Archive for July 9th, 2019

Romans 4:13-16a

In Romans 4:13-16a Paul continues to drive home the truth of righteousness. Since all God’s dealings with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob happened before the giving of the Mosaic Law, we can’t say they were based on the law. Instead, they are based on God’s declaration of Abraham’s righteousness through faith. “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” Newell wrote “Faith is the ground of God’s blessing. Abraham was a blessed man, indeed, but he became heir of the world on another principle entirely – simple faith.”

The law cannot bring us into the blessings of God’s promises. This is not because the law is bad, but because we are unable to keep it. None of us is good enough to obey the law fully. “For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.” Our inability to keep the law (our sin) means that the law becomes a vehicle of God’s wrath towards us, especially if we regard it as the principle by which we are justified and relate to God. Our sin would make our faith worthless if God’s judgment was based on our ability to keep the law. And then, the promise of eternity with Him would be void.  Thanks be to God that the foundation of righteousness is not our works nor the law, but Jesus Christ.

That doesn’t mean the law has no value. It in fact shows us where the line is for how we live.  Without a clear line – there is no transgression or sin. “For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.” The root of sin isn’t in breaking the law, but in breaking trust with God; with denying His loving, caring purpose in every command He gives. Before Adam sinned he broke trust with God – therefore God’s plan of redemption is centered on a relationship of trusting love and faith instead of law-keeping. When we center our relationship with God on law-keeping instead of trusting love, we go against His whole plan. His plan is a saving relationship through Christ based on His grace!

Paul makes it clear that our righteousness is based on faith. Faith is related to grace in the same way works is related to law. Grace and law are principles, and faith and works are the means by which we pursue those principles for our relationship with God. “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring….”  Salvation is of faith and nothing else. We can only receive salvation by the principle of grace through faith. Grace can’t be gained through works, whether they be past works, present works, or promised works. This is because by definition grace is given without regard to anything in the one who receives it. It is an absolute gift of God offered to each of us.

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