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 Romans Chapter 4 - Part One

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Male Number of posts : 250
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Location : Northern Arizona
Registration date : 2009-01-12

PostSubject: Romans Chapter 4 - Part One   Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:55 am

Romans 4:1

Provided righteousness illustrated

The Apostle Paul had presented his case that God declares people righteous on the principle of faith instead of works. If his position is true, he should be able to illustrate it from the past. This he did with Abraham, the patriarch of Israel (cf. Joh_8:39), and David as well.

By Faith Not Works

Paul introduced his illustration of Abraham with the first of six occurrences of the question, What then shall we say? (Rom_6:1; Rom_7:7; Rom_8:31; Rom_9:14, Rom_9:30) He referred to Abraham as our forefather. (“Forefather” is used only here in the NT.) Paul, here is using a question to drive a point home. He is saying in essence, if anyone could boast of making himself acceptable to God in the flesh it would have been Abraham. Not even Abraham was justified by the outward show of his faith in God by circumcising the males. It was not the circumcising of the males that made him acceptable to God, but his great faith.
Paul uses the model of Abraham to prove justification by faith alone because the Jews held him up as the supreme example of a righteous man and because it clearly showed that Judaism with its works-righteousness had deviated from the faith of the Jews’ patriarchal ancestors. In a spiritual sense, Abraham was the forerunner of the primarily Gentile church in Rome as well.
Undoubtedly this was to distinguish Abraham’s physical ancestry from his spiritual fatherhood, mentioned later in Rom_4:11-12, Rom_4:16. What had this patriarch discovered in this matter? What lesson could Paul’s readers learn from the biblical record of Abraham’s experience?

Romans 4:2-3

The Rabbis taught that Abraham had a surplus of merit from his works that was available to his descendants. Paul built on that idea and agreed that, assuming that Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about (cf. boasting or bragging in Rom_2:17, Rom_2:23; Rom_3:27). But, Paul insisted, his boasting could only be before other people, not before God. As we said before, Abraham did show the world of his great faith by his outward circumcision. Christians make an outward show of their decision to follow Jesus by being baptized. The truth is justification takes place in the heart. Faith takes place in the inner man. Faith pleases God. When we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, we are justified by the washing of His blood.
If Abraham’s own works had been the basis of his justification, he would have had every right to boast in God’s presence. That make’s the hypothetical premise of verse 2 unthinkable.
If a person could establish his finite righteousness by works — though that was impossible — he could never boast of it in God’s presence. Paul then turned to an authority his readers would acknowledge and asked, What does the Scripture say? He quoted Gen_15:6, which states that Abraham’s faith in God and His promise was credited to him as righteousness. Abraham believed God and left Ur of the Chaldees. He was looking for a city whose maker was God. He gave up his big home and wandered where God had sent him. He dwelled in tents waiting for the city of God. This faith Abraham had in God pleased God and Abraham was greatly blessed by God for it.
This is clearly stated in Genesis 15:6: “and he believed I the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Faith is not a meritorious work. It is never the ground of justification – it is simply the channel through which it is received and it, too, is a gift.
Counted or translated “imputed”. Used in both financial and legal setting, this word occurs 9 times in chapter 4 alone, means to take something that belongs to someone and credit to another’s account. It is a one sided transaction, such as Abraham did nothing to accumulate it; God simply credited it to him. God took His own righteousness and credited it to Abraham as if it were actually his. This God did because Abraham believed in Him.
Galatians 3:6 "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
Galatians 3:29: "And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Because he believed, God imputed righteousness to his account (“credited,” elogisthē, from logizomai, is an accounting term).

Romans 4:4-5

The apostle then discussed the significance of this Scripture quotation. He pointed out that a worker’s wages are what are owed him because he earned them, and are not graciously given to him as a gift. Conversely, a person who is not working but is believing on (these participles are in the pres. tense) God who justifies the wicked (asebē, “the ungodly, impious”; cf. Rom_5:6), his faith is credited as righteousness (cf. Rom_4:3). Abraham was the latter kind of person as the Scripture stated. He was justified not because he worked for it but because he trusted God. Broadening his argument from Abraham to all men, the apostle here makes it clear that the forensic act of declaring a man righteous is completely apart from any kind of human work. If salvation were on the basis on one’s own effort, God would owe salvation as a debt.
But salvation is always a sovereignty given gift of God’s grace to those who believe. Since faith is contrasted with work, faith must mean the end of any attempt to earn God’s favor through personal merit.
If work could get you into heaven, then there would be no place for faith. In the flesh we all die, but the life of importance is in the spirit which takes faith to inherit.
No one can work themselves into heaven. That is not the key that opens the door. The key is faith without works. The secret is, after you have had faith and it has opened the door for you, then you desire to work for Him.
Galatians 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
So, faith plus nothing makes us righteous.
“Justifieth the ungodly”: Only those who relinquish all claims to goodness and acknowledge they are ungodly are candidates for justification.

Romans 4:6-8

This fact about Abraham was also true of David, whose description of God’s gracious dealing with him Paul quoted from Psa_32:1-2. The word imputeth means counteth.
Psalms 32:1-2 "Blessed [is he whose] transgression [is] forgiven, [whose] sin [is] covered." "Blessed [is] the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit [there is] no guile." In verses 6-8 Paul gave us the scripture written by David in Psalms that was just given, written by David after his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband. In spite of the enormity of his sin and the utter absence of personal merit, David knew the blessing of imputed righteousness.
Of course, the reason for all this is when we stand before Jesus. He will recognize His own. He has paid the price in full for all of our sin. Our sin died on the cross. We are forgiven. We are blessed, because we do not have to pay, Jesus paid for our sins in full on the cross.
A person, like David, to whom God credits righteousness apart from works, is blessed. Such a person’s sins are forgiven and covered. And instead of his sin credited (logisētai) to his account, God credits (logizetai; cf. Rom_4:3) righteousness to him. In the following verses 9-12, Paul anticipates what his Jewish readers would be thinking: If Abraham was justified by his faith alone, why did god command him and his descendants to be circumcised? His response not only answer those concerned with circumcision, but the millions who still cling to some other kind of religious ceremony or activity as their basis for righteousness.

Romans 4:9-10

By Faith Not Rites
Paul again raised the question of the Jews’ special position (cf. Rom_2:17-21; Rom_3:1-2). The way the question is worded in the Greek suggests the answer that this blessedness is for the uncircumcised (Gentiles) as well as for the circumcised (Jews). But in response Paul turned again to the example of Abraham. He repeated the authoritative scriptural declaration that Abraham was declared righteous on the basis of his faith. We are looking here for justification without keeping the ceremonial law. Abraham was counted righteous before the keeping of the law. He was made righteous in God's sight before he became a physical Jew.
Acts 13:39 "And by him all that believes are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses."
“Circumcision” is referring to the Jews and “uncircumcised” to the Gentiles.
Then Paul asked whether Abraham’s justification occurred before or after he was circumcised. Answering his own question, Paul stated, It was not after, but before! (The Gr. has lit., “not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.”) Abraham’s age when he was declared righteous (Gen_15:6) is not stated. But later when Hagar bore him Ishmael, he was 86 (Gen_16:16). The chronology of Genesis proves Paul’s case as Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born. Abraham was 99 when he was circumcised. But God declared him righteous before Ishmael had even been conceived, at least 14 years before Abraham’s circumcision.
All Paul is saying is that Abraham's faith before he was circumcised was counted as righteousness to him.
Also, in I John 5:1 "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him."
Also, in I John 5:12 "He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
We find in both these Scriptures that it is not whether you are Jew or Gentile, but where you have put your faith (in the Son of God).

Romans 4:11-12

Therefore, Paul argued, the sign of circumcision was a seal of Abraham’s being declared righteous because of his faith which he received while he was still uncircumcised (lit., “in uncircumcision”). Circumcision, as a “sign” or “seal,” was an outward token of the justification Abraham had already received. God’s purpose was that Abraham be the father of all who believe and are thereby justified. “Sign”: This indicates man’s need for spiritual cleansing and of the covenant relationship between God and His people.
“Seal”: An outward demonstration of the righteousness God had credited to him by faith.
Genesis 15:6 "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." You see Abraham believed, and that alone brought righteousness. The circumcision came later for an outward show to the world that he believed God. Just as Abraham was not justified by the rite of circumcision, neither was he justified by keeping the Mosaic law.
This just reminds us, again, that Abraham is father to all who believe. For by faith are you saved.
This included both the uncircumcised (Gentiles) and the circumcised (Jews). Jews must do more than be circumcised to be right with God. They must also walk in the footsteps of… faith, like Abraham (cf. Rom_2:28-29). Obviously, then, the rite of circumcision, which many Jews rely on for salvation, contributes in no way to one’s status before God. It gives them no special standing before Him because they must be declared righteous on the basis of faith in God.

Romans 4:13

By Faith Not The Law
The Jews also considered the Mosaic Law, a special revelation of God’s standards for human conduct, as the basis for their special standing before God. Therefore Paul turned next to it, declaring, It was not through Law (“not” is emphasized by its position at the beginning of the Gr. sentence) that Abraham and his offspring (lit., “seed”) received the promise that He would be heir of the world.
God’s promise in Gen_12:1-3 preceded the giving of the Law by several centuries (cf. Gal_3:17). Being “heir of the world” refers to “ Jesus Christ” “all nations” (Gen_18:18), and “all nations on earth” (Gen_22:18), for through Abraham and his descendants all the world is blessed. He is thus their “father” and they are his heirs. These promises of blessing are given to those to whom God has imputed righteousness, and this, Paul added once again, is by faith. Believers of all ages are “Abraham’s seed thru Jesus Christ,” for they enjoy the same spiritual blessing (justification) which He enjoyed (Gal_3:29). (However, God has not abrogated His promises to Abraham about his physical, believing descendants, the regenerate nation Israel, inheriting the land [Gen_15:18-21; Gen_22:17]. These promises still stand; they will be fulfilled in the Millennium.) This refers to Christ and is the essence of the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants. The final provision of that covenant was that through Abraham’s seed, all of the world would be blessed. Paul argues that “the seed” refers specifically to Christ and that this promise really constituted the gospel. All believers, by being in Christ, become heirs of the promise.
“Not through the law”: that is, not as a result of Abraham’s keeping the law.
“Righteousness of faith”: Righteousness received from God by faith.
Galatians 3:18 "For if the inheritance [be] of the law, [it is] no more of promise: but God gave [it] to Abraham by promise."
We read who are saved in Galatians 3:7-9 "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed." "So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."
In all of this we must see the mighty hand of God working salvation for all who have the faith to receive it. Salvation is a free gift. You must reach out and take it for it to be yours.
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Romans Chapter 4 - Part One
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