Let us pray: Dear Savior, knowing that You have done everything to save our souls and freely give this stupendous gift to us is a hit to our pride. But, it is also liberating and joyous! It frees us from guilt over our failures to live for Your glory. It sustains us when our own power and strength don’t work. And it gives us eternal comfort in the face of doubt. For this we thank You, dear Lord. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF THE BEST GIFT THERE IS: ETERNAL LIFE!
TEXT: Romans 4: 18-25
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
For our 20th wedding anniversary I took my lovely wife out to a wonderful French restaurant in Boston. We had a terrific time. The food was scrumptious. The ambience was delightful. After about 3 hours we were done and it was time to go. I asked for the check and the waiter told me: “It’s already been taken care of.” I was astounded! How? By whom? And then he told us that the church had decided to do this wonderful act of kindness and appreciation. It seems we had told a few members about our upcoming outing, and the church council talked about it and decided to surprise us with a wonderful anniversary present! It was very touching.
Can you imagine someone writing a blank check to a restaurant for you to use 10, 20, or 30 years into the future? If you knew about it in advance, and went there 25 years later, would you confidently think it was still good, or would you harbor doubts? Well, I think you know the answer. No human promise of payment is that certain. And yet, that’s exactly what God has done for each of us when it comes to our soul’s salvation. And so, as we examine this little lesson, we clearly see that:
GOD HAS ALREADY PAID THE BILL—SO ACT LIKE IT!
When Abraham was 75 years old God came to him and told him to leave his homeland and go to a place God would show him. He also told Abraham that He would make him into a great nation, giving him many offspring (even though Abraham was childless at the time), provide him with great wealth, and even send the future Messiah through his seed. God had Abraham go outside his tent, gaze up to the sky, look at the myriad of stars, and then told him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abraham obeyed. And the rest is history.
But once he and Sarah got to the promised land, no children were born of them and they got older and older. The years went by. Material wealth increased. But, again, no children. However, Abraham didn’t succumb to distrusting God’s promise. He had faith in the One Who made it. For he knew that God cannot lie. “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
Abraham had such an unshakable faith because he knew the One Who made the promise. He knew that God promised to pay the bill for his soul’s salvation, and so Abraham acted like it! Amazing!
When St. Paul wrote these words, he was writing about a common problem in his day. The Jewish people of the time liked to boast about their ancestry. They gloried in the fact that physically they came from Abraham’s line—through Isaac, the son that eventually was born. They thought that this physical link somehow made them right with God and guaranteed them a place in heaven. There are many today in the visible church who harbor similar thoughts. They believe that being born into a Christian family, or growing up in a Christian church somehow guarantees them God’s blessing, even though they never act their faith or take it seriously. But, right here, Paul argues against that view by reminding all of exactly what made Abraham so special. It wasn’t his blood lines or human genetic background, no, it was his faith in the coming Christ. Faith in God’s promise to send him a Savior Who would pay the heavenly bill.
“This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’ The words ‘it was credited to him,’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
Just like Abraham didn’t pay the heavenly bill for his soul’s salvation in advance by hard work, moral living (he had lapses just like all of us), or being kind to others; so none of us can pay God’s bill for giving us life, either. And remember what that bill requires: “Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” If you’re arrogant enough on judgment day to tell God: “I have been.” Well, you have a serious problem. That’s because human achievement is not a heavenly currency. And it will be rejected. No, there is only one kind of heavenly currency. It is the blood of Christ. God had to give us heavenly perfection. He had to give us His unconditional love because we don’t possess it on our own. He had to give us forgiveness for our sins of arrogance. He knew that as we eat our way through this dinner called: life, death would await at the end. And so, in pure love God sent His Son, Christ, to save us. Christ to forgive us. Christ to make us right with Him. Christ to deliver us from death. Yes, in Christ, God paid the eternal bill for our lives.
Abraham believed that fact. He trusted in the One Who made the promise. It took him many years before he was able to cash in on it, but it remained in force throughout his life. I guess you could say that in Christ God’s charge card has no limit and never expires! And as a result, Abraham was saved!
Do you live your life as if God had already paid the bill? Do you have that kind of worry-free, guilt-free, thankful existence? Well you should. And you can, if like Abraham, you trust in Christ as well. My Friends, that is the singular truth of Christianity, which you truly can take to the heavenly bank! Amen