AN EXAMPLE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH Romans 4:1-25 Why God Considered Abraham Righteous 1 What shall we say, then, that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found?  2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he has reason to glory, but not before God, 3 for the Scripture says Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 4 Now to him who works, the reward is not reckoned to be of grace, but of debt. 5 However, to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness, 6 even as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works, 7 saying, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered.  8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”   QUESTIONS

  1. What was Abraham NOT justified by, in God’s sight?
  2. What did Abraham do to be considered righteous?
  3. What about Abraham was reckoned as righteousness?
  4. What does Paul say about the righteousness of the “blessed” man?

  The Law should not be seen as something worthless, as something which only condemns men, and thus to be rejected and despised. In chapter 4 Paul seeks to show how in the Old Testament, as in the New, righteousness came through faith and not through Law-keeping. Paul chose Abraham as an example of Old Testament “justification by faith.” Abraham was a man who lived and who was declared righteous before the Law was even given to men. He could not be saved by Law-keeping, because the Law had not yet been given. He was saved by faith, faith in the promise of God. His faith, not his works, was reckoned to him as righteousness. Abraham was not the exception to salvation by faith, but an example of Old Testament salvation by faith. David also is pointed out as one who believed that his righteousness was in spite of his sin, and due to God’s forgiveness by grace through faith (Romans 4:6-8).   How Abraham Became Father of The Faithful 9 Does this blessedness come on the circumcised only, or on the uncircumcised also?  We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.  10 How was it reckoned? When he was in circumcised, or uncircumcised?  Not circumcised, but uncircumcised. 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteous faith which he had while he was still uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all those who believe, even though they may not be circumcised, so that righteousness might be imputed unto them as well, 12 and the father of circumcision, not only to those who are circumcised, but also to those who walk in that faith of our father Abraham, which he had while yet uncircumcised.  13 For the promise, that he should be heir of the world, was not to Abraham or his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  

  • Because Abraham was reckoned as righteous b/c of his faith, we can be reckoned as righteous, also, b/c of our faith.
  • God made His promise to Abraham b/c of his faith.
  • Similarly, God’s promise is to us b/c of our faith.

    14 If only those who are of the law can be heirs, then faith is made void, and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law works wrath, since where there is no law, there is no transgression. 16 It is, therefore, of faith, that it might be by grace, to ensure that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, the father of us all, 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which are not as though they were.  18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, “So shall your seed be.”  19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb.  20 He staggered not at God’s promise through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able also to perform.  22 Therefore, it was imputed to him as righteousness.   23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us, to whom it will be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered for our offences, but was raised again for our justification.     Circumcision was, with the coming of the Law, to become a necessary part of the Mosaic Covenant. The self-righteous Jew, who thought his righteousness was the result of Law-keeping, saw circumcision as a meritorious act. The rite of circumcision was a testimony to one’s submission to the Law and an evidence of one’s commitment to keep the Law. IF righteousness were the result of works in the Old Testament, THEN surely Abraham’s salvation would be linked to his circumcision. BUT since his righteousness (like that of every other Old Testament saint) was reckoned through faith, the conversion of Abraham is declared as having taken place a number of years before he was circumcised and apart from any works.   Abraham was reckoned to be righteous because he believed in the promise of God, the promise of a son, through whom the awaited Messiah would come. Abraham was saved by faith, just like a New Testament saint. The only difference is that Abraham believed in God’s promise that Messiah would come, while New Testament saints believe that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, has come.   Abraham is shown to be the “father of faith,” not just for the Jews, but for all who believe God’s promise and provision of salvation. Circumcision for Abraham was the fruit of his faith, not the root of it. Righteousness, living according to the standards of God’s righteousness, as revealed in the Law, is the result of faith and not the result of works. Works are the result of righteousness, not the cause.   Furthermore, Abraham’s faith, like ours today, was a “resurrection faith” (3:19-25). Abraham knew that although God promised him and Sarah a son, this was physically impossible at their age in life. They were too old to bear a son. Abraham realized that when it came to child-bearing he and Sarah were “as good as dead.” Abraham knew that God would have to virtually “raise the dead” to provide them with the son He promised. And so He did. Thus, Abraham’s faith was in the promise of a God who was able to “raise the dead”; it was a resurrection faith. Abraham’s “resurrection faith” would face its ultimate test on Mount Moriah, when God would test him by instructing him to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22; see also Hebrews 11:17-19).    

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