Romans 4:13-16 What Voids Faith?
I have been saying for some weeks now that all of God’s blessings are accessed by faith. It is faith alone which gives us access to graces such as justification, righteousness, and ultimately salvation. The Bible teaches us that we are saved by faith, not works, yet we are to obey the Lord by doing good deeds in response to the grace we have been given. I feel like this is a subject that cannot be taught on in excess. Continuous reminders of who we are and why God has done what He has done are useful and necessary. I ran into this question during the past week and thought that it would be a valuable task to take on. WHAT VOIDS FAITH?
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Point 1: The Importance of FaithIn tracing the spiritual descendants of Abraham in verses 11 and 12 Paul makes no mention of the Law. (v13) Now he tells us why (FOR…). The main thrust of the argument is that the promise was attained through the righteousness of faith and NOT through the Law. What was promised to Abraham was not received by him or his descendants by their doing of the Law.
“Those who are of the Law” (v14) refers to those who base their hope of justification and blessing on law-keeping. How can blessing truly be a matter of promise and faith if people can earn it through their obedience to the Mosaic Law? And if the promise depends on keeping the law perfectly, then it will never be fulfilled because no person can sufficiently obey the law.
(v15) That the Law brings wrath is in contrast with what it cannot do which is secure the inheritance of the promise. The only thing Law can do is reveal our sin and label us as guilty with no opportunity for justification or salvation. The Law says we are sinners, guilty in the eyes of a holy God. Yet, the cross of Jesus Christ says we are justified, not guilty if only we will put our faith in Him. We must believe that His accomplishments as our sin-bearing-substitute are sufficient for salvation. And know this, His righteous works are enough for He offered up Himself as a sacrifice for the people, once for all.
In Summary- Why was the promise not made through the Law?
1. No one can sufficiently obey the whole Law.
2. The Law functions only to designate what is sin.
(v16) The promise is sure because it is only attained by faith, according to grace. The Apostle comes back to the heart of his argument. The Gospel directly tells us that we all have equal access into this grace because it is only by faith, yet it has special significance to proclaim this to the Roman church. In the midst of division and confrontation between Jews and Gentiles in the church, Paul says that the promise is sure by faith. Those of the Law (Jews) come by faith and those outside the Law (Gentiles) come by faith. Abraham is the father of us all. What does that mean? No matter what category the world puts us in, we are family in faith! The promise can only come to fruition by God’s working. If it is up to man’s working it will not be accomplished. That is why it is by the grace of God and not by the works of men.
Turn to Ephesians 2:4-10. This is the premiere passage for what I am teaching. The entire work in the Christian life is done by God that it might be done according to grace because He is rich in mercy and He loves us. And so the only way to become a Christian and to grow to maturity in Christ is to allow God to work in your life. How do we do that? Only by faith. It is not of ourselves, it is not of works, and we can not boast. This is a humbling reality. If you want to be forgiven, if you want to be transformed, if you want to be saved then your only hope is Christ!
Faith is important; actually faith is vital. It is our only means of salvation and all other blessings. It first came to us when we heard the Gospel proclaimed. Romans 10:17 says that, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” You remember that time. You may have been at a church meeting, some other public place, or even at home when you first heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You believed that He loved you, that He gave Himself for you, and that He could save you from your sins. You became a Christian by realizing how helpless you were and believing that only Christ could do anything about it. That is faith and that is how God wants us to spend our lives for eternity, continually relying on Him like a small child does his/her parents.
The necessity of faith is obvious to the attentive Bible reader. It is also apparent to every Christian simply on the basis of experience. The fact that faith is our only right of entry into the blessings of God begs the question, can faith be voided? And if faith can be voided then what is it that voids faith?
Point 2: Can Faith be Voided?Turn to 2 Corinthians 13:5. We ought to be able to examine and test ourselves to see if we are faithful. There is a slight chance that some within the Corinthian church, and as a general rule any church, are “disqualified.”
The Bible is full of “if’s” about salvation because it is dependent on us living a faithful life to the end. God will work in us and complete in us what He has started if we continue to yield to Him and trust that He can and will save us. A Scripture like Colossians 1:22-23 come to mind “to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight - if indeed you continue in the faith.” In Galatians 4:20 the Apostle said to the church “I have doubts about you” because they were turning away so quickly from the grace of God to a different message.
The Bible is clear that faith can be voided and all of the blessings of God can be forfeited by an individual who does not continue in the faith. We must be grounded and steadfast in our faith or else we could be moved away from the hope of the Gospel which we first heard. Can faith be voided? My answer is YES from what I understand in Scripture. Now we must answer the final question for the sermon, what voids faith?
Point 3: What Voids Faith?Let’s move back to our main text. Here is where we find the answer to our final question. We have now established the importance of faith and the fact that faith can be voided which is to say made of no effect, emptied of its validity, made worthless, rendered ineffective, and destroyed.
What is the one thing that voids faith? v14 “For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect.” When we stop relying on what God has done in Jesus Christ and we begin to rely on ourselves, whether intentionally or not, we may be on the verge of voiding saving faith.
This is the issue that the Roman churches and the Galatian churches faced during the 1st Century. Both were being invaded by false teachers desiring to woo them away from the faith and to convince them that they must be obedient to the Law to be saved. Paul had a life-long struggle with these people who attacked him verbally and physically on many occasions.
“Law” and “promise” are terms that exclude each other. On one side we see grouped together words like law, wrath, and transgression while on the other side we see grouped together promise, grace, and faith. These groupings cannot cross paths. They do not and can not work in harmony. Where there is law there is transgression and there is wrath poured out by God on all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Salvation is established by God’s grace alone and the only human response we have available to us is faith. We must believe in the grace of God.
The only way that salvation can be guaranteed is if it depends on God and not us. And so God makes it available to us by grace through faith. That is what makes Abraham the father of us all and not the Jews only. V16 says this clearly, “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”
The primary thing that voids faith is the Mosaic Law which is in the same category as any moral law or tradition that we set up against faith in Christ. We have begun by faith and must finish by faith. That is what makes us right with God and that is what saves us.
Have you put up any kind of law or tradition against faith in Christ? If you have all you are doing is relying on yourself. Do any of us think that we could ever be innocent in the eyes of God? He alone is holy, just, and righteous. Don’t void the faith that will save you by turning to any law. The promise is sure if only you will believe. What was Abraham’s first response to God’s graceful calling? He believed and that is what God accounted to him for righteousness. We know the importance of faith. The Scripture shows that it is the only proper response to God’s grace. We have also seen that faith can be voided and then spent time discussing what it is that voids saving faith. Law voids faith.
If you have turned away from reliance on Christ then make it right today. Turn away from self-confidence and renew your faith and trust in Him today. He alone offers salvation and He alone can be both Just and Justifier of the one who has faith.