Romans Chapter 4
Justification is by Faith: 4:1-4.
This is the faith chapter of the Bible. The word faith or believe occurs almost sixteen times in this chapter. The argument of this chapter is “without faith it is impossible to please God”. God justifies all who believe in Jesus Christ and declare them righteous apart from the works of the law (Romans 3:28). Justification means to “declare and treat someone as righteous”. Justification is more than forgiveness. Forgiveness means “send away”. The priest had to offer sacrifice to make an atonement to forgive sin (Leviticus 4:35). Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22; 10:18). The salvation brought by the finished work of Christ on the cross eliminates all boasting. It is freely received by faith in Jesus.
Forgiveness in Christ is Free and Final: 4:4-8.
The righteousness of God requires that justice be carried out and the penalty is to be paid. This was only possible through the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. Atonement in the Old Testament was to cover sin (Leviticus 16:14). Propitiation expresses the idea of satisfaction. Christ is our propitiation or mercy seat. He covers our sins by satisfying the Father's holy decree (1 John 4:10). So God can forgive our sins while declaring us righteous (Romans 3:24-26). Forgiveness is the negative aspect of justification. It will remove guilt and penalty of sins from us because of the death of Christ (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7). Our forgiveness is complete in Christ (Romans 8:1; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 8:12). It is free, full and final according to the riches of His grace. Justification does not mean we become sinless. Sanctification does that. It makes believers sin less. Only at the return of Christ do we become like Jesus Christ. The positive aspect of justification is associated with the resurrection of Christ (4:25). Also it is the proof that God has accepted Christ’s sacrifice. By believing in Christ we become righteous by imputation (Romans 10:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Abraham Justified by Faith: (Romans 4:9-12)
Both Abraham and David were justified by faith in the promises of God. Abraham is the father of Jews. The Jews believed that justification and salvation come by the deeds of the law. Paul asks “What does the Scriptures say about it”? Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). The word counted or imputed means “to put into one’s account”. There are two ways we might be declared righteous. By imputation or by earning. If we earn it by work, salvation would not be a gift. The justification by faith rests on the principle that God imputes righteousness to the ungodly when a sinner puts his faith in Christ. Abraham was justified apart from works. Abraham serves as "the father of all who believe (Romans 4:11). Just as Abraham, believers are declared righteous by faith in Christ apart from our work and religious ritual. Paul also introduces the testimony of King David to support this argument. Here Paul introduces the testimony of two to strengthen his argument (Deuteronomy 19:15). David describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes the righteousness without works (Psalms 32:1, 2). Abraham lived before the law was given and David lived under the law. Both of them were justified by faith. Now our sins are not reckoned against us because they have been reckoned against Christ on the cross (1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Abraham was justified by faith before he was circumcised (Genesis 15:6). Abraham was circumcised 14 years after he was declared righteous (Genesis 17:25, 26). It was a sign of the covenant between God and His chosen people (Genesis 17:9-14). Circumcision was the visible sign to Abraham’s descendants that he was made righteous by faith. Abraham serves as the father of all who believe (Romans 4:12). So justification is by faith alone apart from our works.
Abraham Received his Inheritance by Faith: (Romans 4:13-16)
Abraham inherited the promise by faith apart from works (Gen 12:3). He shows how to respond to the promises of God. Abraham believed God and his faith in God was counted to him for righteousness. If God would offer this inheritance through the law, then this promise would fail because no one ever kept the law completely. In Galatians 3:16, we see that this promise was made to Abraham and his seed. This promise will be fulfilled when the seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ, sits on the throne of David during the Millennium (Revelation 19:16). Only Jesus has ever been able to keep the law entirely. Failure to keep the law brings a penalty. Where there is no law, there is no penalty. The law simply declares what is right and requires conformity to it. But the law does not give either power to obey it or atonement when it is not obeyed. So God’s promise must be received on the principle of grace through faith. It can’t fail because it depends upon God who gave the promise. Those who possess the faith of Abraham are the spiritual seed of Abraham. God’s promise is given as a free gift. It can’t fail because God cannot fail. Abraham is the father of all who believe in the promises of God whether we are Jews or Gentiles.
Abraham is the Father of many Nations by Faith: (Romans 4:17-25)
Faith, promise and grace, capture the story of Abraham. In order to experience the gift of Grace, we must have faith in the great promises that are offered to us in Christ. In Genesis 17, God said to Abraham “I have made you a father of many nations”. At that time Abraham was childless (Genesis 17:5). Abraham believed God who brings the dead back into life (Romans 4:17). Abraham did not have a son when God made this promise and he was almost 100 years old. God does the very thing for us today who believes in His promises. “He calls things that are not as though they were”. When Abraham considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb, he believed against hope that God had made him the father of many nations. Out of faith comes hope. Abraham believed in spite of his adverse circumstances. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God (Romans 4:20). How can we reconcile this with his laughter in Genesis 17:17? Scholars suggest that it was a laughter of joy and wonder. Abraham was strong in the faith and brought glory to God. His faith was not a wishful hope, but absolutely convinced that God is able to do what He has promised (Romans 4:21). By faith Abraham gained all his blessings and God declared him righteous. Faith, promise, hope and grace are mentioned in this chapter. Faith is the humble trust for approaching God. Promise is God's invitation to have faith in Christ for salvation (Matthew 11:28). Grace is God's unmerited gift of forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Abraham’s faith in a way was in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews “Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). The phrase "Abraham rejoiced" refers to the birth of Isaac. He saw in Isaac the hope of mankind and the promise of the Messiah. Abraham saw the promise afar off (Hebrews 11:13). Abraham's faith foreshadows the faith we have in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 11:19). Christ died on account of our sins and was raised from the dead for our justification. Salvation is always through faith in the promise of God in Christ. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).