Monday, December 05, 2022

2022.12.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 4:16–22

Read Romans 4:16-22

Questions from the Scripture text: Of what is the true lineage of Abraham made (Romans 4:16)? So that it might be according to what? What does this do to the promise? For how many of Abraham’s seed? Not to which ones? But to which ones? Of whom does this make Abraham the father? What does Romans 4:17a now quote from Genesis 17? In Whose presence is Abraham the father of all believers? What two things was he believing about God in Genesis 17 (Romans 4:17b)? What didn’t make fleshly sense for him to do (Romans 4:18)? But what did he do in this hope anyway? And what did he thus become? According to what previous prophecy from Genesis 15:5? Although his body was weak by that point, what wasn’t weak (Romans 4:19)? What two things did he not consider (cf. Genesis 17:17b–c)? What didn’t Abraham do (Romans 4:20a)? What was done to him instead (verse 20b)? To Whom did he give glory (verse 20c, cf. Genesis 17:17a)? Of what was Abraham convinced about God (Romans 4:21)? Of what was this Genesis 17:17 faith an example (Romans 4:22, cf. Genesis 15:6)?

How do Abraham and his true seed respond to God’s Word and sign? Romans 4:16–22 looks forward to the devotional in this week’s midweek meeting. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Abraham and his true seed respond to God’s Word and sign with the same faith through which they have been surely and permanently imputed to be righteous.

Right at the beginning of the letter, the apostle had called the gospel, “the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). Then in Romans 1:16, his reason for not being ashamed of it was that it is “the power of God” (Romans 1:16)—clarifying in the next verse that it is God’s power (and not man’s) because it announces a righteousness that comes through faith (in which it is God Who works, rather than man; Romans 1:17). 

The gospel of God. The power of God. The gospel is all about God! And it is this that our father Abraham “has found” (“by faith,” as opposed to finding according to the flesh), which is the question that we have been answering since v1 of this chapter. Now that he has definitively showed that it is indeed by faith not by the flesh, by promise not by works, by grace not by wage, the Spirit takes us back to Genesis 17 to give us the same glimpse of God that He had given Abraham.

The God of PromiseRomans 4:16. Which is surer, something that comes by our flesh and our works, or by God’s grace and God’s promise? The Scripture reasons that the addition of circumcision did not make the promise empty (Romans 4:14) but sure (Romans 4:16). Even the uncircumcised believer can look back at circumcision as an assuring gift that God gave Abraham and conclude for himself: “God, Whose promise I believe in resting entirely upon Christ, wants believers to be certain about the promises!” And hasn’t the Lord continued to desire that His people would be sure about His promise? Hasn’t He demonstrated this to us by giving us both baptism and the Lord’s Supper? So, both God’s character as faithful, and His desire that we would be sure about Him, strengthen our certainty about His promise!

The God of PowerRomans 4:17. Abraham found not only that God wanted him to be sure about His promise, but also to be sure about His power. What did God bring to Abraham’s mind as he hears “I have made you a father of many nations” (Romans 4:17, cf. Genesis 17:5)? That God is the One Who gave “life to the dead” when He made a living being out of dirt (cf. Genesis 2:7, cf. Genesis 1:11, Genesis 1:20, Genesis 1:24). That God is the One Who called something that did not exist as though it did (cf. Genesis 1:3, where “Let there be light” is more literally, “Light, be!”). 

So, God is promising 99-year-old Abraham that Isaac will still be born of 89-year-old Sarah, and this verse reveals that the Spirit brought to Abraham’s believing mind the fact that “God has done more difficult things before”! Doesn’t this logic work for us, dear Christian, with every one of God’s promises to us? We have not just the initial creation and the creation of man but the incarnation of God in the womb of a woman, and the resurrection of that God-Man from the dead, and His ascension to the throne of Heaven, which was proven by His pouring out the Sprit from there! God is not just faithful to His every promise but exceedingly powerful to fulfill it!

The God of ProvisionRomans 4:18-22. Finally, in these last five verses, we have a deeper dive into what God was doing in Abraham in Genesis 17:17–18. God displayed Himself as the God of provision. God was providing Abraham with strength, faith, and righteousness. 

Faith providedRomans 4:18. “Contrary to hope” (i.e. how men, from their flesh, hope), Abraham “in hope believed.” God gave Abraham the grace-produced hope of faith: being sure about what God has said, because God Himself made Abraham sure. This grace-produced faith (not the birth of Isaac) is what made Abraham “the father of many nations." This grace-produced faith is how to identify the descendants of Abraham (cf. Romans 4:11-12). It’s not by their physical DNA, but by the “spiritual DNA” of faith.

In Genesis 15:5, God had promised Abraham an uncountable number of descendants, and now Romans 4:18 tells us that it was actually in the very next verse (Genesis 15:6) that God made Abraham their father, because it was then that He gave Abraham faith! 

Strength providedRomans 4:19-20. The word ‘faith’ in Romans 4:19 is in a form that is probably “instrumental.” It was faith that kept Abraham from being weak, because it was through faith that “He did not consider” either his own body or the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 

The wonderful thing about faith is that it views God as its power, not itself as its power. So, whenever we operate by faith, it is then that we are not weak but strong. So, Romans 4:19 tells us how it was that Abraham was strong in this moment: he was operating by faith, which considers God, instead of himself or his circumstances. By strengthening Abraham through faith, God enabled Abraham to give glory to God (Romans 4:20). 

This explains both Genesis 17:17 and Genesis 17:18 and the God’s different response there (“I have heard you,” Genesis 17:20) than His response to Sarah in Genesis 18:13–14. Abraham’s laughter (Genesis 17:17) was the laughter of joy because he was absolutely certain that God would do this. Abraham’s prayer (Genesis 17:18) was the prayer of a believing father praying that his son would be a blessed believer too. Would you be strong? Seek from Christ, by His Spirit, the faith that makes God Himself your primary consideration in every circumstance.

Righteousness providedRomans 4:22. Thus, we see that Abraham’s response to circumcision was not what gained righteousness for him. Rather, the response itself had been granted to Abraham through faith. Through faith, God gave Abraham a right response to circumcision: rejoicing over how certain are the promises of God. 

Faith had been the mechanism through which righteous standing was imputed to Abraham (Romans 4:22, cf. Genesis 15:6). And now, ongoing faith and strengthening faith was also the mechanism by which righteous responses to God were being worked out in him. Father Abraham’s children may look forward to Abraham’s God growing them by means of faith, just God did to him. He is our God of promise, our God of power, and our God of provision!

How do you know that God’s promises are sure? How do you know that God wants you to be sure about them? What displays of God’s power should you be keeping in mind? Who will help you do this?

Sample prayer:  Lord, grant unto us the faith to be sure about Your promises, so that we may be strengthened by Your power, which ask in the Name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP117B “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

No comments:

Post a Comment