Christen, Jood, Mohammedaan: Broers /Christian Jew Muslim: Brothers Gustav Opperman Roman series#20

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On what basis can there be peace between Christian, Jew and Muslim? Surely it can’t be Jesus Christ? Because He is precisely the divisive factor. He is the Obstacle, the Stone of Offense, the One who has to leave the boardroom, so that there may be peace between brothers who (according to them) actually belong together. [Music: Saraband and Variations – Händel] Justified before God Paul’s Letter to the Romans Christian, Jew, Muslim – Brothers? Romans 4:3 Let us pray! Afrikaans Reformed Church Matlabas Our gracious God and Heavenly Father! Great and holy is Your Name on all the earth! And there is no place in this world and in this whole cosmos where You do not shine in Your glory! You shine in Your glory especially that You gave us the opportunity again tonight to assemble here in the Holy Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. that You have determined that it in this land there still is opportunity that we can come together in peace; that the works of the devil and the anti-christ are so kept in check, that your children may call upon You, may read from Your Word, and recognize themselves in it, but also to get to know their Savior Jesus Christ in your Word. May it so be with us, tonight, Heavenly Father, where we are continuing our journey through this Letter that your servant has written down thousands of years ago; that You will be with us through the Holy Spirit and that You will ease the path for us! that You will open our eyes! that You will indeed lead us to understand what is written here; that You will lead us not to be afraid and anxious about the wonderful heights and depths your servant here brings to light and that through it we will be richly edified! We pray that You will also be with your servant, Heavenly Father, that you will put the necessary words in his mouth, that You will give him wisdom! But above all we pray that the Holy Spirit will be with us as our Comforter through everything we tell each other here and read here and preach here; that the Holy Spirit will be here as our Comforter so that can leave refreshed with the knowledge and the realization that our sins are not imputed to us! In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. We’ll start with chapter four tonight of the Letter to the Romans. I’m going to read the whole chapter though we’re just going to focus on the first number of verses and then the third verse in particular. So, while in this section when we read it, you don’t understand certain things, keep in mind that we are only at the beginning of this chapter and that we will come to it, the Lord willing. Romans 4.1 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 that works, his wages are not counted as a gift, but as his due. 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 does not count his sin.” Is this blessing then, only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? 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 imputed 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. 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 either. 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, as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations” — in the presence of God in whom he believed, who gives live to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, so that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 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 was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for our sake also. It will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, which was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. This is the Word of the Lord and we read thus far. Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Beloved, We mentioned the event last week during which the Pope and the Egyptian Imam kissed each other. They kissed each other, this pope and this head of the Muslim in Egypt They kiss each other for the sake of world peace, (they say). Now you may ask yourself: On what basis can there be peace between Christian, and Jew and Muslim? Surely it cannot be Jesus Christ. He is precisely the divisive factor. He is the stumbling block, the stone of offense … the One who has to leave the boardroom, so that peace may come between these brothers … brothers who, in their opinion, belong together. Well, there is something or shall we say, somebody, that these three religions have in common … a bridge between the three major religions and this is Father Abraham … All three religions have Abraham in common. In Islam, Ibrahim, or halil Allah, friend of Allah, called, and according to millions of millions of Arabs they descended from his eldest son, from Ismail. Even the unbelieving Christless Jews, consider Abraham as the first Jew to whom the holy land was promised. And to us Christians, he is the father of all believers. All three religions know and all three religions appreciate Abraham. So there should therefore be no problem. There are even Roman Catholic theologians, speaking of an Abrahamic civilization … This includes all the Jews and billions of Muslims and of course Christianity under the Pope. More or less most of the world, all have Abraham in common. I suspect the center of the Abrahamic civilization would then lie in the Vatican in Rome. The question is: Are we talking about the same person? According to the Jewish scriptures their Abraham had a very majestic personality (I quote them directly) He was the purest, the noblest and most dignified man what ever there was. According to the Jewish Rabbis, Father Abraham obeyed the law, intuitively obeyed, long before the Sinai law was given to his descendants. That was the caliber of this man. According to the Qur’an their Abraham was not just the father of all hospitality … not just the first man to fight idolatry … But it is written that when God said:
Let there be light, He had nothing and nobody other than Abraham in mind. Certainly more fame cannot be attributed to a human being. Beloved, we also have a sScripture, the scriptures that two thousand years ago was presented to a congregation by the Apostle Paul. Here’s how our verse starts: What does Scripture say? You see, there is a holy Scripture that still speaks to us today and that Scripture also presents us Abraham, but it is a radically different Abraham than the very majestic personality of the Jews or according to Islam, the walking origin of light … In the letter to the Romans Abraham is introduced to us … after the Lord’s Apostle wiped all human glory from the table, after every mouth was silenced after asking in the last verses of chapter three: Where is boasting then? Then Paul proceeded to answer the question himself: Boasting is excluded (Rom 3:27). Paul then views Abraham as an example, not as an example of a pure, dignified, noble man, but as an example of someone who could offer his God nothing but his faith. Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. The apostle is so excited about Abraham that he dedicates the entire fourth chapter of this letter to him. He was that serious about the teachings of grace alone
Christ alone by faith alone. He was just as serious, that Abraham was the perfect example of how important this doctrine was in the life of man Faith alone. I use the word, doctrine on purpose, for it has become a curse in our time. People don’t want to know about doctrine anymore and to be dogmatic is the biggest offense you can commit. It’s not just worldly people who argue that way. Many Christians as well. But beloved, without the doctrine, without accepting this doctrine, without starting to live by that doctrine day by day, you will never know or experience the complete comfort of the Good News Without the doctrine, without the fact
that Jesus Christ bought you with His precious blood, without that doctrine, you will never and cannot experience your only comfort in life Therefore, we must follow the apostle attentively when he presents to us the patriarch Abraham … The Abraham we know, the Abraham introduced in the Bible, did nothing to be saved. Nothing at all to avert the terrible wrath of God upon him and his children. The observance of the works of the law was just as impossible for him than it is for you and me today. We get to know that Abraham in Gen 12. The LORD called Abraham when he was still a heathen in a heathen land. In him there was, as in his father and his people, nothing good. They worshiped the moon god. Like other pagans their lives were tainted by sin. Abraham moved to the Promised Land. We read in Scripture that Abraham had already begun there to set a bad example for his offspring by fleeing to Egypt when he experienced drought. We read how, when he came to Egypt, he lied to Pharaoh when he said that his wife was his sister. He did it again on another occasion. And when his wife could not give him a child, he went in to one of his maids, he actually commited adultery, in an effort to raise an heir. Eventually Abraham begot a son, his own son with his own wife. Undeserved mercy. He also acquired something else, something completely different. Undeservedly. (thus we have read in Romans 4:1). What did Abraham get? Justice. He obtained righteousness in Genesis 15 when he believed the LORD, believed that he would receive an heir out of his loin … Believed that his offspring would be as many as the stars in the heavens above. He believed the LORD; and the LORD counted it to him as righteousness. By his faith, not his merit, righteousness was accounted to him. That’s what Abraham obtained … the scarcest thing on earth, the one thing that man could not possibly have or obtain on his own … Justice. Righteousness was imputed to Abraham. A worker receives wages if he worked for you. (thus the apostle Paul continues in Romans 4) You’re not doing him a favor if you pay the laborer his wages. You are not doing him a favor because he has earned his wages. He receives earned wages. In today’s time you will make a deposit in his bank account, An EFT as we will say today … With an electronic fund transfer his account will be credited. From the employer’s account where there is enough credit available, wages are taken out and in turn received by the one who did the work. He receive it as credit in his account. It is accounted to him. For the first time, here in chapter four, Paul uses the word count or impute. A total of nine times in this one chapter it is used. The Greek word is logizomai At that time this word originated from the world of accounting. This means crediting someone’s account. In our time, someone will credit your account with an EFT deposit. Or to move what lies on one bowl of the scale, to the other side. And you know by now how hopelessly unbalanced each of our scales is when it comes to God’s righteousness. This was also Abraham’s case. Yet he believed in the LORD; and the LORD counted it to him as righteousness. And now we have to be careful … that we do not interpret Abraham’s faith as that which was imputed to him, that was accounted to him as righteousness. We have to be careful not to say Abraham obtained righteousness because he had a great faith. We often hear it these days. This or that one is a great Christian. Besides being great Christians, there are also great believers or people with a great faith … and that makes them different from the rest of us … more special. This puts them in a particular category. No. The things that were imputed to Abraham, that with which his account was credited to God, was not his faith. It was something else … It was Christ’s righteousness. Abraham was credited with Christ’s absolute righteousness. Christ’s perfect holiness was imputed to Abraham. What Christ would later earn on the cross, was already imputed to Abraham. It happened by faith. What Abraham believed, were not only God’s promises of an heir or a seed and a land. If that was all Abraham would receive, then he was still just as poor as millions of other people on earth. There were much more locked up in those promises The Lord indeed has proclaimed the coming of Christ to Abraham and Abraham believed it. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote in the third chapter: The Scripture, (he says), the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations will be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith, are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Gal. 3: 8,9). God preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, (Scripture states). So, when the LORD said
to Abraham that all the peoples will be blessed in him, then it was Christ’s work proclaimed. When Abraham is promised a land, then much is raised than the land Canaan. It is nothing less than the New Heaven and the New Earth that Christ would bring about. Did you notice in chapter 4 where the apostle Paul does not say that the Lord promised Abraham the land of Canaan, but the world? Abraham saw the promises from afar and believed and greeted. (This is what chapter 11 says in the letter to the Hebrews). So when Abraham was later prepared
to sacrifice his only son, then it’s because He believed … Believe in a God, the God who would raise his only Son Jesus Christ from the dead. because … it says in Hebrews 11: “He considererd that God was able even
to raise him from the dead.” And when Abraham and Isaac climbed the mountain together, there on the solitary road to the place of sacrifice and Abraham’s son said, Where is the sacrificial animal? Abraham said, The Lord will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering (Gen 22: 8), At that point Abraham is confessing Christ. In the gospels, (thus we read), the Jews were constantly in contention with the Lord Jesus. In John 8 the Lord made this remarkable statement to the Jews: He said: Your father Abraham, rejoiced that he would see my day; and he saw it and was glad (John 8:56). Abraham looked forward with joy to the day of Christ’s coming and he saw it, and rejoiced. Beloved, the righteousness that Christ earned on the cross, was plentiful … It was so abundant, that Abraham could also share in it … Abraham who lived thousands of years before Christ. By his faith it was acclunted to him. It was credited to him without him doing any work to earn it. By his faith Abraham, the unrighteous, were justified. That’s the doctrine of justification … another piece of doctrine to which every true believer must cling to for life and death. Without it, we will lose the comfort of the “BUT NOW” of Romans 3 verse 21 … (Do you remember that?) The Lord’s Apostle wrote: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it. Father Abraham’s life recorded for us in the Old Testament, testify to that. God’s righteousness is obtained without the sinner’s human observance. Abraham is our Father, Beloved. He is an example to us, but only insofar as he believed the Word of the LORD. And only insofar as placed his hope in Jesus Christ’s merit. The Islamic Abraham, and the Jewish Abraham is not our family. Amen. Let us pray! Gracious God and Heavenly Father, Thank you for holding us, for keeping us close to You! Thank You for giving us a Word! Thank You for giving us the Lord Jesus! May we never stop being excited about it! May we never stop clinging to it! May we never cease to cling to precisely that merit … unearned earnings … May we cling to that! And then we pray, Heavenly Father, that we shall boldly proclaim this Word to a world that trips and stumbles over their own feet; a world in darkness, a world that does not know You and does not know the Lord Jesus Christ. And we also pray, Heavenly Father, that we will not take to the world where people are glorified and where fame is sought in human actions, but that we will continue to seek it in humility before the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: the grace He brought alone. We pray it in His holy Name this evening! Amen. [Music: Saraband and Variations – Händel]


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