Summary: Paul is hammering home the fact that salvation is not of works but by belief.
Saved by faith or lost in unbelief? Romans 4:9-25
There were three guys discussing their obituaries and one asked, “What would you like people to say at your funeral?” One of his friends thought for minute and said, "I’d like them to say ‘He was a great humanitarian who really cared about his community.’" The second guy said, "I’d like them to say ‘He was a great husband and father who was an example for many to follow.’" Both nodded in agreement and then looked at their silent friend who said, "I’d like them to say ‘Look, he’s moving!’"
“9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? 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 still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed 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 made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, 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, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”
It’s interesting that Paul keeps back to the issue of circumcision and I think he does this for a few good reasons.
First, he knew that those who believed they were saved because they were trusting in their circumcision were actually lost; and he wanted to do everything he could to help them get their eyes off themselves and their good deeds and unto Jesus who died to save them, not only from their sins but also from trusting in their good works.
Second, he also saw the danger of such false teaching, because if the Jews believed they were saved by circumcision then the Gentiles might follow their lead and trust in the same or some other form of religious activity to save them like church membership, baptism or even the Lord’s Table.
Third, Christianity could face its greatest trial by believers getting their eyes off Jesus and unto works to save them. There have always been false teachers either with cults or even as individuals trying to persuade believers that Jesus was the answer; but you just need a little bit more in order to be saved.
These people are motivated and many are possessed by Satan and their goal is to discourage anyone from evangelism and get everyone back into the world. And guess what, they’ve been very successful. We are seeing evangelical churches that haven’t reached a soul in years and even though some of them are growing, it’s because they’re swallowing up the smaller churches around them. And then there are the churches and pastors who have simply drifted away from the word of God. Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” They might look like the real thing but their goal is to destroy your spiritual life and take whatever you have.