January 11 - Romans 4:1-8

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Romans 4:1-8 – Abraham Justified by Faith

Many Christians feel that justification / salvation by grace is a New Testament invention, but Paul was insistent that Judaism and the scriptures we know as the Old Testament, if truly understood, points to the work that God did through Jesus Christ. A true Jew is not one who outwardly lives according to their faith, but lives so in their heart. They accept Jesus as the Messiah and respond in repentance to God through him.

He uses Abraham as proof of this. If Abraham acceptance or justification was simply by his works, then none of what Paul says is true, but if Abraham’s salvation came about because of faith, from the beginning of Judaism, Paul says, God’s plan has always existed. He has always acted in grace. The relationship Abraham had with God is critical to Paul’s understanding of faith.

Jews believe that the works they perform will get them to heaven. For them, faith is a work. But Paul does something different with faith. Abraham’s faith was a response to God because of God’s activity in his life. Abraham didn't start the relationship, he responded to it. If all that happened between Abraham and God was due to Abraham’s work, he could have boasted about it, but Paul reminds us that Abraham believed God. He didn't boast about going before God, it was God’s work.

In Romans 4:6-8, Paul begins the discussion regarding the blessings from God. Blessed is the man who is forgiven by God. Our blessings do not come from our own work, but from God’s grace and this point was made throughout the Old Testament scriptures.