Romans 4:1-5 (ESV)
1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…
The Case of Abraham
Paul used the first three chapters of Romans to explain to this first Roman church the problem of humanity (the power of sin) and the only solution for humanity (salvation by the gift of grace through faith in Jesus). Recall that Paul’s audience is both Jewish and Gentile believers; those very familiar with God’s law and those who are not. Knowing this, Paul is going to prove God’s way of salvation by faith using Old Testament examples. This will build upon the authority of scripture already known by his Jewish listeners and elicit new revelation of God’s ever unfolding narrative for the Gentiles. Paul uses chapter 4 to lead them to the truth of God’s word, of God’s cohesive story in both the Old and New Testament. His first example references a man named Abraham, a man the Jewish believers would have called the “father of their faith.” You can read about Abraham starting in Genesis chapter 12. God called Abraham unto Himself and said he would make him into a great nation, that He would bless him and thus all families on earth will be blessed through him. This is both a physical blessing and spiritual blessing. He fathered the nation of Israel through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob (whose name God changed to Israel) and all nations are blessed through Abraham as his lineage gave us the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Abraham was the beginning of the covenant family, a covenant that now extends to all through faith in Jesus. This covenant was based on Abraham’s faith. His life pre-dated the law that was given to the nation of Israel; therefore, it was not Abraham’s keeping of the law that made Him right with God. It was his faith. He believed that God would do what He said He would do. He believed that God would give him offspring even though he and his wife were well past child bearing years. Abraham’s faith didn’t ignore the difficult facts, but faced them. The way God has intertwined Himself with human beings has always been through faith. Abraham started where we all start, entangled with sin in need of a different master. It was his faith that moved him from paganism to aligning with God’s kingdom.
How would you categorize your relationship with God? One based on faith or more of an employer-employee relationship?
Think of a difficult circumstance in your life right now. What role is faith playing in your situation?