Romans 4—Taking God At His Word
Today, we will explore the first eight verses of Romans 4.
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Paul intends to demonstrate that despite the view that Abraham was considered righteous and sustained in covenant with God because of his obedience and faithfulness, Abraham had nothing “to boast about,” it was by faith, not by law keeping, that he was counted righteous. Like us, Abraham cannot do it on his own. He like us needs God to lead the way to guide and walk with us as we follow God’s lead in and on the way. Abraham should be regarded as the founder and pattern of what it means to be human. Abraham showed us in his faith what it means to live with and in God. What makes us right is simple trust that takes God at his word that God loves us even though we have done nothing to deserve His love.
Paul is talking about faith. Our response to God should be an open, ever-trusting faith; a faith that knows that God is the creator and sustainer of all and without God we are lost. Paul is saying there is nothing we can do and God in and though Jesus has done it all, so rest and believe that God is saving, blessing, and gracing the world.
This story illustrates what Paul is talking about it.
One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?” “You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.” He said, “Then I thank you from my heart.”
As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.
Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard, the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day, he gave special attention to the case.
After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, and then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally, she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She began to read the following words:
“Paid in full with one glass of milk” Signed, Dr. Howard Kelly
Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
God came to Abraham and called him. God did all the work. All Abraham did was trust and go, but even before he chose to trust, Abraham God had already done it all. God works, God saves, God does it all. We respond, but even our response is God’s work in us. Some may have a problem with this. Some will set up faith as works as something we do. No. Paul and the rest of the bible say no. God does it all. As it says in Matthew’s gospel with God, all things are possible. For Paul faith is complete trust in God willingness to do God’s will to follow where God is leading guiding us. This is an active faith that is seen in the way we live and it cannot be measured in any intellectual way.
The Reformation Study Bible says—
Although faith was Abraham’s action, it contributed nothing to Abraham’s resultant righteousness before God, which was God’s own gift. In this sense, while faith as the instrument of justification involves human activity, it is not a “work” of merit. The righteousness of God was “counted” to Abraham and not earned by him. Blessedness, fellowship with God together with all its accompaniments, and salvation are not earned, but are the effect of the gift of forgiveness. It is by Christ’s work, not ours, that we are justified. Human merit of any sort is excluded.
The compulsion of love is the motive of Christian goodness.
May you take God at his word. May you know more and more that God loves you as you but way too much to leave you that way that God has forgiven you that God has freed you to be your true and beautiful self.
Grace and peace