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The Example of Abraham's Faith (Romans 4:1-25)

Romans 4:1–25 - 1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 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 credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. 8 “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” 9 Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” 10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. 16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. 23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, Paul explores the scriptural example of Abraham to demonstrate that justification comes through faith alone, not by works or religious rituals. He asks what Abraham discovered about being made righteous before God (vv. 1-3). Contrary to popular belief, keeping rules perfectly could never earn God's favor because no one is without sin. However, Abraham trusted in God's promise, and through faith alone righteousness was credited to him (vv. 4-5, 22-25). David agreed that forgiveness and righteousness come not from good works but as a gift from God to those who believe (vv. 6-8). Paul then argues that because Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised, neither circumcision nor any other religious rite or ritual has power to justify (vv. 9-12). The promise that Abraham would inherit the world came through faith, not law (vv. 13-15). Therefore, the promise of righteousness is received by faith alone so that it can include all people - both Jews and Gentiles. It is not only for those attempting justification through works (vv. 16-17). Despite human impossibility, Abraham believed God's promise because he knew God can overcome all limitations, even raising the dead. His example of bold faith should encourage us to believe in God's power and trustworthiness (vv. 18-21). How can I apply Romans 4:1-25 to my life? The way of salvation has perplexed humanity across the ages. We innately realize our shortcomings before a morally perfect God. This drives many into futile attempts to establish their own righteousness through good works, religious rituals or rule keeping. Tragically these things offer no remedy for the sin separating us from the Lord. There must be another way if sinners are to gain acceptance with their Creator. In Romans chapter 4, Paul unveils the good news. Righteous standing before God cannot be earned. It is divinely credited to all who trust not in their merit but in the Savior who bore sin’s penalty on the cross. What amazing news! Admitting our inability opens the door to receive Christ’s perfect goodness imputed graciously as a gift to all who believe. This transforms not only position but the very heart now overflowing with gratitude, freed from prideful striving. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Trust In God's Provision for Your Sin Rather than Impossibility of Trying to Earn His Forgiveness Through Good Works (vv. 1-8): The verses reference Abraham's inability to earn righteousness through works before God. This is true for each of us. No amount of effort, good behavior or religious duty enables us to obtain right standing with our holy Creator. Such attitudes reflect spiritual blindness about our sin nature and God's absolute perfection. Instead, righteousness is credited through trusting in what Jesus accomplished on the cross - paying the penalty we deserve. When by faith we abandon vain attempts to justify ourselves, relying fully on Christ's sacrifice for forgiveness, God generously imputes Christ's goodness to our account. This humbling truth crumbles human pride. We contribute nothing meritorious but rather only gratefully receive divine pardon as an undeserved gift. Cease striving! Rest in the sufficient power of the Savior's finished work to make you flawless before God (Romans 3:21-26, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5-7).

Food for Thought: Why do people suppress the futility of earning salvation when Scripture clearly states this is impossible? In what ways do you still depend on personal righteousness to feel acceptable before God?

  1. Trust In God's Provision for Your Sin Rather than Religious Rituals or Legalistic Obedience (vv. 9-17): The passage shows circumcision and law-keeping fail to establish righteousness. Likewise, no religious rituals or rule-keeping secure redemption. Outward conformity cannot transform the inner person or meet God's perfect standards. Shadows and symbols point to the substance - Christ's redeeming work. Clinging to hollow forms breeds self-righteous pride that rejects God's mercy. Instead, believe that the Savior's sacrifice fully atones for disobedience to liberty through grace. Resting in undeserved forgiveness shapes the heart for obedience out of gratitude, not compulsion or earning favor. Fulfill the law by loving others through faith. Let rituals remind and express living faith rather than replace it (Galatians 5:1-6, Colossians 2:16-17, Hebrews 10:1-4).

Food for Thought: Do you view communion, baptism or other religious practices as securing God's approval? How can outward acts nurture versus replace genuine faith?

  1. Give Glory To God Who Gives Life And Fulfills Promises (vv. 18-25): Despite impossible odds, Abraham believed God would fulfill His promise. Though facing harsh realities, he fixed his thoughts on God's power over death and deficiency. We would be wise to also anchor our awe and assurance in the God who raises the dead and transcends human limitations. Let us proclaim His praises, recounting examples of His might at work in overcoming dire situations in your life. We should trust in the One who is the Resurrection and the Life to transform present impossibilities and provide needed strength. We should persevere in prayer, fixing unwavering belief in His supreme authority and willingness to provide all He has pledged—including justification for all who believe in Him. Living out this confidence by fully depending on Him rather than self-effort to handle difficulties is what each of us is called to do. Staying focused on the Almighty's trustworthy character will allow us to release unrealistic expectations of human solutions and instead say with Abraham, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Ephesians 1:19-20, Hebrews 11:11-12, John 11:25-26).

Food for Thought: What challenging situation requires you to rely completely on God's power and miraculous grace right now? What promises of God compel deeper trust in Him? We must stop depending on our own vain attempts to earn favor with God and instead rest completely in what Christ has fully accomplished for us. Salvation is received not achieved. Rather than looking inward at our works, religious rituals or rule-keeping, we must turn our eyes upward to the crucified and risen Lord whose justifying work is sufficient for every repentant believer. God credits Christ's righteousness to all who relinquish self-reliance to depend wholly on the Spirit-empowered Savior. This humbles prideful hearts to overflow with awe, gratitude, and praise. Let our lives of surrendered faith give glory to God for the impossible that He makes possible - sinful people declared flawless and blameless to abundantly bless the world as His heirs. All by grace from start to finish! Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would deliver me from depending on personal merit and instead anchor my identity fully in what Jesus achieved through His sinless life, atoning death and conquering resurrection. Help me to rest completely in Christ’s righteousness credited graciously to my account when I trusted Him as Savior and Lord. I confess I often fall prey to seeking to justify myself before You and others through my own efforts. Forgive my self-righteous pride. Instill unwavering belief in the futility of works and religious rituals to earn Your favor. May I humbly receive Your undeserved justification as a gift. I pray Your Spirit would renew my heart to overflow with grateful worship and obedience out of joyful devotion to You rather than duty. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Romans 4:5 – “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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