Thursday, November 2, 2017

2017.11.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 4:1-12

Questions for Littles: What forefather believed God and was counted as if he were righteous? If someone works for pay, is that pay counted as grace or as debt? Whom does God justify according to v5? Apart from what does God count the blessed man righteous in v6? What two kinds of things has the blessed man of v7 done? Was Abraham circumcised when he was counted righteous? Who, then, is the father of uncircumcised believers (v11)? And who is the father of circumcision (v12)? What do his true descendants walk in?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we begin a section in which the Holy Spirit is showing that a careful reading of the Old Testament would have already led the Jews to believe in justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This week covers three sections of four verses each.

The first section emphasizes that being made right with God cannot be by works if it is going to be by grace. Would anyone really say that God owed Abraham to declare him righteous? Well, that’s exactly what we would have to say if he was justified by works: that it wasn’t grace but debt.

You too, dear Christian, can never indebt God to yourself. You can never work so hard or do so well that God will owe you! We can never make up for all of our sin against God. That is something that only Christ can do for us!

In the second section, we learn that not only is it true that we are not made right with God by works, but if we really want to be honest, our being made right with God is despite our works and opposite to them! It is specifically the ungodly whom God justifies, according to v5.

Does this surprise us? Then we must not have been paying attention to Psalm 32. There, we learn that all that we contribute to our blessedness is literally the lawless deeds for which we need forgiveness, and the sin that we need covered. We don’t contribute “being savable” to our salvation—no, the only thing that we contribute is needing saving!

Oh dear Christian, how glorious is this?! When you stumble and sin and make a disastrous mess, you can come to God in Jesus Christ, and clinging to His cross, you can pray, “Lord, save me, for I am exactly the kind of person that You save: sinners!”

Finally, the third section makes an important point with reference to circumcision. It’s at least 15 years before Abraham is circumcised that he is counted righteous through faith. So, in a way, he has more in common with Gentile Christians than he does Jewish Christians!

Oh how ridiculous are those who say that you cannot be saved if you have not received the sacrament! They condemn Abraham himself and show that they don’t at all understand being saved by faith apart from works!
What makes you qualified to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ? So, are you saved?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness,” or HB271 “Rock of Ages”

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