Abraham’s offspring’s hereditary privilege came from the righteousness of faith – Romans 4:13-25 – 04/03/2016
Romans 4:13 (ESV) For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.
Let’s start in verse thirteen of chapter four…
V13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
Paul states a great point that makes the arguments of the day mute when he states that the promise between God and Abraham did not come through the law but the righteousness of faith. The law came later than the Abrahamic covenant and was dependent on a faithful God as opposed to an unfaithful line of family who could never hold up to the terms that God requested. Abraham’s hereditary honor of being the father of faith would come from exactly that, his simple faith in God.
V14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
And if we take this point to its logical conclusion then the ones who are “law only” if they were to be heirs then that would render faith a futile exercise. You have to ask the question “Can you keep all of the law?” (And remember there are 613 laws in the Mosaic law) Look at what James states about the “law keepers”…
James 2:8 (ESV) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (v10) those words send shivers down my spine! We cannot be declared righteous by following a creed or code of conduct otherwise there was no point in Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.
V15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
As stated above in the James scripture the “law brings wrath” because we are unable to keep the law and that would be seen as a way for God to nuke us with his wrath. This is what makes Christianity so different in that we are not constantly trying to appease an angry deity or god. But our God has grace upon us and does not justify us based on a set of unachievable rules.
If we use the law as the ruler then we see our guilt before God. That is not that we absolve our sins through ignorance of Gods requests. Transgression means that we overstepped a boundary that was set by God, a clear defined command that God made, Paul makes the hypothesis that if there is no law there is no transgression and that keeping the law is not the be all and end all of a relationship with God.
We are in a relationship with God and like any other relationship that you have it is based on trust and in the original sin between Adam and God that trust was broken and created a division between man and God. God planned redemption for his creation and the center of that loving and trusting relationship is not the keeping of the law. So that we do not take this out of context I would urge that you read on to get Paul’s point…
V16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
So rather than the law it depends on faith, when we believe we have that promise of grace. We are not saved by faith rather we are saved by God’s unmerited favor and that is what grace is. It is God giving us a benefit that we do not deserve and saving us based upon his own benevolence and will that none should perish.
Does that mean that we all get a “free pass” to heaven? No that is not the case! Paul states quite eloquently that salvation is based on faith. To unlock that free gift of grace we must also have some input and our input in that relationship is faith, not works, lest any man should boast!
This is why the promise rests on grace and is guaranteed to all of his offspring. God has a heart of acceptance and forgiveness and desires that no one should be without the opportunity of salvation. God is sure and is a God of truth, there is no deceit in him and that is why salvation is based on the grace of God (promises of God) rather than the fallible sinful promises of man (in keeping the law). Let’s look at the promise between God and Abraham…
Genesis 17:1 (ESV) Genesis When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
We see that through Abraham in Gods promise to him that he would be the father of many nations see that he was the father of faith in the Jewish religion and though his offspring came a Messiah who would sacrifice his life so that he world could be saved through faith.
V18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
Abraham believed in hope and he went from being called “father of many” (Abram) to being called “father of many nations” (Abraham) and despite being advanced in years God opened the womb of Sarah and fulfilled that “everlasting covenant” that he promised to Abraham and is still faithful to that covenant. God’s favor extends through Abraham both as a physical offspring and spiritual.
Paul makes note of the age of Abraham and gave glory to God for what would be attributed to God as a miracle. Think about it, when was the last time that you read about a 100 year old father in the news? Abraham had faith that God would provide but he was not perfect in his actions, he had a child under his wife’s instructions to the Egyptian handmaiden Hagar. God redeemed him despite his mistake; he granted an inheritance to the child that was outside of God’s plan called Ishmael.
Abraham gives us a good example of how we should be in our faith. Yes, Abraham was promised an offspring and despite his circumstances he did believe and he also would have continued to have relations with his wife and allow God to open the womb in his time. The promise of God did not mean that he stopped doing what he had to do and often times that is a lesson that we could learn in today’s Christianity. If you are called to something and know that it is a definite calling from God do you sit back, relax and just assume that God will do everything for you? Or do you prepare yourself; do you take the steps that you need to take in faith in order to be ready when God opens that door for you? Sometimes it takes greater faith to be diligent in the small things and leave the results up to God. That is obedience also and Abraham is also a good example of someone who is obedient in their faith as he took the necessary steps in order to be ready when God opened that door.
V20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
Abraham’s faith was strengthened and boy could we learn from that example. Abraham did not waver in faith and gave glory to God and Abraham really had two options and that was to trust God or not but based on what we read in the book of Genesis and here in Romans we see quite clearly that his faith was counted to him as righteousness because he remained and grew strong in the belief that God was going to keep his promises. You can apply the same principle to your own lives when you look at what you trust God with and what you don’t! That is a good measurement of how strong your faith actually is. Often times our faith is tested because we don’t understand God’s timing is perfect and He actually knows what he is doing.
V23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
And Paul explains that further that Abraham is an example to us all, that we all can be deemed as righteous through faith, that we be seen as though we have never sinned. Verse 24 states that “for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord” and that shows belief in his saving work on the cross and also that he died on the cross for our sins as the wholly acceptable sacrifice for our sins. He states that Jesus was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” and it is important that you remember that the journey of Jesus life does not end at the cross but death could not hold him and he was raised up and even today is in heaven. This is what Paul states here rather eloquently is a fulfillment of the Old Testament scripture and Abraham is a great example of why we are justified by faith rather than works. Paul also reiterates this point in his epistle to the Ephesian church…
Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will look at verses one through eleven in chapter five when we look at having peace with God through faith, it is a great piece of scripture full of wonderful doctrine. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.