Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 25

This entry is part 25 of 35 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as
pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by
works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God” (Romans 4:1-
2). Paul reminds them that the world had become guilty before
God, and that all had sinned, and it was impossible to be saved
without faith. Salvation In Christ, He explains, does not bring
shame, but instead declares a man righteous. He that is saved as a
righteous man has a confidence accompanying his salvation. “What
advantage then hath the Jew?” and, “What then have we more than
they?” and again, “where then is boasting? it is excluded” and here,
“what then shall we say that Abraham our father?” Although the
Jew insisted on declaring circumcision as what made Abraham
important, Paul wishes to show, that it was by faith that he too was
justified. He that glories in his own works has his own labors to put
forward: but he that finds his honor in having faith in God, has a
much greater ground for glorying to show, in that it is God that he
glorifies and magnifies. To believe that it is possible for God to do
things which are impossible requires a soul of no uncaring stature,
and one which is earnestly affected towards Him; for this is a sign
of sincere love. This man indeed honors God, who fulfils the
commandments, but he doth so in a much greater degree if he also
follows wisdom by his faith.
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it
was counted unto him for righteousness” (v. 3). The man who
attains righteousness through forgiveness has no grounds for
boasting.  Abraham had no grounds for boasting for the exact same
reason.
“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of
grace, but of debt” (v. 4). The reward is reckoned to a person that
works, because it is his due. Return rest assured that if we could so
work as to bring God in debt to us to the extent of our salvation, he
would pay that debt. But for that to be true, a person’s work would
have to be perfect – he would have to so live as to never sin, or
never incur any guilt. No perfection of works will blot out, or forgive,
a sin already committed, however, nor make void grace in the
forgiveness of that sin. Something to think about:  If a human being
is made righteous without any human effort, then why aren’t all
righteous?  It is certain that most of them are not making any effort
to attain righteousness.

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that
justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (v. 5).
Is righteousness a much greater reward than a debt due? Certainly,
Paul did not mean to say that God makes the person righteous who
will not obey him, the person who simply does nothing. If so, he
puts a premium on the very thing from which the gospel is intendant
to save us, and contradicts other things said by him. Grace
provided the plan by which sinners are saved, or made righteous,
and grace tells us how to come into possession of that salvation.
God’s grace is in every command he gives. The sinner was lost,
God prepared the way which he could get out of that lost state, and
this is grace. On the day of Pentecost the way had been prepared
and revealed to the people, in response to their question, Peter told
them how to get in that way.

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