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Focal Passage:  Romans 4: 13-25

Romans 4:13 “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.”

There are a couple of wonderful things that Paul asserts in this one little verse, and they are indeed wonderful.  First, the promise, which is justification and the imputation of righteousness given to Abraham, is for the world; it is for anyone who believes.  God is no respecter of persons, no matter their heritage or language or country or background.  The salvation of Jesus Christ is available to all.  And if that news weren’t wonderful enough, Paul goes on to tell us that this imputation of righteousness which results from our justification is not dependent on our obedience to this righteousness.  Instead, it is fully from God, outside of us.  In other words, our personal obedience is not the basis whereby we receive the promise first given to Abraham.  Instead that promise is received by faith, just as it was first received by faith to Abraham.  This wonderful truth is that our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Study/Meditation:  What does it mean that “Abraham and his offspring” are heirs “of the world”?  How is this such extraordinarily good news to those who aren’t of Jewish heritage?

*Father, Your grace is immeasurable and Your mercy great.  Thank You for making me an heir with Abraham’s offspring to Your promises.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 4:1-12

Romans 4:11b-12 “The purpose was to make him (Abraham) the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Paul says, in other words, that Abraham served as the father in the faith to both those who were Jewish and Gentile believers.  The righteousness that was imputed to him was done so before he was circumcised, when he wasn’t even Jewish, so he was the father of Gentiles.  Likewise, he is also the father to those who were circumcised and were Jews because they were obedient and followed in his footsteps.  The key in both instances was that Abraham was the father “in faith” not “in obedience.”  It is only faith in the life and death and triumph of our Lord, Jesus Christ that justifies and saves us.  Faith saves, not outward signs or things that we do.  This is the amazing truth Paul is imparting in this passage, and just as it must have been a comfort to his readers in Rome, it has been the source of great peace for all believers since.

Study/Meditation:  How is Abraham the father of your faith, even if you’re not Jewish?  How does this negate the notion that there are two paths to salvation—one for Jews and one for Gentiles?

*Father, thank You for Your eternal  and unchanging plan for our salvation.  You are mighty and loving.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 4:1-12

Romans 4:11a “He (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.”

Paul explains the purpose of outward acts as demonstrated with circumcision in this one short sentence.  Abraham’s circumcision was first a sign.  A sign to something isn’t the reality of it; it simply points to the reality.  Signs to the airport point to the airport; they tell you that the airport is there.  They aren’t the airport itself.  Circumcision was a sign or a symbol of the reality of justification.  Secondly, circumcision was a seal.  Again, seals placed on things are the confirmation that the things sealed are in existence.  The seal of circumcision didn’t bring about the reality of justification; it confirmed that it existed within Abraham.  And finally, Paul said that circumcision was a sign and a seal that pointed to the reality of Abraham’s righteousness that he received by faith, not by the circumcision itself.  Our acts of obedience and the results they have in our lives are signs and seals of our own imputed righteousness.  This is a righteousness that we did not earn or receive because of these signs and seals, but one that is represented by these signs and seals.  These things may seem incredibly simple, but understanding them fully is life changing.

Study/Meditation:  What signs and seals of your imputed righteousness are there in your life?  Why is it important that these things are present in your life?

*Father, help me to live as one who is signed and sealed by the Holy Spirit, demonstrating the imputation of Christ’s righteousness in my life.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 4:1-12

Romans 4:9b-10 “We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.  How then was it counted to him?  Was it before or after he had been circumcised?  It was not after, but before he was circumcised.”

When did God impute righteousness onto Abraham?  When did God count him as righteous before Him?  This is the very important question Paul poses to his audience, proving to them that the father of their nation, to whom the practice of circumcision was commanded by God, was counted as righteous by God before he was circumcised.  In fact, he was circumcised some 14 years after God counted him as righteous.  According to Jewish records, it was 29 years later that Abraham was circumcised.  Paul’s point is clear:  Justification is by God and only through God, not by anything that man does.  Just as the recipients of Paul’s letter need to understand, we must know the difference between something that is necessary for salvation and something that is necessary for obedience.  We must see the distinction between something that is required so that we are accepted by God and something that flows from and confirms that we have been accepted with God.  We are justified before a holy and righteous God outside of ourselves; it is only of Him.  Baptism, following His laws, observing the sacraments, and fulfilling His commission are things we do because of this great gift, not in order to receive it.  There is peace in understanding this great truth.

Study/Meditation:  Why is it so important for us today to understand the timing of Abraham’s justification, even if we are not of Jewish descent?  What comfort does it offer you?

*Father, thank You that justification is entirely by You and from You.  Help me to be obedient to Your will in the face of this great gift.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 4:1-12

Romans 4:9a “Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?”

All believers are called to be theologians, at least in the sense that we understand some biblical terms and concepts and how they relate to Christ and our salvation.  Paul knows this and he is determined that we understand, along with his Roman audience, exactly what “justification” means.  It’s also important that we see the correlation between what God commanded in the Old Testament and what He commands in the New Testament.  Without a clear understanding, we, like Paul’s readers, could become quite confused, especially in terms of things like “justification.”  Since circumcision was commanded in Genesis 17 in order to be of God’s people, then a logical question would be to ask the one Paul poses in verse 9:  Is justification and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness only for the circumcised?  In other words, is salvation for the Gentiles as well as the Jews? Additionally, the question Paul poses sets up others:  Is there anything else needed besides Christ’s work for salvation?  Some today would add baptism or the sacraments or some mystic experience to the list.  Here, they were adding circumcision.  Paul wants the point to be crystal clear on the definition of “justification”—it is by grace alone through faith alone.  He will continue to make this point in the next few verses.

Study/Meditation:  Where do you see some churches today attempting to add something other than faith in the work of Christ to salvation?  How does doing this negate the real meaning of “justification”?

*Father, forgive me of the times I attempt to add anything to Your Son’s saving work on the cross.  It is only through the grace in this work that I receive salvation.  Thank You.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 4:1-12

Romans 4:6-8 “Just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:  ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.’”

Just as Paul went to Genesis 15:6 in verses 2 and 3 of this chapter, now he points our attention to Psalm 32 and the words of David in verses 6-8.  Again, he is directing his very Jewish audience back to the fact that not only did Abraham understand and believe in salvation by grace through faith, but David also understood and believed that man was saved only by God’s grace and that received through faith.  Paul even goes to David’s own words which declare that it is man’s “lawless deeds” that are forgiven and covered.  David said that a man is blessed when God doesn’t count his sins against him, even when this man is lawless.  David does not point to a man’s works making him righteous.  He points to God’s grace that covers the sinful man’s sins.  It is only by grace, God’s amazing grace, that our sins are covered and not counted against us. This is the grace upon which we believe—and we rejoice.

Study/Meditation:  Why do you think Paul referenced Abraham and David in these verses?  How is that also meaningful for you today?

*Father, thank You for Your amazing grace that covers over my sin.  You are great and awesome!  Amen.