22 June 2015
by Philip Layton


Justification comes only by faith

Click here to read Romans 4

Discussion Questions

  • Paul explained how Abraham was justified by faith. Why was this explanation so important to Paul?
  • What is its relevance today?

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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'

There are several words that Paul uses often in his passion to make clear what we might call the gift of forgiveness. When we are pardoned we are justified in spite of our sins; we are accepted in spite of our unacceptable past; we are made righteous though we were unrighteous, ungodly, unfit to be received by a righteous God.

This is the heart of the gospel, which consumes the apostle and which the people called Christians embrace.

The strongest obstacle to faith for the seeker after truth is the principle of grace. With our human mind we assume nothing of value is received without a price being paid. Suspiciously we examine the witness of the believer. What can I do to buy justification? How can I win acceptance from God? How can I become righteous in the sight of a holy God? How must I behave to deserve God’s approval?

Paul uses two men of God, Abraham and David, to answer these questions.

Abraham came to faith when he realised it was not by law-keeping or submission that he would find peace with God and receive a symbol or sign (see vv 4-5). He realised that what he was looking for – relationship with God – was beyond price. If he was to have it, he had to receive it as an unmerited gift.

The gift was promised by the Creator God to make a different man of Abraham. Here we come close to the New Testament gospel in the Old Testament. Trust! Believe! Receive! We are all invited to test the promises of a God we can trust.

David the king says much ‘when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him”’ (vv 6-8). Pardon is given, not bought. It is not deserved, but comes by grace.

Beverly Ivany

Tags: Romans