Each week we will be sharing a post from a staff member in response to the most recent sermon in our “Good News” series.Click to watch or listen to the sermon shared by CityRise Network Director and CityRise Missouri City Campus Pastor Mark Edworthy.
The sermon this week comes from Romans 4:1-12. Pastor Mark begins by giving us a history lesson about how the rules have changed in different sports over the years. His illustrations are a metaphor to assist us in our understanding of the biblical truths contained in this passage of scripture.
Some Christians think that the rules have changed about salvation. Some believe that people were saved by “works” in the Old Testament while in the New Testament, people are saved by “grace”. But, the rules have not been changed. As Pastor Mark reminds us, “Grace then. Grace now. It has always been grace”. The essence of the passage in Romans can be understood through the lens of these three principles:
1. Ground rules of salvation
2. Grace taught
3. Grace shown
In Romans, Paul begins by reaching back to Abraham to silence the narrative that salvation can be achieved through works. Paul tells us that Abraham was not justified by works which means his salvation is not by his work, not by his power. Let us pause a minute so that we can grasp this principle from Paul.
Paul reminds us that works are centered on human efforts. If humanity could receive salvation by their human actions, this would only lead them to boast about what they accomplished. Here is why works cannot save us: as long as we are boasting within ourselves we are not clinging to the grace of God.
Salvation is not a transaction and we cannot earn it by works. Salvation comes by placing your faith in Jesus. Pastor Mark sums this up nicely when he tells us “it is faith that leads to trusting, that leads to one being credited with righteousness”. This is the path that Abraham walked, David walked and that Paul walked. We must also walk this path to be counted as righteous and to receive salvation. As we continue throughout the rest of the passage, we see Paul teaching us about God’s grace and how His grace is demonstrated throughout history and to all people, especially the people of God.
By pointing us to Abraham and David, Paul silences the false belief that somehow the rules for salvation have been changed. Paul closes the door on the lie that it was works that saved in the Old Testament. Paul opens the door for us to see that it was Grace then and Grace now; it has always been by grace that one is credited with righteousness; it is by grace that one is redeemed to our Father in heaven.
I want to help somebody reading this. Yes, you! You the person reading this right now. Stop running yourself into the ground; none of your human efforts are required for you to be saved. Ephesians 2:8 instructs us that it is by grace that we have been saved through faith. It is not by our human efforts. Grace is a gift from God. If grace is a gift from God, why are we trying to earn it with our striving? We only create more stress in our lives trying to achieve something that we cannot attain no matter how mighty our efforts or resolve. Dismiss the notion that works saved people in the Old Testament. Dismiss the notion that your works will save you today. It was grace then. It is grace now. It has always been grace.
Robert Underwood is the Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Community Impact for CityRise Missouri City. He lives in Houston with His wife Quanita. Robert seeks to unify CityRise and the community it is planted in through the lens of becoming: Gospel Centered; Ethnically Diverse; and Community Focused.