SERIES: Heart & Soul: A Study through Romans
MESSAGE: Old Age; Young Faith
SPEAKER: Skip Heitzig
SCRIPTURE: Romans 4

MESSAGE SUMMARY
Our skin may wrinkle but our faith never has to. Abraham’s faith was vibrant and youthful even when he was nearing one hundred years of age. As Paul points to the patriarch Abraham as an example for justification by faith, we can learn what it means to believe God through all the ages of life. How vibrant is your Christian faith? Have you let cynicism and doubt choke out your confidence in God?

STUDY GUIDE
Connect Recap Notes: August 11, 2019
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Old Age; Young Faith"
Text: Romans 4

Path

Our skin may wrinkle but our faith never has to. Abraham's faith was vibrant and youthful even when he was nearing one hundred years of age. As Paul points to the patriarch Abraham as an example for justification by faith, we can learn what it means to believe God through all the ages of life. How vibrant is your Christian faith? Have you let cynicism and doubt choke out your confidence in God?

  1. Abraham's Faith Exhibited (vv. 1-15)
  2. Abraham's Faith Explained (vv. 16-17)
  3. Abraham's Faith Examined (vv. 18-25)
    1. He Believed God Can Do Anything (vv. 17-18)
    2. He Believed Circumstances Aren't Everything (v. 19)
    3. He Believed Challenges Are Nothing (v. 20)
    4. He Believed Promises Mean Something (v. 21)
Points

Abraham's Faith Exhibited (vv. 1-15)Abraham's Faith Explained (vv. 16-17)Abraham's Faith Examined (vv. 18-25)Practice

Connect Up: Though we can see the handiwork of God in creation, we can't physically see God. Having faith in God is like trusting in the laws of physics to get a plane in the air. According to Hebrews 11:1 and 6, why is faith vital for belief in God? Knowing is not enough, nor is conviction. We must receive—by faith, through God's grace—the promises of God in Christ. Discuss why each of the following kinds of faith is important in our relationship with God:Connect In: How is faith communicated and lived out in the church? Here are some areas to discuss:Connect Out: How would you explain to an unbeliever the role of faith in the Christian life? Knowing that all people have faith in something, how can you direct an unbeliever's faith in self, science, money, power, etc., to faith in God?

DETAILED NOTES
"Old Age; Young Faith"
Romans 4

  1. Introduction
    1. You should never fear growing old; you should fear growing stale as you grow old
      1. You should be afraid of losing a vibrant, active, childlike faith in God
      2. Psalm 92:13-14
      3. Confidence in God makes a person attractive at any age
    2. A survey of people over the age of ninety-five indicated three things people would have done differently if they could live their lives over again:
      1. They would reflect more, they would risk more, and they would do more things that would live on after they died
      2. You will never regret a life of faith; you won't get to the end of your life and say, "I think I trusted God way too much when I was younger"
    3. In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul focused on what it means to be right with God
      1. He said the Law can reveal sin, but never remove sin
      2. He also said that salvation by faith was witnessed by the Law and the prophets
        1. As Paul said this, he expected that those who read it would question it
        2. Paul knew he would be questioned because he understood the Jewish mindset
      3. Paul called on Abraham and David as witnesses in chapter 4 to prove his case that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone
  2. Abraham's Faith Exhibited (vv. 1-15)
    1. Paul referred to an incident in Abraham's life when he was eighty-six years old
      1. Genesis 15:5-6
      2. Abraham believed God's promise, and God counted it to him as righteousness
      3. In Hebrew, the word believed is amen
      4. The word Paul used in the Greek is episteusen, which is a banking term meaning to credit something to somebody's account
    2. Abraham was spiritually bankrupt before God, but as soon as he said amen and trusted God, the accounts changed
      1. God considered Abraham righteous because he believed by faith
      2. Abraham's faith was used four times in the New Testament to make the same point—any sinful person can be right with holy God simply by faith
    3. When Abraham believed God, the Law wasn't even around; Moses wouldn't be born for another 400 years
      1. Abraham wasn't circumcised until age ninety-nine; he did it after he believed and after God counted him righteous
      2. Abraham's was a living, active, vibrant faith; he was an old man and God asked him to look to the future, not backwards
        1. If you want to stay young, say amen to God's promises more often—don't just read them in the Bible
        2. You are as young as your faith and as old as your doubt
  3. Abraham's Faith Explained (vv. 16-17)
    1. In verse 16, Paul explained a principle that he also laid out in Ephesians 2:8-9
      1. Abraham was the prototype—the poster child—of salvation by faith so that everyone who believes can trace their lineage back to him
      2. When you place your trust in Jesus Christ alone, you enter a spiritual heritage that goes all the way back to the simple faith of Abraham
    2. Like Abraham, we don't work for salvation or go through a ritual to obtain it
      1. When you believe in Jesus Christ and trust in Him, you are saved
      2. Romans 10:9-10
    3. Believing is just the beginning; growth follows, and works follow the growth
      1. But you're not saved by those works; they simply verify your real faith
      2. The simple amen, the simple belief in your heart makes you right with God
        1. Paul's audience thought exactly the opposite; many people in ancient pagan religions thought you had to work hard for it
        2. Most people today believe that you have to do something more than believe
          1. 77 percent of Americans believe that people must contribute their own effort for personal salvation
          2. 52 percent believe that good deeds help them earn a spot in heaven
        3. What a place heaven would be if people got there by paying their own way
          1. It would be a miserable place; people would be bragging and boasting
          2. We're all going to say, "I got here by grace—because of what Jesus did for me, not because of anything I did for Him"
  4. Abraham's Faith Examined (vv. 18-25)
    1. He Believed God Can Do Anything (vv. 17-18)
      1. Abraham brought God into the equation
        1. When a problem arises, the first thing we try to do is work it out in our own minds, and if we can't figure it out, we assume that God can't figure it out
        2. Throughout the Genesis narratives, God talked about Isaac as though Isaac was living at the time, even though he wasn't born yet
      2. Our issue is that we tend to carry our limitations over onto God
        1. God told Abraham several times that he would have a son
          1. On one of these occasions, Sarah was listening and responded by laughing
          2. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14)
        2. Jeremiah 32:27
      3. We need a perspective adjustment
        1. Remember who you're dealing with—who you're praying to
        2. Acts 4:18
          1. A law was passed that the church could not mention the name of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem
          2. They responded by holding a prayer meeting, and they framed their perspective using the character and power of God
      4. We tend to let our circumstances block our view of God, but Abraham decided, at age eighty-six, to let God be God and believe that He can do anything
    2. He Believed Circumstances Aren't Everything (v. 19)
      1. Abram was eighty-six when God promised that he would be the father of many nations
        1. Abraham was ninety-nine when God made the promise again and changed his name to Abraham, which means father of a multitude
        2. Abraham became his name in an act of faith; he wasn't thinking of the frailties of the flesh as much as the faithfulness of God
      2. Abraham believed that because God can do anything, circumstances aren't everything
    3. He Believed Challenges Are Nothing (v. 20)
      1. If God can do anything and circumstances aren't everything, then a challenge is nothing to God
      2. Abraham did not waver from believing in God's promises
        1. Waver means to vacillate or doubt
        2. It might seem like Abraham wavered in his faith
          1. Genesis 16:4
          2. Genesis 17:17-22
          3. Struggling in your faith is not the same as unbelief or doubting, just as being tempted isn't the same as sin
      3. Abraham was circumcised at age ninety-nine as a seal that he believed God's promises; he was strengthened in faith
        1. Luke 1:37
        2. This is the kind of faith that stays young; when you live like that, life is an adventure
        3. Romans 10:17
    4. He Believed Promises Mean Something (v. 21)
      1. Abraham was "fully convinced"; to Abraham, the promise was as good as the performance
      2. What do you do with God's promises?
        1. Your answer should be, "I take them to the bank and cash them in"
        2. Are we standing on the promises? Or sitting on the premises?
        3. 2 Peter 1:4
  5. Conclusion
    1. Abraham lived a life of faith
      1. "Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to you with my empty cup, uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known you better, I'd have come running with a bucket" —Nancy Spiegelberg
      2. Romans 8:32
    2. Did you know that what you believe about God is the most important thing about you?
      1. Circumstances will not make or break you; they will just expose you
      2. What you believe about God determines what you believe about everything else
Figures referenced: George Muller, George Bernard Shaw, Nancy Spiegelberg, Billy Sunday

Cross references: Genesis 15:5-6; 16:4; 17:17-22; 18:14; Psalm 92:13-14; Jeremiah 32:27; Luke 1:37; Acts 4:18; Romans 8:32; 10:9-10, 17; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Peter 1:4

Greek words: episteusen

Topic: faith

Keywords: age, believe, challenges, circumstances, childlike, doubt, life, perspective, promise, regrets


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