Here is the final study for Romans 4. The last time I only published for verses 1-4. It is included in this study as well. Be blessed.
Romans 4:1 – 25
I. AN EXAMPLE OF A UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).
II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF A CREDITED ACCOUNT (vv. 5-8).
III. THE CREDITED ACCOUNT IS NOT DUE TO WHAT WE HAVE INVESTED OR PUT TO THE ACCOUNT (vv. 9-12).
IV. THIS RECKONING OF JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD FOR ALL THROUGH FAITH ALONE (vv. 13-17).
V. IT IS THE RECKONING OF GOD HIMSELF; NO HUMAN WORKS ARE CALLED FOR (vv. 18-25).
It was, and probably still is, a popular belief among Jews of Paul’s day and Jews and non-Jews of our day to believe that Abraham was declared righteous by God due to his obedience. Paul puts the record straight.
How were people of the Old Testament saved? Was it by complete obedience to God’s law? Was it by the sacrifice of bulls, goats, lambs, etc.? What does the Scriptures say?
“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (3:20).
“Abraham believed God…” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6-9).
No one has ever been saved by keeping the law, no one will ever be saved by keeping the law. To see that it is by faith in God alone that saves God gives us ample Scriptures to prove it. For example Psalm 32:1-2; and Hebrews 11.
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, David, Solomon, etc. are all evidences of justification by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. They believing what would be; we believing what has been and shall be.
There are three words in this study which stand out as a theme. The first word is ‘Reckoned’ found in verses 4, 9, and 10. The second word is ‘Impute’, is used six times, in verses 6, 8, 11, 22, 23, and 24. The third word is ‘counted’, it is used only twice. They all come from the same Greek word logizomai – log-id’-zom-ahee – of these words are terms for accounting. God’s declaring us righteous, and justified.
AN EXAMPLE OF THE UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).
Salvation by grace through faith is unique – one of a kind. There is nothing like it in religion. Grace is not possible by work. If it is not by faith it is not grace.
Since many of the Jews believed that Abraham was justified by works Paul realized that this fallacy needed correction. If Abraham was justified (declared righteous by God) by his works he would then have a reason to boast. His boasting, of course, would have to be before men. He would not glory before God. God’s glory is a glory of its own. Man’s glory cannot match the glory of God.
God delights in those who believe in Him. Those who realize they are weak and helpless to save themselves. Those who have no one else in which to turn, but Him. Those whose hearts are broken and shattered because they realize there is no other hope by Him. Those who have reached the bottom of the bottom, the lowest low. These realize then, God is my hope, my strength, song, salvation, my very source of peace, life and joy.
“A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17).
When God called Abraham to leave his native land he obeyed, and left. Now understand, Abraham was at that time what the Jews would call a Gentile – there were no Jews. In his culture they worshipped idols, and were despicable in their behavior. Somehow in the midst of all this darkness God shined brightly His light into the life of Abraham, he saw, he heard, and he left this land of despicable sin and shame – the Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31). He even came out with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and his wife Sarah as well as others who are unnamed.
If you heard God speak for the first time would you get up and leave your home, friends, ownership of your land, business, etc. to obey God? Many will not do that whose lives they say belong to Him. Abraham did. How did he do it? He believed God, then he put one foot in front of the other; over and over again. Faith is the end of any attempt to gain God’s favor on any personal merit. If you could gain God’s favor by personal merit it would be by works not grace, therefore, if the works ceased, so too would the favor of God.
When a man or woman takes on a job (work) he/she expects to be paid. The employer is indebted to the employee until the employee receives his/her wages. In like fashion if we worked for our salvation God would be indebted to us until the debt was paid. God is indebted to no one. He did not, nor does not even owe us the possibility of salvation. In His grace He paid our sin debt, and then, when we believe He declares us righteous. What wonderful grace. “Wonderful grace of Jesus; greater than all my sin, how can my tongue describe it; where shall my praise begin.”
THE BLESSEDNESS OF A CREDITED ACCOUNT (vv. 5-8).
You are deeply in debt. There is no way out. The banks and loan companies will neither one loan you money. The creditors are calling, writing wanting the money that is due them. You do not have it. You are barely putting food on the table, your house needs repairs, but where are you going to get the money necessary to make them? The only way out is bankruptcy. You do not like it, but you finally admit to yourself, “I can’t do anything else, I am bankrupt.” In despair you tell a friend that you are bankrupt. The friend asks you, “How much do you need to get back on your feet?” You have not got a clue as to what is going on in this friends mind. A few weeks later you get your bank statement, but instead of being overdrawn you have a balance sufficient enough to pay all your debts.
The amazing part about it is you learn your friend sold some properties – prize properties – and deposited the money into your account. What a friend. Your friend gave his very best to help you out of your bondage of debt. He credited your account with his assets.
What happened above is a description of imputing or imputation. The friend above took the responsibility of paying the debt for his bankrupt friend. He took the burden of the bankruptcy himself and, and imputed, reckoned, accounted his riches to his friend.
Guess what, or maybe you do not have to guess. You are the bankrupt friend, and Jesus is the friend who gave up the riches of Heaven to deliver you from your bankruptcy of sin.
The word ‘counted’ or ‘accounted’ used in verse five (5) is the same word as ‘imputeth’ of verse six (6), and ‘impute’ in verse seven (7). It is also the same as ‘reckoned’ in verse ten (10).
David, the ‘Man after God’s own heart’ is also given as an example of a man of faith. Paul quotes from Psalm32:1-2 as an example of David’s faith (vv. 7-8). Iniquities forgiven, sins covered. The man who is forgiven and sins covered is the one the Lord declares righteous. He deserves imputed imputed sin, but rather receives imputed righteousness by the sacrifice of Jesus who paid the sin debt and imputed to the bankrupted account righteousness. The individual who is declared righteous by God is truly a blessed and happy person.
THE CREDITED ACCOUNT IS NOT DUE TO AN ORDINANCE PERFORMED (vv. 9-12).
Abraham was and is the ‘father’ of the nation of Israel, the people called Hebrews or Jews. In much of the life of the nation; especially in Jesus’s time; they prided themselves of their identity with Abraham by circumcision. As long as they had kept the ordinance they were fine with God. Afterall, God had promised Abraham many things and He was obligated to fulfill them.. Only to a nation of those who believed in Him. Only to a nation who had the faith of Abraham. A faith of fear, obedience, love and admiration of God. The afore mentioned ‘fear’ is the fear of God’s wrath on sin, which leads to a desire to be delivered from sin and a personal hatred for all sin.
In looking at the history of Abraham we find that he was declared righteous by God, at least fourteen years before he was circumcised. So we see Abraham was declared righteous by faith in God, not by the keeping of ordinance or law (Gen. 15:6, “And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he [God] counted it to him for righteousness”). When God called Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees he believed God and departed (Gen. 11:31). When God told him he would have a son of promise he believed God (Gen. 15:1-5; 17:19). When God called him to sacrifice Isaac; the promised son; he believed God (Gen. 22:1-14). He did it because he believed that since God had made the promise – “In Isaac will thy seed be called” (Gen. 21:12); that God could raise him from the dead (Heb. 11:18-19).
By Abraham’s faith he became the ‘father’ of the circumcised who are in the faith and the uncircumcised in the faith. Faith recognizes our need of grace – God’s sufficient grace – and of God’s desire to give grace.
To Abraham circumcision was only a sign of righteousness given to him by God. As circumcision is the cutting away of flesh, so too is faith in Jesus Christ. Only by faith in Christ Jesus is the flesh of the heart cut away. The power of sin is cut away. Without the finished work of Jesus on the cross, by His death, burial, and resurrection, the cutting away of the flesh of the heart is impossible. Ordinances can only be signs or tokens of the actual event. Ordinance without faith is vain.
THE JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD FOR ALL THROUGH FAITH ALONE (vv. 13-17).
A promise is nothing without faith. Faith in the Promissor is necessary for the promise to have effect.
What good is a promise; particularly an unconditional promise; if you must earn its fulfillment? The promise to Abraham and his descendants was not going to be granted to them by keeping the law, nor was it based on the law. The promise is awarded by faith in God.
The ‘righteousness of faith’ (v. 13) is the only righteousness that is declared by God and upon all who will receive it.
The only promise of the law is wrath. The law declares all to be unrighteous, unworthy of God’s goodness, kindness, mercy, and grace. So the law could not bring in the promise of ‘Heir of the world’; not even to mention the salvation of wicked men.
Grace works only by faith. Remember faith is our quitting the attempt to please God on our own merit, and pleasing Him only through the work of Jesus Christ. Grace would not be grace, if we could earn it. It would be a debt owed us by God. He owes us nothing. Faith gives to God everything He deserves from His highest of all creation. He does not need it, but He deserves it.
Seeing the unseen, knowing the unknowable, believing what seems to be unbelievable – that is the faith of Abraham. When Sarah was 89 and Abraham was 99; God promised them anew, that He would give them a son. They believed. In other words, God brought life from death. O, will you believe God? He does what He says He will do. Justification is good for all through faith alone. No amount of works, nor law kept, no ordinance performed can justify you in God’s sight. Only by His Word are you justified, and that by faith – faith He alone gives. His faith’s object is only Jesus.
IT IS THE POWER OF GOD, NOT HUMAN EFFORT (vv. 18-25).
Did Abraham believe in resurrection power? Did he believe in the power of the resurrection? YES! and YES! again. To he and Sarah the chance of them having a child of promise looked hopeless. Sure Abraham and Sarah made a mistake, slipped into doubt, or really thought they were helping God out, for awhile; but it did not endure. Their faith in God did endure.
“Unbelief” verse 20 is a complete refusal of faith – refusal to believe. It was because of ‘unbelief’ that Israel, led by Moses, did not enter the Promised Land at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 13:26 – 14:4; Heb. 3:16 – 4:13). Despite the waiting Abraham believed. At times it probably seemed that God was pushing faith to its limits, but when Abraham realized his physical body and Sarah’s was dead he knew all he had was God’s promise. That is faith.
When you have reached a point in your life where your realize all you have is faith that God will keep His promise; that is when God will work. He did in Abraham and Sarah, and a 100 years old man and a 90 years old woman had a baby boy. That was a miracle birth. There are not very many miracle births. There are only three in the Bible – Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus; and possibly four if you counted Samson.
Faith is believing that God is completely able to do what He said. He is able to perform it, bring it to pass – in His way, in His time and through whomsoever He pleases; if He pleases to use a whomsoever. Because of this faith – not human effort – God declares Abraham ‘Righteous’, clean, pure, sinless before God.
Since Abraham was declared righteous by faith so is everyone who believes God. Do you want to walk with God? Then, you have to agree with Him. You have to agree with Him about your sin [your bankruptcy]. You have to agree with Him that there is a wall of separation between you and Him. You must agree with Him about His Son Jesus. You must agree with Him concerning His Word – written and living.
“How can two walk together unless they be agreed” (Amos 3:3)?
Abraham was declared righteous by God, because he agreed with God. That just simply means he believed what God said. He agreed with God.
Justification is not by human effort or obedience to law, and ordinances, or faith and grace have no merit. Justification is by grace through faith in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and raised from death as evidence of God’s approval upon His life and sacrifice giving us God’s righteousness by faith.
-Tim A. Blankenship