Heirs

Romans 4:13-25

Jesus asked in Matthew 16:26—

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

All the wealth, glory, pleasure and power of earth are worthless to the dying man. If he should gain them all and lose his own soul, he has lost all.

I spent almost twenty years in Trust Banking keeping as much as possible of inheritances bequeathed from estates out of the hands of IRS. Many heirs inherited in excess of a million dollars, but not one of them did anything to gain it. In each case, the bequest was a gift—it could not be gained through toil or labor or it ceased to be an inheritance.

I hate to disappoint you with some very bad news, you’re not going to gain the whole world. But I have some good news for you—YOU WILL INHERIT IT—along with Abraham and others. Romans 4:13—

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

That Abraham should be HEIR OF THE WORLD is not found in so many words in the OT. Paul extends the promises God made to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, 7—

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you . . . To your offspring I will give this land.

God promised Abraham that his physical descendants would inherit a specific portion of the earth—the whole land of Canaan. The inheritance of the Promised Land belongs to righteous according to Isaiah 60:21—

Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land for ever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.

Jesus, however, said in Matthew 5:5—

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

EARTH and WORLD are two different words in the Greek. EARTH is the Greek word ge. It denotes the inhabited earth, the abode of men and animals, the ground itself. Christ promises that the meek will possess and enjoy the physical earth.

So Jesus’ promise of inheriting the earth goes beyond the land promise made to Abraham. But Paul insists that Abraham is to be heir of the world. This seems strange in light of the fact the writer of Hebrews insists that Abraham was longing for a better country—a heavenly one. So what does Paul mean by WORLD?

WORLD is the Greek term kosmov.  It denotes world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly, especially the government of the earth.

Satan is called the PRINCE OF THIS WORLD. He holds sovereign power over those who have not been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of Christ.

At the present time, THE WORLD indicates the inhabitants of the earth, who yield subjection of their hearts to Satan’s power and influence.  Because we enter this world as Adam’s offspring, we are children of the Devil.  read in Genesis 12:1—

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

That’s the very same command the LORD gave you and me—LEAVE YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL’S HOUSEHOLD—leave the world. Can you leave this world? Yes, in the sense that you are not of it because you are no longer under the power and control of the evil one—the Devil. Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17:15-16—

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

When Christ comes again, Satan’s reign of the world will suddenly cease according to Revelation 20:1- 3—

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

Revelation 20:4-6 reveals that those in Christ who died during the Tribulation Period will be resurrected and reign with Him for a thousand years. 2 Timothy 2:12 states—

If we endure, we will also reign with him.

The Bible teaches that Christ will reign on the earth for a thousand years. During the Millennial Kingdom, Satan is dethroned and the Messiah is sovereign. World affairs, the aggregate of things earthly, especially the government of the earth will be governed by Christ and the resurrected saints.

The angel Michael told the prophet that death was not the end. That following the Tribulation Period multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Then Michael added in Daniel 12:13—

As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.

Jesus expanded on Michael’s prediction in Matthew 25—

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’

Abraham and his offspring will be heirs of this world and the Kingdom. Who are the heirs? The HEIRS are the spiritual offspring of Abraham according to Galatians 3:7-8—

Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”

Of course this blessing came through Abraham’s Seed—Jesus Christ.       He is the heir of all things according to Hebrews 1:1-2—

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

When people put their faith in Jesus, they are identified with Christ as the offspring of Abraham and they become a co-heirs of the world and the Kingdom. James 2:5 —

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

Those who love Christ are the offspring of Abraham by faith and participate in God’s promises to Abraham. Romans 8:17 affirms —

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 4:14-16 makes it clear that we become heirs of God and co-heir with Christ by faith, not by keeping the Ten Commandments—

For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.

The heirs of Abraham are not those who live by Law because Law brings wrath, not life!  If one could live by Law, then Grace is empty and void.

Jews believed that a person was saved by circumcision, which was the first act of keeping the Law.  They believed that Abraham was justified because he was circumcised and kept the Law.

Paul is saying that a person does not come into a right relationship to God by observing laws and ceremonies. When Abraham was declared right with God, he was not circumcised and had kept no law because the Mosaic Law had not yet been given.

If there were no Law, there would be no transgression since is there is no responsibility for the violation of a non-existent law. Once the Law was received, it worked wrath since no one could fulfill its absolute demands. It incites wrath and brings death, not life.

Before the Ten Commandments there was sin—for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. After the Law was given, transgressions were added to sin. In other words, “The Law is your damnation and not your salvation!”

With verse 17, Paul quotes Genesis 17:5 to prove that all along it was God’s intent to save by Grace, not Law—

He is the father of us all.  As it is written:  “I have made you a father of many nations.”  He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

God told Abraham when he was seventy-five years old, and the father of nobody, that he would make him into a great nation. Once in the Promised Land, God told this man of faith that his offspring shall be like the sand of seashore and the stars of the heaven.

All Abraham knew was what God told him. He believed that God would fulfill His promise so God credited his faith for righteousness.

At the age of ninety-nine, changed his name from Abram to Abraham and said I have made you a father of many nations. Notice the perfect tense—I HAVE MADE—It was a done deal!

Verse 18—

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

AGAINST ALL HOPE, ABRAHAM IN HOPE BELIEVED is an oxymoron, which uses opposite ideas to convey a thought. Abraham hoped when there was no hope. Against all human capacity, Abraham believed God.

Hope and faith are different. In the Bible, HOPE is more than the desire for something to happen. It is rather an eager anticipation of what will assuredly come to pass.

FAITH is the confidence that it will happen. It didn’t make any sense for Abraham to hope when he did. God told him that he would be the father of many nations and Abraham believed him.

Verses 19-21—

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.

Think about his faith.  Twenty-four years came and went since God first made the promise.  Abraham’s age increased from 75 to 99 years. His body and his wife’s body were dead—conceiving children was impossible.

He couldn’t produce the seed and Sarah couldn’t carry a fertilized egg. There seemed to be no hope. But that didn’t rob Abraham of his confidence because his faith was fixed.

His FAITH did not WEAKEN or WAVER!

The promise—everything his HOPE was wrapped up in—was strengthened in his faith. The longer he waited the greater his HOPE!

You say, “How could Abraham possibly maintain any faith? Any hope?” There are some people who have been praying for something in their life for two or three months, and a few years, and they have lost hope that it will ever happen. But Abraham was strong in faith for twenty-four years. That is hard to understand unless you look at God.

His eyes were fixed on God, not self. His own impotence and the deadness of Sarah’s womb were not problems.

Certainly, Abraham’s faith was battered, sorely shaken, and put to great stress, but it never weakened or wavered! It was put to the test; it survived the trial. It was the kind of faith talked about in James 1:2-8—

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double- minded man, unstable in all he does.

Genuine faith perseveres in spite of circumstances. It becomes stronger through a struggle. If we trust on the LORD and lean upon Him during our struggles, He will increase our faith. The Apostles addressing Jesus, prayed, “Lord, increase our faith.” In Romans 12:3, the Apostle Paul speaks of the MEASURE OF FAITH THAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU, indicating that believers have different degrees of this gift.

Job was a man of faith when we first meet him in the Scriptures. At the end of out his struggles, he is a man with increased faith. Job refused to curse God and die; instead he sought God. Often the LORD uses suffering to produce greater faith. At the end of the Book of Job, we find this man of faith received a double inheritance from the LORD.

Abraham believed in God, not in his and Sarah’s dead bodies. He never lost hope because he believed God could create something that didn’t exist; and that He could revive something that existed and ceased to exist. He could raise the dead and create out of nothing.

When you believe in God who can do those things, you can be confident that He will do what He says.

The chief end of man is TO GLORIFY GOD AND ENJOY HIM FOREVER. Abraham was strengthened in his faith and GAVE GLORY TO GOD. If we, then, would truly glorify God, we must learn that what pleases and honors Him most is faith, taking Him at His Word.

Abraham believed God to the point of being ready to drive a knife into the heart of his beloved son Isaac.

Why? BEING FULLY PERSUADED THAT GOD HAD POWER TO DO WHAT HE HAD PROMISED.

Before Isaac was born, he was persuaded that God had the power to give life to the dead! So when the LORD told him to sacrifice Isaac, he reasoned that God could raise the dead. He believed nothing was too hard for God! Verses 22-25—

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.

The Bible records things for all of us, not just for those about whom it is recorded. That is one of the purposes of Scriptures. Scripture itself tells us that it was not just for the people that lived during the time it was written, but for people of all time. Romans 15:4 points out—

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

We must be vitally concerned with the life of Abraham because it was written so we would know about him and apply what he learned. We have been learning hundreds of things about the Christian life from Abraham on Sunday evenings.

Abraham believed God give life to the dead. That’s the condition for salvation. We are saved because we believe in the God of resurrection.

The Good News is twofold: Jesus died for our sins and He was raised to life for our justification. If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, we could never be sure of salvation. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19—

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

But God raised Jesus from the dead to show that sin and its penalty had been conquered. His resurrection demonstrated that God was pleased with what Christ did. It was the affirmation that His atoning death had done its work.

Faith was not the ground of Abraham’s justification. It was merely the condition. God’s Word was the ground upon which his faith rested.

Let us imagine two men of about equal weight, sitting on identical chairs. One seems fidgety and fearful that the chair might collapse, while the other rests comfortably. But each, in faith, has placed his weight upon the chair—and this is what matters.  It is not the strength of our faith, but he object of our faith that is the deciding factor. If the chair is strong enough it will hold no matter how weak your faith in it may be.

If we commit ourselves to Christ who died for sins and rose for our justification, we can rest comfortably in His finished work.

Abraham had SAVING FAITH and we to walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham.

SAVING FAITH is HOPEFUL. It says, “I am confident that God will do what He promises when it seems impossible.”

SAVING FAITH is in the RIGHT OBJECT. It is rooted in the CREATOR GOD who raised Christ from the dead. It believes the promises of God in spite of every circumstance.

SAVING FAITH is UNWAVERING. It perseveres in spite of circumstances. It becomes stronger through the struggle. It says, “I believe. I’m convinced.”

SAVING FAITH is STRONG. It is submissive and obedient. Abraham left everything and hoped against hope because he believed God.

SAVING FAITH is PERSEVERING. It is not the kind that says, “I believe,” but soon disappears when God does not operate on our time table or in a particular way we think He should.

SAVING FAITH is FULLY PERSUADED. There is no room for doubt. SAVING FAITH is SELFLESS.    It gives glory to God.

That’s the kind of faith that was imputed to Abraham as righteousness. His body was dead, but he was confident that God would bring life out of the deadness. Sarah’s womb was a tomb. Yet, life came out of it, thereby, typifying the resurrection of Jesus.

Before salvation, we were dead in our transgressions and sins, following the prince of this world, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature. Then God saved us by grace through faith. He raised us from spiritual deadness to new life in Christ. Out of deadness emerged a new creation—we became a child of God— a child born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

What is the significance of today’s passage for you? What kind of faith appropriates Christ and brings righteousness?

You need hopeful faith, the kind that hopes against hope.

You need the kind of faith says, “I am out of options. I have nothing in myself. My body is dead. I cannot redeem myself; neither can anyone else. I am impotent. Those around me are impotent. I have nothing to offer.”

I cannot gain the Kingdom, the world, or righteousness, but I can inherit by faith in Christ.

I can be assured of my inheritance, because it is a gift—it’s a bequest promised both in the Old Testament and New Testament of God.

Our inheritance has been guaranteed by the death of the Testator and His resurrection from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3-5—

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

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