Jul. 17, 2018

Saved by faith for works of righteousness

Romans 4:1-12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Justification by Faith Evidenced in Old Testament

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
“Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” 10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.


In today’s text, Paul makes the case that not only are we justified by faith in Christ, but also Abraham and David, and those under the old covenant were also justified by their faith; faith credited as righteousness, to those who believed. Justification is being made right before God, accepted in His sight. So even under the old covenant it was a work of God not man. God forgives sin for those who believe. No one, either under the old covenant of the law or now under the covenant of grace, is able to live completely righteously, without sinning. But rather as Ephesians 2:8-10 says:  By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.    We are not saved by our good works, but rather we are saved, made right in God’s sight so that we can continue to walk in the good works He prepared for us and prepared us for in His righteousness. If the goal of our lives was only justification, then God should take us to our eternal reward, heaven, when we are saved, the moment we believe. John 3:16 says:   “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.     God though wants more than that we believe and are saved for eternal life in heaven. He created us for fellowship with Him and that we would continue to live according to His plan when He created us in the beginning, that we would be created in the image and likeness of God and that we would have dominion and rule with Him, over creation. (Genesis 1:26-28) That is the good works He prepared for us and prepared us for, by justification through faith.  As I said before: No one, either under the old covenant of the law or now under the covenant of grace, is able to live completely righteously, without sinning. So our walking out our lives in faith also has another element to it beyond our justification through faith in Christ. We are to live to become more like Him.

We were created in the image and likeness of God. That’s who we are. That’s our identity in His eyes because we believe. Romans 8:28-29 says:  God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.  God does not cause all the things that happen to us, but He uses the things in our lives, all the things, the good, the bad, the ordinary and the extraordinary things to conform us to the image of Christ, to help us become what we were created to be. The process of becoming like Christ is called sanctification and it is why we remain here even beyond our salvation and justification through faith. In John 5:19-20 Jesus said of Himself:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.”  In John 14:12-14 He says of us:  Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”      The goal of our lives is to become like Jesus, doing the greater works, the miracles and wonders that He did, but also, like Jesus, doing only what the Father is doing, walking in righteousness, love, compassion and forgiveness. No one can be saved, either by their love and compassion, by their serving and doing good to or for others or even by doing great works and miracles. In Matthew 7:22-24 Jesus says:  “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”     We are justified, made right in God’s eyes by faith in what He has done for us. But we are also to continue to become sanctified, conformed to His image, walking in His likeness and righteousness, doing only what the Father has prepared for us.  

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; thank You for the grace of justification through faith, believing in what You have done rather than depending on what I do. Thank You also that You use all the things in my life to conform me to Your image, that I would become like You and do only what I see You doing, doing all the good works You prepared for me and prepared me for. Walking in love, compassion, mercy, grace and forgiveness and also walking in righteousness and power, doing the works of Jesus.    Amen.