1What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found? 2For if Abraham were justified by works, he has whereof to glory; but not before God. 3For what says the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6Even as David also describes the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works, 7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. 9Comes this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 10How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. 13For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 15Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 16Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 17(As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were. 18Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall your seed be. 19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: 20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Chapter 4 tells us that it is not a new thing for God to justify a sinner by faith. For Paul quotes both Abraham and David who though obvious sinners were counted righteous by God because of their faith.
God gave a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be in number like the stars in heaven and the sands on the sea shore. Considering that his wife was around 75 at the time, it took some believing, but Abraham did not even stagger at the promise. He knew what God had promised he was able to perform. He gave glory to God. This pleased God and God counted his faith as righteousness.
NOTE Rom 4:4-5
4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (NIV)
In similar fashion he tells us the good news of the gospel and promises that all who believe will receive everlasting life. So do not stagger at such promises. Believe and receive. Enjoy new eternal life. Those who believe and receive also get authority to be called the children of God. (John 1:12-13)
It is essential to know about this vital “part of the train”. Later in the scriptures we are told that we must stand in grace, live in grace and grow in grace. Vital stuff don't you think?
Grace means unmerited favour or as an acrostic can read thus;
“God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”
Therefore, being justified freely by His grace. (Ch 3 v 24.)
The word “freely” used here is exactly the same word in the Greek that is used in John 15 v. 25. “They hated Him -without a cause”. We are justified “without a cause”.
If you examine every religion in the world and compare it with Christianity you will find that the one great chasm between them is that in all other religions, one has to earn one’s salvation. The conception of a God who loves us is not a strong point of any other religion but Christianity. Furthermore, there are false teachers and churches even among those who profess to hold to the christian religion. This same yardstick can be used to discern the true church or leader from the false. You will sadly find that there are many so-called christians who have never grasped the meaning of grace. Those who believe that in doing penance their sins will be forgiven, have failed to see or hear the good news of the gospel. Martin Luther who was a Roman Catholic priest realised that “the just shall live by faith.” In that realisation he had to stand against the teaching of the Roman church, whose salvation was offered on the basis of payment or works. There is a sad irony that this epistle to the Romans which teaches that salvation comes by grace alone, clashes with the teaching of the present church of Rome, which says that grace can be earned, either before the sin or after it. This is by no means a rallying cry for war between Catholics and Protestants, on the contrary rather a call, motivated by love to all Roman Catholics to check out the true gospel for themselves. Happily, like Martin Luther, many other priests and former Roman Catholics have done so and found the peace and liberty that is in Christ Jesus, through believing the gospel. The same appeal is made to many adherents of protestant churches, of all denominations, who no longer preach the true gospel.
In the sixties it was a fact that if you were to go to the Philippines during the weeks leading up to Easter, you would be amazed to see people wanting to be chosen as the person who would be physically crucified during the Easter festivities. They thought that such an act would be a great step in obtaining their salvation. You would see others beating themselves with whips, continuously until their backs were bleeding. All this again to merit some forgiveness of sins and salvation. Who taught them to believe such things? Sadly it is their church. Some false teachers would have us believe that after we die, we go to a place called Purgatory where we can purge our sins away. Or that friends alive on earth can make our exit from purgatory quicker by paying for masses to be said. There is no mention of purgatory in the gospel. It is grace that makes the gospel GOOD NEWS. Grace is unmerited favour, it cannot be earned.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses peddle their so-called gospel from door to door. But as one can soon discover, by asking, they have no salvation to offer. They have no good news for us. According to their ‘‘gospel’’, for you or I to be saved, we would have to join their organisation and take our turn on the door to door canvassing. That’s not good news to me. The Jehovah’s witnesses are not coming to your door to bring you salvation, they are in fact seeking to earn their own salvation. They have no concept of grace. The scripture declares that “Today is the day of salvation,” but the J.W’s could not offer any salvation as immediate as that. It takes at least a few months if not years to become a fully fledged witness. They would have no message for a dying man, - one wonders what they would have said to the dying thief on the cross. What can be said of Jehovah’s Witnesses can be said also of Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Christadelphians or any other sect. They may all appear to be nice people and very good living people, but none of them can confess to being saved as they are still working to earn their salvation, and may be tomorrow they might fail and thus be lost.
Sin, Law, Faith, Justification, Grace, are but a few of the essential parts of the “train”. Make sure you know exactly what they are and where they fit in, to make your salvation work while aboard this Gospel Train.
To those who say that “faith without works is dead”, then the gospel replies that that is absolutely true and the “work” that comes from living faith that saves is REST.
Let them be reminded of the verses in Hebrews ch 4 about entering into rest. The only “work” that shows our faith in salvation is “rest”. The Jews once asked Jesus what they had to do “to do the works of God”. Jesus replied; “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent”.
It is true that the outcome of salvation and a changed life will result in a christian doing good works, such has been God’s intention all along, but those works are merely the outworking of the Spirit of God in them, not achievements, goals or merits which add to or seal their salvation. Nothing needs to be added to the saving work of the blood of Christ. Jesus, who cried while on the cross; “It is finished”.
He is now rested, sat down with God. We are in Him, seated and rested.
There is work you can do on the train, but only faith gets you on in the first place. Never believe that God thinks more of you because you are “good” or serve him. Otherwise you will soon be tempted to believe that God has gone off you if you fail or stop serving him.
The subtle serpent subverts saints as well as sinners!
It is surprising how many of those who would consider themselves to be in the Lord’s service, are not standing or growing in grace. They really think that God is impressed by their services. The “feel-good factor” for the Christian can be dangerous. We must learn to live by our faith not our feelings. Some days you may not feel anything like what you think a Christian should feel. Also we can be in danger of moving outside of grace by feeling good in ourselves, may be as a result of just one charitable act. Or may be we go through a period of a few weeks or months where all prayers are being answers and the temptations are not too strong for us. Then we are soon tempted to think that God must love us more now than when we were sinners walking our own way, doing our own thing.
Romans ch 1-3 proves that we are all sinners and that God has made his way of salvation available to all, as a gift. We do not deserve it. Our faith is anchored in the rock of God’s love for us (Rom ch 5:8) and we are saved by grace alone, not by our good works or living a so-called good life.
If the devil can get you to slide back he will. If he can’t get you slide back to sinful living, he will get you to slide back to resting (trusting) in your own good works. If you ever get round to reading and understanding the book of Galatians, you will see that this was the problem in Galatia. You will also see that Paul simply restates the gospel. It is Romans ‘‘reiterated”, - almost in frustration, if not anger. So get Romans in your heart and mind and will. You’ll have no problems going on if you do.
I have heard the “Good news”. God counts me to be righteous, because of my faith. In that I believe that Christ’s death was for me; therefore when he died, I died. When God raised Him up, He also raised me up with Him. So He now sees me, as alive unto Himself as His own child. Being in Christ, there is no possibility of me ever being separated from God, provided I keep my faith sure. Romans ch 1-3 proves that all men are sinners and that God has made this way of salvation available to all, as a gift. We do not deserve it. It is based upon the rock of God’s love for us and we are saved by grace alone.