“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.