Paul defines the gospel as the righteousness of God.
Righteousness is all of God's doing without human contribution. The
righteousness that God attained for the human race is made effective by faith
and nothing else. We cannot earn it by our works or buy it with our money.
Justification by faith is the only way that man can be saved. Justification by
faith qualifies us for eternity now and in the judgment. The fruit of
justification by faith is sanctification. The redemption in Christ enables the
righteousness of God to be ours, this is not only a promise it is a historical
reality. It is ours because of the doing and dying of Christ. God is legally
just in declaring sinners righteous in Christ. Paul defends this fact strongly
in the scriptures. God can uphold His Law and at the same time justify us.
Justification leaves no room for human boasting. We have not contributed
anything toward our justification. It is given to us entirely by the grace of
God. We don't deserve it; we haven't earned it; we don't contribute to it! We
are justified by what God has done, not by what we have done. We are saved by
faith, or through faith, but not because of our faith. Justification by faith
establishes the law. What Christ did, His life and His death, met all the
demands of the Law. To establish the Law, every demand of the law must be met.
I. Paul is defending justification by faith against a three fold
· The opposition
came mainly from the Jewish Christians who followed him everywhere.
· The threefold
opposition that Paul faced is as follows:
1.) The issue of works as is found in Romans 4:1-8.
The Jewish Christians were insistent that our works were essential for
justification by faith. Paul said we are justified without works only by
2.) The issue of circumcision. The Jews said you could not
be saved without being circumcised. Paul addresses this in Romans 4:9-12.
3.) The issue of the keeping of the Law. Paul addresses
this in Romans 4:13-17.
· To all three of these
issues Paul says no. It is important to understand that Paul is not against
works or circumcision; in fact, Paul circumcised Timothy. Paul is also not
against the keeping of the Law. The problem with these three issues is that
they are not to be used as a means of salvation. Paul teaches them as a way of
life; he is against them as a means of salvation. Paul is against salvation by
faith plus works; he is for salvation by faith that works.
· Paul is not saying
that we do not have to do any works, that we don't have to keep the Law, or
that we don't have to keep the Sabbath. Paul is defending the doctrine of
justification by faith.
II. Paul focuses on the flesh.
· Paul focuses
initially in Romans 4:1 on the word flesh. We rejoice in Christ and
have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:4-6, Paul defines the
· Paul describes his
own accomplishments and says if anyone should have confidence in the flesh, he
should be the one to have that confidence. Paul accomplished a great deal from
a fleshly viewpoint. Paul even states that he was blameless regarding the
rules and regulations of the church which he describes as the righteousness of
the Law. When Paul understood Christ and what Christ had done for us, he gave
up all those things as he describes in Philippians 3:7.
· In respect to Paul's
comments about the flesh in Romans 4:1, if we are depending upon ourselves
for our salvation, that is the flesh.
III. Paul selects Abraham as an example.
· Abraham was selected because Paul dealing
with the Jews so he wanted to use someone that was special to them.
· Abraham did great
works, far more than we have done. Notice this very point in Romans 4:2.
All the works that Abraham did, did not contribute to his justification.
· When Abraham believed
God that is when it was accounted to him for righteousness. In verse 4-8,
Paul clearly shows that if we work for our justification then it would no
longer be by grace, rather God would owe it to us. Abraham worked, not for his
justification but only as fruit of justification by faith, never as the means
of justification. Paul shows that David was justified as was Abraham.
IV. Paul begins to focus on circumcision in Romans 4:9.
· Paul spoke positively
at times about circumcision. Paul was not against circumcision. There was an
event in Acts 15:1-5, where the Jews were stating that circumcision was
essential and a requirement for salvation. Paul and several other Apostles did
not want to put a burden on the Gentile Christians.
salvation, righteousness, holiness, purity, do not come through obedience
because all have disobeyed. We cannot live up to the Law. In Romans 4,
Paul states that circumcision does not contribute to our salvation.
· The reason for
circumcision is found in Romans 4:11. God gave circumcision as a seal.
A seal to confirm a fact. The fact was justification by faith.
V. How is and why is circumcision used as the seal of the righteousness of
· We must first
understand the background of the three fathers of Israel - Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob. Genesis 12:1-4, describes the calling of Abraham by God. God
promised Abraham a son to fulfill the promise God had made.
· Abraham walked and
talked with God asking Him for understanding and clarification. Genesis
15:6, Abraham believed God and it was accounted to Abraham for
righteousness. Abraham had tremendous faith in God. Abraham was ultimately
very patient in waiting for God.
· Righteousness -
whether it be imputed through Jesus Christ or imparted by our submitting to
God and obeying God, it is still God who is doing it. Our part from beginning
to end is faith.
· God wants Abraham to
reach a perfect faith so God tells Abraham to be circumcised. God wants all
doubt and unbelief removed. That is the meaning of circumcision. From the
point of circumcision forward, Abraham was to walk by faith alone. Abraham
agreed and said yes.
· Circumcision did not
save Abraham, it was only a sign and a seal. The Sabbath does not save us it
is a sign and a seal.
· We read in Exodus
31:13, God gave the Sabbath as a sign. The sign is not to the world. The
world does not know that the Sabbath is God's Sabbath. The Sabbath is a sign
between God and His people. People who have understood the Sabbath and then
leave the Sabbath do so because they do not understand that it is a sign
between God and His people. It is not a sign to the world. Loving one another
is a sign to the world that we are God's people and that His spirit dwells in
us. The Sabbath is a sign between us and God.
· Abraham made mistakes
after he was circumcised, but he continued to walk by faith and nothing else.
Abraham was justified by faith. As a result he became the father of all who
believe as we see in Romans 4:11-12. An individual who is in Christ is
of the seed of Abraham and an heir as Paul states in Galatians 3:29.
· Circumcision does not
justify, it confirms. The Law was given over 400 years after Abraham was
justified by faith.
VI. Faith does produce works but works are not a contribution to our
· The moment we try to
save ourselves by the Law, we come under wrath as Paul states in Romans
· The moment we save
ourselves by faith, we have peace.
VII. God did not give the Law to solve the sin problem.
· God gave the Law to help us realize what we
truly are, so that salvation by faith may become desirable.
· Paul discusses in Romans
4:16-17, that our salvation is guaranteed even though we are sinners and
failures. It is guaranteed because it is not of works but of faith in Jesus
Christ. It is guaranteed because Abraham is the father of all those that
· Paul tells how faith
works in Romans 4:18-25. If we are to be the seed of Abraham and
therefore the heirs according to the promise, we must have the faith that
The faith we should have does not does not make us feel
guilty. We should have a faith that brings peace. God does the promising and the
performing, in these scriptures. Abraham believed and that was all. Faith is
taking God at His word. God tells us something. We do not need evidence; we
simply believe! May God help us to have the faith to take Him at His word.