Tuesday Morning Bible Study

Pastor Carolyn Sissom

Last week in chapter 3, we nailed down the precious truth of Justification by Faith. But that is only half the story. We still have only solved the problem of our standing before God. As we go forward, the Lord has something more to offer us, namely, the solution of the problem of our conduct.

In Romans, Chapter 4, we are entering into the entry hall of our spiritual House. Our foundation was settled in chapters 1-3:

(1) Forgiveness of sins.

(2) Justification by faith

(3) Peace with God.

This is our firm foundation. Once we have this foundation, though the storms and floods of life come, we will not be shaken from our foundation. You might ask, why do I need or want more? Christian, there are realms of glory and faith which the Holy Spirit delights to lead us into.

Included in our justification is our acceptance (the Greek signifies this to mean, “we are the object of divine delight.” We look within and say there is nothing acceptable here, but when we look to Christ, we see everything acceptable there.

Paul now is preaching in Chapter 4 to both Jew and Gentile using the history of Abraham that both human works and divine ordinance are meaningless as a basis for salvation.

Romans 4: 1-3: What shall we say that Abraham, our father, according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

God made three promises to Abraham, all incredible to a childless man in his nineties:

1. A Seed was to be born to him in which all the families of the earth would be blessed. That Seed is Christ Jesus (Gen 15:6).

2. A spiritual seed was also to be given to him, which would be as numerous as the stars of Heaven. This consisted of all those who would believe God as Abraham did. This made him a spiritual father of all those who are saved by Faith in Jesus Christ.

3. A piece of real estate was to come to his heirs. This was the Palestine area.

All this was promised because of the faith of Abraham.

Abraham was entered on God’s accounting books as a righteous man.

Righteousness here is a right relationship to God conferred by a divine sense of approval. Remember he did not receive the righteousness. It was merely accounted, placed on deposit, reckoned, or imputed to him. The gift of righteousness was not available and wouldn’t be until the Righteous One, Jesus, provided it. So, he was merely regarded as righteous until he could personally receive it from Jesus after the atonement was completed at Calvary.

All Old Testament saints died in faith without receiving the promise, but by faith they believed God (Heb. 11: 13, 39, 42).

Romans 4: 4-5: Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on him that justified the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

This reward for work means deserved wages. God would surely pay deserved wages. If Abraham’s righteousness was imputed to him because of works, then God in that same measure would owe him salvation. The only thing Abraham did was believe God. Because of this, his justification and righteousness came as a free gift. We are His guests all the way. “Empty hands outstretched in faith are all that man has to show God.”

Paul momentarily leaves the case of Abraham to consider the person who has no works at all, one who is an out-and-out sinner. Can such a man be justified? Yes, even he is accepted by God and declared to be righteous on the basis of his faith alone. This does not mean he is just pardoned, No! He is actually examined and found not guilty! Wow!!!!

The worst man and the best man are on the same level when it comes to salvation. No matter how good we are, we all must receive Jesus to be saved. The moment a man puts his trust in Jesus; his soul receives the righteousness of Jesus as a gift for eternal life. This is not in conflict with James’ statement that Faith without works is dead. Crediting righteousness means not crediting sin. William Temple said, “The only thing of my very own which I can contribute to my redemption is the sin from which I have been redeemed.”

Paul is speaking of salvation. James is speaking of a Christian’s life walking in Faith after salvation. Works do not produce spiritual life, but spiritual life must always produce works.

4: 7-8: Saying blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Paul gives us a second witness from the Old Testament---David. Abraham lived 500 years before the law. A Jew might argue, “Could a person born under the law be declared righteous by faith?” David was almost equal to Abraham in the eyes of the Jewish people. God made promises to David as startling as those made to Abraham. God told him that his Kingdom would last forever; that from his line would come an eternal King who would occupy an everlasting throne. '

In Psalm 32: 1-2, David is referring to himself when he says, “Blessed is the man whose lawless acts are forgiven.” This is after his sin with Bathsheba.'

David was a murderer and an adulterer. But he confessed his sins and was forgiven. His Psalm describes the happy state of any man whom God considers righteous apart from works. For David to say a man is no longer regarded as a sinner is the same as saying he is righteous. When we are truly forgiven, we forget our sins. This is why the redeemed are so joyful. Paul’s point by David’s example is that God’s grace also applies to those under the law.

4: 9-11a: Is this blessedness then upon the circumcision only or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had not yet been circumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.

So far. Paul has used only Jews to prove his point. He is now going to prove that everyone can be saved the same way. Abraham was a religious Gentile (rank heathen to Jews) until he stood before God and believed him! The moment he believed that special promise he was saved. He remained a saved Gentile more years before he became a Jew by the rite of circumcision (Gen. 15:6 – Genesis 17). Consequently Abraham’s circumcision had nothing whatever to do with his salvation. Paul declared that the father of all who believe was accounted righteous by faith. It was not circumcision or uncircumcision but the “Seal of Righteousness” by faith which made him the man of promise. (The Jews called circumcision the seal of Abraham),

Circumcision was only a sign or symbol of the righteousness he had already received by Faith.

4: 12: The father of circumcision to them are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

God is our spiritual Father. Abraham is called father because he is the head of a family of people who believe by Faith. He is the model believer. He was circumcised that he might be the father of both Gentile and Jewish believers.

4: 13-15: For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of no effect. Because the law works wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Note the promise to Abraham that one day his “Seed” will be the heir of the world. Adam once owned the world. God gave it to him. Adam surrendered it to Satan. We know that the Seed is one Seed. The Seed, the Lord Jesus, defeated Satan at the Cross and will return with His Angel Armies joined with a glorious Bride (Overcoming Church) and wrest the world system (beast) from Satan’s hands. He has already done it; but the Church has not yet apprehended that for which we have been apprehended.

4: 16-17: Therefore, it is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but so that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all. As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations. Before him whom he believed even God, who quickened the dead, and called those things which are not as though they were.

All who are “sealed by faith” are the Sons of Abraham.

Righteousness is so important in the factor of the seal that Paul used the term sixty times in Romans. “Present your members slaves of righteousness for holiness” (6:19).

Paul is using the power of reasoning. The Jewish readers had to be stunned by what Paul is saying. Promises and Faith are Gentile matters. The Law and circumcision are Jewish matters. The man who lives wholly by God’s grace lives constantly in the light of His mercy.

4:18: Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, so shall your Seed be.

After God made this promise, Abraham waited fourteen (14) years for God to keep his promise!!! When Abraham decided God can do such a thing. Instantly he said, “yes” and came into agreement with God. It was Sarah who doubted God and gave him her maid, Hagar. Even in this failure to trust God, the Lord fulfilled His promise to Abraham.

God proved himself to this patriarch many times. As shocking as God’s promises were, he believed God.

C. S. Lovett points out that Abraham was in the same category as Cornelius. He says that during these fourteen years that Abraham was learning about God until He believed that he was to have a supernatural born son through who would come the Savior of the world. He was only a religious, good man who obeyed God’s commands. Even Abraham had to believe in the Savior.

Hope is the feature that made Abraham’s faith outstanding. God’s promise was against all-natural probability. God’s promise awakened a supernatural hope in him, a hope based on God’s ability to call people into existence even though nature forbids it. Isaac couldn’t add to anything. He was himself a miracle. Isaac was a child of faith and promise as are we who are supernaturally born of the Spirit.

True faith is counting things that are not as though they were. This is what God exercised when He spoke the world into existence. Abraham knew the Lord had created the world. It couldn’t be too hard for him to have a son even if it took a special act of creation.

“God placed in the soil of earth everything He needed to create a man.”

He even trusted God to resurrect the lad when he was called on by God to offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham’s faith embraced the truth of resurrection. That is why Abraham above all others had so much favor with God.

The Gospel brings to us not a work to do, but a Word to believe about a work done! When we believe it by Faith, then like Abraham our actions will reflect our Faith.

4: 19-25:’And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore, it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification.

Had Jesus simply died for our sins, we could not be justified. We could be forgiven for Jesus’ death satisfied the death penalty for us all. Forgiveness alone does not make people righteous. Therefore, we need more than the death of Jesus to go to Heaven. We also need His Life. The righteousness of God is in Christ. We are made righteous as we share Jesus’ life. That is possible only through a living union with him. Jesus is alive – Praise His Name!!!! Because he lives, we live too!!! When Christ came to dwell in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, He brings us both His death for sin and His righteous life, the Spirit of the Life of Christ.

This is why we have both the bread and the cup at the communion.

Jesus’ resurrection was certification to the world that all who place their faith in Him become righteous.

The next four chapters of Romans, 5, 6, 7 & 8 are considered by some to be the most important of all Paul’s writings.

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor Eastgate Ministries Church, 10115 West Hidden Lakes Lane, Richmond, TX.

I entered the labors of C.S. Lovett’s Lights on Romans; F.F. Bruce Bible Commentary; Matthew Henry’s Commentary; Holiness and Righteousness, The Regal Pair, by C. R. Oliver ---- sermon notes on Romans by Carolyn Sissom. Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those from who I gleaned.

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