“That is why it depends on faith”
How important it is to get into our minds a balanced picture of the reasoning Paul develops in his letter to the Romans. With his background training and practice from when he was a Pharisee he was more conscious than anyone else that, having a real relationship – from our hearts – with God (through his Son Jesus Christ), was vital. May we all realize the wonder of this relationship – and make sure ours is real.
Paul appeals to the Romans (and all other readers) to have a correct understanding of the foundation promises made to Abraham; these were given by God long before the law was given through Moses. He writes,
“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (4:13).
Is that an understandable phrase, “through the righteousness of faith”?
For ‘faith’ to be genuine – it has to be fully focused on the object of that faith – what we have faith in! Some Jews had been ‘converted’ to belief in Christ – yet still felt they had to keep all the precepts of the law – made even worse by the way the Pharisees had embellished them. Therefore Paul is building up this ‘powerful’ reasoning – to set their thinking on the right path: no one had kept the Law perfectly, so in the end “the law brings wrath” (verse 15). We are seeing this graphically illustrated in our readings in Jeremiah.
The climax to Paul’s reasoning is from verse 16,
“That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring – not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’”.
Yes! also to us!
Paul is quoting God’s words to Abraham in Genesis 17:5. Let us make sure we are part of the “many nations”. Our chapter ends with Paul’s reasoning about belief in Jesus
“who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification”.
Think of ‘justification’ as meaning ‘righteous-ification’ – does that make it easier to understand?
Finally look at the first verse of the next chapter, for the chapter break is in a poor place.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in …”
How real is your faith?
Real faith leads to us being sure Jesus “was raised for our justification” and we truly “rejoice in hope of the glory of God”.