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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Romans 4

 

 

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Verses 1-3

The Example of Justification Before the Law - In Romans 4:1-3 Paul uses Abraham as an example of God's standard of justification for mankind before the Law. God may have spoken to a number of individuals through the course of ancient history, but Abraham became the first man to hear and obey God's voice. He was the first to respond to God's voice in obedience, trust His word, and yield to God's divine providence and provision. Abraham became the first man in history to demonstrate genuine faith in God. As such, he became the father of all who will believe in God.

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

Romans 4:1Comments- Abraham discovered God's plan for justifying mankind. The phrase "Abraham hath found" reflects this patriarch's spiritual journey of progressive revelation of God's plan of redemption for mankind. Abraham begin in obedience to God's command while yet lacking the understanding of his redemption before God. God spoke to him on a number of occasions and revealed to him how a man is justified before God. He dwelt in a land of idolatry, in the midst of a people seeking to appease their gods. Yet, Abraham discovered how to walk in friendship with the true and living God. He discovered the way of reconciliation and peace with God, while all of humanity was struggling in pagan idolatry.

Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Romans 4:3Comments- Romans 4:3 is a quote from Genesis 15:6 when God appeared to Abraham and promised him a son that would be his heir.

Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness."

As we examine chapters 4,5 of Romans , we come to realize that Abraham's faith in God was established at the time God gave him a word of promise, but we must also understand that his faith had to withstand the test of thirty-nine years of tribulation, patience, experience, and finally hope ( Romans 5:1-5). Abraham entered the Promised Land at the age of seventy-five, and Sarah did not give birth to Isaac until Abraham was one hundred years old. When Isaac was fourteen years old, Abraham took him up to mount Moriah in obedience to God's command, for a total of thirty-nine years. Thus, Abraham's faith withstood these tests and this faith was brought to perfection, as stated in James , during this process of time.

James 2:22-23, "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God."


Verses 1-8

Justification by Faith Alone: The Examples of Abraham and David - In Romans 4:1-8 Paul goes back to the Old Testament and finds several verses that clearly distinguish between justification by faith verses works. He finds two witnesses to prove his point, using examples in the lives of two patriarchs, Abraham and David. Abraham was a man who trusted in God's promises and found favor and right standing with Him before the Law was instituted. David, who lived under the Law, was a man who partook of the blessedness of his sins being forgiven. It is interesting to note that the same Hebrew word ( חשׁב) (H 2803), translated "impute," or "count," is used in both of the two Old Testament quotes used by Paul to explain justification by faith.

Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness."

Psalm 32:1-2, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile."

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Example of Justification Before the Law — Romans 4:1-3

2. The Example of Justification Under the Law — Romans 4:4-8


Verses 1-25

Righteousness Imputed Under the Old Covenant - In Romans 4:1-25 Paul spends some time in the Old Testament explaining exactly how Abraham was justified by faith apart from his works. Paul will follow this passage by explaining how righteousness is imputed under the new covenant ( Romans 5:1-21).

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Justification by Faith Alone: The Examples of Abraham & David — Romans 4:1-8

2. Righteousness by Faith for Uncircumcised & Circumcised — Romans 4:9-12

3. The Promise Came to Abraham by Faith — Romans 4:13-16

4. God's Promise to Abraham Described — Romans 4:17-22

5. Righteousness by Faith for Us Today — Romans 4:23-25


Verses 4-8

The Example of Justification Under the Law - While Abraham serves as Paul's example from the Old Testament of how God justifies a man who places his faith in God's Word and obeys it before the Law ( Romans 4:1-3), David serves as an example of a man whom God imputed righteousness through the forgiveness of sins under the Law ( Romans 4:4-8).

Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Romans 4:4Word Study on "reckoned" - Strong says the Greek word "reckoned" ( λογίζομαι) (G 3049) literally means "to take an inventory," and "to credit (literally or figuratively)."

Romans 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Romans 4:7-8Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Romans 4:7-8 is a quote from Psalm 32:1-2 :

Psalm 32:1-2, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile."


Verses 9-12

Righteousness by Faith is for the Uncircumcised as Well as the Circumcised - In Romans 4:9-12 Paul clearly explains that righteousness was imputed to Abraham while he was in uncircumcision. This conclusion supports Paul's next statement that the divine blessings and promises were imparted to Abraham because of his faith and not under any of the conditions of the Law.

Romans 4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

Romans 4:10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

Romans 4:9-10Comments - Abraham's Blessings- The blessings of Abraham come to us through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Now if Abraham were blessed after circumcision, then these blessings would only be for those who are circumcised like Abraham, which means we would have to be a Jew. But thank God, Abraham was blessed before he was circumcised. Therefore, his blessings are for both the circumcised and the uncircumcised, for both Jews and Gentiles.

Romans 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Romans 4:11"And he received the sign of circumcision" - Comments - Circumcision in the Old Testament was a symbol of a severing of the flesh. Through circumcision, the Jews had a constant reminder that they were to crucify the flesh, not being led by their own ways, but by faith in God. Circumcision was the seal ( σφραγίς) (G 4973) of righteousness by faith.

Under the new covenant, we receive the seal of the Holy Spirit as a sign of the new covenant. The Scriptures tell us this in Ephesians 1:13. The Spirit prompts us to be led by our hearts, no longer walking in the flesh.

Ephesians 1:13, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,"

Abraham opened his heart to God ( Deuteronomy 10:16).

Deuteronomy 10:16, "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked."

Romans 4:11 — "that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised" - Comments - Abraham is considered to be the Father of all Jews. This verse tells us that his act of circumcision, being a sign of his covenant with God the Father, caused him to become the father of all Gentiles who believe, as well as the Jews who walk in the footsteps of God's standard of righteousness.

What does it mean to become a "father" of a people? One good example is seen in some of the historic flights made today with some of the world's biggest passenger jets. One of these took place on November 10, 2005 when a Boeing 777 commercial airline flew from Hong Kong to London, a distance of 18 ,662kilometers (11 ,664miles) on a flight that took 22hours and 43minutes in the air, breaking the record for the longest nonstop flight by a commercial jet. Those on board enjoyed the luxuries of a lounge, beds, sofas and meals. But such events did not begin that way. The first man make such a flight across the oceans was Lindburgh, who fathered flights across the Atlantic. On May 20, 1927 he roared down the muddy runway of Roosevelt Field, Long Island and lifted his small aircraft, the "Spirit of St. Louis," into the air. Thirty-three and one half-hours and 3 ,500 miles later he landed in Paris, France. This was a dangerous journey that had already seen a number of men lost at sea in their failed attempts to be the first to cross the Atlantic. Lindburgh had no parachute, but only took with him with four sandwiches, two canteens of water and 451gallons of fuel in order to keep his load light. His spirit and will to succeed captivated the world and made many believe that it could be done. From that point men worked hard in faith knowing that they could follow in the steps of Lindburgh. 164]

164] "Lindbergh Flies the Atlantic, 1927 ," (Eye Witness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com, 1999) [on-line]; accessed 18 April 2010; available from http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/lindbergh.htm; Internet.

Today, we look at Abraham's historic steps in the Promised Land, obeying the Lord in order to demonstrate to us that it is possible to live in right standing with God. Thus, he serves as a "father of faith" for all who were to believe afterwards.

Romans 4:12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.


Verses 13-16

The Promise Came to Abraham by Faith- In Romans 4:13-16 Paul begins to explain that the promise of receiving God's divine blessings came to Abraham, not because he obeyed the Law, but because he believed God's Word that was spoken to him. Paul explains that divine wrath is produced when a person lives under the Law because a person will always be found a transgressor in some aspect. Therefore, God chose to bless Abraham and his (spiritual) seed on the basis of their faith in His Word; for under these conditions God could make the promise sure to every child of Abraham by faith, since God was distributing it by His grace, and not by their good works. Otherwise, they would all be found disqualified as recipients of His promise.

Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Romans 4:13 — "that he should be the heir of the world" - Comments- An heir is one who inherits another's property. Abraham was not the only heir. The promise was also to the seed of Abraham, which is the Church as well as the Jews who followed his life of faith in God. This seed is an heir through the righteousness that comes by faith in God. Faith is not empty. The promise is still in effect, and is being fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Romans 4:13 — "or to his seed" - Comments- Although the word "seed" used here is in the singular form in the Greek, we need only look down a few verses to see that it is referring to the children of God.

Romans 4:16, "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,"

Romans 4:13 — "but through the righteousness of faith" - Comments - That Isaiah , "but through the righteousness that came by faith in God's promise of the blessed hope of the coming of the Messiah." Abraham believed the promises given to him by God and by this act of faith he was reckoned as righteous before God.

Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness."

Romans 4:3, "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."

Galatians 3:6, "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."

James 2:23, "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God."

Romans 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:

Romans 4:14Comments- The promise came to Abraham by faith in God's Word prior to the institution of the Law. If the Law, which came later during the time of Moses, could bring man to inherit a right standing with God, then the fact that the promise made to Abraham four hundred thirty (430) years before the Law would mean that the promise was invalid because it came by a different means, by means of faith in God's Word. If man received from God through obedience to the Law, then the institution of faith in the time of Abraham is rendered ineffective, and the promise that came by faith is no longer valid and it cancelled. The Law would have cancelled faith in God's promise, making faith in vain.

Romans 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law Isaiah , there is no transgression.

Romans 4:15 — "Because the law worketh wrath" - Comments- That Isaiah , man"s failure to follow the Law brings the wrath of God upon the transgressor. Since no one can fulfill the commandments of the Law perfectly, except Christ, then the Law brings God's wrath upon mankind, which wrath is recorded for us in under the old covenant. Submission to the Law did not produce a promise, but rather divine wrath against those under it.

Romans 4:15 — "for where no law Isaiah , there is no transgression" - Comments - Prior to the institution of the Mosaic Law, there was no transgression of the Law. If we are not under laws, ordinances and rules, then we will not become accountable to keep them. We are to submit, however, to the Gospel of Christ Jesus during the dispensation of the Church age.

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

Romans 4:16 — "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace" - Comments- Since God's promise to Abraham preceded the Law, it had to come by faith; thus, God provided it by His grace and not because he was indebted to mankind.

Romans 4:16"to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed" - Comments- That Isaiah , "and be guaranteed to all his descendents." Because the promise to Abraham and his seed came by faith, it was available to those generations under the Law and to all others who came after the promise was made. No matter what national laws men may live under, salvation still comes only by in God's promise, which today has been revealed as faith in Jesus Christ. It is the same faith that Abraham had. He is an example of how to trust God. Those under the Law cannot enter God's kingdom by works. Those who are without the Law, who cannot transgress the Law, still must have faith in God.

Why by faith alone? So that God, by His mighty grace, can guarantee salvation to all of His descendants. Otherwise, each group of people would have their own way to salvation by works.

Romans 4:16 — "not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all" - Comments- Why is Abraham called the father of us all: because in him God found a man He could entrust His promise, and who would believe it and teach it to his children after him. To him God delivered the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. The prophecies that were given to him were also for all of the descendents of Abraham, as well as those believers in Christ today. That Isaiah , these Abrahamic prophecies were directed towards us, his children. These promises proceeded from Abraham. Thus, in Abraham rests all of the additional prophecies, for they came forth from his loins, from the children of Israel that prophesied further concerning the Messiah. It is in these prophecies that we place our faith in God. Because Abraham first walked in this principle of faith in God's promise, he became the father, or patriarch, of all who are justified by faith.


Verses 17-22

God's Promise to Abraham Described- Romans 4:17-22 tells us what God's promise was to Abraham and how he believed against hope. Romans 4:23-25 will add that this promise was to us also, because we are his seed.

Romans 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

Romans 4:17 — "(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,)" - Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament- Paul is quoting from Genesis 17:5.

Genesis 17:5, "Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."

Abraham became the father of all in the sense that he was the first man to replicate his faith into the lives of his offspring, producing a nation that God could call his children.

Romans 4:17 — "who quickeneth the dead" - Comments- God gives resurrection life to those who are dead in their sins ( Ephesians 2:1).

Ephesians 2:1, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;"

ASV, "who giveth life to the dead."

Romans 4:17"and calleth those things which be not as though they were" - Comments- The Greek text literally reads, "who calls things which do not exist as existing." In other words, God calls things into existence which do not yet existing. The best illustration of this is found in Genesis 17:5, where God changed Abram"s name to Abraham.

Genesis 17:5, "Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."

Illustrations:

1. The name "Abram" ( אַבְרָם) (H 87) means, "high father" (Strong). His new name "Abraham" ( אַבְרָהָם) (H 85) means, "father of a multitude" (Strong). Therefore, God called Abraham a father of a multitude when he had no child by his wife Sarah.

2. The Angel of the Lord declared that Gideon was a might man of valor before he ever fought in battle ( Judges 6:12).

Judges 6:12, "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour."

3. God created the heavens and the earth by His spoken Words of faith ( Isaiah 48:13).

Isaiah 48:13, "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together."

Romans 4:18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

Romans 4:18 — "according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be" - Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament- Paul is quoting here from Genesis 15:5.

Genesis 15:5, "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be."

Romans 4:18Comments - Abraham was not the first righteous person in the Old Testament; however, he was the first man that procreated his faith in God's promises to his descendents.

Romans 4:19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara"s womb:

Romans 4:19 — "when he was about an hundred years old" - Comments- Abraham was ninety-nine (99) years old when this promise was made to him.

Genesis 17:1, "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."

Romans 4:19 — "neither yet the deadness of Sara"s womb" - Comments- We see that Sarah also had faith to conceive ( Hebrews 11:11).

Hebrews 11:11, "Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised."

Romans 4:19Comments- When Romans 4:19 says that Abraham "considered not," we see him choosing to believe what God had told him rather than what his own body told him. The voice of the body is our feelings. The voice of the mind is our reason. The voice of our heart is the conscience. The will of man dwells in the soulish, or mental, realm. Thus, we see Abraham choosing by an act of his will, to listen to and obey his conscience rather than his feelings.

Romans 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

Romans 4:20Comments- Abraham did not draw back from God"s promises, but accepted them by faith.

Hebrews 10:38, "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."

God receives glory when we believe His Word, not when we are sick and defeated.

We see in Romans 4:20 the two aspects of faith and confession. Everything that we will ever receive from the Lord will come by first believing in our hearts and second, by confessing with our mouths. Abraham's faith was strong in his heart, and he gave God glory with his mouth by acknowledging God's ability to fulfill His promise.

Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Romans 4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Romans 4:22Scripture References- Note:

Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness."

Romans 4:16-22Comments- Abraham's Faith Perfected ( James 2:21-22) - Abraham had a promise from God that he would have a son by Sarai his wife. However, when we read the Scriptures in the book of Genesis where God gave Abraham this promise, we see that he did not immediately believe the promise from God ( Genesis 17:17-18).

Genesis 17:17-18, "Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!"

Instead of agreeing with God"s promise, Abraham laughed and suggested that God use Ishmael to fulfill His promise. However, many years later, by the time God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his Song of Solomon , he was fully persuaded that God was able to use Isaac to make him a father of nations. We see Abraham"s faith when he told his son Isaac that God Himself was able to provide a sacrifice, because he knew that God would raise Isaac from the dead, if need be, in order to fulfill His promise ( Genesis 22:8).

Genesis 22:8, "And Abraham said, My Song of Solomon , God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together."

Hebrews 11:17-19, "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten Song of Solomon , Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."

The best illustration of being fully persuaded is when Abraham believed that God would raise up Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His promise. This is truly being fully persuaded and this is what Romans 4:21 is referring to.

What distinguished Abraham as a man of faith was not his somewhat initial weak reaction to the promises of God in Genesis 17:17-18, but it was his daily obedience to God. Note a reference to Abraham"s daily obedience in Hebrews 11:8.

Hebrews 11:8, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."

Abraham was righteous before God because he believed and obeyed God"s Words on a daily basis. A good illustration how God considers obedience as an act of righteousness is found in Genesis 19. Abraham had prayed for ten righteous people to deliver Sodom from destruction. The angels found only four people who hearkened to their words. These people were considered righteous in God"s eyes because they were obedient and left the city as they had been told to do by the angels.

Abraham"s ability to stagger not ( Romans 4:20) and to be fully persuaded ( Romans 4:21) came through time. As he was obedient to God, his faith in God"s promise began to take hold of his heart and grow, until he came to a place of conviction that circumstances no longer moved him. Abraham had to learn to be obedient to God when he did not understand the big picture. Romans 5:3-5 teaches us that tribulation produces patience, and patience produces experience, and experience hope. Abraham had to pass through these four phases of faith in order to develop strong faith that is no longer moved by circumstances.

Let us look at Abraham"s history of obedience to God. He had first been obedient to follow his father from Ur to Haran.

Genesis 11:31, "And Terah took Abram his Song of Solomon , and Lot the son of Haran his son"s Song of Solomon , and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram"s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there."

He was further obedient when he left Haran and went to a land that he did not know.

Genesis 12:1, "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father"s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:"

He was further obedient for the next twenty-five years in this Promised Land, learning that God was his Shield and his Reward. Note:

Genesis 15:1, "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."

God called Himself Abraham"s shield and reward because Abraham had come to know Him as a God who protects him and as a God who prospers him. Note that Abraham was living in a land where people believed in many gods, where people believed that there was a god for every area of their lives. God was teaching Abraham that He was an All-sufficient God. This was why God said to Abraham in Genesis 17:1, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." In other words, God was telling Abraham to be obedient. Abraham"s role in fulfilling this third promise was to be obedient, and to live a holy life. As Abraham did this, he began to know God as an Almighty God, a God who would be with him in every situation in life. As Abraham fulfilled his role, God fulfilled His divine role in Abraham"s life.

God would later test Abraham"s faith in Genesis 22:1 to see if Abraham believed that God was Almighty.

Genesis 22:1, "And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am."

God knew Abraham"s heart, but Abraham needed to learn what was in his heart. On Mount Moriah, Abraham"s heart was fully persuaded that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His promise:

Hebrews 11:19, "Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."

Abraham had to die to his own ways of reasoning out God"s plan. He had taken Eliezer of Damascus as his heir as a result of God"s first promise. Then, he had conceived Ishmael in an attempt to fulfill God"s second promise. Now, Abraham was going to have to learn to totally depend upon God"s plan and learn to follow it.

The first promise to Abraham was made to him at the age of 75, when he first entered the Promised Land.

Genesis 12:7, "And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him."

This first promise was simple, that God would give this land to Abraham"s seed. Song of Solomon , Abraham took Eliezer of Damascus as his heir. However, the second promise was greater in magnitude and more specific.

Genesis 15:4-5, "And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

This next promise said that God would give Abraham this land to Abraham"s biological child and that his seed would proliferate and multiply as the stars of heaven. Song of Solomon , Abraham has a Song of Solomon , Ishmael, by Hagar, his handmaid in order to fulfill this promise.

The third promise, which came twenty-five years after the first promise, was greater than the first and second promises. God said that Abraham would become a father of many nations through Sarah, his wife. Abraham had seen God be his Shield and protect him from the Canaanites. He had seen God as his Reward, by increasing his wealth ( Genesis 15:1). Now, Abraham was to learn that God was Almighty ( Genesis 17:1), that with God, all things are possible.

It was on Mount Moriah that Abraham truly died to himself, and learned to live unto God. In the same way, it was at Peniel that Jacob died to his own self and learned to totally depend upon God. After Mount Moriah, Abraham stopped making foolish decisions. There is not a fault to find in Abraham after his experience of sacrificing his son. When Abraham was making wrong decisions, he had the wisdom to build an altar at every place he pitched his tent. It was at these altars that he dealt with his sins and wrong decisions.

At Peniel, God called Jacob by the name Israel. Why would God give Jacob this name? Because Jacob must now learn to totally trust in God. His thigh was limp and his physical strength was gone. The only might that he will ever know the rest of his life will be the strength that he finds in trusting God. Jacob was about to meet his brother and for the first time in his life, he was facing a situation that he could not handle in his own strength and cunning. He has been able to get himself out of every other situation in his life, but this time, it was different. He was going to have to trust God or die, and Jacob knew this. His name was now Israel, a mighty one in God. Jacob would have to now find his strength in God, because he had no strength to fight in the flesh. Thus, his name showed him that he could look to God and prevail as a mighty one both with God and with man. After this night, the Scriptures never record a foolish decision that Jacob made. He began to learn how to totally rely upon the Lord as his father Abraham had learned.

After Mount Moriah and Peniel, we read no more of foolish decisions by Abraham and Jacob. We just see men broken to God"s will and humble before God"s mercy.

Obedience is the key, and total obedience is not learned quickly. I believe that it takes decades, as we see in the life of Abraham, to learn to be obedient to a God whom we know as Almighty. This is not learned over night.

Abraham had a word from God before he left Ur. When he reached Canaan, he received a promise from God. Do not mess with a man and his promise. Pharaoh tried to mess with this man"s promise and God judged him. King Abimelech tried to take Abraham"s promise, but God judged him.

Like Abraham, we may start the journey making some poor judgments, but God is greater than our errors.

We will first know God as our shield and our reward. He will protect us throughout our ministry. He will reward us. He will prosper our ministry. As we learn to be obedient, we will come to know our God as the Almighty in a way that we have never known Him before.

Do not mess with a man who has laid Isaac on the altar. I have heard Genesis 17:17 taught as the laugh of faith.

Genesis 17:17-18, "Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!"

I see very little faith in Abraham"s words in these verses. On the other hand, I have heard other preachers criticize Abraham for his lack of faith at these times in his life; yet, I do not see God criticizing his faith. Abraham was not fully persuaded at this point, but he did not fail God. Abraham simply continued being obedient and living holy until the faith grew in his heart. Every wrong decision that Abraham made brought him that much closer to the right decision. We call this the school of hard knocks. As a result, faith continued to grow in his heart. By Genesis 22, Abraham was fully persuaded and strong in faith that God was Almighty.

Watch out, lest you criticize a man learning to walk in his promise. He may look foolish at times. Do not look on the outward appearance. You either run with him, or get out of the way, but do not get in the way.

When I left Seminary and a Master"s degree, I was given a job driving a garbage truck while learning to pastor a Charismatic church. I was learning to walk in a promise from God. I will never forget riding on the back of these garbage trucks in my hometown, while the church members who had given money to send me to Seminary watched me in disbelief.

God does not measure a man by the size of his ministry, but by the size of his heart. When Jimmy Swaggart fell into sin, Alethia Fellowship Church was one of his partners, so this church was receiving his monthly ministry tapes during this period in his ministry. In a cassette tape immediately after his fall, he gave a testimony of how he told the Lord that he had failed. The Lord replied to him that he had not failed; rather the Lord had to get some things out of his life. 165] That word from God gave him the courage to go on in the midst of failure. You see, God was more pleased with Jimmy Swaggart living a godly life in fellowship with Him than preaching in great crusades while living in sin.

165] Jimmy Swaggart, "Monthly Partner Cassette Tape," (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, February 1988), audiocassette.

Joyce Meyer said that if God measured our success by the way the world measured us, He would have called us "achievers" and not "believers". 166] Abraham was justified by faith and not by his works. Our work is to believe, not to achieve.

166] Joyce Meyer, Life in the Word (Fenton, Missouri: Joyce Meyer Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Many of my church friends and relatives criticized me as a failure. But, I knew somehow that the walk of faith was obedience to the Word of God, and not a walk of pleasing man. I obviously did not spend much time with people who thought that I was nuts. Instead, I spent so much time in my bedroom studying my Bible that I looked dysfunctional. But how the Lord strengthened me. I will never forget, after riding the garbage truck during the day, and hiding in God"s Word in the night. One night, I laid down about a.m. and the glory of God filled my room until 5:00 a.m. in the morning. It was during these most difficult times that the Lord strengthened me the most.

The Lord strengthened Abraham in the midst of his questions and errors. If you will just stay obedient, God will see His Word come to pass through you, as did Abraham learn to see God as Almighty.


Verses 23-25

Righteousness by Faith for Us Today - Because God justifies mankind by faith alone apart from the Law, then we, too, are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Romans 4:25Comments- As Christians we believe that God had His Son Jesus Christ offered on Calvary in behalf of our sins. In other words, Jesus was delivered unto death because of our offences. We as Christians believe that God raised Him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we might be justified. It is important to note that this phrase "raised again for our justification" does not refer to a single event when we are saved, but also to our daily position of justification in Christ. We must understand that our daily position of justification is maintained by Jesus, who stands at the right hand of the Heavenly Father making intercession for us on a regular basis. Otherwise, when we sin as God's children, and Satan comes to accuse the brethren of their sins before the throne of God, He would be moved to judge us. This is why we are to be quick to confess our sins, so that the Adversary has nothing to condemn us for before God.

Romans 4:23-25Comments - Our Father Abraham's Faith- The previous passage ( Romans 4:17-22) has just told us what God's promise was to Abraham and how he believed against hope. Romans 4:23-25 will add that this promise was to us also, because we are his seed. Many times we are not able to look ahead and see how our obedience will result in a blessing to others; for often our obedience requires a sacrifice. It was Christ's obedience on Calvary that brought the blessing of righteousness to mankind. It was Abraham's obedience that made him the father of many nations, thus opening the door to pass these blessings to the Gentiles.

Just as we believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, so did Abraham believe that God raises the dead, even his son as stated in Hebrews 11:19, "Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." We see Abraham's faith tested and proven on Mount Moriah when he offered Isaac as a sacrifice. This demonstration of his faith was asked by God and then written in the Scriptures not only for Abraham, but to give us an example of what true faith in God means. In this way God is able to justify us just as He justified Abraham, because we have the same faith as he demonstrated. Thus, within the context of this passage in Romans 4:1-25 emphasizing how righteousness was imputed under the Old Covenant we now understand the phrase in Romans 4:17, "before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead…" as a reference to Abraham's faith that God would indeed raise Isaac his son from the dead after the sacrifice in order to fulfill the divine promises given to him. In summary, to have faith in God means that we must believe in God's eternal power and godhead ( Romans 1:19-20). We believe in the resurrection of Abraham's distant Song of Solomon , Jesus Christ, just as Abraham believed that God would raise his immediate son Isaac from the dead.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Romans 4:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/romans-4.html. 2013.

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