Sermon Summary - Contemplating God - Rom. 4:16-21
The gospel says we are saved and justified by grace alone through faith alone. Abraham is the perfect example of justification by grace alone through faith alone. God caused Abraham to believe, but we will also consider the response and reasons why Abraham was able to trust God. In Romans 4, Paul uses Abraham as an example of the point he stated previously in Rom. 3:28 - that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. In Genesis 15:6, God spoke to Abraham, and “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Abraham did not add works to his faith to make him more acceptable to God.
We also consider what kind of thinking Abraham had, and what was in his mind that he would be so strong in his faith that he would be called the “man of faith”. Recall that God spoke to Abraham and made promises to him in Gen. 15:5, that he would have as many descendants as the stars. Later in Gen. 17:5, God makes a covenant with Abraham that He will make him the father of a multitude of nations. When Paul quotes this covenant in Romans 4:17, he explains that Abraham believed in a God who gives life to the dead. And this power to give life to the dead refers to more than just Abraham, but in Rom. 4:23-24 we see that this also applies to God’s supernatural work of counting believers as righteous.
Contemplating God, something that should be a constant in our lives as believers, is something that we see from Abraham in Rom. 4:19. A good start to contemplating God is how He has revealed Himself in creation. And He is constantly, moment by moment, active in His creation (Heb. 1:3). Contemplating God in His creation reminds believers of His other daily promises. And knowing intimately His promises results in more of our contemplation of God. Ps. 111:2 sums this up well.
Knowing God’s power to give life to the dead and call into existence the things that don’t exist, doesn’t it seem like our exercise of faith is often lacking when the next trial comes along? We must always recognize the chasm between our ongoing weaknesses and God’s eternal power. But God’s grace is sufficient for our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9). God is our hope, as He was for Abraham. In hope against hope Abraham believed (Rom. 4:18). He had the hope of a son God had promised, but what he saw (his and Sarah’s old age) didn’t help. After God did fulfill His promise and Isaac was born, Abraham remained confident that he would be the father of many nations as promised. Later he was even ready to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering, as God had directed (Heb. 11:17-19). While we see that Rom. 4:20 says that Abraham did not waver about the promise of God, we also see in Gen. 17:17 that Abraham fell on his face and laughed when God told him about his future son. Abraham had a faith that worked through his struggles, and was ultimately confident.
Contemplating God has at its foundation God as the Creator, and us as creatures. How should the average person relate to God as he contemplates Him? For starters, God is eternal, we are created; He is self-sufficient, and we are 100% dependent on Him every moment. He makes all the rules, and we live in His world, and are required to keep His laws. When believers spend time contemplating God, it does this wonderful thing of humbling us to trust in foundational promises (e.g. Phil. 2:13). Question: When I contemplate God, how much glory is due to God? How much do we share in the glory of God with our own glory for our achievements? See 1 Cor. 4:7. One point of application: contemplate God in total silence, and realize how amazing He is.
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