TEXT:  Romans 4:1-5, 13-17                                                                          Series A
THEME:  Through the gift of faith received from God through Christ   Second Sunday in Lent
           
  God keeps His promises to redeem the faithful.                       
    Our Savior Lutheran Church
TITLE:  "The Original Promise Keeper"                                              
      Pagosa Springs, Colorado
                                                                                                           
                   February 28, 1999

INTRODUCTION

(Our world and our lives are full of promises:  promises at the altar, as the young couple promise before God and one another their vows of faithfulness; the promise to repay the bank for the home loan; promises to pay the utility bills promptly; children's promises to clean their rooms before dinner; promises to fix the dripping faucet.  Life itself is filled with promises.  Even our life with God is based on a promise.

  1. OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS NOT BASED ON OUR PROMISE TO HIM.

    1. Consider God's graciousness to Abraham.

      1. The father of God's covenant people was chosen before any act of obedience and
        before any promise of future obedience.

        1. Abraham was chosen for no quality that was in him whatsoever.

        2. He was chosen simply because God chose him.

      2. Furthermore, Abraham was not chosen because of God's foreknowledge of Abraham's future obedience.

        1. As you know, Abraham wasn't always such a great guy.

          1. Tried twice to pass his wife off as his sister to save his own hide.

          2. He was quick to "help" God out keeping His promise of giving him a son by using Hagar to bear a son...turned into a disaster!

        2. God chose Abraham knowing that he too was a sinner.

      3. ILLUS:  In 1990, six decades after Ettore Bugatti produced a car that became the very symbol of the Roaring 20's, an attempt to revive the car occurred... (CPR vol. 6, Pt. 2, p. 18)

        1. God is more gracious than humans could ever be.

        2. God did not look for Abraham to have the "right moral qualities".

    2. We cannot boast of our promises to God either.

      1. God did not choose us because we were good either.

        1. We are conceived in sin with no good virtue to offer God.  (Ps. 51:5)

        2. No human being in the history of the world can claim to deserve God's choosing.

      2. Neither are we chosen because of what God knows about our future life.

        1. We are not chosen because we would "decide" for God during our lives.

        2. We are not chosen because we have the right moral qualities in our lives.

      3. ILLUS:  In 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a fictional novel Futility.  It tells about the maiden voyage of a fabulous and huge ocean liner called Titan...

  2. OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS BASED UPON GOD'S PROMISES TO US!

    1. God promised a relationship with Abraham. (Gen. 15:4b-5, 18)

      1. The obedience of Abraham was a result of faith, not the way to acquire faith.

        1. How much damage to God's plan of salvation is done by those who confuse the gift of faith with the results of faith.

        2. To confuse good works with the cause of salvation is to reenter that old Satanic lie that we may save ourselves.

      2. Through God's promise - not Abraham's - all people of the earth are blessed! (Gen. 22:18)

        1. Here, today, we are the receivers of this promise to Abraham!

        2. To us a Son is born...to us a Son is given!  (Rom. 11:13a, 17b, 22-23)

    2. God has promised to choose us in Christ Jesus.

      1. The great promise of God was fulfilled when God promise to Abraham was fulfilled with the birth of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.

        1. Christ's birth was the culmination of God's great, salvific plan.

        2. His death was the payment for sin on behalf of all sinners, including Moses, Noah, Abraham, Adam and Eve, and you and I.

      2. Yes, God has kept His promise to Abraham, and we, along with him, are the undeserving recipients of the Father's grace in Christ.

        1. We have been and remain Promise Breakers, no Promise Keepers.

        2. Our gift of faith is in Him who has kept His promise through His Son.

    3. God graciously continues to issue His eternal promise freely through Word and Sacrament.

      1. In your baptism, you have received the precious promise of eternal life, faith, and forgiveness.

        1. Acts 2:38-39

        2. This is not a moment of our promise to God, but a moment of God's promise to us.

      2. Through the hearing and study of God's Word, our faith in God's promises is strengthened.

        1. Do not leave yourself spiritually defended by a confirmation level of faith!

        2. Every Christian needs to be an aspiring theologian.

    4. D.  The great promise is realized as we trust and live in the grace of Christ.

      1. In the trials of life, Abraham was strengthened in his faith.

        1. When all was said and done, the attempted sacrifice of Issac was an instrument by which God made the faith of Abraham more trusting.

        2. We too would only be half the people we are were not God active in strengthening our faith in the midst of the trials that come our way.

      2. As we are constantly renewed and strengthened by the promises of God, we are alsoenabled to act on God's behalf.

        1. Abraham did many great things on behalf of God, energized by the gift of faith he had received.

        2. Likewise, we too are granted the gift of serving as the instruments of God as we play the song of salvation in the time we have been given.

        3. This is life, lived in faith, motivated by faith, acting on the promises of God.

CONCLUSION

A two-story house in the Bahamas was engulfed in flames.  The father, mother, and several small children were on their way out when the smallest boy became terrified and ran back up-stairs.  His father, outside, shouted to him:  "Jump, son, jump!  I'll catch you."  The boy cried, "But Daddy, I can't see  you."

"I know," his father called, "but I can see you."  Our eternal Father has seen our desperate need, our terrible sin, our complete inability to save ourselves and provided a way of salvation for us.  Let us rejoice in the precious promise of God in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

 

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