Abraham and the Promises of God

Romans

Abraham and the Promises of God

July 25th, 1954 @ 7:30 PM

Romans 4:13-25

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
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ABRAHAM AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Romans 4:13-25

7-25-54    7:30 p.m.

 

 

Now in the Word, in the fourth chapter of the Book of Romans, the fourth chapter of the Book of Romans; this morning we preached on the first part of it, The Faith that Saves.  "But to him that worketh not but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" [Romans 4:5].  That was our text this morning. 

Now this evening, we begin with the thirteenth verse and conclude the chapter.  The chapter is an illustration of what Paul is saying about our justification.  We are justified.  We are declared righteous.  We are accepted by God not because of our good works because no man’s life is acceptable to God because of our good works.  The element of sin is in everything that we do.  "There’s no man that is righteous," righteously perfect, acceptable, no not one [Romans 3:9-11].  All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23].  

If we are to be justified, it can never be on the basis of our righteousness.  The righteousness, if we ever face God, must be by imputation.  It must be imputed.  It must be given to us through the worth and merit of somebody else; and that "somebody else" is the Lord Jesus [Romans 5:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:21].  

Now in preaching that, in writing of that, Paul, in the fourth chapter of Romans, uses that illustration.  He speaks of Abraham, our father according to the flesh, being a Hebrew, he being a Jew; and he says if Abraham were justified by works, he had whereof the glory, "See what I’ve done. Look at me" [Romans 4:1-2].  But he couldn’t do it before God because God knew too well what he had done.  And Abraham, like all of us, was a fallen creature.  He was an unholy and an unrighteous man. 

But what saith the Scripture?  "Abraham believed God."  He trusted in God. Though he was a sinner, as all of us are sinners, yet he cast himself upon the mercies of God.  He trusted God.  Abraham believed God, and his faith was counted for righteousness [Romans 4:3].  He was saved by trusting God, believing in God.  Now, that was the message this morning: the faith that saves, the committal of our souls to the Lord Jesus.  

Now, tonight we’re going to talk, preach, read, exhort about that faith that Abraham exercised.  And Paul speaks of it now as we begin in the thirteenth verse of this fourth chapter of Romans.  "For the promise," talking about the promises of God, Abraham believed God:

 

For the promise – God’s promise – that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void and the promise of none effect,  

Because the law worketh wrath,

Therefore it is of faith that it might be of grace. 

[Romans 4:13-16a] 

 

If Abraham were to be worthy the reward of God, that would be a debt God owed him.  He’d have to pay him.  But it’s not of the law nor of righteousness nor of deed; it’s of the mercy and grace of God.  It’s a gift.  Therefore it is of faith, something Abraham just trusted God for, that it might be of grace, that it might be a gift of the Lord: 

 

to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the law – that is, just to the Jew – but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.

[Romans 4:16b]

 

Anybody that believes in God is a descendant of Abraham:

 

(As it is written, "I have made thee a father of many nations") – including us – before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

[Romans 4:17]

 

That’s God.  Now, going back to Abraham:

 

Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.  

And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body, now dead, (when he was about an hundred years old), neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God,  

And being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.  

Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,  

But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 

Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.  

[Romans 4:18-25]

 

Now, if I can choose a text out of that passage it is this – Romans 4:20:  

 

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God,  

And being fully persuaded that what God had promised God was able also to perform.  

[Romans 4:20-21]

 

"He staggered not at the promise of God."  I want you to know that sometimes the Lord overwhelms us.  To believe what God says, what He’s promised, is sometimes an overwhelming thing.  When it says here Abraham "staggered not at the promise of God," in a moment we’ll see what he could have staggered at.  But I say, as we begin this talk tonight, sometimes the Lord overwhelms us.  We just simply are.  We are just swept away by what God promises, and how such a thing could be is difficult for us to receive or to understand.  

Could I say, "Do you remember when the Lord Jesus said to those who were around the tomb of Lazarus, dead four days?"  That country is hot like this country, and they didn’t embalm a body; and in just a little while the body began to disintegrate and to decay.  Lazarus had been dead four days – four days.  And by that time putrefaction decay had set in, in a hot country, with a body not embalmed, swollen. The Lord said, "Take away the stone" [John 11:39]. 

And when He said that, it was more than poor Martha could take: "Lord, no!  No! I could not bear to look upon the swollen burst form of one whom we have loved.  Lord, no, not that!" [John 11:39]

 "Take away the stone."  

"No, Lord, no.  No."  

And the Lord said, "Martha, said I not unto thee that if thou shouldst believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" [John 11:40]

Then they took away the stone [John 11:41].   

You know, I think I would have staggered at that too.  Wouldn’t you?  If somebody you loved, in a hot country, never embalmed, for four days dead, and somebody were to say, "Uncover the body," I think I’d stagger too.  "Lord, I don’t believe I could look, and I don’t believe I could stand it.  Lord, it’s too much not to ask."  

Could I illustrate again how the Lord sometimes overwhelms us?  Little Judah: small country, about that big.  The northern ten tribes had been destroyed.  Sennacherib and Sargon had come; those bitter, hasty Assyrians.  They had come and destroyed the northern kingdom.  There wasn’t any part of it left [2 Kings 18:9-11].  And now they were coming down; and they were holding Judah in the palm of their hand, and they were surrounding Jerusalem.  And like you’d crush an egg, it would look as if those great armies of Assyria would crush little Judah.  And so little Judah did what was the most natural and normal thing in the world for people to do, they went down into Egypt to make an alliance with the Egyptians in order that the hosts and the chariots and the armies of Egypt might come up and fight against those Assyrians [2 Kings 18:19-21; Isaiah 36:1-22].  

That’s what we’re doing today.  Over there in the North Atlantic, we’ve got NATO, a combination of nations in order to oppose Russia.  And that’s what we’re doing now.  We’re trying to build another NATO in the Pacific in order to stop Communism in Southeast Asia – most natural thing in the world to do.  

That’s what little Judah did.  Surrounded as she was by the great armies of Assyria, she went down into Egypt to make a contract with Egypt that Egypt would come and fight for Israel and somehow block the onrushing armies of Assyria [Isaiah 30:1-7].  

They had a great preacher in that day.  They had a prophet.  They had a man of God, and his name was Isaiah.  And the Lord God spoke to Isaiah, and Isaiah came before the king of Judah with this message: "Don’t lean upon the arm of Egypt.  Don’t make a contract with the Egyptians.  In returning and in rest, in quietness and in confidence be your strength.  Just look to God; just look to God." [2 Kings 19:1-7, 20-34; Isaiah 30:1-17, 37:5-7].  Would you do that?  Would America do that?  Would you stagger at that?  Would you?  

The Lord God said to His people through Isaiah, "I’ll protect you!  I’ll fight for you!  I am enough.  You don’t need another army, and you don’t need another covenant.  You don’t need to go to Egypt.  I’ll protect you."  Would you do it?  Would you?  Lay down your arms and just pray to God, "Lord, protect our nation"? 

Well, I want to finish that story.  I don’t like to leave a thing hanging up there in the air like that.  Judah trusted the Lord, and they just left it with God and believed the promise of God.  And you know what happened?  All of you know the story.  When Sennacherib, at the head of that Assyrian army, gathered Judah on the inside of the walls of Jerusalem and bottled her up, and it looked as though Judah would certainly be slain, remember what happened? That night the angel of God passed over the camp of the Assyrians, and the next morning when Sennacherib arose to lead his host against the people of the Lord he had an army of dead men. Do you remember that?  Remember that?  He had an army of dead men!  The length and breadth of his camp, his soldiers in the nighttime had died!  They were corpses.  They were dead men [2 Chronicles 32:21-22; Isaiah 37:36-38].  That’s the Lord.  That’s the Lord.  

We’re just talking about this tonight, staggering at the promise of God at the direction of the Lord.  Paul uses Abraham here as an illustration of a man who was saved by his trust and by his faith by believing in the promises of God.  Now I think He chose Abraham because Abraham lived four hundred years before there was any Law such as you have in the Bible.  And He chose Abraham because Abraham lived before there was any Jew, before there was any Hebrew, before there was any rite of circumcision, before there was anything connected with such a people as the Hebrew people, the chosen people of God, the Israelites.  Back here is a man who trusted God, and his faith was counted for righteousness.  So we’re going to turn back to this blessed, blessed story of the life of Abraham.  We’re going to turn back and look at these things that Paul says when he speaks of Abraham staggering not at the promises of God through unbelief.  

There are six things here, one right after the other, in these chapters, that God said to Abraham.  Every time the Lord God talked to Abraham, He talked to him in terms of a promise.  "Abraham, this will I do.  This will I do."  

Now, if you have a Bible, a whole Bible, you turn to the twelfth chapter of the Book of Genesis, and we’ll begin.  Abraham who staggered not at the promise of God.  The first promise is in the first verse of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Genesis.  

 

Now the Lord said unto Abram: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee . . . 

And I will give it to you, the length and the breadth of that land."

[Genesis 12:1, 13:17]

 

"And Abraham went not knowing whither he went." [Hebrews 11:8]  Would you do that?  Would you do that just trusting in God?  He left his father’s house, and left his father’s home, and left his native land, and left his people; and he went out just trusting God, just trusting the Lord.  Didn’t know where the Lord was directing him or where the Lord was sending him, just going out, trusting God, believing that God would keep His word and bring him to a promised land.  First one.  

Now, the second one, look at this: "And I will make thee a great nation; and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. " [Genesis 12:2]  "And in thee," in the [twenty-second] chapter of Genesis, "and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" [Genesis 22:18].  At that time, Abram had no child.  He was childless, didn’t have an heir.  Yet the Lord said to him, "Abram, I will make of thee a great nation, and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."  

And Abram believed that.  Didn’t have an heir, didn’t have a child, but he believed the promise of God.  Jesus says over there in the Gospel of John, "Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" [John 8:56].  "Staggered not at the promise of God" [Romans 4:20].  He saw God’s will.  He heard God’s promise, and he believed it that "in his seed, all the families of the earth should be blessed" [Genesis 22:18].  

Now look at the thirteenth chapter, the thirteenth chapter of Genesis.  It is a story of Abraham and Lot in the land of Canaan.  They’ve gone in that journey, and the Lord had led them to the Promised Land, to the land of Canaan.  And in that land they also began to grow and to multiply, their flocks and their herdsmen and their servants; and the land couldn’t contain them both, both Lot and Abram [Genesis 13:1-7].  "And so Abram said to Lot . . . ‘The land’s before thee.  You choose the part you want, and I’ll take what’s left.  If you choose the right, I’ll go to the left; if you choose the left, I’ll go to the right.  The land’s before you.’" [Genesis 13:8-9] 

And you know what Lot did? He lifted up his eyes, and he looked over the fertile section of the land, the valley of Jordan.  At that time it wasn’t cursed.  It was like a paradise.  It was like an Eden – beautifully watered, palm trees, date palms, fig trees, orchards, beautiful fields, beautiful cities: the great plain of the Jordan.  Up there in those mountains, he looked out over the plain, and he said, "I will take the well-watered plain of the Jordan" [Genesis 13:10-11].  

And Abram said, "All right, then I’ll take these mountains" – rough, and uncultivatable, untillable, and not productive.  "I’ll take what’s left." And so Lot went down to the rich valley of the Jordan, and Abram stayed up there in those rough, rocky mountains [Genesis 13:11-12].  And the Lord said to Abram after Lot had separated from him:   

 

"Abram, you lift up your eyes now.  Look to the north.  Look to the south.  Look to the east.  And look to the west. 

Wherever you see, Abram, including that valley of the Jordan, wherever you look, all the land that thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever. 

I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth.  If a man can number the grains of sand, then can thy seed be numbered. 

Arise, Abram, walk through the land, the length and the breadth of it.  I will give it unto thee as a possession forever. 

[Geneses 13:14-17]

 

He didn’t own a rock in it at that time.  He didn’t own an acre, not a piece of it, but he believed God.  He trusted in the Lord.  The Lord said it was his, and the Lord gave it to him.  

May I comment here before we go on to the next chapter?  The land of Palestine, by an irrevocable covenant, belongs to the Jewish people.  It is theirs by inheritance.  God gave it to them.  It’s going to be trodden down. Jerusalem’s going to be trodden down until the days of the Gentiles are fulfilled, until the time of the coming of the Lord [Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2]. 

Did you know, had it not been for the Gentiles, that land of Palestine by now would have already been wholly in the hands of the Jewish people without bloodshed and without war?  They were going over there, and they were buying that land with money. They were buying thousands of acres and hundreds of square miles of it and would have bought it all at a legal and set price; but the Gentiles intervened, and the Moslem world especially, and under the aegis of Great Britain there came bloodshed and war.  

And did you know, in that bloodshed and in that war, the Jewish people won the city of Jerusalem?  But somehow, in the providences of God, the Jewish armies fell back, and they were only able to keep one little square: Mt. Zion, the city of David, on one end of it there, a little piece that comes out – that’s the only part of old Jerusalem that the Israeli nation now has is just that one little piece there where David’s tomb is.  Did you know, had the Jewish people won Jerusalem, Jesus would have come?  The return of the Lord would have been.  But it’s not in God’s Word for the Jews to have Jerusalem until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.  

And when that time comes, I don’t know when it is, but when that time comes, look up!  You’ll see the Lord in the sky.  You’ll see the Lord descending on clouds of glory [Daniel 7:13; Mark 13:26].  You’ll see the Lord returning with all of his saints [Zechariah 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:14].  You’ll see the heavens filled with the angels of God [Mark 13:26-27; 2 Thessalonians 1:7].  And all of us will be caught up with the Lord in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the great archangel blows his trumpet [1 Corinthians 15:50-51; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].

That land belongs to the Jews.  It’ll be trodden down by the Gentiles until they say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" [Luke 21:24; Romans 11:25-27; Revelation 11:2].  And when the Lord comes the nation is going to be born in a day.  They’re going to receive Him, and they’re going to be saved [Ezekiel 39:25-29; Isaiah 66:8-9].  By an irrevocable covenant, I say, the land was given to Abraham.  And Abraham believed God, and the Lord gave it to him.  

Now we hasten.  These promises of God to Abraham, that Abraham believed, "He staggered not at the promises of God" [Romans 4:20].  

Now, in the fifteenth chapter, and this is the one that Paul is referring to, in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis: 

 

After these things the Word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision, saying, Abraham, don’t you be afraid, don’t grow weary in your heart. I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.

[Genesis 15:1]

 

Abram said, "Lord God, I don’t see that promise that you made to me about a seed, about an heir in my house.  I don’t see it.  I am [seventy-five] years old – [seventy-five] years old.  And my wife is [sixty-five] years old, and we don’t have a child.  And yet you say that in me all of the families of the world are to be blessed, and I’m to be a great nation; but we go childless. There’s no heir; there’s no son; there’s nobody born; and I’m [seventy-five] years old and Sarah, my wife, is [sixty-five]" [Genesis 12:1-4, 15:2-3].  

And the Lord said, the Word of the Lord came, "This shall not be thine heir," this son of Eliezer, the steward in his house, the head servant.  No. "’But he that shall come forth out of thine own body shall be thine heir.’  And he brought Abram forth abroad and said, ‘Look now toward heaven and look at the stars, and if thou be able to number them . . . so shall thy seed be’" [Genesis 15:2-5].

There’s that famous passage, "And Abram believed the Lord, and God counted it to him for righteousness."  That’s Genesis 15:6. "He believed the Lord, and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness."  He trusted God.  

Now, you turn that page again – we must hasten here – you turn that page again to the seventeenth chapter, and I want you to look.  Talk about staggering at the promise of God!  Now, you look at this just for a moment. What is the first word there says?  "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine," ninety-nine years old, ninety-nine years old [Genesis 17:1]!  That’s twenty-[four] years later, about thirty years later.  Thirty years after this passage here in the fifteenth chapter, when he was complaining to God that he didn’t have a son; and yet one born in his own house, God said, should be his heir.  Twenty-[four] years have passed.  Thirty years have passed; and Abram now is ninety-nine years old, and his wife is ten years younger.  She was eighty-nine years old.  She was eighty-nine years old, and they didn’t have a child; they didn’t have a child.  And Abram says to God, "Lord, how can it be?  How can it be this promise that Sarah is to have a child, and I am to be its father?  And she’s ninety years old, and I’m a hundred.  How can it be?"  

And so, the Lord God said, now, look at the fifth verse, "You have been called Abram, but I’m going to change your name to Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."  Now, look at the fifteenth verse: "And God said unto Abraham, ‘As for Sarai thy wife, you are to no longer call her Sarai, but Sarah shall she be, because I will bless her and she shall be a mother of many nations" [Genesis 17:15-16]. 

And she is 90 years old and he’s 100, and they don’t have a child – been barren all their lives.  "Then Abraham fell upon his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah that is ninety years old, shall she bear?’" [Genesis 17:17]  Lord, could such a thing be, could such a thing be?"

So you turn the page.  In the eighteenth chapter and the twelfth verse: "Then Sarah laughed within herself."  And the angel of the Lord who came to announce the birth of that child says here, in the fourteenth verse, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"  Abram, 100 years old, and he doesn’t have a child; and Sarah, 90 years old, and she doesn’t have a child.   The Lord says, "According to this season, according to the time of life, you’ll have a little child" [Genesis 18:14].  And Abram laughed, and Sarah laughed; and that’s what Isaac means in the Hebrew language – "laughter."  Is anything too hard for God?  "He staggered not at the promise of God" [Romans 4:20]. Sarah 90, and he 100; and the child was born, just as God had promised [Genesis 21:1-8].  

Now, one other, one other, the promises of God.  In the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis, the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis, "It came to pass after these things," after the birth of the little boy Isaac [Genesis 22:1].  You know, I wish I had time to go through this Bible with you.  How in the world did a woman who was ninety years old have a child, and how in the world did a man a hundred years old be the father of a child?  I haven’t got time to go through the Bible because we just don’t – can’t stay here too long.  But in those chapters that we’re skipping over now to come to the twenty-second chapter, do you know what God did to Sarah?  He made her a girl again [Genesis 21:8].  And did you know what God did to Abraham?  He made him a young man again.  He recreated both of them, both of them, both of them. Well I haven’t time to follow the story through, but is anything too hard for God?   Is it?  Is it?  The promise of God.  

Now one other.  In the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis, the little lad now is about twelve or thirteen years old.  And the Lord says to him: 

 

Now take thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.   

[Genesis 22:2]

 

And I haven’t time tonight to tell that story, when Abraham; he’s a hundred thirteen years old now.  When Abraham takes his only boy Isaac and they make that three-day journey and come to Mt. Moriah, and there on the top of the mount he binds the boy, and on a rough-hewn altar lays him upon the wood and raises the knife to slay him [Genesis 22:3-10].  Now in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, and the [seventeenth] and following verses, of whom it was said:  

 

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,  

Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. 

[Hebrews 11:17-19]

 

Do you get that?  Do you see that?  When the Lord God said to Abraham, "Take this, thine only son, and on top of Mount Moriah, bind him there and lift up the knife and take his life, and offer him to God for a burnt offering."  Abraham obeyed God; and he took his boy, and on top of Mount Moriah, on top of the altar of uncut stones, he bound the boy and prepared to take his life believing that God would raise that boy up from the dead, raise him up from the dead.  He staggered not at the promise of God.  

Now, this final word to us.  When God speaks and we hear His voice, there is just one thing for us to do, just one thing: believe it, believe it.  Faith is confidence in God’s Word and in God’s promise that He’ll keep his Word, that He’ll perform the thing that He’s promised.  Nothing’s too hard for God.  Nothing.  And that faith.  Faith isn’t reasoning about it; faith isn’t sensations about it; faith isn’t emotion and feeling about it.  That is the curse of the Christian religion!  "Preacher, I’m not going down that aisle.  I’m not going to accept that Word.  I’m not going to be a Christian.  Not till lightning strikes me, or not ’til I feel it, or not ’til I get those sensations, or not ’til something emotional overwhelms me, not ’til I see a light, not ’til I hear the voice of an angel, I’m not coming!" 

That’s the curse of the Christian religion, this thing of feeling, of emotion!  You can’t help but feel, and we all have feelings, but that’s not what saves us; and that’s not what faith is. Faith is not arguing about it, feeling about it, emotional about it.  Faith is not one thing or the other about our sensations about it.  Faith is this: God says that, and I’m trusting it, so help me, God.  That’s it.  That’s it.  That’s it. 

And what is it to be saved?  What is it to be saved?  This is what it is to be saved: to believe what God says about His miraculous born, long-awaited promised Son.  "I believe what God says about Him," and that saves you.  That’s what it is to be a Christian.  In I John 5, let me read 9-12.  "If we receive the witness of men," if what Dean tells me I can trust and believe, and I do, "if we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater" [1 John 5:9a]. 

 

So this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son. 

That he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God

 

What God says about His Son:

 

makes God a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. 

And this is the record: that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 

[1 John 5:9b-12]

 

Abraham was promised a miraculous-born, long-delayed, supernatural son, born when Sarah was ninety years old; but he trusted God and believed in the coming of that boy!  And that faith saved him the Book says.  And we are saved the same way.  We are trusting in the miraculous born, virgin-born, supernaturally-born Son of God, and the promises we have in that Son are forever "yea and amen" [2 Corinthians 1:19-20].  And I can trust God, and that saves me.  That saves me.  My feelings go up and down.  My feelings wax and ebb.  My feelings come and go.  I change many times, but God’s Word never changes [Matthew 24:35; Hebrews 13:8].  It never changes; God’s promise never changes.  It’s just the same; it’s just the same. 

About my salvation, I can read. I can turn to John 1:12 any time, and there it is.  It never changes. "But to as many as received Him, to them gave He the privilege, the right, to become the children of God, even to those that trust in His name, that believe in His name" [John 1:12]. 

Lord, I believe the promise.  I receive the promise.  Faith is not a part of the Christian religion.  Faith is the thing itself.  That’s what it is!  That’s what it is.  It’s trusting God.  It’s trusting the promises of God. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that believe in Him," that He’ll keep His Word, that He’ll keep His promise [Hebrews 11:6].  God is pledged to us; and if a man will trust God, the Lord will faithfully perform every syllable that He said.  And we may stagger at some of the promises of God.  We may stagger at it. 

I wanted tonight – and it’s too long – I wanted tonight to say some of those things that you and I stagger at, that you and I stagger at.  But they’re in the promises of God; they’re in the promises of God. 

All of us shall rise from the dead and live again [1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17].  Each one of us shall rise from the dead and live again.  "How could that be, Preacher?  How could that be?  Some of us are eaten up by the fish.  Some of us, the great roots of an oak tree reach down and sap the fertility of our bodies, and it turns into the tree.  How could it be?  How could it be?"  There’s not anything too hard for God – nothing, nothing.  And out of the dust of the ground, out of the hearts of the earth, the Lord shall speak; and we shall live in His sight.  Stagger at the promise of God, sometimes we do; but it’ll be just like God says in His word, just like God says. 

And how is it going to be over there?  How’s it going to be over there?  How could God make a new society?  And there’s my mother.  To her mother she’s a little child; and to her husband, she a wife; and to me, she’s a mother; and to my child, she’s an old woman.  When we get over there in glory, how’s that going to be, Preacher?  How’s that going to be? 

I don’t know, but thank God I don’t have to burden my mind with it!  He that made these things can do that too.  So I just leave it with the Lord – just leave it with the Lord.  Just leave it with God.  He’ll work it out in His own glorious way.  "Eye hasn’t seen, and ear hasn’t heard, and it hasn’t entered into the heart of a man what God is going to do" [Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9].  We just can’t imagine it.  It’ll be beyond anything we have ever seen or known and all of the other things that go with the Christian faith, and the Christian hope, and the Christian religion.  

 "Preacher, just by trusting the Lord and looking to Jesus?  Just by trusting, Preacher, could a man make it?  Do you know I’ll be there when the great final word is said and life is over, and the denouement of the ages, the untangling and unraveling of all of the ages of life?  Preacher, just trusting God, will I make it?  Will I make it?" 

I want to say this, and I’m done; and I don’t know whether I can.  You know, when somebody trusts you, just the fact that they trust you, you’d just rather die than let them down.  They’re depending on you; they’re trusting you; they’re believing in you.  And somehow, there’s something on the inside of you that just responds, "They’re looking to me.  They’re counting on me.  They’re trusting in me."  And there’s something on the inside of you that pledges.  You can’t help it; you just do.  You just do; you just do. 

When I was a boy and went to church and listened to my preacher, when I was a boy those old-timey preachers I used to listen to, they’d tell melodramatic stories.  And I remember them.  They made an impression on me as a boy, and this is one of them.  

One of those boys in this war, trench fighting, came back; and his buddy, his friend, was out there in no man’s land somewhere.  And he went to his officer and asked for permission to go out there into no man’s land between the trenches and find his friend, and the officer refused him permission to go.  He said, "It just means death." 

"But I’ve got to," said this buddy.  "He’s out there, and I’ve got to find him."  Against the counsel of his superior officer, he crawled out of the trench and out into no man’s land and after a while came back bleeding, shot up, and dying. 

And the officer came to the lad and said, "Isn’t that what I told you not to go, not to go?  I told you you’d lose your life, didn’t I?" 

And the boy replies to his superior officer, "That’s right. That’s right.  You were right, officer.  But I found my buddy.  I found him.  And when I found him, there was life enough in him to look into my face, and to smile, and to say, ‘Fellow, I knew that you’d come.  I knew that you’d come.’"  And said the boy to his superior officer, "And sir, I had rather die than to have let him down."  

There’s something on the inside of you that when somebody trusts and believes, you pledge; you just do.  And that something on the inside of you is a spark of the flame that burns in the heart of God.  When we trust Him, God’s heart pledges.  He pledges.  He matches your faith with an eternal promise: "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.  I will keep thee forever and forever" [Hebrews 13:5; John 10:27-30].  That saves us.  That saves us.  The answer of God to the hand that humbly seeks after His.  That’s it.  That’s it. 

"And he staggered not at the promise of God," but was saved in that he believed, he trusted, he had faith. 

Well, we’ve got to sing.  We can’t stay here all night can we?  We’ll sing our song. Bob, what do you have?  "Blessed Assurance." 

 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! 

Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! 

["Blessed Assurance," by Fanny J. Crosby, 1873] 

 

Anybody love that song?  Anybody?  And while we sing it, coming in that aisle down to the front, in these balconies around anywhere, come and stand by me. "Pastor, here I come tonight, tonight.  I’ll make it now; and here I am, and here I come.  I believe in that Lord, and in that Book, and in that Word, and that promise.  And I’ll die. I’ll lay down my head on that soft pillow trusting Him, looking to Him, looking to Jesus."  Will you, or into the fellowship of this church? 

 

ABRAHAM AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Romans 4:13-25

7-25-54

 

I.          Introduction

A.  Romans 4 an illustration of what Paul is saying about justification

1.  We are accepted by God not because of our good works (Romans 3:9-11, 23)

2.  It is an imputed righteousness through the worth of the Lord Jesus (Romans 5:1-2, 2 Corinthians 5:21)

B.  Paul uses Abraham as an illustration(Romans 4:1-3)

 

II.         Abraham staggered not at the promise of God(Romans 4:20)

A.  Sometimes the Lord overwhelms us

1.  Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus – Martha overwhelmed that He would order the stone moved (John 11:39-41)

2.  Surrounded by Assyrians, Judah wanted to make alliance with Egypt – Isaiah told them not to because the Lord would protect them(2 Kings 18:9-11, 19-21, 19:1-7, 20-34, Isaiah 30:1-17, 36:1-22, 37:5-7)

a. Angel destroyed Sennacherib’s army (2 Chronicles 32:21-22, Isaiah 37:36-38)

B.  Paul uses Abraham as an illustration of the salvation which is by faith

1.  He lived 400 years before there the Law

2.  He lived before the rite of circumcision, before the Jewish nation

3.  Abraham’s faith counted for righteousness (Romans 4:3)

 

III.        God spoke to Abraham in terms of a promise

A.  God would bring him to a promised land (Genesis 12:1, 13:17, Hebrews 11:8)

B.  God will make him a great nation (Genesis 12:2, 22:18, John 8:56, Romans 4:20)

C.  The land would belong to him forever (Genesis 13:1-17)

1.  Palestine belongs to the Jewish people, but will not have Jerusalem until times of Gentiles fulfilled(Luke 21:24, Revelation 11:2, Daniel 7:13, Mark 13:26-27, Zechariah 14:5, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:14, 16-17, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Corinthians 15:50-51, Romans 11:25-27, Ezekiel 39:25-29, Isaiah 66:8-9)

D.  He would have an heir (Genesis 12:1-4, 15:1-6, 17:1, 15-17, 18:12, 14, 21:1-8, 22:1)

E.  The offering up of Isaac (Genesis 22:2-10, Hebrews 11:17-19)

 

IV.       God’s Word to us

A.  When God speaks and we hear His voice, believe it

1.  Faith is not reasoning about it or emotion and feeling about it

B.To be saved is to believe what God says about His Son(1 John 5:9-12, 2 Corinthians 1:19-20, Matthew 24:35, Hebrews 11:6, 13:8, John 1:12)

C.  Promises of God we may stagger at

1.  All of us shall rise from the dead and live again (1 Corinthians 15:51-57, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

2.  We cannot imagine the things God has planned for us (Isaiah 64:4, 1 Corinthians 2:9)

D.  When someone trusts you, they are believing in you

1.  Soldiers in the trenches

2.  God matches your faith with an eternal promise (Hebrews 13:5, John 10:27-30)

a. Hymn, "Blessed Assurance"