"Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all" (Romans 4:16)
The Apostle Paul has just spent the past 16 verses making the case that righteousness cannot be earned. He says it in so many ways that hopefully we’ll start realizing that this right standing with God only comes by faith. Then he turns a sharp corner so all of us reading this letter will have an amazing, jaw-dropping “Ah-ha” moment! Here it is:
“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed…”
Did you know that God’s promises are guaranteed?
“...because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15)
What a marvelous statement!
What a heretical statement!
For the Jews living in Paul’s day, for the Gentile Romans to whom he writing and also for Christ-followers today, this is a shocking statement!
Here is the Juli summarization of what Paul is saying: Living as a rule-follower makes Jesus’s sacrifice worthless. Rules only bring punishment…but if there are no rules to follow, then we can never be guilty of breaking them (Rom. 4:14-15).
Is anyone uncomfortable now?
Admittedly, it is easier to have a list to follow of the things we should or shouldn’t do. It certainly makes it more apparent if we’re doing okay before God. But following the rules to simply follow them actually changes the way we want God to relate to us. We are asking Him to deal with us according to what we’ve done instead of what He’s done.
The result, wrath—yikes!