What Did Paul Learn From Abraham? (Romans 4:1-12)
December 29, 2014, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Trust GodRomans 4:1-12
What Did Paul Learn From Abraham?
Paul continues the message God wanted the Romans and all Christians to learn about faith and righteousness. He had demonstrated man’s need of salvation to be right with God and the inability of man to achieve it on his own. Now he answers how we, who are condemned, guilty sinners escape the punishment of God for sin and have our judicial guilt removed forever so we are freed from the sentence of condemnation from a just Judge? He shows that by God’s grace, we have to opportunity to exercise true faith, which was something the Jews knew about but often ignored. He asserted that the message he was sharing was not a new message. Abraham, the father of the Jews, was righteous before God. Paul examines why God considered Abraham righteous. Paul shows that Abraham’s righteousness wasn’t because he fervently followed the law and earned “grace” from God. In fact, God’s Word reveals that Abraham struggled with obeying God. But Abraham placed FAITH in God. He trusted God’s revelation and chose to follow Him. God has given to us Abraham as an example of how to have a right standing before God, or to be declared righteous before God by faith alone. It is important that we understand that Biblically justification refers to God’s acquitting us in His court and reckoning us righteous by His act of grace alone so that we place our faith totally in God saving us from the penalty of sin.
The Example of Abraham
Paul uses Abraham as the object lesson of true faith. Abraham learned that faith was essential to being justified or made right it God’s sight. Verse 2 teaches us that it is impossible to be made right in God’s sight in any way other than the way of faith. So there is no possible way that a human could boast about being right in God’s sight through his own efforts. The only way to be made right is the way God makes man right. Man has nothing to brag about. Paul reminds us what God had already told us in Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God” and God accepted his faith and through grace God made Abraham right with God. Righteousness that s is God-given righteousness alone. The righteousness that God gives is credited to us as a free gift by God. Faith is therefore to be understood as “complete trust”, or “banking on God’s grace” because we honestly sees ourselves as hopeless, and without anything spiritual good to offer God. God credits our faith with righteousness, a right standing with God as our sin was acquitted, forgiven, blotted out by faith totally apart from any works of self-righteousness.
According to verse 4, the one who works for righteousness earns a wage but does not earn grace (unearned favor) but seeks to make God indebted to him. If you could make God indebted to you, you could say, “I deserve this.” But that is not what Abraham did. Abraham realized that you cannot do any work that will make you right with God. You have to trust God’s grace. God’s accepts your trust and makes you right with Him.
Verse 5 makes three significant statements about justification by faith and nothing but faith.
1. To him that worketh not. God justifies the one who does not work, so justification is by faith alone.
2. God justifies “the ungodly”. This revelation is startling because it goes against our sense of what is right and fair. How is it possible for God to declare righteous the ungodly? The answer is found in Romans 5:6 because Christ died for the ungodly! The point God is making is that faith is not our righteousness. Faith is believing in Him who declares the ungodly righteous. When we all are first declared right before God, we are ungodly. God gives us hope He is on our side, helping us in our fight against ungodliness. With God for us, who can stand against us?
3. His faith is counted for righteousness. Righteousness isn’t credited because of works or any fruit of faith like love, but faith alone!
Paul then calls upon David as a witness of the truth that righteousness comes by faith. David called the one declared righteous by God due to faith as blessed, or spiritually fulfilled. God imputes righteousness “without works’ or without paying attention to their works because He imputes or credits them with the righteousness of Christ which He earned while living a righteous and obedient life on earth.
Paul, in Romans 4:7 and 8 restates what David, in Psalm 32:1-2 wrote:
Blessed (spiritually fulfilled) are they who iniquities (lawless actions) are forgiven and whose sins (wrongs) are forgiven (pardon or blotted out). Blessed (spiritually fulfilled) is the man (person) whom the Lord will not impute or credit guilty for sins.
Paul then brings the discussion to Jewish Christians by asking does this blessing upon those circumcised or those who aren’t circumcised? Paul asks this question to show the Jewish people that this basic act of obedience and identification that showed their special covenant relationship with God didn’t put them into a right relationship with God. His answer is short and to the point. First, Paul again uses the example of Abraham. His faith was credited as righteousness, not his work of being circumcision. Genesis 15:6 clearly tells us his faith was credited as righteousness. The second part of the answer is actually a rhetoric question. In verse 10, Paul asks, whether the righteousness credited when he was circumcised or uncircumcised? The answer, when he was uncircumcised. In Genesis 15, Abraham is declared righteous but circumcision is not instituted until Genesis 17. So Paul’s brings us to the conclusion that getting right with God and being accepted as righteous by Him was before circumcision and therefore independent of circumcision. Righteousness came by faith, without works.
Paul shares two application of this truth. First, the truth of justification by faith apart from works is used to remind us the proper place of works and acts of obedience to God. Obedience and good works do have their proper place. They aren’t the means of righteousness but demonstrate true righteousness. When are transformed by the act of God, we discover that true, God-glorifying obedience is a sign and seal of the God-given righteousness that comes by faith alone. An act in obedience to God, doesn’t make us righteous but is a sign and seal that our faith is real and that Christ alone is our complete righteousness. We are declared righteous by faith and as a result of being justified, we are set apart by obedience to Him. This is sanctification.
Because of righteousness that comes by faith, all people can be a part of the faith family with Abraham their father. Justification by faith is the basis for worldwide missions for all people, not just those who are Jewish. In verses 11 and 12, reveals to us that God wanted to show that Abraham was justified by faith alone before circumcision so it would be clearly shown that Abraham was the spiritual father of all who are justified by faith, regardless of who or what they are. All have been removed from attempting to be justified by works. All are justified by faith alone and all are meant to be included in the promises of Abraham. The great thing about faith is that it can happen in anyone when they turn from everything but totally rely upon God’s work alone to be right with Him.


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