March 12, 2018

Topic Day|Faith

The Simple Step to Salvation

Romans 4:1–8

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Abraham Justified by Faith

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in1 him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

  “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered;
  blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”


[1] 4:5 Or but trusts; compare verse 24

The Simple Step to Salvation

Bio | Mason Graham

Hey, y'all. My name is Mason Graham. Every week, I get to hang out with my amazing small group that I have been with for seven years now, one of the biggest blessings that the Lord has placed in my life. I am a Crossroads 45 intern and have been attending Watermark for 13 years now. I love college football, Southern food, my big family (I have three younger brothers), and, most importantly, our Lord Jesus Christ. I'm excited to dive into His Word with you today!

Central Truth

Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone and that is nothing of our doing, no matter how much we try.

Devotional | Faith

When I was seven or eight, my dad's company offered free tickets to a Harlem Globetrotters game to whoever did the best on a quiz about the team. I was super excited and really wanted to go to the game, so my mom...

When I was seven or eight, my dad's company offered free tickets to a Harlem Globetrotters game to whoever did the best on a quiz about the team. I was super excited and really wanted to go to the game, so my mom helped me fill out the quiz, and we won! Because I was willing to try the quiz and work to get the tickets, I won and got to have a great time at the game with my dad and one of my brothers.

Often, this is how we approach life. The world tells us that, to get what we want, we must work. If I want good grades, then I must study. If I want to succeed in athletics, then I must practice. In this passage, Paul is telling us that this is not true in our walk with Christ. While at times we are prone to think that we must work to earn our own salvation, it is already available to us through Christ's sacrifice! We must then have faith in God's promise of salvation and realize that our work can do nothing to achieve that.

Paul uses the example of Abraham to reiterate this truth. "Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness" (Romans 4:3b, emphasis added). Abraham's belief and trust in God's promise to him was what justified him. The act of faith alone was not a work—it was not righteous in and of itself—but rather it was "counted as righteousness" (Romans 4:5b). Faith is the one and only way that we can attain God's righteousness. This is what defines Paul's doctrine of faith: we cannot be saved through works, but only through our faith in Christ (Romans 3:24-25).

How can you be saved? By grace (from God), through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9)! This means that we can't do anything to be saved on our own, but we must have faith that God's promises hold true now and forever and that we are saved only through trusting in Jesus and His work on the cross!

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Discussion Questions

1. Have you taken that first step to salvation?

2. What defines your relationship with Christ? Are you leaning on yourself for salvation, or are you leaning on the only One who can save you?

3. How can you strengthen your faith in God in your daily walk with Christ?

15 Comments available

greg jones about 1 year ago
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@Sue, good point on Esphesians ch. 2. Verse 11 starts with therefore and as “gentiles” we/us know that Paul is talking about two people groups those of the circumcision and those uncircumcised. Paul gets around to saying something we sometimes miss if we stop reading at verse 9. Ephesians 2:15-16 His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Thank you Sue for bringing up the purpose for the peace of Christ.

Rita Satagaj about 1 year ago
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@RayBohlin what amazing seeds you planted! Amazing what you can accomplish.

Thank you Mason for such great reminders that we are saved by grace alone.

Sue Bohlin about 1 year ago
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@RayBohlin, thanks for sharing your debate experience with some of the pray-ers! I love the evidence of prayer support by the results of an online vote—Ray won with 55% of the vote!

Lord, may the truth he shared, pointing to You, burrow deep into the hearts and minds of every attendee in that completely-full venue. Especially Ray’s debate opponent, who doesn’t yet know You love him and died for him!

Sue Bohlin about 1 year ago

Mason, I appreciate your opening story. It reminded me of how, by asking good questions, my dad helped me write a grade-school essay that won me the contest prize of a cafeteria lunch. 35 cents! (Oh MAN I am old!!)

Paul’s teaching on faith is being hammered home in our crawl through Romans, isn’t it? Invoking Ephesians 2:8-9 is perfect here: “And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Even the ability to respond to His invitation, reaching out to receive God’s gracegift of eternal life, is His work in us–because dead people don’t respond to invitations to life! Dead people don’t reach out to receive anything! And we ALL start out spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). All this makes me appreciate all the more God’s amazing gift of faith.

Elizabeth Lariscy about 1 year ago

Mason, thank you for your faith filled devo! Reading it and the other JTJ comments overwhelmed me with emotion. I am so undeserving of God’s amazing love and everlasting grace. What a wonderful God we serve. GLORY BE TO GOD!

Jill Moore about 1 year ago

Well done, Mason. An answer to question 3 for me will be to grow in prayerfulness. Then watching, waiting, worshipping as God shows me His plans each day. Thanks for helping me think through building my faith!

greg jones about 1 year ago

When I consider faith, Abraham’s or anyone else’s, I think of it in two parts. God’s part in my life, He is faithful, my part in His world, He grows my faith. His part is perfect my part is not. So I understand faith this way, God is not measuring us by how perfect our acts are but by how faithfully we act.

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

Abraham and David both had exemplary (but at times flawed) lives Gen 26:5, Acts 13:22 and yet in the end both were righteous not by things they did. The quote about Abraham emphasizing a righteousness as a gift from God by faith in Genesis 15:6. The quote from David emphasizing freedom from sin grounded in God’s loyal loving kindness and mercies in Ps 32:1-2, Ps 51:1.

Moses was the most humble man on earth and yet the greatest human law giver did not enter the promised land because of disobedience. Num 20:12 Joshua and Caleb did entered the land because they believed God. Num 14:30. Promise inherited by faith.

Caleb Graybill about 1 year ago

Mason, Good to see your encouragement this morning. Thank you for all the work that you do serving at Crossroads! I was especially encouraged by “The act of faith alone was not a work—it was not righteous in and of itself—but rather it was “counted as righteousness””. Keep up the good fight brother!

Ray Bohlin about 1 year ago

Mason, thank you for your devotional and insight into our righteousness by faith alone. Your example of winning Globetrotter tickets by “work” demonstrates our natural tendency to work for all we get. Righteousness by faith is indeed counter intuitive. It’s 7:25 am in Minsk,Belarus. Saturday. my debate with the Russian atheist scientist went well but was frustrating. He frequently didn’t answer my questions, he dismissed my objections to his statements for little reason, and there was so much false information he gave that there was not sufficient opportunity to rebut it all. But the people there heard truth and I pray the unbelievers will “think” about it. I start teaching my class on worldview and apologetics for Christian leaders today. I preached and answered questions yesterday for nearly 3 hours and the debate lasted 4 hours. Thank you for praying!

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

Abraham was counted righteous

David was not counted lawless

(neither blessing earned)

Hope Harris about 1 year ago

Part 1 GM Friends

Sitting with verses 7-9 this morning. My mind is captivated by the use of word pictures, as I reflect on God’s forgiveness towards me.

As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is His love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, He has separated us from our sins. (Psalms 103:11-12 MSG)

From Spurgeon

"Sin is removed from us by a miracle of love! What a load to move, and yet is it removed so far that the distance is incalculable… If sin be removed so far, then we may be sure that the scent, the trace, the very memory of it must be entirely gone. If this be the distance of its removal, there is no shade of fear of its ever being brought back again;”

Hope Harris about 1 year ago

Part 2 “Our sins are gone, Jesus has borne them away. Far as the place of sunrise is removed from yonder west, where the sun sinks when his day’s journey is done, so far were our sins carried by our scapegoat… Come, my soul, awaken thyself thoroughly and glorify the Lord for this richest of blessings. Hallelujah. The Lord alone could remove sin at all, and He has done it in a godlike fashion, making a final sweep of all our transgressions.” (Spurgeon)

He shall again have compassion on us; He will subdue and tread underfoot our wickedness [destroying sin’s power]. Yes, you will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19 AMP)

Lindsey Driscoll about 1 year ago

Great devo on Faith Mason. Q3- I can strengthen my faith my studying the Character of God through his word and giving him the praise through my day that he deserves. Abiding in ongoing worship through the day will grow my trust of God. (4:5)

Hugh Stephenson about 1 year ago

Today I am reflecting on “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham…?” I guess the easy answer is salvation. But what did he gain in a practical sense? He lied to the Egyptians, his wife did not believe she could conceive, he slept with Haggar, he argued and negotiated with God regarding Sodom, etc etc etc.

How does God’s blessing impact what I do and say day-to-day. What do I “gain”?

However it happened, Abraham’s hall of fame moment for me came with Isaac.

In Gen 22:5, as he and Isaac were walking up the mountain, he turned to the servants and said “we will worship and return to you”. “WE!”

Abraham knew God and His promises. He did not know HOW God would show up; but he knew He WOULD show up. Do I have that much trust? Do I know Him that well? Ugh.

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