- Rom 4:1 (KJV)
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh,
Now Paul goes way back to Abraham in giving the proof that the doctrine of
Justification was not something peculiar to this particular time and that
justification by God alone was the only way that one could be saved. God
justified His children as far back as the first one to become saved but Paul
brings up Abraham. He speaks of Abraham in terms of the flesh because Israel
was a physical descendant of Abraham while spiritual Israel was and is a
spiritual descendant of Abraham. The phrase “pertaining to the flesh” could
also refer to Abraham believing God on his own without inward spiritual
regeneration as Paul would be using this for illustrative purposes only.
Abraham was circumcised at the age of 90 and Paul may be bringing up the
fact of the flesh as he builds the contrast in Abraham’s life concerning Law
and Grace. The Jews held tenaciously to the fact that they were Abraham’s
descendants and now Paul wanted to bring Abraham up, which would go right to
the heart of their prideful belief system, especially since they believed
their circumcision was their ticket to exclusivity with God.
- Rom 4:2 (KJV)
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory;
but not before God.
If Abraham was justified by works, then he would have the right to boast in
that glory. Paul was trying to get the Jews to understand that circumcision
was a work and if they were justified in their works, then they too would be
boasting. The problem is that they can boast to each other but they have no
standing before God to boast about any of their works, even beyond
circumcision. The reason is that Paul had already explained to them that no
one can be justified by any works. Circumcision was about 600 years before
the law came. So if Abraham was not justified by circumcision outside the
law, then no one could be justified by circumcision within the law. The
principle stands the same, works are works.
- Rom 4:3 (KJV)
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was
counted unto him for righteousness.
Remember in the three temptations of our Lord by Satan how He quoted
Scripture in His responses to the Devil? Here Paul uses the same approach.
He is letting the Scriptures do the talking since it is the Scriptures that
can convict a person. He quotes from Genesis 15:6 which the Jews would have
been familiar with. (Gen 15:6 KJV) And
he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
The Scripture teaches that Abraham believed in the Lord. In the above Romans
verse, we read that “Abraham believed God.” Believing in the Lord always
includes believing the Lord. At the time that Abraham believed God, he was
already a believer who was indwelled by the Holy Spirit. It is only a true
believer who is able to believe God and have righteousness imputed to them.
The efficacy of the cross was already in effect when Abraham became a
believer. Abraham was one of the Elect of God and was one of the earliest
Gentiles in the Bible saved.
- Rom 4:4 (KJV)
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of
If a person is able to work for their salvation, then that salvation is not
grace but rather is a debt. When a person works for a paycheck, the company
owes them that money for the work they performed for it. Once that person
receives their pay, then the company no longer owes them anything. Then next
week when they start working, the company owes them for their work again. A
principle arises here, how much works and what kind of works will get you
into heaven? The answer is that no works will get a person into Heaven.
Grace is unmerited favor and debt is payment for something you do. Works
will yield the payment of eternal damnation.
- Rom 4:5 (KJV)
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth
the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Paul now brings up justification through grace. Those under grace do not
keep the law for salvation. The law has already been kept for them by Christ
and is imputed to them. It says here that through Grace, God will justify
the ungodly, that is, those who are His Elect. Every person prior to
salvation is ungodly. The word “ungodly” in the Greek carries with it the
meaning of “impious or wicked.” By salvation, God takes the wicked and turns
them into His children who are justified by Grace. Then when God gives them
the ability to have faith (remember people are spiritually dead before
salvation and unable to generate faith from themselves) it is counted as
righteousness, but not the faith itself, it is the object of the faith,
which is God. A person may have faith that their car will make it another
10,000 miles but that faith does not save. That is visible faith. True
Christians believe God whom we cannot see and that is righteous faith
through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Rom 4:6 (KJV)
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom
God imputeth righteousness without works,
In Psalm 32, David describes how happy a person is that God does not impute
sin to. In fact, the man is twice blessed as he has righteousness imputed to
him. It is a double blessing to have sins removed and righteousness
implanted in its place. It is a total cleansing of the soul. Works can never
cleanse the soul of its sin. Simply because works are physical and the soul
is spiritual. Therefore, a spiritual cleansing is what is needed. Works may
pacify the flesh but will never remove the sin and guilt from the soul.
David has a trilogy of sorrow in Psalms 32, 38, and 51. When Nathan came to
him and told him of his sin with Bathsheba, Nathan told him that God had
already put away his sin, even though there were still physical consequences
he had to face for those sins. (2 Sam
12:13 KJV) And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And
Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt
not die. The imputing of righteousness without
works is the imputation of Grace to a person who is the Elect of God.
- Rom 4:7 (KJV)
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose
sins are covered.
(Psa 32:1 KJV) Blessed is he whose
transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Paul takes another quote from the Hebrew Scriptures and teaches them that
even in David’s time, there was the imputation of Grace and Justification to
God’s Elect, even without keeping the law. Remember, Nathan told David his
sin was removed. Prior to this, David did not make any type of sin offering
according to the law to receive that forgiveness. He received that
forgiveness because he was a child of God and all his sins were paid for by
Christ at Calvary, even though the cross was still a thousand years in the
future. This could happen because, in principle, Christ was already slain
before the foundation of the world. (Rev
13:8 KJV) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names
are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation
of the world. This goes back to the verse
which speaks of the forbearance of God as He waited according to His
timetable for the time when Christ would complete His salvation plan which
would seal all the Elect from all periods of history and the future.
- Rom 4:8 (KJV)
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Here is another great salvation verse. When God saves a person, He
completely removes all their sin, which means both past and present, and
will never lay that sin on the Elect. (Psa
103:12 KJV) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our
transgressions from us. When Christ went to the
cross, all our sins were in the future. When we were born, we came into
time, which means we began to sin those sins which Christ had already paid
for two thousand years ago. So if Christ has already paid for the sins of
His Elect in total, then what sin can God impute to a soul that has been
redeemed and fully cleansed by His Son? Not one, that is why the person is
blessed to whom God imputes no sin. I wish those who believe they can lose
their salvation would consider that question. Now the unbeliever has sin
imputed to them every hour they are alive. They are not blessed no matter
how much of this world’s goods they have.
- Rom 4:9 (KJV)
Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the
uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for
Now Paul asks another question concerning this blessedness. Does this
blessedness only come on the Jews, the circumcision, or does it come to the
uncircumcision also? The answer is both, because David is mentioned and he
was an Israelite. Then Abraham is mentioned and he was a Gentile from
Mesopotamia. Abraham’s circumcision was before the law was given. David’s
was done in the confines of obedience to the law. So within the confines of
this discourse, God is showing that His salvation plan is not only for the
Jews but also for the Gentiles. This verse teaches that salvation comes by
faith and not by circumcision, and that faith was counted for righteousness.
When Paul was writing this letter, many Gentiles were already being saved
without the keeping of the law. When the Lord saved me I had no idea what
the law was, in fact, it was only after I was saved that I came to know what
the law of God was and how I was unable to keep it.