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Romans 4:9-12


Intro: There is much confusion in the world surrounding the matter of salvation and getting right with God. I find this amazing since the Bible is crystal clear in this area. However, there are groups that say baptism is a requirement for salvation. Others tell us that we must belong to their denomination or group if we hope to be save. Still others claim that we must keep certain sacraments, or holy ordinances, if we expect to get to Heaven. If you listen to every voice out there, you would be in a terrible fix and would never know where you stood with God. All you would know is that no matter what you did, it was never enough.

This seems to be the attitude Paul is attempting combat in this chapter of Romans. He has just told the Jews that getting right with God is simply a matter of faith. He tells them that salvation does not rest in one's obedience to the Law. Neither does it rely on one's good works. He tells us that such blessings as justification, righteousness, salvation, forgiveness, etc., are all given to us free and clear when we trust Christ as our personal Savior. After telling the Jews that the Law cannot save and that works won't work either, he proceeds to tell them that circumcision also will not get them to Heaven. Well, if the Law, our works and circumcision won't help us to get right with God, then what will? That is the question Paul answers in these verses this evening. Let's look together at them as we think together about How Righteousness Is Obtained.


A. The Confusion - Paul anticipated the objections of his Jewish audience and begins to address the issue of circumcision. Obviously, the Jewish people attached far more significance to circumcision than we do in our day and time. For them, circumcision had come to be the mark of salvation in a man's life! For us, it is merely a medical procedure that is performed a few days after a male child is born. We do it for hygiene. The Jews, on the other hand, attached great meaning to the rite of circumcision. For instance, Rabbi Menachem wrote, "Our rabbis have said that no circumcised man will ever see hell." A certain Jewish book made the following claim, "Abraham sits before the gate of Hell, and does not allow that any circumcised Israelite should enter there." In other words, they attached their eternal security to the rite of circumcision. Some Jews went so far as to teach that even if a man committed idolatry, God would have to supernaturally remove his circumcision in order for that man to go to Hell. The whole point here is that, for the Jews, circumcision was far more that a rite, it was the point of entrance into a living and true relationship with God. They were sincere about it, but they were sincerely wrong!

(Ill. Why did they attach such meaning to circumcision? Perhaps it would help us this evening to understand just what circumcision said to the Jewish male. Circumcision told the Jewish male three things. They are:

1. His body was permanently marked - Once it was done, circumcision could not be undone! This served as a permanent reminder of his relationship with the Lord.

2. His body was privately marked - The Jewish male might live anyway he pleased. He might serve other gods and live life to the fullest by indulging in gross sin and wickedness. However, every time he undressed, he was reminded that he belonged to the Lord God. Other people might never see the sign, but the circumcised man never got away from the fact that he was a marked man.

3. His body was powerfully marked - If a Jew were to commit adultery with a pagan woman, he would be reminded of his relationship with God. In the most intimate and personal manner, the Jew would be reminded of his standing with God several times per day.

(Ill. We see the same kind of mind set active in our world today. It isn't about circumcision, but people attach spiritual significance to rituals like baptism, communion, good works, etc. The bottom line is that people are confused about this matter of salvation and how to obtain righteousness.)

B. The Clarification - Now, Paul takes steps to set the record straight. Paul tells us again, without mincing any words that Abraham was saved by faith alone! It was not works, it was not Law and it was not the rite and ritual of circumcision. It was pure faith. He believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, Gen. 15:6.

(Ill. Nothing has changed in this arena. Salvation is by faith for everyone who gets saved. It can come about no other way, Eph. 2:8-9. Friends, we need to be sure that we are trusting Jesus Christ by faith and through faith alone! Anything else is a recipe for disaster. Where is your faith this evening?)

I. The Plan For Receiving Righteousness


A. The Confusion - Now, there is another point of confusion for the Jews. If righteousness was reckoned to Abraham, did it come before or after he was circumcised? This was matter that needed to be addressed for the Jews. They were pinning their hopes of heaven on a ritual of the flesh. As a result, many Jews were going to die and go to Hell.

(Ill. By the way, things haven't changed! People are still looking to everything under that sun for salvation! This world is confused about this matter and needs to hear the truth from a redeemed people, and they need to see the truth lived out in the world by those who claim to know Jesus. Paul had an answer for his generation, I wonder whether we do or not!)

B. The Clarification - To answer this question, we need to look no farther than the book of Genesis. When we do, it becomes very clear that Abraham was saved at the age of 85, Gen. 15:6. However, he wasn't circumcised until he was 99 years of age in Gen. 17:1-14. Even though the Jews believed that circumcision was required for salvation, the very man they revered so highly was saved long before he was circumcised.

(Ill. This is a truth that needs to be drilled into the heads of every child of God! Salvation never has been about what we do, it has always been about who's we are! If we belong to the Lord, then we are saved, forgiven, adopted into the family of God and declared righteous. If we have not trusted the Lord by faith, then we are lost, no matter what we do!)

(Ill. The whole point of this section is to tell men that salvation cannot be found in the rabbi's knife, the baptismal pool, the communion, church membership, etc. Salvation can and will continue to be found only in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Men are still saved by trusting His shed blood and His resurrection from the dead. Nothing else will save, Acts 16:31. This point is proven by taking a moment to look at two men in the Bible.

1. The Thief On The Cross - Luke 23:39-43 - This man trusted Jesus Christ for his salvation and he was saved. Yet, he never went to church, never sang in a choir. He never witnessed, he never gave and he was never baptized. This man did nothing but trust Jesus for salvation and he was saved! All the things he never got to do are things we should all do, but not one of those things can save a man's soul!

2. Judas Iscariot - John 6:66-71 - This man lived and walked with Jesus for over 3 years. He was active in our Lord's ministry, Matt. 5:5-10. Yet, Jesus Himself looked at Judas and said that he was a lost sinner!

Friends, it isn't about the things you do, it is all about Who you know. You need to know Jesus Christ. He alone is the door to salvation!

I. The Plan For Receiving Righteousness

II. The Pattern For Receiving Righteousness


(Ill. Now, Paul moves from defending his position on salvation through faith to telling the Jews how one demonstrates that he is a possessor of righteousness. There are two points that Paul makes here that must be noted.

1. Circumcision is a Sign - The ritual in the flesh was to serve as a reminder to the Jews that they were in a vital relationship with God and that they were to demonstrate the truth of that relationship by walking with him in faith, day by day! (Ill. If I am going to Atlanta and I see a sign that says "Atlanta 100 miles", I know that the sign is not Atlanta, yet the sign has value because it points the way to Atlanta. The same is true of circumcision. It was not the relationship, but it reminded the Jew that he belonged to God!)

2. Circumcision is a Seal - A seal is something that is usually placed on a document and tells everyone who looks at it that it is the real deal. Basically, circumcision was meant to serve as a reminder to the Jew that he was supposed to walk in humble submission with the Lord. It was to be an outward symbol of an inward relationship. (Ill. It is much the same as baptism.)

(Ill. Circumcision only had value as long as it was accompanied by a heart walking in surrender and obedience to the Lord! So it is with all the religious stuff we do in this life. It only has value for us when our hearts are already right with God through salvation which comes by faith!)

(Ill. I think these truths are clearly illustrated by the wedding ring I wear. This ring is a symbol of my commitment to my wife. When people see it, they know that I am married. They can see, without even knowing a thing about me, that I am not a free man. It is a public sign that I belong to another. Now, if I slide this ring off, do I become single? No! I am just as married whether I have the ring on my finger or not. Then why wear it? I wear it because it is a public symbol of my commitment to my wife. I wear it because I am proud of her and want the world to know that we are one!

Now, just for a moment, suppose some single guy puts on my wedding band. Does that mean that he is married to my wife? No! He would just be wearing the symbol of a commitment that he had never made.

If you can see what I am saying, then you can see the comparison between this illustration and someone who has never been saved, but has been baptized and is an active church member. It just doesn't work unless it is done the Lord's way!)

A. V. 11 It Is Proven By What We Believe - With all that in mind, does the uncircumcised Gentile, have a right to call Abraham "father"? Yes, but only if he has the same kind of faith that Abraham had! It all boils down to what you are trusting in for your salvation! When the Lord Jesus stood before Pilate, Pilate asked the assembled crowds this question, "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?", Matt. 27:22. The crowd responded that day by telling Pilate to crucify Jesus. What is your response to that question? What have you done with Jesus?

B. V. 12 It Is Proven By How We Behave - What about the Jew? Does he have the right to claim Abraham as his spiritual father? Again, the answer is "Yes", but only if he can demonstrate the same kind of faith that Abraham lived out day by day! The whole point here is that if you are really walking in faith, then your life will show it! You will prove that you are saved, not by what you say, but rather by what you do, James 2:18.

(Ill. You see, it must have been a shock for the Jews to hear that Abraham was made right with God by faith before he was ever circumcised! After all, he was just a dirty Gentile until he received the rite of circumcision. What these Jews failed to realize is that before Abraham was circumcised in his flesh, God has already circumcised his heart. And, that is the circumcision that really matters, Ill. Rom. 2:28-29!)

Conc: Friends, I sure am glad I am a Baptist this evening! I praise the Lord for the distinctives that set us apart from the rest of the religious world. But, I am even more glad that Jesus got me before the Baptists did! You se, tonight, I know that I am saved, but not because of the things I have done, am doing or will do for the Lord. I am saved this evening because of Who I am trusting for my salvation! What about you? Are you looking for some kind of a religious thing to save you? If so, it won't work! For us to get to heaven, we need to hear the same massage the Jews heard. It's all about faith! We can't earn our way to Heaven, but we can believe our way there! Are you doing that tonight?

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