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Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

Week 3, The Righteousness of Faith Romans 4:9-25 Under the Old Covenant of the Old Testament, righteousness was attained by the law. God’s people had to keep the law for God to pronounce them righteous. But there was a catch: by the law no one can be made righteous. Romans 3:20 - Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight... God sent Jesus so that He would receive your sin and give you His righteousness. The cross was the place of divine exchange. Jesus never sinned, and yet He died as the worst sinner who ever lived. He was suspended between heaven and earth, not worthy of either. All of the sins of our entire life were poured into Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 - For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Here is a glimpse of some of what Jesus suffered for us: Isaiah 50:6 - I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. Matthew 26:67-68 - Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?” Matthew 27:30 - Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. He took our shame and was crucified completely naked, covered in His own blood and the spit of the people around Him. Not only was He covered in that filth, He carried our filth in Himself on the cross. They even took His clothed and gambled for them (John 19:23-24). He took the curse of poverty on the cross: 2 Corinthians 8:9 - For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. He cried “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) so that we can be assured that He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) He wore the crown of thorns so that we could receive the peace that passes understanding (John 19:2). He cried, “I thirst” so that our thirst would be quenched (John 19:28). He took stripes on His back that we might be physically healed (Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 53:5). Jesus was abandoned by His friends so that we would never be alone. On His worst day, they all forsook Him (Mark 14:50). Psalm 88:8, NLT - You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them. I am in a trap with no way of escape. Jesus’s blood speaks today: 27


Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

• • • • •

The blood trickling through the nail-piercings in His hands says, “My peace I leave you.” The blood dripping from His head from the crown of thorns says, “You are whole.” The blood gushing from His side says, “I love you.” The stripes on His back say, “You are healed.” His bruises, His face all torn up, His head hung low, His nakedness all says to you, “I became sin that you might become righteous.”

If someone asks you, “How can you say that we are righteous apart from works?” Ask them the question, “How could Jesus have become sin apart from sinning?” We traded places. We have a righteousness of faith. It has to be by faith because every day our works will indict us and declare us guilty. Today we have Christ’s righteousness - an eternal righteousness that cannot be affected by our performance. We are right with God through the blood of His Son. When you begin to believe this truth, you might find that people don’t like it. They may get angry with you because you are blessed without working for it. Like the elder brother in the prodigal son story, they slaved for God so they could be blessed, but you got it for free. That’s not fair. Right? Actually, the unfairness is that Jesus took the curse so that you could be blessed. Shouldn’t He get what He paid for? Don’t worry that believing we are righteous apart from performance will lead to bad performance. Teaching performance-based religion is Old Covenant and will lead to failure. Why? Because in and of ourselves we have no power to live right. If we had the power to live right, then Jesus didn’t need to die and the Holy Spirit would not have been sent to dwell inside of us. Righteousness by faith will produce holy living because it’s only by faith that we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit inside and follow His promptings from within our spirit. Today’s teaching is on how believing we are righteous by faith will lead to experiencing a blessed life. From last week: Romans 4:5-8 - But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness APART FROM WORKS. 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”

4:9-12 Romans 4:9-12, NLT - Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. 10 But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised! 11 Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. 12 And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised. 28


Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

Verses 11 and 12 of Romans 4 tell us that those who have the same kind of faith as Abraham are his spiritual children. What kind of faith? Faith to believe that they are righteous apart from works. Verse 13 tells us that because we are his spiritual descendants, we are heirs.

4:13 Romans 4:13 - For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. If you are an heir, you want to know what you will inherit! This verse answers 3 questions: 1. What is the promise? 2. Who is it given to? 3. How is it given? 1. What is the promise? “Heir of the world”. In Thayer’s lexicon “heir” is “one who receives his allotted possession by right of sonship.” The word “world” is the word “kosmos” in the Greek. It means the universe, the earth, the people, and all earthly goods, riches, and advantages. This promise is more about redemption and restoration than material wealth. Jesus restored back to the believer the dominion and authority in this earth that was lost in the fall of Adam. As believers we now have access to every advantage and all the riches of this world - according to the riches of His grace. Can you measure that? Why would God do this? Two reasons: He wants us to enjoy life, and He wants us to have the pleasure of being a blessing to others. The more we know of the greatest blessing - RIGHTEOUSNESS given to us as a gift - the more we will know how much we are loved and cared for, and the more we will want the Gospel to go forth so others will receive also. Believers who understand the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will not use blessing for self-indulgence. 2. Who is it given to? “To Abraham and his seed”. Who is his seed? Technically it is Jesus Christ, but because we are in Christ, we are Abraham’s seed. Galatians 3:28-29 - There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. This promise (heir of the world) was to Abraham and his seed. Abraham had natural descendants (sands of the seashore) and spiritual descendants (stars of the sky). The physical generations of Abraham are the Jewish people. It’s easy to see that there has been a residual effect of this blessing of Abraham through his physical descendants. Every generation of Jewish people has prospered in wealth, creativity, family relationships, and education. All mankind has been blessed because of the Jewish people. For those who hate the Jews, if they stopped using products, services, and medical advances brought forth through the Jews, they would go back to the stone ages! How much more we believers - the true seed of Abraham in Christ Jesus – should have the fullness of the blessing of Abraham! You may ask, “If this blessing is ours, how come I don’t see it in my life? How come I don’t walk in it?” Because this blessing does not come through your performance. It comes through the righteousness of faith. And yet the majority of the church world today thinks if you have financial troubles or you are sick, it’s because you have not lived righteously. We constantly ask, “How have I done wrong?” When we do this, we are putting the focus on ourselves instead of on Jesus whose blood has made us righteous. The question isn’t “Where have I not obeyed?” It’s “What have I believed?”

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Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

3. How is it given? Not through the law, but “through the righteousness of faith.” Blessing in the realm of heaven is dependent on the covenant God has made with us. Actually, we say that God made this covenant with us because we are the beneficiaries, but actually the blood of this covenant was shed outside of us. The New Covenant in Jesus’s blood was cut between our heavenly Father and His beloved Son, and now everything He has is ours as a free gift. There are no limitations when we are in Christ. When people say they want a “practical message,” what they mean is that they want a motivational speaker to come and preach a message on how to be a better Christian with more success and influence in their life. Here’s how it goes: he will give you the steps, and then if you don’t follow the steps and you fail, he can say, “See, I told you so.” He looks brilliant and you try harder. If you follow the steps and succeed, he can say, “See?! These steps to success work!” He still looks brilliant. Why do we stay on this endless treadmill? Because man always wants to work for it. It’s the flesh, and it’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s good instruction, but it’s not Good News. The Gospel - the Good News - will bring success in your life, but there is “no health and wealth gospel.” There is only one Gospel, and that’s the the Gospel of the GRACE of our Lord Jesus Christ, also called the Gospel of peace. (Acts 20:24, Galatians 1:6, Romans 10:15, Ephesians 6:15) However, the Gospel is very practical and RESULTS in a blessed life. Wherever the Gospel has gone in the world, there has been an elevation of humanity. Higher levels of education, modernization, and progress in medicine and business have occurred, and there has been greater individual prosperity, longevity, and a higher standard of living. Wherever the gospel has NOT gone, women are suppressed, the lifestyle is stuck in the stone ages, and there is constant strife, warfare, and disease. The blessing of Abraham, as we will see when we look into his life, included financial provision, health, and protection. The question arises that if Abraham is our father and his blessings are ours as his seed through Christ, then why are so many Christians struggling? Why are Christians living paycheck to paycheck? Why does it seem that Christians are no more blessed than the world and are subject to the ups and downs of the economy like everyone else? Why are Christians suffering the same diseases and seem to be as unhealthy as the world? Why do Christians seem to be prey to every evil of the enemy as if there is no difference between us and the world? We’ll look at Abraham’s life for insights into the secret of being “blessed with believing Abraham.” (Galatians 3:9) Before we look at Abraham’s life, though, there is an account of a healing in the gospels that reveals Jesus’s heart towards the seed of Abraham. It’s in the healing of the woman who was bowed down with the spirit of infirmity for eighteen years. Imagine this woman being hunched over for eighteen years and only being able to identify people by their feet. One day when Jesus preached, He looked at her and said, Luke 13:12-13 - “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. She stood up straight and looked Him in the face. No naming of demons, no struggle - He just addressed her and told her she was free from her bondage. The synagogue leader, her pastor, who should have been rejoicing over her healing reacted with the law-mentality:

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Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

Luke 13:14 - “There are six days on which men OUGHT TO WORK; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The mentality of the pharisee is that healing is man’s work. Are you working hard enough for your healing? Jesus’s answer shows how He feels when we are bound by sickness or financial debt or any other oppression: Luke 13:16 - “So OUGHT NOT THIS WOMAN, BEING A DAUGHTER OF ABRAHAM, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” Jesus is saying, “How can this be?! A seed of Abraham should not be in bondage! A daughter or son of Abraham should not be bound by sickness or anything! OUGHT NOT they be loosed?!” Healing is the children’s bread and you are a child of God! (Mark 7:27) There are no insignificant details in the BIble. The woman was bowed down for eighteen years: 6+6+6. Six is the number of humanism, the mark of human effort, symbolizing law. There are people everywhere who have been bound by “6-6-6,” and when they hear the message of grace, they can now straighten up and see Jesus face to face for the first time! Notice that the healing was done on the Sabbath. Today we are in a perpetual sabbath rest in Christ. Why? Because the work for our healing and provision and deliverance is finished through the cross. If you are in need of anything, rest! Believing the Gospel will put your mind and heart at ease. Galatians 3:8-9 - And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached THE GOSPEL to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are OF FAITH are blessed with believing Abraham. Abraham believed the same gospel that we believe. What is this Gospel? Justification by faith. Righteousness by faith. Those who believe they are righteous by faith are blessed WITH (the same amount, in the same manner, not less than) BELIEVING Abraham (not doubting Abraham). Romans 4:13, again - For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. It is not because of your obedience that God blesses you. It is not because of your lack of obedience that God withholds the blessing. It has nothing to do with you and your performance. Jesus Christ came and delivered us from the law realm and took us into the realm of the righteousness of faith apart from works.

4:14 Romans 4:14 - For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect. In the book of Romans and other epistles of the Apostle Paul, we see so much repetition of this truth. What voids faith and makes God’s promises of no effect? Most of the church will answer, “Sin.” They assume it’s sin, but the imputation of sin is a finished and closed case for all who are in Christ. Faith is made void and the promise is made of no effect if a person can gain the promise through performance. The more you trust in your obedience with the belief that because you worked hard and did something right for God will bless you, you will find that your faith cannot operate. Why do you need faith 31


Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

when you can earn it? And if you earned it, God cannot give it to you by the promise. He has to give it to you because you earned it. If you live in that system you have voided both your faith and God’s promise. If you are sick or depressed or confused or broke or can’t sleep at night, you want Christ to be of effect, right? Again, What causes Christ to be of no effect in your life? It’s not sin. It’s self-effort! Galatians 5:4, KJV - Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. If sin can cause Christ to have no effect on someone, then sin is greater than God’s grace and greater than Jesus Himself! No way! His grace is greater than sin, His healing is greater than any disease, and His provision is greater than any lack. Falling from grace is not falling into sin. It’s falling back into law. The Bible says very clearly that if you are not seeing the blessing of Abraham in your life, it’s because you are trying to get it though the law – through your performance. You might ask, “But isn’t performance important?” Yes, of course it is. But performance is the result if believing that you are righteous by faith. Performance is the fruit! Performance is not the criteria to receive the blessing of Abraham and the promise of God. However, when you believe you are righteous, you will live righteously! This includes walking in every fruit of the Holy Spirit. Faithfulness and self-control are certainly qualities involved in a lifestyle of excellence. The world will give you seven steps to success where you must drum up these character traits through tenacity and self-effort. But when you know you are righteous by faith, the fruit of the Spirit will manifest effortlessly. You will be a self-controlled, faithful person because you are abiding and resting in Jesus. He is the vine, and we are the branches. God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him. We bear fruit that multiplies when we know we are loved! (1 John 4:16) Paul said, 1 Corinthians 15:10 - By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. There is a way to work hard and have great success, but to do it by the grace of God which never leads to stress, burn-out, and disillusionment. The secret of living a blessed life can be found in the life of Abraham. What did Abraham do? He BELIEVED he was righteous by faith. At the end of Abraham’s life, we see this scripture: Genesis 24:1 - Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in ALL THINGS. In how many things was he blessed? ALL. Who blessed him? THE LORD. And the Bible says that Abraham was very wealthy: Genesis 13:2 - Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. How did Abraham become wealthy? Was it by being righteous? In the context of the verse above that says that Abraham was very rich, we find the first account of Abraham lying about Sarah being his sister. 32


Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

Genesis 12:11-13 - [Abraham to Sarah:] “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. 12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.” The first time Abraham lied about Sarah, he was 75 and she was 65. Even in her old age, she was gorgeous. In Galatians 4, Paul tells us that Sarah represents grace. Women, grace will make you beautiful: inside and out. Peter tells us that we are daughters of Sarah (1 Peter 3:6). Grace will renew your youth as the eagle! (Psalm 103:5) In Egypt Abraham told Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister because he was afraid. Pharaoh was a heathen king with natural eyes that coveted her beauty, so he took Sarah into his harem. If righteousness was by performance, Abraham would be in deep trouble with God! But what does the scripture say? Genesis 12:17 - But the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. God prevented Pharaoh from laying a hand on Sarah by sending plagues on His household even though Abraham was the one who lied!! Didn’t God plague the wrong man?? Genesis 12:18-20 - Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19   Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.” 20   So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had. Who was plagued? Pharaoh. Who was blessed? Abraham and Sarah. Abraham lied, and he was the one who was blessed. God will never bless lying, but God DID BLESS the fact that Abraham was righteous by faith. Here’s how Abraham left Egypt: Genesis 13:2, again - Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. Fast forward about 24 years. Abraham and Sarah are now well advanced in age. The Lord appeared to Abraham and told him that Sarah would be pregnant with the promised child before the end of the year. (Genesis 17) After having such an amazing encounter with the Lord, you would think Abraham would certainly walk uprightly before Him. And especially being an old man, wouldn’t he be older and wiser? However, that same year, he did it again. He lied about Sarah being his wife and gave her to another king. They were in Gerar this time, and the king, Abimelech, wanted Sarah for his harem. Sarah was 89 years old. You would think that by now Sarah would be old and wrinkled and her body weak, but she was still beautiful! Again, Abimelech was a heathen king with natural eyes that recognized a beautiful woman when he saw one. And history repeated itself. Abimelech took Sarah in, but God protected her. Genesis 20:3-5 - But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous 33


Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

nation also? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6   And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. 7   Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. Once again, Abraham and Sarah were driven out of town with mercy and grace chasing them down: Genesis 20:14-15 -   Then Abimelech took sheep, oxen, and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored Sarah his wife to him. 15   And Abimelech said, “See, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” Then Abraham prayed for Abimelech as God had promised him. Genesis 20:17-18 - So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; 18   for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. The Lord had closed all the wombs in Abimelech’s house so that his wife and all the maidservants could not bear children until Abraham prayed for him and his family. Think about this: God used a man who wasn’t perfect in his performance to pray for a man who hadn’t done anything wrong. This is the first mention of healing in the Bible. First mentions are significant. This story should give us great encouragement. God does not require us to be perfect to pray for others. Another encouraging nugget is that Abraham who was righteous by faith prayed for something that he was still suffering from - Sarah’s infertility! Many Christians won’t pray for someone who has the same symptoms or the same disease as they do, but we should be doing the opposite! God healed Abimielch’s family and in the very next chapter of Genesis we see God bringing forth the promise to Abraham and Sarah: Genesis 21:1-3 - And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. 2   For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac. Sarah symbolizes grace as we will see in our study of Galatians 4. Abraham symbolizes faith. Isaac’s name means laughter. When grace and faith come together, the result is joy!! Galatians 3:9, again - So then those who are OF FAITH are blessed WITH believing Abraham. Sarah lived to be 127 years old (Genesis 23:1). Abraham went on to father six more sons and lived to be 175 (Genesis 25:1-3, 7). They lived long and fruitful lives! Another thing about Abraham that is very encouraging is that even though he tried a shortcut to produce the son promised to him out of his own effort, God still blessed him. In Genesis 16 is the account of Abraham fathering Ishmael. Ishmael was Abraham’s son born of self-effort and conceived through Sarah’s slave girl, Hagar. Ishmael lived with Abraham and Sarah throughout his younger years, and he was a constant reminder of the mistake. But Abraham loved Ishmael so much that even though God appeared to him when he was 99 (when Ishmael was 13) and God told him that Isaac was still coming, Abraham prayed that God would still bless Ishmael:

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Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

Genesis 17:18 - “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” In other words, “Please bless my mistake!” And God answered his prayer. Abraham’s “righteousness of faith” was so secure that God even blessed his mistake! Genesis 17:19-22 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with I HAVE HEARD YOU. BEHOLD, I HAVE BLESSED HIM, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21   But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” 22   Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. We don’t want to make mistakes, but if you are in a long-term mistake that you can’t get out of, ask God to bless it. Why? Because you have the blessing of Abraham. God works out everything for good, but not everything is good. For those who think being poor is good, then why do they look for new jobs? Why do they burn it at both ends? Why are they angry and hopeless? If they believe it is God's will to be sick, then why do they go to the doctor? It would be a sin for them to curtail what God is trying to teach them through the sickness. No, God is not interested in suffering servants. The only suffering we are promised in the New Testament is persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). So even when we fail, God will still blesses us. You don’t have to push or pull or manipulate or pretend. All you do is trust God. Abraham had to wait for promises to be fulfilled, but they WERE fulfilled. God is not a liar. He is faithful to His promises to you. If the promise is made of NO effect by working for it, then the converse is true: the promise IS MADE EFFECTIVE when we receive it by faith! Romans 4:14, again - For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect... Why?

4:15 Romans 4:15 - ...because the law brings about wrath;... The reason that those who are of the law have voided their faith and the promise has become of no effect is because even after their best efforts, they are are always on the punishment side of God’s justice. This means at the end of the day, they don’t measure up. Even if they had success along the way, they can’t keep their end of the bargain with God. The word “wrath” here is often used synonymously with the word “punishment” because it’s the anger that comes with punishment. Believing that God is angry with you will void your faith! Faith and fear of punishment cannot co-exist!! Does God have wrath? We know that God does not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) We also know that He desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) However, He gives us the choice to believe in His Son or not. Love is a choice.

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Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

John 3:35-36 - The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Romans 2:4-6 - ...do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Ephesians 5:6-7 - Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7   Therefore do not be partakers with them. Romans 5:19 - For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for us. He didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save the world. (John 3:16-17) The Gospel is the power of salvation for all who believe, but it must be believed. (Romans 1:16) Sin had to be punished because God is a God of justice. His wrath against all lawlessness was poured on Jesus at the cross. The wrath of God against all of our transgressions and sins was completely exhausted at the cross so that for those who believe in Him there is no more law to break. However, for those who persistently and consistently reject the free gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment. (Hebrews 10:26-27) God’s wrath against lawlessness is described in Hebrews 12 when the writer describes the mountain where the law was given, Mount Sinai. Hebrews 12:18-21 - For you HAVE NOT COME to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20   For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.” Why was Moses trembling? The wrath of God. The wrath of God screams that no one is worthy to come near. You will be struck with the arrows of accusation if you so much as touch the mountain of law. Under the Old Covenant of law, no human being except the High Priest could approach God because no one measured up to the glory of God. All have sinned and fallen short. God’s wrath says "depart from Me, I never knew you!" If a man is a sinner, he is identified by his sin and will suffer judgment - the wrath of God - because he is not in Christ. If a man is a believer in Jesus Christ, he is identified by Jesus’s righteousness, and will never suffer judgment - therefore he will never, ever suffer the wrath of God, here on earth or in heaven. The words “Don’t come near” are unheard of this side of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Under the New Covenant it’s a new and living way: Hebrews 10:22 - ...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith... Here is the mountain for believers today: 36


Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

Hebrews 12:22-24 - But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant... As believers we are secure in Christ in the shadow of His wings completely holy and set apart from wrath into everlasting love. Romans 5:9, The Message - Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. There is no longer any judgment for us except to be judged as perfectly righteous. Romans 4:15, cont. - ..for where there is no law there is no transgression. If there is no law, there is nothing to disobey. Wow! Is this verse saying that there is no such thing as sin because the law has been removed? Of course not! Anyone who believes that has been deceived. It is saying that removal of the law through the cross has completely satisfied the wrath of God that the law brings. No longer is God angry with us because there is no more law for us to break. It has been fulfilled in Christ. Again, the word “wrath” has to do with punishment. God is not a temperamental, moody God. Santa Clause one minute, the Grinch the next minute. His wrath is a holy righteous indignation against lawlessness - LAW-BREAKING. God wants us to receive our righteousness and inheritance by promise. WHy? Because it’s a promise you can break. Romans 4:15b, The Message - But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise —and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it. What peace should flood our hearts knowing that!

4:16-18 Romans 4:16 - Therefore it [righteousness] is of faith that it might be according to grace [unearned favor], so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, 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... Paul just drums it home, verse after verse. Could it be any clearer? So all of us who put our faith in Jesus share in the same blessing that Abraham did. Romans 4:17 - (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did... Life and death are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21) In the beginning God saw darkness, but He didn’t call it dark. He called forth what He wanted. He said, “Let there be light!” (Genesis 1:3) We were made in His image so that what we speak has power. If we call what is as it IS, it will never be more than what it is.

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Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

What does the scripture record about the faith of Abraham and Sarah whom God has called the father of multitudes and the mother of many nations? (Genesis 17:4, 16) Romans 4:18 - ...who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” So how did Abraham believe God? How did he become such a person of faith? Abraham and Sarah were 100 and 90 years old before they saw God’s promise of having descendants take effect. They had no children and the Bible says they were as good as dead. You might think it’s easy to say you are under grace when everything is going well. But let’s say you have been given a bad diagnosis and there is no hope in the natural. Do these principles work when the facts declare to the contrary of God’s word? Well, it was exactly the same way with Abraham and Sarah. Hope against hope. (NASB) But the Bible says, “CONTRARY TO HOPE…” Abraham did not give up hope. What is hope? It’s the word “elpis” in the Greek and it means a joyful, confident expectation of good in your future. We must have hope or we have nothing to give substance to our faith. There are times when everything in the natural goes against the promises of God in our hearts, but hope against hope rises up when we know the faithfulness of God. God didn’t spare His own Son! How would He not with Jesus FREELY give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

4:19-20 Romans 4:19 - And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief,... That word “waver” is the word “diakrino” in the Greek and it is used in famous quote of Jesus: Mark 11:22-23 - “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt [diakrino] in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”” The word “doubt” means to separate, make a distinction, to be at variance with one's self. When Abraham believed God about being the father of many nations and bringing forth a son, he was not “at variance with himself.” He knew he was righteous by faith, and he knew the promise of God was for him. “Diakrino” is actually made up of two Greek words: “dia” a conjunction and “krino.” When you put it together, “doubt” literally means, “by means of condemnation.” When you are know you righteous, you know you will never be condemned. You will never be limited to only what is possible in the natural realm. Doubt could be as simple as thinking things like, “My mother died of cancer. It runs in our family.” Or “There’s only a 50% survival rate with this disease.” Or I’m too old, too fat, too young, uneducated... These kinds of statements indicate a belief system that God’s power is limited to the natural laws of this world. This falls into the category of self-condemnation if you believe that these laws apply to you. You are saying, “I am human, therefore, I am bound by the statistics of this world or the scope of medical science.” But look to Jesus! Keep your eyes fixed on Him! He’s the author and perfecter of your faith, and with Him nothing is impossible!

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Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

4:20-22 Romans 4:20-21 - ...but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Abraham was strengthened in his faith “giving glory to God.” What is “giving glory to God?” Is this talking about majesty or splendor? How could Abraham possibly give all of that to God? Did he have anything majestic to offer God? of course not! And that’s NOT what the word glory means in the New Testament Greek. The word is “doxa” in the Greek and it always means a “good opinion” in the New Testament. Abraham grew in faith because he gave GLORY to God!! He had a good opinion of God! How could Abraham have a good opinion of God when year after year God did not seem to be delivering on His promise? What did Abraham believe? We read earlier that God brought him outside one night and showed him the stars and told him to number them (Genesis 15:5-6) and that’s how many descendants he would have. But you should know that in Genesis 16, the next chapter after God showed him the stars, Abraham listened to his wife Sarah who was tired of waiting. Genesis 16:2 - “See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” So when Abraham was 86, he bore Ishmael with Hagar at the request of Sarah. WOW. Is that faith? Interestingly, all of this is not recorded in Hebrews 11: Hebrews 11:11-12 - By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. As we said before, God only remembers the good that we do. So just forget about yesterday and how you were limited by what your natural eyes could see. God doesn’t count it against you! Today is a new day! We grow in faith - we fight the good fight of faith - by having a good opinion of God. No matter what we see with our natural eyes, we speak good of God. No matter what we feel in our emotions, we declare His faithfulness with our mouths. 2 Corinthians 4:13 - We believe and therefore speak. So Abraham was convinced that what God had promised He was fully able to perform (verse 21)... and we see that famous statement again: Romans 4:22 - And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Are you convinced that what God has promised you, He is fully able to perform?

4:23-25 And the next passage ties it all up beautifully for us:

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Grace 101, Week 3, “The Righteousness of Faith”

Romans 4:23-25 - Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him [Abraham], 24 but also for us. It [righteousness] shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,... The immaculate, perfect, sinless Son of God have become sin for us. It wasn't just a mere man dying on that cross. It was Jesus Christ who left heaven and all its privileges and all His position in that realm and became a man. When He said “It is finished, into Your hands I commit My Spirit”( Luke 23:46), our eternal God experienced eternal separation for us. He absorbed all our sins. How did God demonstrate His acceptance of and pleasure in what His Son did? God demonstrated it by raising Jesus from the dead. If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then something went terribly wrong. If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, you would have no assurance that He took away your sins. The resurrection is heaven’s receipt that you are no longer in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:17 - And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile [vain, empty]; you are still in your sins! The Amplified Version says it well: 1 Corinthians 15:17 , Amplified - And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is mere delusion [futile, fruitless], and you are still in your sins [under the control and penalty of sin]... Let’s reverse that: if Christ has risen, your faith is alive! And you are no longer under the penalty of your sins! He went into the grave with His body fully absorbed with the sin of the world, and when the high court of heaven's justice was satisfied, the power of God raised Jesus' body from the grave. And when He did that, all the sin was removed so Jesus came out of the grave in glory and without our sin. Where did our sins go? Into the grave with our old selves. Romans 4:25 - ...who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. It was in the resurrection that our justification took place, and we were declared the righteousness of God in Christ. The Holy Spirit gave all of this to Paul in the context of the Abrahamic blessing of righteousness by faith. Whenever you think of the resurrection, think of the promises made to Abraham and his seed, and your faith will be ignited! Faith isn’t hard. Jesus didn't have to say, “Father, pour out wrath on Me now.” No. As soon as He was made our sin offering, our sin just simply attracted the wrath of God. In the same manner, His righteousness imparted to us makes us a blessing magnet. Our job is just to believe we are righteous apart from our works and receive the blessing. Grace is God’s hand that gives and gives and gives what we could never earn. Faith is the hand takes and takes and takes what we could never pay for. That’s the righteousness of faith. Copyright © Patricia Gunn 2013

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Grace 101, week 3, the righteousness of faith  
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