Sermon – July 25, 2021
Romans 4:1-8 – Faith and Faithfulness (mp3)
We can no longer live the same lives we lived before there were smart phones, the internet, automobiles, and refrigeration. Yet, of all the events that have changed the course of human history, the cross of Jesus Christ stands at the apex. Nothing has radically shaped the future quite like that one weekend 2,000 years ago. So, what was life like before that? Or, rather, what was salvation like before? If saints of old were saved by faith, what did they believe in? Or were they just saved by works? Today, Paul points to our shared salvation with those who have come before us; even with those who came before Christ.
1. The OT saints were justified by faith
Paul sees in Abraham the very pattern of justification that we have. The saints of the OT, just like us, were justified by faith. That faith was not precisely in Jesus, but it was in the promise that God would clarify through time. Abraham believed in the promise of children; Moses prophesied that another prophet like him would arise; David that a Son would always sit on his throne; Isaiah sees that servant who sacrifices his life like a lamb. It was believing in these promises, these words from God, that justified the saints of the OT. Our justification is not different, but has the benefit of hindsight – we know the fulfillment of these promises, not just their promise.
2. The OT saints were justified and forgiven
One of the reasons why we must keep faith and faithfulness as separate realities, is because justification by faith includes the idea that we are forgiven precisely when we are not faithful. David clearly has this in mind when he talks about the blessing of being forgiven; an idea that Paul includes under the umbrella of justification. Jesus did many things for us, all of which must be spoken of if we are to be faithful and well -rounded Christians. But one thing is central: through his blood we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. After all, God is a God who justifies the ungodly!