Home Bible Study- Lutz, Florida
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
- Romans by the Book
Just to refresh our memories and so we can get off to a proper start our last lesson ended at Romans chapter 4, verse 3. This was where Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, reminded his Jewish objectors of a Bible Truth:
3: For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT (his trust in God to do all He had promised) WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
As I’ve said before “For what does the Scripture say” is one of my favorite quotes from Scripture and I use it often. The Apostle Paul borrows this Bible verse too for a reason, as we shall soon see.
For Such a Time as This
By Wayne Watson
I was placed upon the earth
To hear the voice of God
And to do His will, whatever it is
For such a time as this
For now and all the days He gives
I am here, I am here and I am His
For such a time as this
All of Romans chapter 4 is about Abraham and his Justification by faith (alone) apart from works. The evidence of this event is clearly written in Scripture.
Of course Abraham had no idea that his example of stepping out in faith would be so critical to the Apostle Paul’s Doctrine of Justification by Faith.
But man is limited in his abilities are we not.
We can’t see beyond the present moment. However, the Creator God sees the entire picture from beginning to end. Furthermore, everything God made has a purpose.
4a: The LORD has made everything for its own purpose.
Sometimes God’s purpose is revealed in short order. In other times, year’s even centuries pass by before God’s purpose is “manifested” = show something clearly – to make something evident by showing or demonstrating it very clearly.
When the LORD God (Jehovah) chose Abram to be the father of a great nation (Genesis 12; 15) God saw a special quality in him that no other man on earth possessed at that time in history; long before Abraham was.
How do we know this Truth. It’s in your Bible.
You just have to spend some time looking these things up.
Long before the creation event the Holy Trinity met in counsel and “predetermined” the plans for the entire human race from start to finish (see Acts 2:22-23).
In addition to that we Have Jesus’ own word, please turn to the book of John.
56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it (through the eyes of faith) and was glad.”
57: So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”
58: Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
I chose these verses to teach you that Jesus has always existed.
He didn’t just appear on the scene in that tiny manger in Bethlehem.
Jesus is the Creator God. He is Jehovah in the O.T. and the Messiah in the N.T.
Let’s get back to Abraham. When the Creator God chose him, no one knew or believed in the one true God. We should review our Biblical Timeline:
- The Tower of Babel was approximately 2175 BC
- The Calling of Abraham was approximately 2000 BC
- The Mosaic Law was given to Moses approximately 1500 BC
Only 25 years separates the Tower of Babel experience from the calling of Abram.
If you’ll recall from our Genesis study, the Tower of Babel is the beginning of all false pagan worship. Every false religion on this planet tonight, I don’t care what it is or where it is, every one of them have their roots back at the Tower of Babel.
From the midst of all that paganism and idolatry God chose one man to be the father of a great nation. But this paganism existed even in Abram’s own home, that’s why God told Abram to leave his country, his relative’s, and his father’s house. God wanted him separated from all that evil influence! Of course, we know from Scripture he didn’t do this. But that’s for another Bible lesson.
Why am I mentioning all of this? It ties right in with Romans 4:3.
You see, one of Paul’s main concerns, at this time, was to answer Jewish objections to the Doctrine of Justification by faith (alone).
Paul decided the best way to approach this was to introduce the Biblical example of Father Abraham into his discussion. This was a wise decision.
His Jewish brethren could easily relate to him and he was the man that the LORD God had personally chosen to start the line of Israel.
All of Israel would agree that Abraham was “justified” and he was declared “righteous” by the LORD God; the only question was when.
Paul knew the Scriptures, as any God fearing Jew must, therefore, the Jews would agree that whatever was true of Abraham must also be true of them.
Therefore, Paul reaches back into Jewish history, to the very beginning actually, to bring forward the case of the founder of the Jewish nation. If he could show these gentlemen that Abraham was justified by faith apart from works of the Law, then Paul’s teaching could not be declared false.
For Such a Time as This
So, what does the Scripture say?
3b: “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT (this act of faith) WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Do you understand Paul’s strategy?
He’s using the Word of God to prove his case.
Let’s review Scripture.
4: Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
5: But to the one who does not work, but (does what) believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
6: just as David (Paul is referring to King David) also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7: “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.
8: “BLESSED (or happy) IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”
9: Is this blessing then on the circumcised (the Jews), or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
10: How then was it (his faith) 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.
Let’s examine these verses closely.
Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
A Jewish objector may well ask Paul this question, “What difference does it make?
“So what if Abraham was saved by faith what does that mean for me?”
Paul explains, “When you go to work, you labor to earn a paycheck. It isn’t a gift.
Your paycheck is payment for the “work” you performed.”
That’s not so hard to figure out. A paycheck is certainly not a gift. You earned it.
If salvation is by works, then God owes you eternal life in heaven.
But I would ask, “How many good works must a person perform in his or her life?
Is there a point system, and what sort of good deeds count; what doesn’t count?
I’ve been around awhile and I’ve never seen any information about this posted in any church building. I’ve never seen it in any book or pamphlet or a description of the type of good deeds you must do or how often. I’ve read the Bible; there’ absolutely no information concerning this works based theology.
We’ve already learned from chapter three that salvation by works is unacceptable to God. (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Ephesians 2:8-9).
But to the one who does not work, but (does what) believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
We’re only in chapter 4 of Romans but you should know by now that God will not accept salvation by works of any kind.
But any sinner who approaches God with a humble heart and in faith, still filthy and unclean, true; not only will He save you but He will begin a process that cleans you up inside and out. But salvation always comes first.
…just as David (Paul is referring to King 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, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.
“BLESSED (or happy) IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”
Paul introduces another Old Testament inspirational force in these verses.
He quotes the words of King David in Psalm 32. Here’s another thing to consider. Abraham lived before the Law. King David lived under the Law. If these two men both agree on “justification” by faith, then Paul’s case is airtight.
In case you’re not familiar with Psalm 32, it’s part of David’s confession to God after his sin with Bathsheba. You may know the account (see 2 Samuel 11).
King David confessed his sins to God, and God forgave him. Of course there were consequences because of King David’s sins, but the relationship between God and David was restored. This brought David to write, “Blessed (happy) are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Is this blessing then on the circumcised (the Jews), or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
We’re going to stay focused on the Jews or the “circumcised” in this part of the lesson.
We look at this verse today and say circumcision – no biggie.
It’s just a medical procedure right?
But in Abraham’s day and in the Apostle Paul’s day it meant a great deal.
It was a sacred ceremony (an everlasting covenant) ordained by the LORD God between Him and the Jewish males (see Genesis 17).
The covenant of circumcision was a sign that marked a Jewish male for life and revealed his relationship to the one true God. The Jews could not conceive of an uncircumcised person being acceptable to God!
If a gentile wanted to convert to Judaism there were three things he must do:
Be baptized, offer a sacrifice, and be circumcised.
Circumcision was more than just a ceremony to a Jew; it was the very moment where the individual entered into a true relationship with God.
Now in the second half of this verse we come to the reason for Paul’s debate.
His entire case of justification by faith hangs in the balance.
For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Paul had already established that Abraham was saved by FAITH.
This point his objectors could not deny. The Scriptures said so.
But you see it’s a matter of timing.
Was Abraham declared righteous before or after he was “circumcised?”
Paul is basing his entire case of Justification by faith on the answer to this question…
When did the LORD God declare Abraham “righteous?”
Paul said Abraham was credited with righteousness BEFORE being circumcised.
10: How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.
Paul bases his argument on Bible chronology or when certain things happened to Abraham in his life.
It’s time to go to work Bible students.
How old was Abram when the LORD God called out to Abram?
(The timeline is in this lesson.)
How old was Abram when the LORD God promised Abram a son?
How old was Abram when the LORD God changed Abram’s and Sari’s name to Abraham and Sarah?
At what age was Abraham circumcised?
When you have answered these questions, you have answered Paul’s question as to when the LORD God declared Abraham “righteous” before or after his circumcision.
I’ll have the answer at the beginning of the next lesson.
(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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