Pauls Footsteps #277

Romans 4:6-8 NLT David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it:

“Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sins are put out of sight.
Yes, what joy for those
    whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”

Paul’s case has been proven. Circumcision is not the reason that God counted Abraham righteous. He had been justified by faith alone rather than faith + circumcision. In v11 he says that circumcision was the sign of his justification, not the cause of it. In fact, however legalistic many in ancient Israel became, the Jewish religion was always a religion of Grace. The psalms are permeated with grace.  

Paul’s gospel is radical. It not only cuts across the way the Jews thought but also across the way we think. Certainly, there must be something we need to do before we can be justified. But Paul’s answer is clear. Our only requirement is to come to God in faith, accepting the cleansing He made possible through Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. It’s not faith plus works but a faith that works. We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone. 

The issue Paul is dealing with here is much more than just theology. It gets to the heart and soul of salvation and our relationship to God. If we believe that we must earn acceptance – that we must reach a certain standard of holiness before being justified and forgiven – then how natural to turn inward and look to oneself and our works. Religion can become exceedingly self-centred. As Luther said, “when I look to myself I wonder how I could ever be saved, but when I look to Christ I wonder how I could ever be lost.” The doctrine of Justification by faith without the works of the law liberates us from the treadmill of works – wondering if we are measuring up or not. When we grasp the great news that justification is a gift from God, totally unmerited and undeserved, how much easier and more natural is it for that person to turn their focus on God’s love and mercy instead of on self?  In the end, who is more likely to reflect the love and character of God – the one self-absorbed or the one God-absorbed. 

1 Comment
  • Ann-Marie Skinner
    Posted at 08:21h, 03 October Reply

    Brilliant and refreshing!!

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