Thursday, October 18, 2007

Romans, Chapter 4

What would it mean if we could be justified by our works? How would that play into our salvation? When thinking of the life of Abraham, as mentioned here at the beginning of Romans 4 you have to take these questions into consideration. If we were justified by our works then we could be saved even if we did not believe in God. Imagine if the requirements for salvation were as simple as filling out a college application. Even if we did not believe in God and his promises we could still be saved simply by following some mundane process.

This is not how God works, however, and this principle was illustrated in the life of Abraham. As I have mentioned before, Abraham lived his life entirely based on his faith in God. He did not try to prove his worth based on what he had accomplished in life. Instead he believed in God, followed his promised, and based his life on his faith in his Creator. He knew that his works did not factor into the equation when it came to a relationship with the living God.

"1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."" – Romans 4:1-3

Imagine the faith that it took Abraham to do what he did. He was asked to move hundreds of miles from his home, where he was very wealthy, based on faith that God would take care of him. He was told he would become the father of many nations even in his old age and when his wife was barren. This promise was fulfilled based on faith. Abraham was also asked to sacrifice his son, the one he had been promised and waited faithfully for, knowing he would follow God's orders up to the moment God provided another sacrifice. Because of this and not by what he had done Abraham was justified, and that is the kind of faith we must have in order to attain righteousness.

"13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16Therefore, 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 4:13-16

We have to have had the law presented to us in order to know that we needed righteousness. As we discussed in Galatians 3:15-23 the law was put in place not to show the path to righteousness, but to show that righteousness was needed based on faith. We use Abraham only as one of the earliest examples as to what great faith can accomplish.

"18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." – Romans 4:18-21

What God accomplished here is nothing short of a physical miracle. To be able to produce a son between Abraham and Sarah would be considered impossible even by today's advanced medical standards for two people that old. Why then is it a stretch that God can provide a way for all to be saved simply based on faith? If he is the master of the physical realm, as shown in this case, is he not the master of the spiritual as well? This is why we give God the glory for our faith.


  1. Was Abraham the exception to the rule, or can we have as much faith as him?
  2. How is God asking you currently to have more faith and in what way is he trying to fulfill a faith promise?
  3. How can we use Abraham's example of faith in our lives?

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