Summary: Fifth in the romans series dealing with Abraham’s faith.
Chico Alliance Church
June 10, 2001
Pastor David Welch
“Imitating the Faith of Abraham”
The theme of Romans is the “righteousness of God.” God will restore righteousness throughout His creation.
• Righteousness of God – His very nature
• Righteousness by God – an absolute universal standard of existence prescribed and expected by Him for all mankind.
• Righteousness from God – a gift imputed to every one who believes.
• Righteousness for God – an increasing obedience by those who desire to please Him
I. Receive the gift of God’s righteousness by faith 1-5
A. God proves every man needs His righteousness 1-3
B. God explains and illustrates His way to righteousness 3:21-4:25
1. God’s way to righteousness explained 3:21-31
2. God’s way to righteousness illustrated by Abraham 4:1-25
What about Abraham?
How was Abraham Justified?
a) Abraham was justified by faith 1-8
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 4:1-2
Paul explores Abraham’s experience regarding justification. What did Abraham discover while during his life in the flesh?
If Abraham were considered righteous (justified) because of the works of his life it wouldn’t be in God’s courtroom. “No flesh would be justified in his sight by works.” We can only justify ourselves and one another in our own sight. Works might impress men and give occasion for Abraham to be proud of his works but not before the righteousness judge of all the earth -- not in God’s court.
The reality is that God justified Abraham on the basis of belief in Him not good works.
For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 4:3
A couple important words here…
“Believed” = general word to trust, believe, exercise faith. Point-in-time verb action
“Credited” = impute, put to one’s account, ascribe, esteem, count, number, reckon, deposit. Point-in-time passive verb. Used eleven times just in chapter four alone.
On the basis of Abraham’s faith God’s promise, God honored such humble trust and dependence on Him by reckoning, depositing or imputing His very own righteousness into Abraham’s spiritual account. God did this not in response to some work in Abraham’s life but in response to his expressed trust in God’s promise to bless him.
Principle of faith vs work
Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness 4:4-5
The one who works rightfully insists on compensation or a wage as an obligation for services rendered. The laborer is worthy of his hire is a Biblical teaching. Think of an employer handing you your paycheck at the end of a long hard workweek proudly exclaiming, “Here is a gift for you!” Some of us think that God somehow owes us something and that when he blesses us it is compensation for our wonderful work for him. Until we view every blessing as an undeserved privilege and gift we will never understand the life of grace and faith. God will NEVER be in obligation to the creature!
Faith is the only basis God deposits righteousness in our account truly as a gift and blessing apart from any service or work rendered to Him. It has to be that way, because in the divine scheme of things any attempt by us to appease God always comes up short because our offense or debt is so gigantic. God grants a righteousness credit to the ones trusting in Him who promises to deposit righteousness in our account as a free gift.
Paul pens a most captivating principle in this verse. God responds to those who trust the one who alone justifies the ungodly. The Jewish readers could envision God justifying Abraham, Moses, perhaps even David but the “ungodly.” The word Paul used referred to one who actively practices the opposite of what the fear of the Lord demands, one characterized by immoral and wicked behavior. This seems out of place. Such an action in itself seems to be unrighteous and violate the very principle of justice. If God did not credit righteousness to the believer as a free gift, there would be NO hope of salvation for any of us since, in relation to the absolute standard of God, we are ALL wicked and ungodly. Faith involves recognition of our total inability to demonstrate adequate good works to please God and the graciousness of God to forgive and fill our account with the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Those who want to relate to God on a merit system must accept the wage scale that has already been established by Him. The wages of sin is death. The gift of God is eternal life.