The Way - Day 111 (Romans 4)

Daily Reading:
Romans 4
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Read Romans 4:11 aloud. How is Paul reframing our understanding of what it means to be in the family of faith? How does is parallel God's adoption of His children from among all the people He created?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 37:23-24
OPTION 2: Proverbs 15:22-23
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:47-48
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Romans 4 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Romans 4:1-12
Paul had used the first part of his letter to the churches at Rome to establish the fact of the universality of sin. The pagan Gentiles (1:18-32), the hypocritical Jews (2:1-3:8), and all mankind (3:9-20) are guilty before God of loving sin and rejecting the truth. Without righteousness, all mankind would be sentenced to eternal damnation in order to pay the penalty for their sin, which is death. Although righteousness is absent in the human heart, God provided the righteousness man needs through sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to offer mercy to those who will repent of sin and accept by faith Jesus' death in place of their own (3:21-31). In case Paul's readers thought they could also earn favor with God through keeping the law, he reminded them "that a man is justified [made righteous] by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (3:28). In His mercy, God "passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (3:25-26). Does this mean the law is not necessary? No. The law serves as a guide to what is right and wrong and ultimately reveals the impossibility of salvation through human effort. The law drives man to find righteousness outside of himself and seek Jesus as the only source of true righteousness.

Anticipating that his Jewish readers may need further explanation, Paul details how Abraham was made righteous (4:1). All Jews would agree that Abraham was a righteous man, so Paul's illustration of how he was declared righteous would be of special interest to them - was he justified by his deeds or through faith? Paul writes, "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted [credited] to him for righteousness'" (4:2-3). God bestowed His righteousness upon Abraham not on the basis of his works, but based on the fact that Abraham believed in God (Genesis 15:6). The word Paul uses here, accounted, carries the idea of taking what is owned by another and giving it to someone else; specifically, God gives His righteousness to those who believe in Him. What Paul writes next is so profound and cannot be missed, "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness..." (4:5). As Abraham was justified by faith, David also expresses the joy of being declared righteous apart from works but through God's mercy (4:6), "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute [charge his account with] sin" (4:8; see also Psalm 32:1-2).

If Abraham was declared righteous through faith alone, then Paul's Jewish readers were probably curious as to why God commanded Abraham and his descendants to be circumcised. Paul presented this thought to them, "For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised" (4:9-10). We can safely conclude that Abraham was made righteous prior to being circumcised, making it only "a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also..." (4:11). What does Paul mean when he says that Abraham is the father of all those who believe? Spiritually speaking, Abraham has become the father of both believing Jews (circumcised) and believing Gentiles (uncircumcised) who have faith in God.

Most world religions have been set up to include a "works-based" salvation which is dependent on human effort; however, one must not fail to realize that human effort does not negate the sinfulness of man. Man is still guilty of sin no matter how much he tries to make up for it and therefore can never be declared righteous before a holy God. Man clearly needs something or someone outside himself to provide the righteousness he so desperately needs. Christianity takes the pressure off the individual to "perform" and trusts that God will accept the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ, as a substitute for my lack of it.

Romans 4:13-25
Paul is writing to the believers who were scattered throughout Rome and his correspondence was meant to provide a further understanding of their salvation in Jesus Christ. He had already helped his readers discover their utter sinfulness before God, which would therefore result in His judgment upon the sinner (1:18-3:20). God's punishment of the sinner was justified because He had provided sufficient witness of Himself (1:19-20), but all mankind had rejected the truth. Paul knew that some of his readers might think that their good works (such as circumcision) or Jewish heritage would cause God to have mercy upon them, so he made it clear that no man could earn righteousness on his own (4:1-12). Instead of finding mercy through human effort, Paul declared that man could only find righteousness through faith in God and the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (3:24-26).

Paul's Jewish readers were probably confused about the meaning of circumcision if salvation is found through faith in Jesus Christ, so he explains that Abraham (father of the Jewish nation) was declared righteous through faith and his circumcision was only an outward sign of his faith (4:1-12). Just like circumcision could not bring Abraham righteousness, Paul also made it clear that keeping the Mosaic law had no power to provide righteousness. When God made a covenant with Abraham to bless the world through his seed (see Genesis 12:3; 15:5; 18:18; 22:18), the seed being spoken of was Jesus Christ who would bring forgiveness to all (4:13a). This covenant was not based in keeping the law (which only exposed man's sin), but the righteousness from God through faith (4:13b-15). Paul then writes, "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise [all people blessed] might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law [believing Jews], but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham [believing Gentiles] the presence of Him whom he believed--God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did..." (4:16-17). So, the ultimate power for being declared righteous is through God's unmerited favor (grace) as man exercises his faith in God's graciousness.

Concluding that righteousness is received "by [God's] grace through [man's] faith" (Ephesians 2:8-9), Paul now reinforced that grace does not descend from the works of man, but by God crediting righteousness to man's account through belief in Jesus Christ. Therefore, righteousness is "imputed to us who believe in Him [God the Father] who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification" (4:24-25). Jesus' death covered our sin and His resurrection evidenced that God accepted His sacrifice on behalf of the sinner.

Dear God, thank You for the grace extended to the sinner through faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Without grace, I would still be in sin and void of hope. Your grace amazes me.