I love to write through chapters of the Bible or spend time on thinking and writing through Biblical topics. Here is that collection, arranged easily to be able to find what you are looking for. Here is the list of things I have written on.
"Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!" (Romans 4:9-10)
In the 10th grade, I sat with two friends at lunch every day and we argued about baptism. We all had different viewpoints and because of it, different agendas. It seems so silly now. Absolutely nothing was accomplished during those mealtimes, except our ability to talk over each other.
Thinking back, I wonder why this debate was so important to us. I imagine it stemmed from a similar debate Paul was heading off in these verses—when exactly is righteousness obtained?
The Jews, to whom circumcision was a big deal, were staking their claim in it. It was so ingrained in their culture and in their spiritual practices that it became synonymous with being righteous (or acceptable) before God.
However, Paul had already dropped a mind-blowing statement in chapter 2 saying that this by no means makes a person a true Jew, as circumcision is merely an outward and physical sign and true circumcision is of the heart done by the Spirit of God (Rom. 2:28-29).
Knowing this, here’s the next question Paul raises: When was Abraham justified? Was it before he was circumcised or after?
"David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him" (Romans 4:6-8)
Can you imagine King David shaking your hand? He’d see you from across the room only to make a beeline straight to you in order to congratulate you. Sounds weird, right? This is King David we’re talking about, a symbol of the glory of Israel.
And yet, in the Psalms, King David saw a glimpse of what was coming through the Messiah, the time we now live in and called us blessed. The Amplified Bible puts it this way:
“Thus David congratulates the man and pronounces a blessing on him to whom God credits righteousness apart from the works he does:
Blessed and happy and to be envied are those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered up and completely buried.
Blessed and happy and to be envied is the person of whose sin the Lord will take no account nor reckon it against him.” (Rom. 4:6-8 AMP)
King David saw this through the eyes of faith and said these people should be congratulated because they are extremely blessed.
"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness" (Romans 4:4-5)
Anyone who works at job knows that the paycheck that comes at the end of the week isn’t a gift. It is the exchange given from the blood, sweat, and tears that come from being employed. We give our time, effort, skill, and passion to our employers, and in return they give us money.
As Paul points out, God justifies the wicked and in reality, we all fall into that category.
This is a good system in the workforce, but a bad deal when it comes to an arrangement with God. As Paul notes later on in the letter, the only wage we’d earn on our own merit is death (Rom. 6:23).
However, the contrast to working and earning something from God is to trust in His grace. The beautiful result is that we, too, (Like Abraham in this example) will be credited with righteousness.
That’s right, credited with Jesus’ perfect and sinless record.
"What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God" (Romans 4:1-2)
What a shocking statement!
Imagine for a moment that you just read a mind-blowing essay that was turning everything you thought about God upside down. And if that wasn’t enough, the very pillars of the foundation that you clinged to were being used to prove the other side of that argument?
So what made Abraham extraordinary?Simple. He believed God. That’s it! He believed everything God said to him.
Would you be reeling?
If that wasn’t enough, the next question after Paul described the righteousness that comes through faith in the previous chapter is: What good was Abraham’s works?
This is Abraham we’re talking about, the father of the Jewish nation and the patriarch of the entire race. The Apostle Paul is using his example to prove the statement in the previous chapter, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Rom. 3:28).
Chances are many of you do. You’ve faithfully followed this blog for years, occasionally sending me an encouraging note.
Many of you are new after subscribing over the past year during which I took a hiatus from writing, and so you might not even remember how you got on my subscription list.
It’s time to write again. It’s time to deeply delve into God’s Word again. It’s time to share the overflow from the marriage these things bring.
To all of you by all of your paths, I say, Welcome!
Here is what’s new:
We had a beautiful baby girl named Lillian. She’s incredible.
I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy quiet moments that are now more active and fun. I’ve taken time to savor these fleeting things, but something in my heart has grown restless and I know it’s longing for expression.
Watch this video teaching by Juli entitled The Sower of the Seed*
In the parable of the Sower of the Seed, Jesus explains how the Kingdom of God works, using the illustration of a farmer sowing seed. He shows how the Kingdom operates on the principle of seeds, with the Word of God being the seed that needs planted. Then tells how different reactions to this seed determines the outcome of the harvest in our lives. This parable is an essential truth in unlocking the scriptures and understanding how the Kingdom of God works.
*Juli taught this sermon at Orchard Hill Church on July 2 2017.
"Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law" (Romans 3:29-31)
I remember the first time I really started studying the Book of Romans. I was learning so much and understanding the grace of Jesus in a way I had never imagined. But then I read this verse and it left me dumbfounded. Paul’s closing question, “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith?” I was ready to answer, “Yes”… but Paul answered, “Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”
Does the Apostle contradict himself?
Immediately after Paul makes the amazing declaration that faith alone justifies us before God, he wraps up the third chapter emphatically by declaring that faith in no way makes the law ineffective or useless—not the answer we expected in light of what he just said.
"For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law"(Romans 3:28)
I occasionally have the privilege of sitting with small groups of people who are new to our church or have joined a small group. One of the usual icebreaker question is, “Tell us a little bit about your faith journey?” It is a good and quick way to get to know someone’s background. However, something I’ve often noticed is how quickly most people recite a long lineage of things they’ve done while never mentioning their relationship with Jesus.
Jesus what we could not do. When we put our faith in Him, we are justified before Him.
For many of us, the things we do for God take front and center. We have this underlying belief system that these things make us acceptable. However the principle Paul is sharing with people working very hard to live by tradition and rules still rings true today: We are made right with God by our faith and not by our works.
The main point to understand is that God did in Jesus what we could not do. When we put our faith in Him, we are justified before Him. Our action has nothing to do with the Law or the good things we do. In Paul’s opening chapters, he spends so much time proving this very thing and now he is making his case for trusting in Jesus. He’s saying faith is the only key!
Watch this video teaching by Juli entitled The Race—Ask & Receive*
So many times we ask for something in prayer and we don’t receive an answer, or the answer we are looking for even though Jesus says, everyone who asks, receives. This is confusing!
Many times, we stop asking or we develop a mindset that God selectively answers prayer. However, in Jesus' famous words of the Sermon on the Mount, He explains truths to know about God before asking of Him. Listen as Juli explains what these are so that we can ask expectantly of God in faith.
*Juli taught this sermon at Orchard Hill Church on August 7, 2016.