Faith: The Bridge to a Relationship with GodRead Romans 4
To understand Christian faith, we must draw a distinction between cold dead religion and the warm vibrancy of a genuine relationship with God.
The first 3 chapters of Romans are clear. No one gains God’s favor by following a set of rules. We can only receive it as a gift of love from Him to us.
Rules can be followed without a relationship.
If I am caught speeding and a police officer gives me a ticket, there is no relationship between me and the officer. He may have convinced me that I need to follow the law better. But, he has not made me love the law and certainly hasn’t made me love him.
Rule following does not equal a relationship.
Gifts of love, on the other hand, can only be given in the context of a relationship. The sort of faith that is given by grace and leads to salvation can only occur within the context of a personal relationship with God.
It’s interesting how the language of the church influences our culture. Today, it is generally cool and acceptable for people to talk about having a relationship with God.
Who in his right mind wouldn’t want to feel as if God was right beside him? It’s awesome to think God hears everything we say. And this is a true and wonderful benefit we have by the grace of God.
There’s a fatal flaw in our culture’s mindset, though. Many people claim to have a relationship with God, but very few truly grasp it only comes through faith and not through works.
In the Message, Eugene Peterson describes Abraham’s relationship with God this way:
“He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.” – Romans 4:3
This is the essence of faith.
Abraham Believed GodRead Genesis 15:1-5
Understanding Abraham’s salvation is critical to understanding how the rest of the Bible fits together. Romans 4 helps us as Christians to make sense of the purpose of the entire Old Testament.
Austin gives some really useful background on Genesis 15 in his July 2016 message, The Salvation of Abraham.
- How many of you remember the kids song “Father Abraham?”
- Did you understand as a child why Abraham is called “our father?”
- Why is it significant that we Gentiles call Abraham our father? (Romans 4:11)
- How would you describe the quality of Abraham’s relationship with God?
- What was the purpose of Abraham’s circumcision?
- Why does Romans 4 tell us that Abraham was not saved by following the Law?
- How do you know from today’s passages that Abraham had faith?
- How does God keeping his promise to Abraham help your faith?
Pray as a group for the person that each of you are consistently trying to share your faith with.
Take time to pray for an unreached people group like the Gurung People of NE India.