How was Abraham Justified?—Romans 4:1-2

"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)

Abraham was the patriarch of the Jewish race. As patriarch, he played an important role in establishing the nation of Israel. The Jews clung to the covenant that God had established with Abraham, relying on it to be justified. Since everything could be traced back to Abraham, Paul is using him as evidence to support his amazing claim of faith in the previous verses.

The questions hanging in the air is, what good was Abrahams works? The Jews claimed that to be in right standing with God, you must be circumcised and adhere to the Law. They were relying on the token of their covenant with God as the means for salvation. However Paul just declared in Romans 3:28, that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Paul is stating that Abraham had nothing to boast about before God. So in fact, the answer to this question is, that Abraham's works were not good enough to grant him justification in His God's sight.

If Abraham's works weren't good enough, how was Abraham justified? The same way we are, by faith. Abraham is called the Father of Many Nations because he believed God and had faith in His promises. Because of it, He had glimpses into the extent of the fulfillment of that promise. This is a simple truth but one the Jews had exchanged for a complicated system of works. Paul is reminding them that faith has always been the means of salvation. It is nothing we have done or can ever do to obtain it.

Why is this important to know? This is important because everything rests on Faith. We must know, that that it is our faith that credits righteousness to us. Otherwise, trying to obtain justification by works has the potential to launch you into a life of doing and performing with a hope that will never be realized. It won't benefit you, it will only wear you out. Faith in God's promise to you, only brings about hope and rest. Today, may you rely in what our father Abraham discovered about faith, that it is all it takes and that it pleases God in every way!

Abraham Believed God—Romans 4:3

"What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" (Romans 4:3)

Every question in life can be answered by asking the question, "What does the Scripture say?" For the Jew, the truth that Paul had been sharing was a tough pill to swallow. They knew the story of Abraham but as Paul points out, they missed the simple truth of it. "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

In today's passage, Paul is citing back to an Old Testament scripture in Genesis to supports his message of grace. "Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness." ( Genesis 15:6 ). It cannot get any clearer that this. The Jews had missed the simple truth of the scriptures and exchanged them for the burden of the Law.

This passage introduces us to two very important truths. First that scripture is our guide. Every question in life can be answered by it. Paul said in II Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." So the Word is the roadmap to navigating through this life. When we understand this, it will save us from a lot of bad choices in life and equip us for the road ahead.

The second important truth that we can learn from the example of Abraham, is that he believed what God told him. It goes along with the first truth of letting scripture dictate your life. Although Abraham did not have the written word of God as we do, he had the spoken word of God in the form of a promise. That promise was what he put his hope into and believed. He used that word as a guide to direct his life and change the course of the future.

Believing in the promises of God is a major theme in the Bible. Just as Abraham believed God and it was credited to him a righteousness, the same is true with us, when we believe God, our faith is also reckoned unto us as righteousness. But these promises to do not stop with believing him for salvation alone. The bible is full of sweet and precious promises. By believing in these promises, our faith is what unlocks them and brings them about. Just like when Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, our faith pleases the Lord.

Whatever you face today, remember that you can use scripture as your guide to navigate life. What you read in there, is what you are. What it says in there, is what will be. Take the example of the faith of Abraham and believe God no matter what. Today you will be blessed by doing so.

Wages of Sin Verses Gift of Grace—Romans 4:4-5

"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)

Do you see that it is an either or? Either you rely on what you can do to be saved or you rely on what Jesus did to be saved. It cannot be a combination of both. Paul says the same thing later on in the book of Romans, "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." ( Romans 11:6 ). If works could provide salvation for us, then it would make grace meaningless.

Paul is comparing our self-righteousness with true righteousness. If we could be saved by works, then God would have to provide salvation to us as payment for the work done. However, this is an utterly ridiculous argument, because we know that according to Isaiah 64:6, our righteousness apart from Christ is as filthy rags. Not our sin, but our righteousness, those things which we do to obtain right standing with God. So if our righteousness is polluted then according to Romans 6:23, the only wages we would earn is death.

Thankfully Paul does not stop there. He gives us further insight into grace. "However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." ( Romans 4:5 ). Paul has been combating the idea that one could be saved by adherence to the law. The Law is not what makes us righteous in the sight of God, our faith is.

Notice in this verse, Paul declares that God justifies the wicked. This was a radical statement to the Jew of this day and also to many who would call themselves Christians today. The ungodly is the only type of person God justifies because that is the only type of person there is to justify. Our wages would earn us death, but the gift of God is what brings about eternal life. ( Romans 6:23 )

If we could work to obtain salvation, then this gift of grace would be meaningless . However grace is not worthless, but precious and priceless. Today, all it takes is the faith like our father Abraham in claiming the promises of God. By doing so, we enter into a standing that is acceptable and pleasing to Him in every way.

King David Speaks of our Blessedness Through Christ—Romans 4:6-8

"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)

All of the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets looked forward to the time of Christ. King David perhaps above all of them. Why? Because David had a revelation of grace that was unparallel in the Old Testament. He spoke in the Psalms of the time which we live now. He looked forward to it, saw what we have and called us supremely blessed.

Why did David speak of the blessedness of the New Testament man? Because he saw that the time was coming when believers would live without sin charged against their accounts. He prophesized that all iniquity would be forgiven, sins would be covered and completely forgotten.

In fact, in this passage, there are two important truth to be aware of, to which Paul draws our attention. The word for 'will not', or 'will never' in verse eight is what is called an emphatic negative in the Greek. It means that sin, will never, not ever, be counted against us. It is the strongest language that could be used to describe the state of the New Testament believer. Our sins have been forgiven to the point that they will never be held against us ever again. This is incredible news for us and David calls this man, those who live after the promised Messiah, blessed, happy and to be envied by all.

The second word is also found in verse eight which says, "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." or as the King James Bible says, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." The word impute is actually an accounting term, meaning to account for, charge against or reckon to. An example of this is when we use our credit card. The amount charged is imputed to our account, of which, we later have to consider by paying off the debt. However David speaks of the man to which the Lord will never charge into their account, the iniquity that has been committed. Even when a sin is committed presently the Lord does not impute it to us. This speaks of past, present and future sin because Jesus has paid the price for sin once for all. ( Hebrew 10:10; Hebrews 10:14 ) Again great news for all believers that live on this side of the cross.

Paul used two examples of great men of faith from the Old Testament scriptures to support his claim to the Jews that we are completely justified by faith apart from works. Both Abraham and David knew this truth and looked forward to it's fulfillment. David, in particular was speaking of the New Testament believer, which is us. This blessedness that he envied is what is we currently possess in Christ. Today praise God that this includes you! You have been bought with a price, you have been redeemed completely and fully forgiven of every offense ever committed. This is good news both for the Jew and for the Gentile through the blood of Christ Jesus!

Righteousness Came Before Circumcision—Romans 4:9-10

"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)

Today's passage asks two important questions. Is this righteousness the Bible speaks of only for the Jew or also for the Gentile? And did this righteousness come to Abraham before he was circumcised or after? Fully understanding this scripture will change your life.

To address the first question, is this righteousness only for the Jew or also for the Gentile, we must ask ourselves how Abraham was justified. Previously in chapter four, Paul reminds us that Abraham was justified by faith because he believed God. His faith was credited to him as righteousness. ( Genesis 15:6 ) So if Abraham was made right in the sight of God based solely on faith, then it only stands to reason that anyone with that same faith is righteous before God.

Paul attests to the same thing in chapter 3 when he says, "this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." ( Romans 3:22-23 ). Paul is speaking both to the Jew and the Gentile, stressing that this saving grace comes by faith in Jesus to everyone who believes in Him. So the answer to our first question, yes! this righteousness is available for both Jews and Gentiles.

Now that we have established that this righteousness comes by faith, it is important to destroy the idea that circumcision is the means for justification. This idea that one needed to be circumcised was widely believed by the Jews. While this is true according to the Old Testament, Paul revealed in chapter 2 that circumcision was more than a physical sign. Instead circumcision was an inward reality of a spiritual truth. "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God." ( Romans 2:28-29 ) Paul is stressing that circumcision takes place in the heart. Once that is accomplished, the evidence of the transformation that took place inwardly, will be unmistakable to everyone outwardly, by their actions and lifestyle.

More than that, Paul raises an important question to prove his point, was Abraham justified before he was circumcised or after? To us this might not seem relevant, but even today many Christians maintain that to be saved you must be baptized. While baptism is ordained by the Lord Jesus, the purpose of baptism is not to obtain salvation. The same argument that Paul used with the Jews for whether or not they must be circumcised to be justified, applies. So the answer is extremely important for us as well because the answer will settle once for all in our hearts, the grace by which to be saved.

The question is, was Abraham justified before he was circumcised or after? Paul reminds us that Abraham was justified before he was circumcised. Not only was righteousness credited to him before, but if you look back in the book of Genesis you will see that at least thirteen years had passed between the two instances. In Genesis 15:6, it is recorded that the Lord credited Abraham's faith as righteousness. This was before Ishmael was born. Then when Abraham, his whole household and Ishmael were circumcised, Ishmael was thirteen years old according to Genesis 17:25. So Abraham's circumcision had nothing to do with how he was justified, it was solely based upon his faith. In the same way, water baptism will not save you. The same principal Paul uses still applies. Only your faith in Jesus Christ will save you. That faith is what credit righteousness to you by the grace of God.

Now that we have the answers to our two questions, I want to point out one more thing. In the Old Testament, Abraham was the only person to be called a friend of God ( 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23 ). However, in the New Testament, Jesus calls us friends. "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends... ( John 15:15 ). Do you see how blessed we are? Through faith in Jesus we are justified, righteous, holy and called friends of the most high God. Today, know that this blessedness is not only for the circumcised Jew, it is also for us to whom God credit righteousness through faith in His son. Amen!

Juli Camarin

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