Salvation By Faith Not Works, Romans 4:1-25
This is my installment for the Blogger Small Group post (see Small Blogger Group // New Entries Post Here to post your link) on Romans Chapter 4. There is always time for anyone to join in if they like (see Blogger Small Group Rules/Guidelines). Right now we are several weeks into the group, which started in James, and this week I am hosting the group, so to post your entry just follow the link above called "new entries post here".
No need to try and catch up, just start in the same place we are and post your opinions.
This week we continue in the justification by faith but through the Old Testament. Always a fun and exciting topic, one that we as Christians love to bounce around and argue about over various topics and pieces, so I am looking forward to reading the other members posts here today as well.
A Little Background on Romans 4
Here in Chapter 4 Paul is talking to us again about being justified by faith, not by works. Paul uses two illistrations here from the Old Testament, Abraham and David. He also quotes the OT several times and is leading us into the results of justification starting in Chapter 5.
We can break down this chapter into 4 smaller sections. (1) By Faith Not Works v1-8, (2) By Faith Not Rite v9-12, (3) By Faith Not the Law v13-17, and finally (4) By Faith in Gods Promise v18-25. I am going to very briefly touch on each of these.
By Faith Not Works (4:1-8)
Paul starts off by introducing Abraham and talks about how if anyone is justified by works, it would be Abraham. In these times, the Rabbis taught that Abraham has an over abundance of righteousness that would be passed down to his decedents (David being one of them).
Paul agrees here that he did great works, but says that it was only for men, not for God. Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 here:
Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Paul again quotes the OT and then explains to us that Abraham was justified through God not because of his works, but because he believed in and trusted God. This is still something I think many of us struggle with today. We did this good work, so now we are justified.
I think our society today embraces this quality. I was amazed at a study of how many people believed that if you were a "good person" you would go to heaven. It is something that has been passed down from unbelieving generation to generation. Be a "good person" and you will be rewarded.
The problem with that is who determines what a good person is or does? I certainly don't want to be compared against Billy Graham, do you? I always loved when a pastor of mine use to say. Works doesn't get us into heaven, but I still don't want to be standing in line behind Billy Graham. We can not have faith and trust in our own works, it is worthless.
By Faith Not Rite (4:9-12)
This next section once again brings up the topic of who is included. It is the Jews or the Gentiles? Paul starts to talk about how and when Abraham was justified. Was it before or after he was circumcised? Paul answers his own question, it was before.
Abraham was to perform this on all male decedents as a covenant with God, and this was done when Abraham was 99 years old (Genesis 17:24). It is generally stated that Abraham was 86 when Hagar bore him Ishmael, he was told after that point to circumcise the family.
24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised,
Many jews who rely on the rite circumcision for salvation. We see here, it has nothing to do with actual salvation since it occurred before in Abraham's life. Once again we are shown that we must have faith. Nothing we do on our own can make us righteous.
By Faith Not the Law (4:13-17)
Here again we can see that the promise God made to Abraham that his decendents would be the heirs to the world, is preceeded by the law by quite a few centuries.
Genesis 12:1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. 2 "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
We can look at Galatians 3:17 and see it was over 400 years before the law was to be given out.
17 What I mean is this: The Law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.
Paul is going step by step here and it may not be the most common thing in our day, it was clear to his readers that he was telling them, you are not going to be justified by the Law, and neither are we.
We can still look at the Law today, it guides us in just about everything we do. Even if we are unaware of God's Law, we are still governed under its rules today. We don't run a red light because we are told, do not kill. We pay for things instead of steal them, and so on. None of this will get us right with God, only faith in Jesus Christ will do that.
By Faith in God's Promise (4:18-25)
In the final section we see how much faith Abraham had in God. He had so much faith in God that he believed in an impossible situation, and Paul says this is why he was credited with righteousness.
There are so many things in our lives that we can decide we don't want God to handle. We can give God control over part of our life in this situation, but not in that one. We (I include myself) waver back and forth between trusting ourselves, in our works, in our rites, and in the fact that we uphold the Law, that we loose site of God.
I really love seeing the faith of Abraham. It is not that he was a perfect person, or had some kind of super natural powers, he was an old man that put in trust and faith in one thing, God. I know people who have given up in faith. They felt that because their faith wavered that they were not worthy of God's call, or hypocrites.
I wish one person in particular would understand we all do this. That is why we have a Savior to come back to when we stumble. We are not required to be perfect, all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed.
Visit the Other Bloggers in the Group
There are several other bloggers who participate each week. Be sure to read their posts and comment. Don't forget to come back and leave a link to your post as well.