IT’S ALL GRACE!
“It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law, there is no transgression.” Romans 4:13-15.
Paul was dealing with two mutually exclusive principles: law and works versus faith and righteousness. Works brings wrath because it is impossible for fallen humans to obey the law perfectly; faith brings righteousness because it comes through God’s promise and is a gift of God apart from the law. The one cancels out the other. Since Abraham received God’s gift of righteousness before the law was given, he could not have been declared righteousness through his obedience to the law.
Paul concludes with a declaration of victory – if faith that brings righteousness cancels out the law, then there is no longer any wrath because it is the law that brings wrath. No one can break a law that isn’t there! It’s all God!
“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you the father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God in whom he believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” Romans 4:16, 17.
It is faith that levels the ground for both Jew and Gentile. Since possession of the law, though it is holy in itself, becomes the reason for condemnation, Jews have no advantage over Gentiles. What should have been a blessing for them only brought them under God’s judgment because it brought their sinfulness into sharp focus.
Since the forefather they so revered was accepted by God because he trusted in His promise, and not on an effort on his part to satisfy God’s holy demands, all those who follow his example are his spiritual offspring – and equally acceptable to God, be they Jew of Gentile.
What was the promise that Abraham believed?
“And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’ Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’
“Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:3-6.
It was Abraham’s confidence in the trustworthiness of God’s promise that activated God’s power to make it happen. That’s how God works. Apart from natural circumstances, possible or impossible, He had a plan in place, but it could only become effective in the earthly realm when Abraham spoke the amen to God’s promise.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so, through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20.
What is God’s promise to us that we must activate by faith, upon which all His other promises are based? “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'” Romans 10:13.
It’s as simple as that. Paul has stripped away all the small print inserted by uncomprehending humans. It’s all God and all grace, and we can add nothing to what He has done. It’s up to us to accept it and become heirs of all the blessings He has promised.
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