Summary: What are some of the things we should say concerning justification according to Paul in Romans 4?
What Shall We Say Then?
6 Occurrences: What then shall we say? (6:1; 7:7; 8:31; 9:14, 30)
When we are talking about Paul’s argument, we are talking about blessings…that define who God is and what he has determined for those who love Him.
Abraham is an example of how God deals with people.
Just as Abraham was declared righteous, so can you be. That’s a blessing!
Verses 7-8 describe a blessing that only God can give…the forgiveness of sin!
Verse 9 begs the question when it asks “is blessedness only for the circumcised,”….. with the answer being ….God has blessed not only the Hebrews as Abraham’s descendents; but also believers today as spiritual descendents.
These ideas lead me to consider something: If I am arguing that a person is saved one way or another; I am also led to the question: “Why would anyone care about salvation?” In the world we live in today, there are many people who don’t care. They do not see the importance concerning what I will speak on today! When asked about salvation today, many use phrases like, “I haven’t done anything bad to anyone” …and when asked if they are good people…most everyone would say that they are. Still others, work especially hard for everything they have….. and some dwell upon what that has resulted in. Let’s follow Paul’s argument today, and address some of the most important issues concerning life,…. and even death.
Romans 4:1-5 WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY BELIEVING GOD
Our Father: the relation of Abraham physically and spiritually (SPEAK TO THIS BELOW WHEN ADDRESSING verses 9-16.
v. 2 (justification by works) The general consensus is that people are saved by doing good things…..or in the case of the Jewish people, by following the law.
v.4 (working causes debt) how much of what we work for costs us nothing?
v.5 (Contrast) ‘those who work’ and ‘those who believe’ on “Him who justifies the ungodly” (verse 5 does not mean that you do nothing)
v 6-8 (Blessings) Blessings to those who God has imputed righteousness.
IMPUTATION MEANS TO ATTRIBUTE SOMETHING; SOMETHING THAT IS CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH YOU…So are you attributed righteousness or sin ..what does your account have in it? In describing how great grace is, Paul says, Blessed is the one who the Lord does not impute sin to. (IMPORTANT: Because the Lord does not impute sin, he removes it)
TRANSITION: Is this blessing for just the Jewish people and the physical descendents of Abraham? Paul begins to explain this by talking about what started as a Hebrew custom. Many of the cultural aspects of Judaism may seem strange to us even though our culture has adopted some of them. For instance, circumcision may seem to be a normal aspect in our culture now; but what about when we read in Genesis 17 that Abraham was circumcised at 99 years old and his son Ishmael was 13? Not only that, we are told that “every male in Abraham’s household including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.” Joshua 5:3 says, that so many people were circumcised that they called the place where it occurred the “hill of the foreskins.” Why would this become necessary? Very pointedly, God was using the culture of the time to speak to people. Today, we might not be able to fully receive the message that God was trying to convey to the Hebrews with circumcision being a sign of the covenant that God made with Abram; but there was meaning attached to it. Genesis 15:9-10 tells us that Abram ‘cut’ a covenant with God. It says, “So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon. Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.” When Abram passed between the parts of the animals he had cut in half; it symbolized that if one party broke the covenant, he would end up like the animals in the ceremony—dead. Among the symbolism of cutting a covenant is the presence of blood; and the concept of sacrifice. But another interesting thing is bound up in Paul’s discussion here: If you were uncircumcised; you were not part of the covenant community. You were banished from fellowship, and considered a heathen. Circumcision meant so much to the Israelites of Jesus’ time that Paul had to say that it meant nothing in regards to how God would justify people. Romans 2:28-29 tells us that the Jews would have to rely on more than their special status due to circumcision for their salvation.