Old Testament illustrations to show that the law would not nor could not make one righteous before God.

Now Paul uses the most two of the most famous men of the Old Testament to make his point that justification comes not from the law but from faith. He uses Abraham and David to show that man has no part in obtaining God's righteousness. Everything comes from God.

Abraham is mentioned first. Abraham was greatly reverenced as the father of the Jewish nation, though he was not a Jew, nor was he even an Israelite. The name Israel was given to Abraham's grandson, Jacob. The term Jew was not used for Israel until 2 Kings 16:6, when Rezin, king of Syria, drave the Jews from Elath... Rezin reign ended about 731 BC.

However, Israel as a nation, and the Jews as a race ceased to exist in 70 AD.

Paul has already made the point that the Jews of his day were proud to be the descendants of Abraham. Though they considered Moses' law too difficult for them, They were confident that God would at least bless them because they were descendants of Abraham.

John 8:31 ¶ Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

Abraham had the promise of Genesis 12:1-4, which was confirmed and expanded on throughout Genesis, and they considered themselves to be the legitimate heirs to that promise through Jacob-Israel, simply because they were circumcised.

Observe: Ussher places Abraham's birth 1976 BC to 1801 BC. The Jews claim heirship to Abraham through Isaac and then Jacob. The followers of Mohammad claim heirship to Abraham through Abraham's first born, Ishmael. Paul claim heirship to Abraham through faith. That is, Christ is the total and complete fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 12, and throughout Genesis.

The problem: Many Christians reject Paul's words that heirship to Abraham is through faith in Christ, saying that the modern Jews are the legitimate heirs to the covenant.

Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

But when the truth of Paul's words are taught in the average Christian Church today, the speaker is treated as was Paul and Silas:

Acts 16:21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

In the first place, a man is not invited to speak if it is suspected he will not teach the accepted customs concerning the "Jews". Then the speaker is not invited back if he does not teach the prevailing custom concerning the "Jews".

Genesis 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The prevailing custom says that "I will bless them that bless thee" means that God will bless those who bless the modern Jewish nation, and provide funds for them to kill their neighbors. In other words, many Christians have bought the lie that the modern "Jew" is somehow a continuation of the Jews of Christ's and Paul's day.

In doing so, they have cut themselves off from the truth that they are the true heirs to the promised blessings in Christ.

Islam:

Their mistaken theology concerning the modern Jews leaves them open to the claims of the Mohammadins who also claim heirship to Abraham through their race. The Mohammadins are enforcing their claim with the sword, while the mistaken Christians are denying the Mohammadins' claim through Ishmael while saying that the true heirs are the modern Jews.

Note, therefore, that they reject one claim as false, which it is, as they tenaciously claim to another false claim when they accept the customary teaching that started in the early 1800s.

However, Paul destroys both physical claims. Neither the modern Jews nor the Mohammadins. Have any claim on Abraham promise of justification by faith.

They expect the Lord to prosper their false claim while suppressing the other false claim. The Lord seems to be cursing the Christian false claim by exalting the Muslim false claim.

V. 3, Paul could not make a stronger case; the claim on the Abrahamic covenate is by faith, not by any works Abraham did, nor by any works that any man since Abraham can do.

In other words, the misguided Christians of our day who believe the Old Testament Jews or the modern followers of the Jew's religion have any physical claim on Abraham's covenant have no grounds to condemn the Mohammadins for their physical claim on Abraham. They are both false claims.

Added note. We cannot even imagine that the rise of Mohammad and his followers caught God by surprise, for the Lord alone raiseth up the poor out of the dust. Psalms 113:7. Why has God exalted Mohammadism? Is it in judgment against Christian support of a murderous pagan nation, Israel? Only he knows that answer.

Vv. 1-3, the Jews were confident that being of the literal seed of Abraham, they had special privileges with God, though they ignored the requirements of Moses. However, they were confident that by following the customs delivered to them by the fathers, they would be in paradise.

Paul makes it clear that their idea was totally false, and would lead to everlasting destruction. Paul's words are just as real today as they were then. We are not blessed because our ancestors were blessed. Any blessing they had was because of their relationship to God through faith in Christ.

Our nation was blessed at one time because it was a genuine Christian nation that promoted the Christian faith. We mistook that "Christian" blessing as a blessing for hard work, and turned our back on the Christian faith. The blessing has pretty much run its course now, and that blessing has turned into a curse.

Abraham was not justified by his works, or he would have had something to boast about. Rather, he was justified by his obedient faith.

Hebrews 11:8-16 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

It is anti-Christian to think of faith as some kind of mystical feeling or attitude. It is something that makes us take action, just as sure as Abraham took the action his faith called for. He left the security of his home in obedience to his faith in the word of God as revealed to him.

We might mention that archeology has shown that Ur of the Chaldees, from where Abraham left, was a very modern city. It had hot and cold running water, as well as many other things we consider modern conveniences. He left those conveniences for a life of living in tents, not know where he was going.

V. 3, Abraham believed God... The object of faith is not man, but the clear word of God. In Genesis chapters 15, 22 and 26, God promised Abraham that his heirs would be as the multitude of the stars of the heaven. It seemed impossible in chapter 15, for Abraham had no children, and it was humanly impossible for his wife to have children at her age.

But Abraham believed God would do what he said he would do, and God did it with no help from Abraham. Both his body and his wife's body were dead as far as having children. It was impossible for Abraham to help God fulfill his promise. He had to believe God, and God alone was glorified.

Vv. 5-8. Again, Paul reaches into the Old Testament to illustrate his point. David's 32nd Psalm is quoted as his proof text. So let us examine that Psalm:

Romans 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Psalms 32:1 ¶ «A Psalm of David, Maschil.» Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. 3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. 6 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. 7 ¶ Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. 8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. 9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. 11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

This Psalm probably follows the 51st, where David repented of and confessed his great sin. This Psalm expresses the great peace of sins forgiven, and renewed fellowship with God.

Psalms 51:13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Psalms 32 seems to be the fulfillment of David's words in 51:13.

David's mark of true repentance was that when he taught others to sin by his actions, he then teaches others how to repent of his sin after he finds forgiveness.

We have found forgiveness. Our goal now should be to help others find the peace with God that we have found.

The woman at the well used her repentace to draw others to Christ. Paul also recalled his terrible sins and repentance as he called others to repentance.

Martin Luther, when pressed for his favorite Psalm said,

"The 32nd, the 51st, the 130th, and the 143rd. For they all teach that the forgiveness of our sins comes, without the law and without works, to the man who believes, and therefore I call them Pauline Psalms; and David sings, ‘There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared,' this is just what Paul says, ‘God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.' #Ro 11:32. Thus no man may boast of his own righteousness. That word, ‘That thou mayest be feared,' dusts away all merit, and teaches us to uncover our heads before God, and confess gratia est, non meritum: remissio, non satisfactio; it is mere forgiveness, not merit at all."

Psalms 32 does indeed teach transgressors the ways of the Lord. The purpose of this Psalm is to instruct the convicted soul how to find peace with God.

The title, Maschil, means this is a Psalm of instruction. David here instructs us in the nature of true blessedness, and how to obtain that blessedness and happiness or joy.

This Psalm tells us that happiness or joy consists in the favour of God, not from keeping the law, not in wealth, power, physical beauty, honour, good health, nor even in favorablel circumstances.

True happiness or joy come from spiritual blessings, not from material blessings of this world.

David opens his sermon as Christ opened his Sermon on the Mount, blessed. God's blessings come from genuine repentance, confession and forgiveness of sin, followed by a clear conscience before God.

Paul said this to Timothy:

1 Timothy 1:18 ¶ This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

2 Corinthians 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

In other words, one of our most effective weapons given us in our warfare is a good conscience, without which we will become a shipwreck.

Paul, in Romans 4:6-8, and David in Psalms 32 give us instructions how to carry on the Christian warfare by having a good conscience.

David then gives warning against trying to ignore or cover over our sin. Rather than God's blessing, the unpardoned sin results in all kinds of difficulties. The guilty conscience saps physical and spiritual strength. It results in all kinds of restlessness as well as physical ailments.

V. 2, no guil rather than no guilt. Guil means deceitful, false or slothful. In other words, the sinner's repentance and prayers are sincere. He does not repent in order to sin agin. Those who truly and honestly repent, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" John 1:47.

V. 4, when David tried to ignore the sin, the hand of divine wrather was heavy upon his soul, and his anguish of spirit affected his whole body.

V. 5, confession and forsaking of sin results in forgiveness, and in the separation of sin from the sinner.

God is more ready to pardon sin upon our repentance, than we are ready to repent.

Blessed or true happiness and joy comes from knowing our sins are pardoned through Gods' mercy, and knowing we have true fellowship with the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessedness is not for the diligent law keeper, but for the lawbreaker who had experienced the richness of God's grace in forgiveness. Unspeakable joy comes from knowing our sins are forgiven, and we are right with God according to his word.

Peace and joy can only come through the shed blood of Christ:

Colossians 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Vv. 7-11.

V. 7, thou shalt preserve me from trouble.

When God pardons our sins, he does not leave us on our own. If he does not keep us, we would soon revert, and a dog returns to his vomit, or the hog to her mire.

Rather, his Spirit of Grace dwells within. God keeps his people from trouble by keeping them from sin.

Songs of deliverance... As a forgiven sinner, every where I look, I see occasion to rejoice and praise God.

V. 8 has two views.

1) David as a preacher. He has been forgiven, and now his goal is to help others find the same forgiveness and joy he has found.

(h) David promises to make the rest of God's children partakers of the benefits which he felt, and that he will diligently look and take care to direct them in the way of salvation.

2) Forgiveness and honesty, no guile, before God results in being easily instructed by the Spirit and easily led by the Spirit of God. The word of God instructs and teachers us his ways, and the Spirit prompts us to walk in his way.

Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

My experience has been that conviction of sin leads to repentance and confession. The result is that I have been extra sensitive to that sin from then on.

V. 9 could be to the saint or to the sinner. The term used to hear is "mule headed".

no understanding... The horse and mule act according to their animal instincts, and need to be forcefully led in obedience or in safety to the individual.

God tells us to use the understanding he has given to us, and act accordingly. Paul told the Jews the same thing in Romans 1, ending with, so that they are without excuse.

But not only cannot sinners see the end result of their sins, but neither can many Christians, so they continue on to their own destruction.

We have known a widow lady in PA for some years. In fact, her two girls came down to Front Royal and spend a few days with Bettie for instruction in sewing.

The lady has a 15 year old son. She absolutely refuses to give the boy any freedom, continuing to treat him like a 9 or 10 year old. Everyone has warned her, even from Scripture, that what she is doing will lead the boy to total rebellion when he reaches 18 if she does not let him develop into a man. The sad thing is that she will readily admit that her actions will result in his rebellion, yet she is unable to do anything about it. So she continues to "sit on him", even though she admits what the results will be.

She is continuing on in her actions, though she understands that she is destroying her son.

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked... Unrepented of sin has many sorrows. Ignoring Godly instruction has many sorrows.

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Mercy... Psalms 130 fits here.

Psalms 32: ... he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. 11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Those who have blessed by sins forgiven should respond by infecting others with the blessedness we have found.