Understanding difficult concepts of faith Learning by Examples
Illustrating a difficult principle through two examples What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. (Romans 4:1-4 ESV)
An example: David And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? (Romans 4:5-9 ESV)
2 Samuel 11 David, the boy with great faith, anointed, a man after God’s own heart but….. In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. (2 Samuel 11:1-2 ESV) And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. (2 Samuel 11:27 ESV)
2 Samuel 12 And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. (2 Samuel 12:1 ESV) Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? (2 Samuel 12:7-9 ESV) David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.” (2 Samuel 12:13-14 ESV)
The Full Context of David’s Prayer Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; (Psalm 32:1-6 ESV)
The Same Principle Today If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)
Our Second Example: How was Abraham made righteous? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:10-12 ESV)
Let’s Understand the Time-Line of Righteousness And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram. (Genesis 16:15-16 ESV) When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” (Genesis 17:1-2 ESV) This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. (Genesis 17:10 ESV) And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. (Genesis 21:4-5 ESV)
He was declared Righteous well before any of these actions. And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:5-6 ESV)
God’s Word Reveals Truth (David, Abraham) The Response is Confession of Sin/ Belief (Faith) The Sentence is Not Guilty/ Declared Righteous The Fruit is the Evidence of this Righteousness (Circumcision)
The Promise (Salvation and ……_______ ) Comes Through Faith to All For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring— not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (Romans 4:13-16 ESV)
Salvation, Healing, A New Nation as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” (Romans 4:17-18 ESV)
The beginning--- “I have made you the father of many nations” 1620. It was time to declare “a day of solemn humiliation” to seek God’s guidance. The group of Separatist Christians had come to Leyden, Holland, from Scrooby, England, twelve years earlier. Now they were preparing to move to the New World, where they might carry the gospel, preserve their own language and culture, and bring up their children according to the dictates of their own consciences. In doing this, they sold all that they had to go to the new land. At Leyden, they gathered early at Pastor John Robinson’s home in Bell Alley and heard him preach from Ezra 8:21 Robinson then declared it a day of fasting and prayer to prepare them for the arduous voyage ahead
A Principle of Faith: Abraham’s Faith Was Not Weak But Was Unwavering He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:19-23 ESV)
The Journey—The Pilgrims Did Not Weaken in Faith…. The Mayflower, with her six white sails in the wind, finally departed with 102 passengers. By now, however, it was September 6—more than a month behind schedule. The voyagers had already consumed the provisions calculated for the voyage, which would last at least two more months in an ill-lighted, rolling, stinking vessel. They were now eating food which they might need in order to stay alive in a wilderness in the dead of winter. They could not turn back. Having sold their houses and possessions, they had no place else to go. Unmerciful harassment came from some of the sailors, whose self- appointed leader gloated at the Christians’ seasickness and boasted that he would soon sew them all in shrouds and feed them to the fish. Ironically, this very crewman came down suddenly with a strange fever and died within a few hours. No one else contracted this “mysterious” disease, and his was the first shrouded body to go overboard. The mocking ceased.
“He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead” The most terrifying moments came when the Mayflower was about halfway across the Atlantic. A violent storm was heeling the ship over dangerously. Children’s screams were echoing through the lantern-lit darkness of the low-ceilinged ‘tween-decks. Suddenly a tremendous sound of cracking timber resounded throughout the ship. The huge cross beam supporting the main mast had been broken. The situation was desperate. Then someone remembered the great iron screw of Elder Brewster’s printing press. They hauled the press into place beneath the beam and raised it back to its proper position. The printing press supported the beam the rest of the voyage. Praise ascended to God. By now the food in the hold was almost inedible. Records indicate that the bread had to be broken with chisels. The cheese was hard and stale, the butter rancid. The peas and grain were inhabited with crawling things. The salt meat and fish had to be choked down. There was no fresh water, and the ale was rapidly becoming sour.
The arrival---They Gave Thanks for that which they had full Faith had already been delivered Finally, on November 9, at 7:00 in the morning, the Pilgrims heard a cry from the crow’s-nest—“Land-Ho!” Tears of relief mingled with shouts of joy. Many fell on their knees in simple thanks to God. Then Elder Brewster suggested a song of praise, and the words of Psalm 100 soared from the crowded main deck
Psalm 100 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Life in the new land The first winter was dreadfully bitter. By April 1621 the Pilgrims had lost twenty-eight of their forty-eight male adults, including Governor John Carver. When the worst was finally over, forty-seven people had died, nearly half of their original number. They buried their dead at night in shallow unmarked graves so that the Indians could not know their losses. But God’s hand of mercy guided the struggling colony to survival and fulfillment. Governor Bradford said, “They fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes.... In a word, did all the homely and necessary offices... which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure... and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing therein their true love unto their friends and brethren; The high point of their week was Sunday worship, held in the blockhouse at the top of the hill.
The Promise to Abraham is Our Promise if we have Faith But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:19-25 ESV)
The First Thanksgiving In October of 1621 Governor Bradford declared a day of public thanksgiving. From their gardens, the Pilgrims could now enjoy turnips, cabbages, carrots, onions, parsnips, cucumbers, radishes, and beets. They invited Massasoit, who arrived not only with ninety hungry Indians, but also with several dressed deer with wild turkeys. They taught the Pilgrim women how to make hoecakes and pudding from cornmeal and how to make maple syrup. The Pilgrims used the Indians’ dried fruits to introduce them to blueberry and apple pies. The most memorable moment, however, was Elder Brewster’s humble prayer to God, whose providence had guided and protected them in mercy.
The Fruit of Faith--Thanksgiving But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:19-25 ESV) It is not always easy. They faced ridicule, storms and starvation. Yet they did not get bitter but continued to Praise God and were Thankful! But they “hoped against hope” and their faith did not waver! They realized they were stewards and as such gave Thanks for what they had. They honored God with the firstfruits of the land. AND THEY DID ALL THIS AT THE LOW POINT DESPITE OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES!
“I have made you the father of many nations” God’s Word Reveals Truth (Pilgrims) The Response is “Hope Against Hope” (FAITH) The Response to Faith is the Blessing (before Thanksgiving) The Fruit is the Nation we Have and Celebrate Today (Thanksgiving)
But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. God’s Word Reveals Truth ____________________ Your Response is _______________________ God’s Response is ______________________ The Fruit is the Evidence of _____________________