A SHARED HERITAGE
Lord, I want to make a difference for You in the lives of others. Today I will rest in You, work for You, and seek to become like You.
Read Romans 4:1–12
Abraham Justified by Faith
4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]
4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”[b]
9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
- Romans 4:3 Gen. 15:6; also in verse 22
- Romans 4:8 Psalm 32:1,2
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘God’s love for the world / Vast flood of mercy flung on resistance’* (Denise Levertov). Reflect on God’s mercy.
In bringing together a community divided between Jewish and Gentile believers, Paul re-examines the life of Abraham. God’s special promise, his covenant with Abraham, meant that Israel became God’s chosen people. Circumcision was a sign of this covenant.
But once again Paul counteracts the idea that any of us can gain acceptance with God through what we do. Paul shows that Abraham is actually the ‘father of all who believe’ (v 11). In verse 3 he refers to a central verse from Genesis where ‘Abram believed the Lord’ and it was ‘credited to him as righteousness’ (Genesis 15:6). Abraham serves as an example of someone who was ‘credited [with] righteousness’, not after he was circumcised, but before (10b).
The whole point is that God makes the first move.
Apparently, when CS Lewis was asked what he thought marked Christianity out as different from other religions, he famously replied, ‘Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.’ When properly understood, grace remains perhaps the most attractive aspect of the Christian faith.
‘Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them’ (Psalm 32:1,2a). Praise God for his mercy and forgiveness!
Loving Father, I thank You for the wonder of grace. It reminds me that no person is beyond redemption, no stain beyond cleansing. Thanks be to God.
*Denise Levertov, ‘To Live in the Mercy of God’, from The Stream and the Sapphire: Selected Poems on Religious Themes, New Directions, 1997, p 32
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