What Does It Take to Get What God Offers?
May 14, 2023
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction ()
A. Why should anyone believe God? The God of the Bible?
1. Why should we believe any of His promises?
2. And, why should we keep believing them, even when it is hard, and confusing sometimes?
B. BECAUSE… HE that promised things to us (God) is faithful, dependable, trustworthy
1. Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
2. THAT is the whole point of the Bible – that we can trust GOD
C. People want to believe in something that helps them
1. Especially helps them to get rich, to be healthy, to be happy, to enjoy life
2. And most people, when they think of God, they believe that THAT is what God offers people (health, happiness and a good life)
D. But when God doesn’t give them those things, they give up on God
E. He didn’t give them what they wanted!
1. That makes it so some religious people come along and say, you just haven’t prayed hard enough, or aren’t good enough
2. When it really is because we are seeking the wrong things from God
F. But God’s promises are far better than getting money, or health, or even happiness
G. God’s promises are wrapped up in giving us a whole new life that may struggle for a little while, but lasts forever!
II. Review (Romans 4:1-12)
A. Last time, in Romans 4:1-12 we learned:
1. Righteousness cannot be bought, earned, and worked for!
2. No one can boast before God
3. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3) quoting from Genesis 15:1-6
a. He didn’t believe in himself (new age) and his own abilities, or inabilities
b. He didn’t believe in science - He didn’t have IVF treatments
c. He didn’t believe in religious efforts and faith healers
d. He just believed what God promised!
e. Notice closely Romans 4:3
1) Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
2) This statement is not Abraham’s boast about his faith, and that he believed in God
3) It is God's boast about Abraham!
a) Not that Abraham was a good man
b) Not that Abraham was a great man
c) Not that Abraham was a chosen man
d) But that Abraham just believed God!
4. ‘Belief’ means accepting something as true even though you may not understand it, simply because of WHO promised it
a. Abraham did not tell God what to do
b. He did not tell God what he wanted from God
c. He just heard God's promise of children, and of nations full of them!
d. And Abraham believed it!
e. Think about this! Abraham knew it was impossible! But because he believed God was able to do whatever he promised he decided to believe the impossible promise!
f. Let me say here that becoming righteous it's just as impossible as their 100 year old man having children and grandchildren and great grandchildren numbering as the sand of the Seas and the stars of the sky!
5. That kind of faith added up as perfect! It was Righteous! Abraham had NO sin-record with God now!
a. Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
b. EXAMPLE: A convicted criminal is asked to believe someone else paid for their crime, and then being invited to walk through a door, and formally declared pardoned, and instantly becomes a free man! THAT IS HOW AMAZING THIS TRUTH IS!
B. So, there are Two ways for a human to become righteousness – no longer guilty of sinful acts
1. Romans 4:4,5 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
2. By trying to earn it – getting it because it is owed to you – because of your perfect effort (has anyone ever done that besides Jesus?)
3. Or by just accepting it – as a gift to you – without any effort (anyone can do that!)
C. Abraham could not earn righteousness. He had to just believe God can provide it!
A. The Promise… (Romans 4:13)
1. Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
2. Now we are picking up speed, with truths rapidly following truths upon truths!
3. God promised Abraham three things:
a. Of becoming a father (when both he and Sarah were barren)
1) It was what Abraham wanted
2) His inability drew him to God
3) Just as all OUR inabilities and lacks have done throughout time!
a) Invalid man being lowered through a roof to Jesus
b) He needed a miracle of healing
c) Jesus gave him FORGIVENESS
d) And everyone was shocked – expected healing
e) Jesus asked which was more impossible: healing a palseyed man, or forgiving all his sins!
f) That man’s condition drew him to Jesus and showed what Jesus actually had come to do (save people from their sin), and Jesus proved it by healing people from their infirmities!
b. God promised Abraham righteousness as well
1) To be made right with God
2) Forgiven – no one is sinless, or right with God without being forgiven
3) All of us sin, and break God’s laws
4) Yet here was God promising complete pardon!
c. And God promised that Abraham would be the heir of the entire world
1) What a promise
2) That he would outlast all other lives, and kingdoms and powers
3) All the land, the wealth
4) And children that would follow him and fill his inheritance! (Genesis 17:4)
5) Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Summary - God promised Abraham…
a. That he would become a father – what Abraham wanted
b. Promised him righteousness – what Abraham actually needed
c. Promised him the entire world – what God would end up giving him and all his descendants!
B. Question is, How Did Abraham Receive God’s Promises?
1. Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
2. Make sure we look to the Scripture, and reason from what God says, not from what society or our religion says…
3. Paul asks, Was the promise received:
a. By Abraham keeping the laws of God?
b. Or by being circumcised?
4. The Jews believed both were absolutely necessary to be able to be right with God
5. Yet… neither existed when God declared Abraham justified, or righteous
6. TIMELINE - It is funny that the law was not yet given when Abraham received the promises of God. There was 400 more years after Abraham before the law came
7. Let’s take a look at the Scripture (Genesis 15:1-6)
a. Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
b. Genesis 15:2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
c. Genesis 15:3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
d. Genesis 15:4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
e. Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
f. Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
8. The only thing left (according to the Scripture) was FAITH ALONE
a. Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
b. Romans 3:28
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the
deeds of the law.
(Martin Luther added “alone” to make sure no one was confused)
c. Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
9. So, There is no other way for a sinful person to be justified, forgiven, pardoned than the FAITH way
a. A law-breaker cannot just keep other laws to make up for the laws he/she has broken!
b. They, every sinful person has to trust that GOD has made a way to be forgiven!
C. The Righteousness of Faith (Romans 4:13-16)
1. Paul here BRAGS about this truth
2. Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
3. #1 That DOING the Laws of God is not Faith, it is Works and always ends in Wrath
a. Romans 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
b. Romans 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath…
c. The Laws of God are good, but they only brought wrath, judgment
d. Think about it… rules of the road are great, but they always result in punishments for law breakers as they should
e. So also are the results of the laws of God because we all break God’s laws!
f. And we earn God’s wrath
4. #2 Faith is not against God’s Laws – as we will see in Romans chapter 5
a. Romans 4:15 … for where no law is, there is no transgression.
b. The Laws of God never said it was wrong to trust the lambs
c. The laws of God never said it was a sin to look for a Saviour instead of you being perfect
d. Just believing God is not a sin!
5. #3 That Faith is Superior to God’s Laws
a. Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
b. Because the Law only operated for a short time, but FAITH spans all of time,
c. Because faith works for anybody
1) Law-keeping Jews, and law-breaking Gentiles!
2) Skeptical adults, and simple minded children
3) The best of us, and the worst of us
D. The Power of FAITH (Roamsn 4:17)
1. Romans 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
2. Not blind, guessing faith, but a belief that what God says is true and WILL happen!
3. Believing God when it doesn’t make sense!
4. Much more powerful than my best efforts!
5. Faith’s power is not in my beliefs… I cannot just imagine things into existence
6. Faith’s power is in the focus
a. Can I just believe a light bulb will light up if I believe hard enough?
b. Charismatics say yes, but can’t do it – not one of them
c. But, if I believe in Energia or ESB, and plug this light into the plug, THEN my faith works!!!
7. The power of faith is in the GOD I am trusting
a. If I trust myself, I will fail
b. If I trust my “inner light” it will fail
c. If I trust science, it will fail and let me down
d. If I trust public opinion, or religious, or politicians” what do you think will happen?
e. But if I trust the living God, who promises life and forgiveness…
E. Abraham is THE Example of Faith (Romans 4:17-25)
1. God brags about Abraham’s faith
a. Not his powers (like Marvel, and magic)
b. Not his politics
c. Or his philosophies and deep answers (so sought after by even most Christians today)
d. Not Abraham’s great military conquests
e. Or even the great teachings of Abraham
f. Just his child-like faith and trust in what God SAID and what God promised – because God keeps His promises!
1) Hebrews 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
2) Hebrews 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
3) Hebrews 6:14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
4) Hebrews 6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
2. Shows Us Abraham’s Faith – the kind of faith that works and receives all the best promises of God. To give all mankind an example of how to just believe God!
a. Simple Faith (Romans 4:17,18)
1) Abraham's faith was NOT flippant – fake – parroting – mouthing the words
2) Abraham just believed God (believed whatever He says he will do)
3) Romans 4:17,18 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
4) Abraham trusted God and obeyed when God told him to leave his family and job and plans, and to go to place 600 miles away where he had never been
a) Hebrews 11:8 He went out, not knowing whither he went.
5) Then he chose to believe that God could and would give him children numbering more than the stars in the sky
a) He trusted God’s promise
b) God says in Genesis 17:4,5 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee [ABRAHAM], and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6) People say, I only believe Science, and I believe in Myself
7) But the Christian knows that Science is always changing, and that “I” am always changing…
8) So, the better thing to trust is the God who created us… That whatever God said is true and right and was going to happen, no matter what!
9) I am so saddened by modern Christians being so worried about all the details of life, and never allowing themselves to just LIVE the Christian life, by faith!
b. Imperfect Faith
1) Abraham believed God, but struggled to just REST in what God promised
a) Struggled with waiting on God
b) Struggled with HOW God would do what he promised
c) And that was okay!
2) It was hard waiting on God to give him all those children, and the promised Land, etc.
3) So, Don’t beat yourself up when your faith is small and struggling
4) God remains as big and powerful as ever!
5) Mark 9:23,24 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
c. Strong and Stable Faith – a mature faith that didn’t change much (Romans 4:19,20)
1) Romans 4:19,20 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
2) Fully aware of how weak HE and Sarah were
3) But when God promised children, Abraham did not stagger at it
4) He did not collapse at its impossibility
5) Instead of considering his inability, he only considered God’s absolute ABILITY to do as he promises
d. Glorifying Faith (Romans 4:20)
1) Romans 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
2) Not giving glory to himself, patting himself on the back for being such a great believer!
3) But glorifying God who is such a great keeper of His promises!
4) Putting all the attention on GOD
e. Confident Faith (Romans 4:18)
1) Romans 4:18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
2) “Against all hope” is what we say when we are going against what WE think might happen, and just still believe, being full of hope!
3) Abraham’s wife Sarah did this too (Hebrews 11:11) 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.
f. Tested Faith (Romans 4:19)
1) Romans 4:19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:
2) Faith is not real if it cannot be tested and proven to be real
3) We all like to test what we believe, but GOD will test our faith, and so will the devil (ask Job and Job’s wife) to see if we are actually believing what God promised
4) Truth: Things did not work out for Abraham like he just expected
a) Sarah was not instantly pregnant… 10 years passed and caused Sarah AND Abraham to get very frustrated
b) They doubted God and made some wrong and stupid choices – Hagar
c) It took 25 years…
d) But God kept HIS promise to them, on the basis that they had believed them many years before
e) And even when they had little faith, God still gave them Isaac at the right time!
5) Truth: And then after God gave Abraham and Sarah a baby boy named Isaac –God then asked Abraham to lose Isaac, and sacrifice his only son, Abraham still believed God!
a) That God was going to keep His promise to give him children through his only son Isaac!
b) Abraham believed God so much that he believed that God would bring Isaac back to life
6) How far will you trust the promises of God?
a) When nothing is working right
b) When there seems to be nothing happening
c) When things are just delayed for YEARS!
g. Persuaded Faith (Romans 4:21)
1) Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
2) I like those words, FULLY Persuaded
3) Not just naturally believing, or easy believing, but fully convinced
4) Not scared, hesitant, anxious, panicky (like you would be getting on one of those SLING-SHOTS at a fun-fair)
5) Like… I’m ready to go! Let’s enjoy the ride! We will be fine!
h. Best of all… Saving Faith (Romans 4:22-25)
1) Because Abraham was confident in God’s ability to do what He promised – as impossible as that was…
2) He received Imputed Righteousness
a) Romans 4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
b) Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
c) Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
d) Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
3) THAT belief activated a swap on his life
4) His sinfulness (all of us are sinners, including Abraham) was exchanged, swapped out for righteousness!
5) It was and always has been THAT easy to become righteous, ladies and gentlemen!
F. What Does God Promise US?
1. He doesn’t promise us lands, and wealth, and perfect happiness in THIS life…
2. But God promises we will never be alone anymore – Jesus promises, “I will never leave thee”
3. The Holy Spirit in us (Luke 24:49) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
4. A new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
5. A sound mind (2Timothy 1:7) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
6. Strength for every day of our lives to do the right things (Philippians 4:13) I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
7. All our NEEDS (not wants) met (Philippians 4:19) But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
8. And Eternal life - Heaven!
a. 1John 2:25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
b. John 3:16,17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
A. Will you decide like Abraham, to just believe what God promises? No matter the confusion, the struggle, the delays, the hardships…
B. Will you decide to trust what you cannot control, to believe in something you cannot see, and come to rest in a fact and a truth about God
C. All God's promises are received by faith alone
1. By grace - not conditioned upon us at all
2. So that the promise could be given to all of Abraham's seed
3. Not imposed but offered to all who would believe like Abraham did
4. The promise was given not just to the lawkeepers, like the Jews and Catholics try to be...
5. But to the many nations Paul was referring to that simply believe God like Abraham did
6. Galatians 3:26-29 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.