“The Old, Old Story” Pt. 2
April 23, 2017
When I was in seminary, the church Raye Jeanne and I were part of trained its members in evangelism with the Evangelism Explosion materials. I went through the program and eventually also became a trainer for EE. One semester, one of my trainees was a fellow seminary student who came to be a good friend. One evening as we were returning to the church after sharing the gospel, he asked something like this, “I know the gospel is about eternity with Christ and getting people to Heaven, but what good is the gospel now?”
He was asking a question that has been asked many times and while I don’t remember what I said then (I don’t think I had a good answer then), I know what I’d say today: “The gospel is essential because it frees people from God’s wrath so they can get to Heaven, but it also liberates people from the bondage of sin so they can live free of sin today!” In other words, the gospel and the process of justification isn’t only about what will happen in the future; justification also has implications for today.
As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, the story of the gospel of justification by faith is an old, old “story.” It is not just a New Testament truth and doctrine, but it is also the story of how all men everywhere in every generation have always been saved from God’s wrath. Justification is true for New Testament believers since the time of Christ and it was also true for Old Testament believers, as evidenced by the lives of Abraham and David.
But of what value is this justification by faith? What does the believer receive from God when he is justified? That’s the question that Paul answers in Romans 4:6-8, and he answers it from the teaching of David, as quoted in Psalm 32.
What does Paul say in these verses? He teaches that:
The Old Testament testifies to justification by faith alone.
Is that truth significant for us? It is most significant. It is, in fact, essential. It is essential:
- It is essential if we want to know and experience salvation from God’s wrath.
- It is essential if we want to know how to tell others how to experience salvation from God’s wrath.
If we are going to tell the story of the gospel rightly, we must know the process of justification accurately.
And that is going to be Paul’s theme throughout Romans 4.
In chapter three, Paul has explained justification by faith, and now in chapter four he defends justification by faith alone by using the illustration of Abraham. If Abraham, the father of Israel, was justified by faith, then certainly all men will likewise need justification by faith. And now in verses 6-8, Paul — through the quotation from David’s psalm — reveals four blessings for the believer that come from justification.
Let’s look at these opening verses in chapter 4 by asking three questions:
- What if Justification Was By Works? (vv. 1-3)
- What is the Nature of Justification? (vv. 4-5)
- What are Some Blessings of Justification by Faith? (vv. 6-8)
- There is imputed righteousness! (v. 6)
- There is forgiveness for rebellion (v. 7a)
- There is grace for every sin (v. 7b)
- There is no imputed sin (v. 8)
Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 4:6-8.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.