“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:1-2 Paul has proved that the whole world is guilty before God, and that no one can be saved by religious deeds such as keeping the law. He has explained that God’s way of salvation has always been by grace. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Paul has used Abraham as his illustration. If we stop at this point in the letter, we would know that we need to be saved and that we could be saved. But there is much more that the sinner needs to know about justification by faith. In chapter 5 Paul explains the last two words in chapter 4, “our justification.” Paul explains two basic truths: the blessings of our justification and the basis for our justification. Paul answers two questions, can we be sure that it will last? How is it possible for God to save a sinner through the death of Christ on the cross? The first blessing that we have is, to me the best, peace with God. In the world that we live in we all need the peace of God in our lives. The unsaved person is at enmity with God because he cannot obey God’s law or fulfill God’s will. “But there is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.” (Isaiah 48:22) “And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring […]
“And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.” Romans 4:22-25 When God first called Abraham and Abraham believed God’s promise, God declared Abraham righteous before him. But Abraham had not one shred of physical evidence that this promise would be fulfilled; he had only God’s promise. His saving faith lapsed at one time and produced Ishmael, the son of the flesh, but it was not extinguished. After 14 years his faith was revived when God reaffirmed his covenant. This shows that the faith he originally exercised was genuine faith. These things about Abraham were recorded for all men that all might know the way to be justified before God. As an example, for us, Abraham believed God and was declared righteous. To be justified today a person must also believe the promise of God, which includes the full revelation of the crucified and resurrected Christ who alone can forgive sins. This faith of Abraham is amazing. He did not have a Bible to read; he had only the promise of God. He was almost alone as a believer, surrounded by heathen unbelievers. He could not look back at a long record of faith; in fact, he was helping write the record. Yet Abraham believed God. People today have a complete Bible to read and study. They have a church fellowship and can look back at centuries of faith as recorded in […]
“And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.” Romans 4:19-21 Abraham sized up the situation and concluded that he and his wife were dead as far as producing a child was concerned. The circumstances were against them, but he was not weak in faith. He believed in a miracle-working God, a God for whom nothing was too hard to accomplish. He faced the obstacles squarely, and by faith trusted God to get him over the circumstances. Abraham’s faith did not weaken. He had no doubt that God would do what He promised. There was no mental struggle about his faith. Abraham looked at the situation from a divine view point. Until we get a divine point of view of life, we will always be frustrated. We must look at life through God eyes and not worldly eyes. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” (Isaiah 55:8) Abraham had absolute confidence in God, and rested his case there. He relied on the fact that if God promises something, he surely is able to perform it. If God promises, he must produce, for he cannot lie and he cannot go back on his Word. Abraham did not “push the panic button.” He was fortified with faith in a sovereign, omnipotent, miracle-working God. I know that at times I don’t have a divine view point of life. I let the world and what is happening in the […]
“So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” Romans 4:16-17 Abraham is called “the friend of God.” “And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.” (James 2:23) One can certainly have no better privilege than to be counted as God’s friend. But this wonderful blessing is not nearly so elusive as one might imagine. I may never be a close personal friend of a governor, president, prime minister or king, but being a friend of the Almighty Creator of the universe, now that I can do. Being a friend of God is what life is all about. Abraham is God’s friend because of his faith and trust in God. We know of a few events in Abraham’s life which demonstrate the extent of his faith and illustrate what genuine faith really is, and while we may not face the same events, we can measure our faith by comparing our own response to God with Abraham’s. We all have the same decision to make in this regard: God had spoken; do I listen, trust and obey, or do I waver in unbelief? God intended to bless the whole world through a descendant of Abraham. This promise would […]
“Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)” Romans 4:13-15 Paul is telling us, and the whole Bible teaches that you have two possible futures in front of you. One is to inherit the world; the other is to inherit punishment. In verse 13, “The promise to Abraham or to his descendants is that he would be heir of the world . . .” And we know from verses 11 and 12 that the “descendants” of Abraham are not just Jewish people, but all those who have the faith of Abraham. So, you may or may not be among that number. It depends on your faith. And we see in verse 15, “The Law brings punishment.” If you live under the Law, you will inherit punishment. So, there are two possible futures for us all: inheriting the world, or inheriting punishment. It is your choice as to what your future holds. Abraham’s righteousness was not based on the law. It was based on his faith. It was based on his trust. Our righteousness is not based on the law. Let’s look at Paul example, Abraham. He was not perfect and he did not keep the law, because at the time he trusted God there was no law. We see in Genesis 22 how much Abraham trusted God. Abraham trusted God so much that he was willing […]
“Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So, Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised.” Romans 4:11-12 The Jews of Paul’s day thought circumcision meant they were the true descendants of Abraham. Paul insists that to have Abraham as your true father, you must walk in the steps of faith that Abraham walked in. It must have been a shock for the Jewish readers of this letter to see that Paul called Abraham the father of uncircumcised people. It is far more important to have Abraham’s faith and the righteousness imputed to them because of it than it is to have Abraham’s circumcision. Jesus spoke of Abraham being a spiritual father, but the Jews did not believe what Jesus was saying. “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing.” (John 8:39-40) Members of the same family bear a likeness to one another. It is this principle that designates who is a spiritual child of Abraham. It is not a matter of physical resemblance but a similarity of moral and spiritual attitude and behavior. Christ designates that resemblance in believing God as Abraham did, as well as doing the works that he did. In the larger picture, […]
“Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!” Romans 4:9-10 The Jews gloried in circumcision and the law. If a Jew was to become righteous before God, he would have to be circumcised and obey the law. Paul had already made it clear in Romans 2:12–29 that there must be an inward obedience to the law, and a “circumcision of the heart.” Mere external observances can never save the lost sinner. But Abraham was declared righteous when he was in the state of uncircumcision. From the Jewish point of view, Abraham was a Gentile. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised (Gen. 17:23–27). This was more than fourteen years after the events in Genesis 15. The conclusion is obvious: Circumcision had nothing to do with his justification. Then why was circumcision given? It was a sign and a seal (Rom. 4:11). As a sign, it was evidence that he belonged to God and believed His promise. As a seal, it was a reminder to him that God had given the promise and would keep it. Believers today are sealed by the Holy Spirit of God. “And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us […]
“David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” Romans 4:6-8 Paul used David as a witness, quoting from one of David’s psalms of confession after his terrible sin with Bathsheba. David made two amazing statements: God forgives and imputes righteousness apart from works; God does not impute our sin. In other words, once we are justified, our record contains Christ’s perfect righteousness and can never again contain our sins. Christians do sin, and these sins need to be forgiven if we are to have fellowship with God, but these sins are not held again us. God does keep a record of our good works, so that He might reward us when Jesus comes, but He is not keeping a record of our sins. “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So, we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7) The key to our righteousness with Jesus Christ is if we are living in the light of God. King David knew what it was like to be a guilty sinner and he knew that he needed forgiveness for his sins. No sinner, no matter how hard he works can carry […]
“When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” Romans 4:4-5 The idea of grace stands opposite to the principle of works; grace has to do with receiving the freely given gift of God, works has to do with earning our merit before God. Paul wants us to understand that God’s grace is making us righteous without any work. A system of works seeks to put God in debt to us, making God owe us His favor because of our good behavior. In work-thinking, God owes us salvation or blessings because of our good works. We can never work our way to heaven. It is only by the grace of God that we are made righteous. God’s grace does cost us. “Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” “Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) Our faith in God is why God counts us righteous, but with this righteousness come a commitment to Jesus Christ and a change in our behavior.
“Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Romans 4:1-3 The Jewish Christian in Rome would immediately ask the question, how does this doctrine of justification by faith relate to our history? Paul says that it is witnessed by the law and the prophets, but what about Abraham? Both the Jews and Gentiles access God through faith: the Jews through the faith of their father, Abraham, and the Gentiles through their newly acquired faith. But in both instances, the same trusting faith is about firmly relying on Jesus Christ alone. By doing this, faith confirms, establishes, and upholds the Law’s original intent. The Old Testament does not say that Abraham was declared righteous because of his works. “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” (Genesis 15:6) He was declared righteous by his faith. Paul is making it clear that it was not by works that Abraham was righteous, but by his faith. The rabbis of Paul’s days argued that Abraham kept the law perfectly before it was given. The scripture tells us that God counted him righteous because of faith; it is not that he kept the law perfectly. Our justification does not make us perfectly righteous. God counts us righteous then He begins making us truly righteous, culminating at our resurrection.