140316 Romans 4:1-5

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 March 2014 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: Romans 4:1 – 5
Sermon Theme: Lent = Grace

The Lenten Season of the Christian Church Year is all about what our Savior-God has done for you and me. In love for all mankind, God the Father sent his one and only Son to pay in full the price demanded by a holy and just God for all sins. Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, willing offered up his perfect life as the sacrifice for your sins and mine. God the Holy Spirit, working through the powerful Word of God, has placed faith in our hearts, so that we believe the Gospel proclamation of complete forgiveness through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Lenten season of the Church is not about you and me. Rather, during the Lenten season we focus our attention on the grace we enjoy from our Savior-God. Today, from a portion of the Second Lesson assigned for our worship this Second Sunday in the season of Lent, we see that Lent equals grace. God's grace gives Jesus the glory he alone deserves. God's grace gives us the comfort we need. I invite you to listen as I read again from Paul's letter to the Romans, as the Holy Spirit led him to write at the beginning of chapter 4. From God's Word we read,

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

The people of Israel loved to talk about the fact that they could trace their ancestry back to Abraham. They thought that God would have to look with special favor on them because of Abraham. But remember what John the Baptist told the people, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham." Abraham was a man who showed great faith in the Lord. When he was 75 years old he packed up his family and moved to a land that he didn't know about when he left. Once he arrived in the place where he was to live out the rest of his days, he allowed his nephew Lot to choose the land that at first sight looked like it was the best land in the area. After waiting 100 years to have a son of his own, Abraham was ready to offer up his only son, Isaac, as an offering to the Lord. If anyone deserved God's favor, it was Abraham.

But what do we read in the verses before us? "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God." While he was a great man of faith, Abraham would be the first to confess that he was also a sinner. He broke the Lord's commands. The Book of Genesis tells us that because he was afraid that others might try to kill him, two times Abraham tried to pass his wife off as his sister. The Lord told Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. But when the Lord's timetable didn't match up with his, Abraham went along with a plan to have children that involved another woman besides his wife. But despite his sins, Abraham still enjoyed a right relationship with God. Paul quotes from Genesis chapter 15 which tells us, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Abraham was righteous in God's eyes not because of the things he had done, but because he was led to believe the Lord's promise about the coming Savior.

Far too often you and I are guilty of giving in to the type of thinking that says something like, "I was baptized and confirmed in this church or that church, so I have to be all right in God's eyes." When we give in to this kind of thinking we rob Jesus of the glory that is due him. As one author has written, when we think this way, "We make the one and only true God into a salesman of some kind who has his heavenly goods up for sale." Anytime you and I look to what we do has making us right in God's eyes we throw away God's grace. But Lent equals grace. In great love for you and me Jesus Christ came to this earth as mankind's only Savior. In great love for you and me, Jesus tells us, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." This Lenten season we join in the hymn of all believers as we give Jesus the glory he alone deserves with these words from the book of Revelation, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb...Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever."

What would your life be like if Lent wasn't about grace? What if the focus of the Lenten season wasn't on our Savior? Instead, for the six weeks of Lent we just focused on what you and I could do to try to win God's favor? What questions would have to nag at us week after week? "Have I done enough?" "How can I be sure that God will accept what I do as payment enough to let me into heaven?" "Am I right with God?" These are the questions that are asked over and over again by those who rely on what they do as a way of getting themselves into heaven.

But what does the Bible tell us about being declared "Innocent" in the courtroom of God's justice? We read from God's Word, "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." The message of the Gospel is one of great comfort. God declares wicked, sinful human beings "Not Guilty" of sin, not because of any human effort but because of his grace. The grace of God gives sinful humans credit for the perfect life lived by Jesus. The grace of God brings sinful humans into a right relationship with himself. The grace of God is the only source of true and ever-lasting comfort.

In Romans chapter 3 we read this, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." As you and I look into the mirror of God Law and see our sins and sinfulness, we see just how far from perfect we are. Relying on our own efforts to save us, all you and I could do is stand before the Lord and shake in fear as he says to you and me, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." But, the season of Lent equals grace. And the grace of our Savior-God gives you and me the comfort we need. The comfort that is ours is that Jesus Christ took God's anger over sin upon himself. Jesus Christ suffered hell in our place. Our sins were placed on Jesus and we are given his perfect life. God's grace gives us the comfort that through Jesus Christ we enjoy the free gift of the forgiveness of all of our sins. Again, from Romans chapter 3 we read, "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus...Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law."

Dr. Martin Luther once wrote, "There is no more miserable frame of mind than doubt." Our God does not want you and me to go through life having doubts about where we stand in our relationship with him. This is why Lent equals grace. Rejoicing in the grace we enjoy from our Savior-God we offer Jesus the glory he deserves as our one and only Savior. Because of Jesus, grace gives you and me the comfort we need. Together, you and I give all thanks and praise to our Savior-God that Lent equals grace! Amen.

 

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