Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Monday, November 14, 2022

2022.11.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 4:1–5

Read Romans 4:1–5

Questions from the Scripture text: About whom does Romans 4:1 now ask? What does it ask about his doing? According to what? What hypothetical accomplishment does Romans 4:2 consider? What would Abraham have in that case? But not before Whom? About what does Romans 4:3 now ask? What had Abraham done? And in what way did it become righteousness? What sort of person does Romans 4:4 ask about? What aren’t his wages? What, instead, is the nature of his wages?

Why can’t we boast of the righteousness that is truly ours in Christ? Romans 4:1–5 looks forward to the devotional in this week’s midweek meeting. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that because the righteousness that is truly ours in Christ comes as an accounting of grace, rather than the repaying of debt, we know that our faith is not a work, and we have no room at all for boasting.

We get nothing from the flesh and everything by faith. Romans 4:1 begins with a rhetorical question where the answer is “nothing good!” The clue that makes it obvious is the phrase “according to the flesh.” Abraham began as an idolater (cf. Joshua 24:2) and nothing good comes from his or our flesh.

Believers’ works are not boast-worthy. Men might have owed Abraham repayment for the good that he did them. Men might have rightly praised him as better in his conduct than they. From the perception of men, Abraham seemed to be justified by works (Romans 4:2a).

But we do not live before men so much as we live before God. And there was no room for Abraham to boast there (Romans 4:2b). We know that God did not owe Abraham anything because of the way Genesis 15:6 is worded. The quote in Romans 4:3 is proof that Abraham’s faith was not a work.

The apostle sets “accounting” over against rewarding or repaying. When righteousness is accounted as yours, it is just as much yours as in the earning case, but completely unearned. The mechanism of being “accounted” as righteous teaches us the nature of faith—that it is not at all a work.

And even the faith that a believer has was a gift. There is no room for boasting. Each of us needs to judge himself not by appearances but with right judgment (cf. John 7:24), sober judgment (Romans 12:3a), realizing that even our faith is a gift that was measured out to us (cf. Romans 12:3b; Ephesians 2:8–9).

Righteousness is not a debt owed for work but a grace given by accounting. Works are owed their wages. If we introduce any works at all into faith, we are saying that we have indebted God. Employers who treat wages as grace, rather than as debt, are robbers (cf. Leviticus 19:13, Deuteronomy 24:15; James 5:4). The wages are owed. But the Scripture is plain:

Abraham’s righteousness was accounted to him. It was grace. If even Abraham was justified by faith alone apart from works, then how much less could we be justified by works? 

If even Abraham had nothing to boast about, how could we have something to boast about?

How (alone!) can you gain true righteousness? Why is it important that this is the only way?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for giving us faith, and for accounting us righteous in Chris by that faith. Grant that we would never boast but remember that our righteousness was a gift of grace in Jesus Christ, through Whom we praise You and pray, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB“What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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