Text: Romans: 4:1-25; 5:1-5
Faith is foundational to salvation. It is important that Christians have a firm understanding of what faith is all about. Abraham justified by faith is proof that faith is a fundamental principle to follow God.
The Bible teaches that faith must be focused on God. He is the object of our faith, and He can be trusted to provide our salvation. Our response is to live in accordance with His will.
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH; A GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Romans 4: 1-8)
In this Epistle of Paul to the Romans, he highlighted Abraham as the man through whom God had promised that all nations would be blessed. Paul made it clear that this Patriarch was the father of both the Jews and the Gentiles. He taught that salvation is not exclusive to the Jews.
WHAT IS JUSTIFICATION
Justification is an act of God whereby He removes the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time declaring the sinner righteous through the atoning blood of Jesus on the cross.
Paul began his message, by establishing that Abraham was not justified before God because of personal accomplishment or spiritual excellence. The Old Testament Scripture affirmed that Abraham’s right relationship with God was not a result of his works, but a direct result of his belief in God and his promises (verses 2-3).
READ ALSO: ZACCHAEUS TRANSFORMED BY CHRIST
God alone offered the right relationship. Abraham simply accepted that right relationship in faith.
Paul used the relationship between the employer and employees to illustrate that salvation is not a result of works (verses 4-5). A person who is employed can expect or even demand payment for the work he or she has done, an exchange that involves effort and results in a reward. It is unimaginable that God would be under obligation to provide wages for His creation because of something they have done.
Abraham indeed, neither earned nor deserved his righteousness. Instead, he rested his assurance on the promises of God. Salvation is certainly a gift from God and can no way be considered wages.
ABRAHAM’S FAITH COUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
Abraham’s right relationship with God was as a result of his faith in Him, not because of his adherence to a moral code or set of laws (verse 6). The term “righteousness” refers to having a right relationship with God. And this is required in order to live in His presence for eternity.
Paul cited Psalm 32 to illustrate the point that having a right relationship with God does not come through works, but rather is a gift from God (Romans 4:7-8)
In this Psalm, where David committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba, he acknowledged that the person who is blessed is the one whose sins have been forgiven by God. It is a gift from God, not a result of doing good works to make restitution for moral indebtedness.
ABRAHAM’S JUSTIFICATION NOT BY CIRCUMCISION
Abraham’s faith started before he was circumcised and he was declared righteous before he was circumcised. His circumcision had nothing to do with him been declared righteous before God. So, Abraham justified by faith was a result of obedience.
Note circumcision was a Jewish principle to observe the law. But Paul clearly expressed that a person is declared righteous apart from the law. In fact, the law had not yet been established when Abraham was made righteous. Indeed God had already made His covenant with Abraham centuries before Moses was given the Law. It is evidently clear that righteousness before God results from the faith, not works.
Abraham’s circumcision was a sign or seal of the righteousness that God imputed to him (verse 11). The circumcision was a sign that a person was among the chosen of God and not the means of salvation.
Today, circumcision is no longer the sign that a person belongs to God’s family; the seal is the Holy Spirit, who is in the life of every believer.
THE PROMISE FOR BELIEVERS THROUGH FAITH
The promise made to Abraham that he would be the father of all nations “heir of the world” (verse 13). This promise did not come with any condition attached, not linked to Abraham’s obedience but simply rested solely on God’ grace. If it had been based in the law, rather than Faith, then faith would be stripped of its significance. Again, because the original promise to Abraham was not based on the principles of the law, the promise itself would lose its value (verse 14).
The law itself generates the wrath of God because it points out the sin of man. A man who attempts to live under the principles of the law will certainly evoke God’s wrath because the very existence of the law is the result of human transgression (verse 15)
But the man who lives by faith is free from the condemnation of the law because through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are forgiven of our sin.
THE PROMISE OF SALVATION THROUGH JESUS
If Jewish law were the means of having a relationship with God, everyone would be disqualified, including the Jew. It was only after the principles of God were established through Christ and the law was put aside that everyone was welcome to enter a relationship with God, based on their righteousness provided to them through faith in Jesus (verse 16).
Paul emphasized that Abraham is the father of all believers, with regard to the Jews and there’s no dispute about it. But the principles stands true for us today (verse 17).
God desires to see all come to Him in faith. it is important to live in such a way that every person can hear of Christ and have the opportunity to approach Him in faith.
FAITH AN ANTIDOTE TO DOUBT
From a human perspective, it would be impossible for Sarah to bear a child because she has passed the age of childbearing. To Abraham, it seemed impossible that he would the father of a great nation.
Yet, Abraham against this hopelessness held to God’s promise, even though the circumstances appeared otherwise (verses 18-21). Abraham believed the promise of God and we can also believe His promise as well.
Abraham’s unshaken faith could work through him and Sarah in spite of their physical conditions proved of his understanding of God. It was through humility in faith and confidence in God that he was counted as righteous before God (verse 22).
BELIEVERS ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH IN CHRIST
Just as Abraham was justified because he believed God, so today a person will be justified if he believes in God who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead (verse 24).
Believe in Jesus’ resurrection is an absolute requirement for salvation.
BENEFITS OF JUSTIFICATION (Romans 5:1-5)
Paul declared that a Christian is justified by faith. Then he began to enumerate the benefits of justification as follows:
1 We are no longer in conflict with God. We no longer face His wrath because of Jesus, the punishment of our sin is upon himself.
2 We experience a right relationship with God. Christians can now have full access to God as His children. This means we can approach Him with confidence in prayer.
3 God has promised that we will forever live with Him. So we have hope and confidence in our future because there will be no need to be afraid of death.
4 We can retain our joy even in times of sufferings, struggles, challenges, or tragedies of life, etc. Even spiritual battles within as well as persecutions from others.