Five Key Points from Romans 4
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to serve at New Hope‘s weekly gathering, called Momentum. Momentum is where Pastor Lyn leads us in a Bible study. Right now, the series, called Truth That Transforms, is on Romans. (See we have the complete Baptist alliteration thing going on!) It’s a small little Bible study, but it’s one that has really pushed me. Romans is a unique book. It’s the basics of our Christian faith, but it will put your mind in full workout mode because it’s not as simple as it might sound. It’s demanding. I’m talking CrossFit workout demanding . Big words like propitiation, justification and other -ations lurk in just about every chapter.
Now Romans is a book that scares me. I spent some time praying on what message to bring – because to be honest I’m not qualified, but I accepted that God would not have put me in that position if he wasn’t going to make it work. However, God saw fit to open things up to me, and this was a study that changed the way I look at things. I hope it reached some hearts in the room, though to be honest there were so many good hearts in there already – I hope to post more on our church miracle as time permits.
I wanted to share some quick and simple points with you about Romans 4:1-12. In fact, there are, I believe five of them that will help you understand some key things:
- There are no bragging rights when it comes to salvation. (Romans 4:2) Christianity is really not just another religion in the world. All of the world’s major faiths present the idea that we must do something to obtain our reward/fate/enlightenment/etc. Unfortunately, some would have you believe Christianity works the same way, but this passage in Romans said you don’t brag about it because you don’t do your own salvation! Jesus did it.
- Our spiritual bank accounts are credited when we are saved. (Romans 4:3-5) The word rendered credited (HCSB) is literally an accounting term that means your account has a positive balance. It’s beyond just your debts being paid. I know the whole spiritual bank account thing is cheesy, but this is important to understand. Christianity developed this notion that we “bank” good deeds (walking grandma across the street, saying yes ma’am, and saving runaway baby strollers) and in turn we get spiritual currency. This currency eventually gets us into heaven as a good person. Wrong. Jesus paid our accounts in full, and left us with a positive balance!
- Christians don’t get paid! (Romans 4:4) Religions and self help methods alike say do this and then do that to be happy. However, Romans is saying that no amount of work will get you to heaven. We don’t go do good things and then expect payment like a job. Going back to point #2, we don’t bank a heavenly paycheck to pay our way in. We’re saved by Jesus.
- Our sins are forgiven and covered. (Romans 4:7-8) Chances are that if you heard about Christianity, you’ve heard the term forgiveness. However, Romans quotes a guy by the name of David who said, earlier in the Bible, that we’re never charged with sin. When we are forgiven through the blood of Jesus, the work is done. I was held hostage by the idea that God one day was going to hold up a bigscreen TV in heaven with all my sins on it. However, it doesn’t work that way. It’s all about forgiveness and letting go of those things so they don’t influence you now. It’s true freedom from the mess in the past.
- Abraham was not actually circumcised when God made the covenant with him in Genesis 15:6, as it was just a sign. (Romans 4:9-12) If you don’t know what circumcision means…DON’T Google it. What this little point means is that the things we do, just like the things Abraham did, are a surface sign of what’s taking place on the inside. We tend to run with the outward part, but this verse reminds us that this stuff was just a sign of Abraham’s faith. We don’t do these things to get to heaven or to complete the deal.
I hope you see that the message of Romans is different from what you might have heard or even grown up with. There is no amount of doing anything that will get you to heaven. We’re not going through life trying to bank up the amount we need to reach a goal. That work has been done for us. We also aren’t held hostage by past issues. Christianity really is different.