- Why Know Jesus?
- Rightly Dividing the Word of God
- Doctrinal Declarations of Faith
- The Providence Of God
- Fall Iinto Sin and the Corrupt State of Man
- God’s Eternal Decrees
- The Trinity
- Of Apostolic Faith
- The Attributes Of God
- Christ Jesus
- Mans Will and Free Will
- Election and Predestination
- True Faith Justification and Repentance
- Adoption and Sanctification
- The Perseverance of the Saints
- Assurance of Salvation and Good Works
- Doctrinal Studies
- The History of the Pentecostal Movement
- Errant Pentecostal Doctrines And False Apostles And Prophets Introduction
- Periods And Confirmations Of God’s Revelation
- The Foundation Of The Church
- The Baptism With The Holy Spirit and The Filling of The Holy Spirit According to Scripture
- Signs Wonders Healing And Miracles For Who And By Who?
- The Apostles The Difference Between True And False
- Real and False Prophets
- The Prophets Of The New Testament
- Personal Conclusions
- CAN A CHRISTIAN BEAR ARMS AND DEFEND HIMSELF AND OTHERS
- (Italiano) E’ BIBLICO PER UN CRISTIANO USARE LEGITTIMA DIFESA PER SE E PER ALTRI?
- The Sanctity of Life and Value of Human Life
- The Importance of the Family to God
- Roles In The Family As In The Church
- The Role of Man and the Responsibilities of a Husband
- The Role of the Woman and the Responsibilities of the Wife
- Responsibilities of Father and Mother to Teach Train and Discipline their Children
- The Responsibilities of The Children in the Family
- The Letter of Paul to the Romans Introduction
- Romans Chapter One
- Romans Chapter Two
- Romans Chapter Three
- Romans Chapter Four
- Romans Chapter Five
- Romans Chapter Six
- Romans Chapter Seven
- Romans Chapter Eight
- Romans Chapter Nine
- Romans Chapter Ten
- Romans Chapter Eleven
- Romans Chapter 12 Verses 1-2
- Romans Chapter 12 Verses 3-11
- Romans Chapter 12 Verses 12 to 20
- (Italiano) Introduzione Alla Lettera di Paolo Ai Romani
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Uno
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Due
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Tre
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Quattro
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Cinque
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Sei
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Sette
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Otto
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Nove
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo Dieci
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo 11
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo 12 Versetti 1-3
- (Italiano) Romani Capitolo 12 Versetti 4-11
- (Italiano) Romani 12:12 a 20
- Mission Ministry
Welcome to our website. Peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be your abundance and God bless you greatly. We wish to introduce.Read More
Romans Chapter Four
Fourth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans
Introduction to Romans Chapter IV
Paul spent almost two entire chapters explaining the sinful nature and desperate condition of mankind, the need for the Gospel, in other words what God did through Jesus Christ to redeem mankind from the slavery of sin and death. Paul explained to the readers that righteousness and justification are through faith in Christ and not at all by any attempt to work out God’s law, that God’s law is in essence a tool provided by God in order to demonstrate man’s sinfulness and actual inability to obey the very law through which man tries to obtain righteousness and justification.
It is the tutor, the teacher, that leads or at least should lead man to obtain righteousness and justification by faith only, faith in Christ and His virtues and merits.
That faith in Christ establishes the righteousness of the law in the life of the believer since Jesus Christ is the fulfillment and the embodiment of God’s law and He is the believers’ righteousness.
Paul now continues his doctrinal ascent by taking a whole chapter to explain what true faith really is, the substance of true faith in respect to the Jewish point of view and the rest of the world, and the nature of justification by faith in God’s word and promises, these being for all, where all this comes from.
Paul uses Abraham as the example of true justification and righteousness by faith in God. Abraham the father of the faithful, Jewish faithful and Gentile faithful.
In this chapter we will examine again, and in more depth, what true faith really is, what false faith is. This is such an essential thing to understand. We cannot go on in any Bible study, in Christian life and activities especially, when looking at the nature of evangelism, without being able to truly understand what true faith is by God’s standards.
How is one truly righteous and justified? Sola Fide the reformists taught, Only Faith. The blessings and benefits of the Gospel are valid only for those who have exercised true saving faith. They are the elect and righteous in Christ, in Him they are justified before God.
Romans Chapter IV
Romans Chapter IV Verses From I to IV
1 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
I believe the proper interpretation of the first verse of this chapter is found when we actually look at this passage from the vantage point of it being addressed to a predominantly Jewish audience. We know that the church in Rome especially was made up originally by mostly Jewish converts. See also “Introduction to the Book of Romans.”
We did see that the greater part of the Roman church was made up at first of Jewish converts that believed in Yeshua during that great Feast of Pentecost through Peter’s first Evangelistic message when many Jewish men, and no doubt women, came to faith in Christ.
Many of them no doubt came from Rome or later traveled and relocated in Rome [Acts 2:5-12], such as Aquila and Priscilla for example [Romans 16:3-5].
We notice, in fact, that as we go on in chapter IV that indeed the chapter relates a lot to giving explanations to the circumcised.
So that now understanding this background we can safely be almost certain that when Paul in this first verse asks the question, “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh?” He is asking what advantage did Abraham find in regard to justification according to the flesh, in other words, according to circumcision?
Often the act of circumcision in Scripture is described by the words flesh, in the flesh, according to the flesh etc. In addition the Jew because of this circumcision when described in Scripture is said to be according to the flesh, still it has indication to the act of circumcision. [Romans 2:28], [Romans 9:3-5],[2 Corinthians 5:16],[Galatians 3:3],[Ephesians 2:11],[Philippians 3:3-4].
This is because circumcision is after all a sign, a symbol of God’s covenant with Abraham done in the flesh of the Jewish men [Genesis 17:7-14].
Let’s not get mixed up with the other term describing the works of the flesh as the sinfulness of man, the law of sin in his members, in the body, the human sinfulness. This is all together a whole different subject and context.
Paul is not obviously asking what did Abraham find according to the sinful nature or sin, rather what advantage did he find according to the circumcision? In other words, was the circumcision what made him right with God? Was that it? Is that how he was justified and made righteous before God?
The Jewish person would certainly understand exactly what Paul was asking. After all, all that one has to do is follow Paul’s exposition of the previous chapters and the context would tell you that is exactly to what Paul was referring this question.
Paul asked and then answered himself in verse 2.
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
Paul is answering with a resounding NO! It was not the circumcision, he found nothing according to that. Paul goes on explaining that Abraham was not justified by any work, any sign or symbol in his flesh, otherwise he would have something to brag about.
Sure, if righteousness came from the outward working of the law even the symbol of circumcision in the flesh, then Abraham or any person for that matter could brag about being right with God. The main point for Paul was that the Jew, circumcised in the flesh and seeking to be made righteous by the outward working of the law of God, had absolutely no advantage before God. Nothing at all to brag about. However, no man Jew or not has anything at all he or she can bring or show for before God, of which they could brag about – nothing.
Paul then specifies, not before God, you don’t have anything to boast about. He even stated this in the previous chapter remember?
Romans 3:27-29 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
In Chapter 2 he said it this way, remember?
Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
Before God we can bring nothing at all to boast about that is our doing, only what Christ did, we can only boast in that, and Paul made that clear so that we would understand this point. He also declared this very point in
1 Corinthians 1:29-31so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
God wants to make this point very clear and He has made it very clear. Those who have an ear hear what God is saying, because the word of God is more than clear on this subject.
Look at this passage above, Paul is saying that we are in Christ Jesus because of God’s doing alone, because of His grace, because He predestined us to be in Christ before the foundation world, He chose us, He provided the way and caused us to find it and to walk in it.
So that because of that fact Jesus alone has become our righteousness, our holiness, our redemption. Even for our sanctification we cannot brag about what we do. Remember that sanctification is an integral and inseparable part of salvation, how are we saved? By grace through faith and not of ourselves it is the gift of God, even our sanctification [Philippians 2:13].
In fact, Paul so describes this above, our righteousness and holiness is our position before God and the process of sanctification is done by the Spirit of God in us as we yield in obedience and faith to the word of God. Our redemption is what signifies our spiritual status of salvation out of sin and death. So that ALL our salvation is of God, including sanctification, so we have nothing to brag about, right?
Even John the Baptist put this in the words that God gave him and said the same thing.
Matthew 3:7-10 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
See to those who made circumcision and the law their source of righteousness, as well as those who today have religious works as a source of righteousness, God had and has a very specific word given through John. These things avail to nothing, they are not the fruit God is looking for.
The Pharisees and Sadducees were those people who made the practice of the law their boast and confidence and righteousness [Philippians 3:3-11],[Matthew 5:20]. For those who think like this, God says instead to produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
True repentance produces certain other fruits, but repentance itself is a fruit of something else, it is a fruit of TRUE FAITH!
In fact, John as well as Jesus, as well as Paul, warns that the Jews could not boast in being descendants of Abraham and this included circumcision even though it was the sign of the covenant God made with Abraham.
This comes back in the context that we are studying now in Romans, does it not? So John goes on saying what Jesus told the Jews in [John 8:39-47]. Those who truly are the children of Abraham are those who believe God and His word, the word that was made flesh His Son Jesus Christ [Hebrews 1:1-2], that’s the whole point in the end.
In fact, God has literally raised children for Abraham out of stones, has He not? The stony hearts of human beings, both Jewish and Gentile.
Literal stones, dead stones, who God has made alive in Christ and through faith not only made children of Abraham but children of God, praise be to His holy name! [Galatians 3:6-18].
You see, every tree that does not produce the fruit of FAITH is cut down and thrown into the fire of hell.
Without true faith in Christ it is impossible to please God, impossible to be righteous, impossible to be justified, impossible to be saved.
So Paul is agreeing with the rest of Scripture, Abraham as well as no other person has absolutely nothing to brag about before God, no religious works, no law, no circumcision – nothing!
Jesus asked “ For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” The right answer is, absolutely nothing! We have seen it in the previous chapters, have we not? What can man offer to God to obtain His favor or to be considered meritorious of salvation? Absolutely nothing!
I love how Paul starts [Romans 4:3]. He is saying by implication, “ Hey you do not believe me? What does Scripture say about this?”
This is one of the reasons for having Bible studies by the way. The Christian world is already way to full of man’s opinions. That is what gets the church so lukewarm today, false and erroneous doctrine.
Everybody wants to have an opinion. But the word of God is not man’s opinion, it’s God’s revelation to us, it’s God’s opinion and that is what counts, that is what we must get to know and believe, that’s in what we have to exercise faith by the way, the truth of God’s word. Having faith in erroneous doctrine leads to all kinds of troubles and problems and, in reality, it leads to lack of faith.
So Paul is saying what I also love to say so often, what does the Scripture say about this?
Not what I have to say, but what does the word of God say, is what I am teaching what the word of God teaches? That is why I like and I think it necessary, in fact essential that when I prepare a Bible study I use a lot of cross references of Scripture regarding the context and subject I am trying to expose. I am not interested that you believe my opinion, my words, rather that you see that what I am teaching is indeed what the word of God teaches. I pray this would be truly the motive and intention of all who study and teach God’s word finding out what Scripture really says. I am interested to know what God is truly saying and not merely the twisting and turning of God’s word in mere opinions of man, out of context passages and philosophies of man.
So what does Scripture say? Oh, and by the way, Paul is now making reference to the OT Scripture, also called law of God. So what does the law, that the Jews so wanted to keep to obtain righteousness, say?
Paul quotes then Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Interesting, the time in which Abraham is made righteous. We will see that Paul will bring this up later in Romans IV . In fact, we will leave the commenting for when we get there. Just reflect as to when Abraham was declared righteous.
Let’s focus instead our attention to the words that are used in this Scripture, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
What was accounted to him for righteousness? His belief in what God said. What is this also called? FAITH!
God imputed to Abraham, yes put in Abraham’s account, righteousness as a result of faith. Abraham’s righteousness was by faith, having believed what God told him. No different as to how we obtain righteousness today.
We believe what the word of God says in regard to Jesus Christ His Son, who Jesus is, that He is Lord and God, the only savior and what He did and through this belief given to us by God Himself we are made righteous in and through Christ.
This has always been the pattern to become righteous, not works of the law, religion or any other thing but faith.
In our exposition of chapter III we did begin to talk about true faith. I believe that this is such an essential thing to get right and to understand that we need to qualify what believing God, in other words exercising true faith, really means. There are too many misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding faith.
The very first thing we must arrive at to understand regarding faith is that there are two types of faith that the Bible describes for us.
TRUE FAITH and FALSE FAITH, the Bible shows clearly that there are TRUE believers and FALSE believers. There is the Genuine and the Counterfeit.
There is no such thing as the true that later becomes false or falls from grace. In fact, all this is tied to whether or not TRUE FAITH has been exercised.
Let’s look again at the difference between TRUE FAITH and FALSE FAITH.
We will need to take an extensive time now to study faith, since this is a great part of the context of this chapter, so let’s dive into this teaching that is, as I repeat, FUNDAMENTAL and ESSENTIAL to know, and know it well.
What is TRUE FAITH?
As I said before, I think there is great confusion in the Christian Evangelical world as to the true and biblical meaning of faith, the faith God wants us to exercise.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Pretty clear, no? Faith is to have the the assurance of what we place our hopes in, the certainty, without doubts that what we hope for is true and it will come to pass even if we do not yet see it manifested before us immediately by sight.
Faith is the real and true belief of the things we do not physically, naturally see with our eyes.
In what do we have certainty? In what or who do we place our hope and confidence?
We have certainty and hope in things that apparently and temporarily we cannot see with our physical eyes. This certainty, this hope is in what is demonstrated to us by the invisible and it is always and only based upon God’s character and His word and promises .
Two examples of this:
The first: Our certainty and hope are answered completely in what God promises.
The word of God and His promises are not really things we cannot see or read with our physical eyes, we can see them written on the pages of Scripture. It is obvious that we read God’s word, we can see that, we can read and hopefully understand what God is telling us.
In fact, not having a good understanding of what God says causes a lack of faith, or if we want to a defective faith, because we would believe in a misunderstood or not even understood word of God. So that it is not the word of God that is defective but our understanding of it is. Again this causes either a weak faith or even lack of faith.
Now there are several things that can block our understanding of what God says and promises.
One main thing is sin. Sin blocks our capability to understand God’s word. Pride which is sin by the way, the worse kind, will really block us from exercising faith because it will not enable us to correctly understand God’s word.
Another thing that blocks us from exercising faith, or having weak faith or lacking it, is false and erroneous teaching and misconceptions of God’s word.
The third thing, is actually applicable to unbelievers only, is spiritual deadness, being spiritually dead. The natural man cannot understand spiritual things [1 Corinthians 2:14],[Romans 3:11] because they are spiritually discerned and this can occur only in a person who already has the Spirit of God and therefore is spiritually alive.
Such is not possible in an unsaved person. Ergo, since the Gospel is the word of God preached regarding God’s provision for salvation, how can a spiritually dead man or woman understand and believe in the Gospel? What is the right answer? He or she cannot! So how can they understand it? They have to be made alive to exercise faith, right? There can be no other explanation or answer.
Anyway, in our hearts we arrive to have the certainty that what is written and what God promises will come to pass even if we do not see the immediate result, even if we must wait a time before God fulfills them in our life, yet in those things we hope and believe.
Faith, however, has to be based solely on what God says in His word and what He promises. Faith, real faith is not what is based upon our own desires, wishful thinking or some kind of weird and unfounded revelation apart form the truth of God’s written word.
We are not to put our faith in those things, rather only in what is sure that God said in His written word.
In fact, God’s word declares true faith comes by hearing the word of God properly preached, taught, studied and meditated on [Romans 10:17], [Psalms 1:1-6].
The second example: The Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not visible persons in the results of what we hope for, in what we pray for, yet we believe in them as if we see them.
We cannot see the Father, we cannot see Jesus, we cannot see the Holy Spirit, we do not see our salvation fulfilled in this moment, we do not see heaven, we do not see the answers to our prayers until they are actually answered.
In other words, we cannot touch or see certain things or persons physically at least not right away, in other words in the moment we exercise faith.
Faith, however, is having the certainty that all of these things in which we hope and do not see will, however, be seen and will be demonstrated to be a physical reality when they will actually become visible.
Another practical example is this, we do not see Jesus in person. Yet when we place our faith in Him for our salvation we have the certainty of what we hope for. Later it becomes gradually visible for us. Deliverance, sanctification, healing, answered prayers and God’s promise fulfilled in our life are all demonstrations of the things that for a time were invisible but then became visible realities because we had the certainty of that which we hoped for.
We can then see God with the eyes of faith in the fulfillment of our faith, but the end of faith is then demonstrated in the visual actualization of all the things we only see through the eyes of faith. This concept is very well explained to us by Peter in:
1 Peter 1:3-9 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Let’s look at some important truths that are revealed in this passage regarding true faith. Our living hope is in what? The resurrection of Jesus, first act of faith described here, which by the way is chronologically situated after that God in His great mercy gave us new birth.
It is evident that the new birth then chronologically precedes faith verse 3, which is described as the living hope we have in the fact that Jesus is alive.
Also, look at this. In verse 4 we have an inheritance reserved in heaven that cannot be spoiled by anything, cannot fade, kept in heaven for us.
Where is it? In Christ as we are in Christ, who can separate us from the love of Christ? No one and nothing at all, read [Romans 8:28-39].
Now verse 5, very important, through that faith, faith in Christ which we receive by the new birth, through that true faith generated by God through the new birth, we are shielded by God’s power until the coming of our salvation, the completion of our salvation, when Christ returns for us, to claim us.
Very important issue because this is the assurance and perseverance of our salvation, we have it to the end because we are shielded, protected, kept by the power of God through that faith that does not at all fail because it is also kept for us by God’s power.
Compare for example this concept with
Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Romans 8:33-35 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
If Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us assuring that our faith will not fail as He did with Peter, who can separate us, in other words, how can our faith fail if it is a supernatural faith? Kept by God’s power through that supernaturally charged faith? It cannot!
See also Hebrews 7:25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
This is exactly what Peter is saying by the way.
If our faith failed we could then say that God failed. Is that possible? No! It is not possible. God never fails! We could fail right? Amen, we certainly do fail, time and time again, so if it were dependent upon us, then I would agree, we could lose our faith and our salvation. Thank God it does not depend only on us.
Nevertheless, even if many times our faith may waver, as Peter’s did, Jesus is ever living to make continuous intercession for us as well as He did it for Peter, He will do it for us. As we read, please notice the words, HE IS ABLE TO SAVE COMPLETELY THOSE WHO COME TO GOD THROUGH HIM, BECAUSE HE EVER LIVES TO INTERCEDE FOR THEM.
This does not sound at all that our faith can fail permanently, does it? How can people insist on saying that the true born-again elect to believe can lose his or her faith and salvation?
That is saying that God is not able to make good on what He promised, and even worse, He could actually be overpowered by us humans or by Satan, we would then be more powerful than Him? Impossible since God only is omnipotent.
If we are kept by the power of an omnipotent God, and we are, who can overcome that power? Our free will? I do not think so! Could we have the ability do undo something God has done, such as what Christ did? I do not think so and Scripture confirms it, our faith if real WILL last to the end. That’s perseverance my friends, it comes from God in us.
In fact, Peter’s incident of failure was one incident prior to Jesus’ ascension, now He is always interceding for us and keeping us in His intercession.
Let me ask you a question, can Jesus’ prayers fail? I think you know the answer, no! They cannot fail! So then how will we? We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Look now at verse 7 of 1 Peter 1, our faith that is preserved by God’s power is MORE precious than gold that perishes, interesting the comparison Peter makes.
He is saying “Look gold is perishable, your faith however although proven by the fire of trials will be confirmed genuine, it will not fail, it will not perish”.
Our faith is like our inheritance, imperishable, it has to be, otherwise even our inheritance would be perishable.
That my friends is perseverance and assurance, fruits of true faith, supernatural faith.
Faith obtained by new birth results genuine and imperishable, for such is God and so is anything that proceeds from Him, it is imperishable [1 John 5:1-13].
Look, Peter continues in verse 8 as he says in other words the same exact thing that Hebrews 11:1 says,
1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
This is the description of our faith. Genuine faith generates a hope that is certain of things unseen so that what we hoped for without seeing becomes later a visible reality. However, we have this certainty before it becomes visible, until the invisible becomes visible, in other words when our faith becomes sight.
But here, I wanted to come to this point, is why we needed to look at this particular passage. If there is genuine faith then there has to be false faith as well.
Human belief that generates from the human nature and human desires is not divinely supernatural and therefore is not genuine faith. It does not last forever, it spoils and it fades, it will be proven false. This kind of belief that is unbelief in reality, will certainly fail when tested.
TRUE FAITH, which is believing and confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior, produces true fruit. I listed five, let’s take a look at them.
1) The first fruit of true faith is obedience to the Gospel call, repenting of our sins, Repentance, confession of sins and change of behavior and thinking, hatred of sin and evil, in other words righteous living, also called Sanctification [Luke 19:8-10];[1 Corinthians 6:9-11];[Titus 2:11-14];[Ephesians 4:21-24];[Proverbs 8:13];[Psalms 119:104],[Romans 12:9];[2 Timothy 2:19];[1 John 2:29];[1 John 3:1-3].
2) The second fruit of true faith is self-denial [Matthew 10:38],[Matthew 16:24-26].
3) The third fruit of true faith is love for God, God’s word and the church, which also translates in obedience to His word [John 14:21-24]; [1 John 2:3-6];[1 John 3:4-10];[1 John 3:21-24];[1 John 4:7-12];[1 John 4:20-21].
4) The fourth fruit of true faith is overcoming the world, overcoming faith in trials in all assurance and perseverance [1 John 4:13-16]; [1 John 5:4-5]; [1 John 5:11-21];[Romans 5:1-5];[2 Thessalonians 1:4];[James 1:2-4];[1 Peter 1:6-7].
5) The fifth fruit of true faith is the true understanding of God’s word [1 Corinthians 2:10-16];[1 John 2:20-27];[1 John 5:20]
By the way, the Epistle of 1 John is the litmus test of true faith, to distinguish between true and false faith, true and false believers.
As part of this study I challenge you to read it entirely.
All this is translated in the confirmed demonstration that we have been transformed, yes, it’s a process but it’s an evident and present process in our life, it’s the evidence and confirmation of having received a divine nature – that’s what it means to be born again [2 Peter 1:3-11].
For you see this supernatural faith in Christ is the only thing that pleases God.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
So then there are two elements of which faith that pleases God is made up.
The first thing that has satisfied God and pleased Him completely however was His Son Jesus Christ. He satisfied fully God the Father, His obedience which is really faith in action and His sacrifice have completely pleased God.
It is therefore the faith we exercise in Christ that is necessary for God to be pleased with us, obviously faith must be placed in Christ as He is the only one who fully pleased God.
Based on Hebrews 11:6, however, it seems there is a problem regarding what we have studied so far in Romans 3.
Hebrews 11:6 states that to come to Him in faith one must:
1) Believe that He exists
2) Believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Ouch! The problem we have until now constantly seen in our study of Romans is the very fact that no one, although having revelation of Him and of His existence, no one wants to believe in Him [Romans 1:18-32] and for this very reason man is lacking the very first prerequisite of Hebrews 11:6.
The second devastating problem is that in [Romans 3:11] the word of God states that “There is no one who seeks after God.”
This fact renders mankind universally unable on their own to earnestly seek God, this renders man lacking the second prerequisite of [Hebrews 11:6].
So there are two humanly insurmountable problems here, because if it is only through faith (in Christ by the way) that we can please God knowing that He is and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him, but the Scripture confirms that universally no one wants to believe that He is and that no one seeks after Him, this is a real dilemma. So this dilemma brings us to ask the next question
Is man naturally equipped with TRUE FAITH?
The right biblical answer is NO! Although man has the revelation of God’s existence within himself and has it also in nature, he does not naturally or automatically believe that He is God.
On the contrary, [Romans 1:18-32] already showed us instead that mankind rejects God and throws himself into idolatry which includes religion, even religion that is based upon the knowledge of the one and only living God Romans 2.
Romans until now has taught us that no one has the ability within themselves to seek after God or to believe in Him as He desires because man is incurably and completely corrupted and for this reason spiritually dead [Romans 3:10-20]. No one exhibits righteousness of any kind.
So that the answer to which we already have arrived is NO! Man does not naturally have within himself faith, biblical faith. This reality brings us to the next thing regarding faith. If man who is completely corrupted was able to naturally have and exercise true faith within himself, this would have to be therefore considered a human work of righteousness of which man would be capable of producing, in fact, it would be a human work that God would then be forced to accept.
This would be a huge problem, however, because it would mean, whether we want to admit it or not, that God has to respond to what man produces that even being faith, and therefore, that man is sovereign over God’s choices and decisions and that man would then have something to boast about.
This fact would then force God to justify a work done by any man, even faith, who, by his own “free will”, decides somehow to activate his or her faith.
In reality it is not like that at all. I do not agree with those who use the word illustration saying that God will ask a person “why should I let you into my heaven” and that the answer determines whether or not they will enter.
No, the answer is already settled during one’s life and God will not have to ask us why He should let us in heaven, for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord [2 Corinthians 5:6-7]. If true faith in Jesus, which is given by God Himself, has been exercised you will be known by God and no reason will be asked of why you should enter heaven.
If true faith in Jesus has not been exercised then the question warrants no asking, God already knows, there will be no attempt of a damned person to try and gain access in heaven.
God knows His own children [2 Timothy 2:19], He knows His own sheep [John 10:14-15], we were foreknown before the foundation of the world [Ephesians 1:4-6], we cannot boast then at all not even in “our” faith, for ours it is, but it is given to us by God’s grace, how can we boast then in something that was given to us without us deserving it? Once again faith, God given faith, is part of God’s grace to us, it is not a human work and this is confirmed by Jesus Himself in regard to this subject after both of Peter’s confessions of faith.
Matthew 16:15-17 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
John 6:67-70 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!”
Therefore, this proves that God would not even accept faith as an opportunity to boast about. Nothing to boast about before God, not even our faith, as it is God’s gift to us, it proceeds from Him and is given to us. What can we have to boast about then? Only God’s grace in and through Jesus Christ. We just have to thank God for this, that is all we can do.
But we have seen instead that man is unable to produce faith and is unable to choose God without God that enables him or her to do so [John 6:44-45], [John 6:63-66], so that even this faith is a gift generated by God’s grace, it is part of God’s grace [Ephesians 2:8-10].
This then can happen only if a man or a woman are regenerated by God. God’s word tells us that salvation comes from hearing the word of God [Romans 10:17] the real Gospel preached properly [1 Corinthians 1:21] and it’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit [John 16:10] through the word of God and His regenerating work that applies faith and salvation to man [Titus 3:4-7], otherwise man by his sinful and corrupt nature would naturally and always reject God and His salvation and cannot operate faith, real faith.
How is TRUE FAITH obtainable and how does one operate the FAITH that God requires?
So now the thing is this, some say that God has placed in every man a “measure of faith” and that man has the ability within him, let say in his “free will” to either exercise this faith or not. In other words, it is man who has the ability to either believe or to remain in unbelief.
I firmly believe that the Bible categorically denies this theory. Up until now we have seen that man is spiritually dead and that he or she cannot exercise any spiritual element that can make them close to God never mind believe in God or in Christ. Man is incapable of believing by himself.
I do not want to go back now to all the Scriptures we already have studied.
We just need to read John 6 in its entirety to understand that no one by himself can believe unless it is granted to them by God.
Jesus is more than clear in His exposition on faith, election and therefore salvation in John 6.
This entire chapter, in concert with the rest of Scripture, gives clear evidence of the fact that it is God through the ministry, work, and operation of the Holy Spirit that grants faith and the right spiritual condition that is necessary to exercise true faith.
John 3:27 To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.”
Compare this Scripture with
Matthew 16:16-17 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
John 6:44-45 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
John 6:63-71 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71(He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
We have read before in [John 6:63] and then in [John 16:7-11] that the ministry of the Holy Spirit whom has been sent into the world and is present within the church, in other words in every true believer, has the task of doing four things in regard to salvation – regenerate, convict of sin, of righteousness and of judgment.
Where is faith in all this? It is as we already have occasion to see in [John 16:10] in conjunction with [Romans 3:22], the conviction of the Holy Spirit in regard to the righteousness of God through what? Faith in Christ.
It’s like saying that the Holy Spirit, in other words God, places inside a regenerated heart the conviction and convinces of these things – sinfulness, repentance, God’s righteousness in Christ and the righteous judgment of God upon the devil and all who belong to him. However, all this makes us ask other questions.
When does TRUE FAITH occur? In other words, when do we obtain TRUE FAITH necessary for salvation? Are we regenerated after we have exercised faith?
OK, as I believe the Bible definitely teaches us in regard to how man obtains salvation is not accepted by many in the Christian community these days. If one believes in the exclusive “free will” of man in regard to salvation they certainly will not believe in the here exposed explanation, exposed also in the Bible for that matter.
If a believer believes in “the doctrine of election and predestination” then they will agree with this teaching. However, it’s not whether one has to agree with me or not, rather if we truly are honest we see that it is the Bible that teaches this doctrine.
There are those who rightly say that justification is by faith in Christ only. This is true. However, they also say that this occurs after a person believed and then they receive salvation, regeneration etc.
This doctrine states that to obtain this result, in other words salvation and justification, first of all one must have believed in Jesus, then repented of their sins and then and only then God responds based upon the exercise of faith of that person applying salvation to that person. This would be true if man could naturally have faith and could activate it using his or her free will just like turning a light on and off.
So, at first glance it would even appear to be this way. However, I believe this to be a very serious problem because it would mean that a human being by himself, of his own free will and ability could believe in Jesus and repent of his sins.
Well, there is a huge problem with this, a huge problem with those who believe this because this doctrine denies Scripture, it practically would be contrary to the greater part of John 6, Romans 3 as well as other Scriptures such as [Matthew 16:16-17],[John 1:12-13],[John 3:27].
The Bible instead without a doubt teaches the doctrine of election and predestination and that in harmony with Scripture. This doctrine clearly shows us that man’s regeneration and subsequent salvation of which justification is a part, is obtained, yes through faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, and of having repented of our sins, but that all of this process comes entirely from God and it’s transmitted and applied by God to man in a very specific way.
Regeneration has to chronologically and logically be the very first necessary element for man to have in order to exercise all the other requirements to obtain salvation. I will explain.
To us it seems that a person first exercises faith and after this God regenerates us. However this would be impossible to happen as Scripture clearly confirms to us that it is impossible, because it is impossible for the natural man to accept the things of the Spirit, impossible to understand the things of the Spirit, because they can only be understood if one has the Spirit of God [1 Corinthians 2:10-14] so because of this reason it is impossible for man to generate the necessary faith to believe the things of God.
Remember what we learned in [Romans 3:11]? No one understands the things of God!
It is also clearly demonstrated that we, all of us are, at one point at least, spiritually dead in our sins and trespasses and completely enslaved to sinfulness. So then in order to believe, we must be placed in a condition to be spiritually receptive, to understand God’s truth, must be then regenerated, in other words, made spiritually alive in order to understand and exercise what God requires, true faith.
How can a spiritually dead man or woman exercise anything that can please God? Can a physically dead person do anything except be dead? Can a physically dead person believe with their heart and confess with their mouth anything? So how can a spiritually dead person be able to exercise any thing that God requires? Can they believe with their heart of stone and confess with their mouth, which we have seen in [Romans 3:13-14] is incapable to utter anything good, that Jesus Christ is Lord as God requires for salvation [Romans 10:9-13]?
Can the natural man understand spiritual things [1 Corinthians 2:14] ? Can anyone confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, since it is a prerequisite of faith onto salvation according to [Romans 10:9-13], if not by the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:3]? They cannot! To do all this one must be made alive spiritually, born again.
Therefore, based upon all that we have hopefully already understood, the fact that John 3, John 6 and Romans 9 together clearly and abundantly reveal to us that it is God who chooses, elects, and foreknows us from eternity past then through His word, the Gospel, and His Spirit, He first makes us alive and instantly at that very same moment He gifts us by His grace, He gives us all that we need to exercise true faith in Christ and thus we are saved.
So in a moment we are regenerated, made alive, then almost instantly we believe, exercise true faith, confess Jesus as Lord and then because of it we repent and are at that very moment instantly justified, baptized in Christ and filled and indwelt by His Holy Spirit, we are now part of the body of Christ, we have been adopted as children of God.
It’s all practically instantaneous. However, there is a split moment, who knows, one thousandth of a second chronologically in which all this happens. Regeneration, faith, acceptance of Jesus as Lord, conviction and repentance of sin, justification, baptism with or of the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, this last may very well be immediately at the same time of regeneration, nevertheless it all happens instantaneously. This is somewhat as the transformation of the body described in
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed– 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
It’s the same concept, if we will be transformed bodily with such speed, then could it not be the same spiritually? Certainly, in fact, it is exactly the same concept. First, in fact, we are spiritually made alive and transformed at our conversion, then either through resurrection or through bodily transformation in life we are permanently transformed in the image of Christ, that is our glorification, the completion of our salvation.
Titus 3:3-7 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
All is instantaneous!
To us it seems that chronologically it is faith that precedes regeneration, however according to what we understand in Scripture it is not so, even Jesus declares that it is the Spirit who gives life to those who already have been elected to believe, otherwise one CANNOT believe at all [John 6:63-66]. That is what John 6 teaches us.
This is why it seems that some accept and believe in Christ on their own, but not so, while others reject Him. The truth being that if we, all who are saved, were not elected or chosen by God for salvation, in other words better said, elected to believe, even we would have certainly rejected the grace of God given to us through Jesus Christ our Lord. We can therefore claim we have been elected to faith, elected to believe in Christ .
Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
What is FALSE FAITH according to the Bible?
FALSE FAITH, COUNTERFEIT FAITH, FAKE FAITH. Does such a thing really exist? Yes, it does and the Bible shows us this continuously.
I would be tempted at this point to do again a study in John 6 to prove even more the difference between TRUE and FALSE FAITH. However, I want to save the in depth look of John 6 for when we study the doctrine of election and predestination which we will study when we arrive in other chapters, VIII and IX especially. However we will see references made to John 6 in this context as well, we cannot do without it as it is too much of a key passage even for this context, the context of true and false faith. After all we have already seen how John 6is the key to understanding true faith as well as election to faith by God’s grace.
We see, however, how all these things are inexorably connected one to another. That my friends confirms the cohesiveness and unity of Scripture. I can make anything mean what I want if I take things out of context, but when we study the Scripture interpreting it with Scripture we will find the real truth and the truth will set us free, free also from false doctrines.
So let us start in
John 2:23-25 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.
Interesting passage. Here we see right away some key elements of false faith. When faith is not divinely given through the new birth it is only human faith. It is a counterfeit faith. It is not faith accepted by God. It’s not faith at all.
Remember John 3:27 To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.”
As well as [Matthew 16:16-17] and [John 6:44-45] and [John 6:63-71].
These people instead believed in Jesus, yes, but with the wrong motives. They believed in Him for the signs He was doing. OK, but they all failed to believe the words He later spoke and the mission He really had, right? After, they all rejected Him and asked for His crucifixion.
So, rightly Jesus did not entrust Himself to them. True faith is entrusting oneself to and in Jesus as Lord and Savior. They instead only humanly believed, why? One can believe intellectually, with the mind, or believe for the wrong motives or reasons.
He, Jesus, knew all men. What do we know about man so far? He is not able to generate true saving faith. He knew their hearts and He knew their belief was not true saving faith. How? The Father gives true faith and sends people to Jesus and those He will by no means cast away [John 6:36-37].
Jesus knew what was in man it says, and in man there is nothing good, certainly no saving faith is present, and that Jesus knew what was in man as it agrees with
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
That’s exactly what Jesus knew was in them and look, the human unredeemed heart is deceitful above all things, it can deceive even us into false belief. That’s why the Bible teaches us to make our call and election sure, and to check to see if we are truly in the faith, [2 Corinthians 13:5], [2 Peter 1:10-11]. Not because we got unsaved, lost our salvation, rather to see if indeed we have truly received supernatural faith, that would be synonymous with being born again.
Remember, that even in John 6they wanted to make Him king by force, why? Because they saw in Him the answer for their selfish ambitions and motives, even their misunderstood motives, although they had good intentions, it was not true faith in Jesus, the way to hell is paved with good intentions, good intentions are not saving faith.
They wanted Him to be their supplier of things that appeased the flesh [John 6:26-27]. Good intentions through a misunderstood Gospel message or misunderstood beliefs in Jesus end up in false faith, good intentions do not save, true faith, supernaturally and divinely granted faith does.
When you believe in Jesus for any other reason other than the fact you see yourself as a wicked sinner destined to hell and that your sinfulness has offended and offends God and that you recognize and confess Jesus as the only savior and Lord over your life, you have not really exercised true faith.
If you believe in Jesus in any other way than to desire to repent from your sins, let God literally put you to death, crucify you with Christ to give you His new life, if you are not willing to say, “Jesus, no matter how, no matter where, no matter the price, I want to follow You, do with me whatever you like”, you have not exercised true faith.
A pastor friend of mine Flip Benham always says and rightly so,
“Every body wants to follow Jesus until they find out where he really is going. He is going to the cross and He bids you to come and to follow Him.”
Because you see, that is exactly what Jesus always taught about becoming His disciple, which is synonymous with having exercised true faith and being saved.
There is this false notion in the church that you can be a saved believer in Jesus but not be a true disciple. No, that cannot be. [Luke 14:27-30],[Matthew 10:38],[Matthew 16:24-26].
We have seen before that self denial and the acceptance of Jesus’ lordship is a fruit of true faith.
There are parables in Matthew 13 that are very, very helpful in understanding true faith versus false faith, true believers and counterfeit believers as well as the doctrine of election and predestination.
We will take a look at these now as well as when we will study the doctrine of election ad predestination.
In the parable of the sower that Jesus teaches, we see that there are several types of people. Exactly four types.
Now at first glance it would seem that except the first type the other three all have truly believed. However, a more in-depth look at this parable in the light of Scripture interpreting Scripture, in Scripture’s cohesiveness and unity, will confirm that even two more of the following three types of people did not exercise true faith.
Let’s remember that a fruit of true faith as we did see is perseverance and we also did learn that true faith is supernatural, it is protected by God’s power and it’s in Christ, it cannot fade away, it cannot be lost, it is proven genuine, especially by trials and persecution.
True faith produces a certain fruit and that is exactly the point of the parable. True faith and true believers will exhibit the true fruit of true faith while others will not.
After all even those of which we have read in [John 2:23-25] had seemingly believed, yet not the way God wants and for the reasons God wants.
Matthew 13:18-23 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
OK, so let’s look at what Jesus is saying in unity with the rest of Scripture.
The first type of person hears the message and outright refuses it, totally unwilling to accept the Gospel. It’s obvious that all would agree this is a completely natural man with a heart so hard the seeds of the word of God actually bounced off.
Attention though, for Jesus claims the seed was sown in his heart just the same, somehow it just lay on the surface, ready to be snatched away by Satan.
The second type of person is still a natural and not a spiritual person, for the seed still falls in the soil of his heart yet in rocky places. Remember that the heart of stone needs to be removed by God, that is what? Regeneration and then and only then can the seed of God’s word take root and grow and produce fruit.
Here we are still dealing with stony ground. In fact, Jesus says some important things here, the seed does not take root because the soil is not right. The heart is still unredeemed. Oh, the message at first sounded good, right? There is however no fruit of true faith, no self denial, no perseverance. Remember what we said before, what did Paul, Peter and James say? The genuineness of our faith is tested with what amongst many other things? Trials and persecutions. True faith remains firm, wavers sometimes, yet perseveres to the end. These instead fall away. These are not true believers, there is no perseverance. See, in fact, [1 John 2:19].
They believed in Jesus for the wrong motives, that is not true faith, such as those in [John 2:23-25] and John 6 did. Yet Jesus claims He knew that they did not believe, they followed Him and yet they did not believe, and in fact they fell away, they stopped following Him [John 6:63-66]. There is no perseverance, trials and persecutions sooner or later, often sooner, will weed out the true from the false.
The third type of person is the person that again received the seed of the word of faith, just the seed, by the way. Remember that the fruit determines the type of faith. Not the seed in this case .
Here Jesus says that the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth made this hearing of the word unfruitful. Still no fruit. These are the many who even today we continuously see sitting in churches for a while as well as the prior type, however, after a while because the world demands their allegiance, they return to the world and its ways or they prefer the pursuit of riches and well being instead of Jesus Christ. They make their final choice. They also fall away. No fruit.
This is why the prosperity Gospel is such a danger and again a deception, because it deceives people into thinking that one can seek Jesus for what He can give in this life, while that is not the real Gospel.
Jesus, however, warns us in so many different ways about this – that we cannot serve two masters, that the pursuit of these things will alienate people from the true Gospel and true faith will not come to those who want Jesus for selfish and materialistic reasons.
That was the whole problem with the Jews of Jesus’ days, it’s a major problem with people today. No fruit means no faith. Pursuit of the world no Jesus, no Jesus no heaven. Friend of the world, enemy of God, and the love of the Father is not in those who go after these things. It’s a sign that true faith is not present. See Judas as well.
See and compare [Matthew 6:19-24];[Matthew 10:32-39];[Matthew 16:24-26];[Luke 21:34-36];[1 Timothy 6:9-10];[James 4:4];[1 John 2:15-17].
The fourth type of person is the elect to true faith, the soil of His heart is right. Made right by God, God took away his heart of stone and prepared the right heart to receive the seed of His word. The regenerated heart is the only heart that can accept the word of God and true faith will then produce its fruit.
That is what Jesus is saying, in the end true faith produces fruit. False faith does not.
All this God does, it’s not from the will of man, nor from man’s ability in any case [John 1:12-13]. We already saw this several times before it is confirmed in Scripture. It is not merely my opinion, it’s what the word of God shows us to be true.
True faith comes from heaven [John 3:27];[Matthew 16:16-17], from God the Father and it takes a person to Jesus, literally drags you there [John 6:44-45];[John 6:63-71], it crucifies us with Him, we are risen also with Him [Romans 6:1-10];[Galatians 2:20];[Galatians 6:14]; the old man has passed away, behold all is made new [2 Corinthians 5:17]. The fruit of divine nature, that is what originates true faith and it becomes evident [2 Peter 1:3-11].
Man’s natural belief is a counterfeit belief and it only leads to falling away from God and His truth [John 6:66];[1 John 2:19]. It is a temporary belief but in the end it’s no belief at all. The fruit is what will confirm if true faith has been exercised.
Others may look as if they believed rather when it’s time to show forth the fruit of their faith they are like the fig tree Jesus cursed, there is no fruit.
Because you see in the end it all is confirmed, regeneration produces faith and this comes from God not from man, because the key to the seed becoming a fruit producing plant, in other words, the faith growing into fruit, is the right soil, the type of heart the person has. This part we have seen is clearly defined for us in Scripture, is it not? Man by nature has a heart of stone and no seed can grow on stone. God’s Spirit regenerates a heart and then and only then the seed can grow and produce the fruit of faith.
It is not by chance that Jesus taught the next parable, known as the parable of the wheat and the tares.
Matthew 13:24-30 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 “He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 “But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Let’s look at this parable. The man who sowed the good seed is God. So let me ask who is it that determines who will be good fruit giving grain? God, it’s God’s work, He produces the crop [John 4:34-38];[1 Corinthians 3:5-7]. He is the farmer, the gardener, He takes care of the soil, it’s all God.
Many times Jesus made reference to the Father as the gardener, the farmer, but let’s look at the most famous one which I believe is in the same context
John 15:1-8 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
So much could be said about this passage. However, two points only for now. The first one, the Father is the one who takes care of the vineyard, including the soil, He is the One who does the work that produces the fruit. The second point, what determines that we are Jesus’ disciples?
The bearing of much fruit.
Returning to the parable, we are just mere sowers, those who water and those who at times are fortunate enough to reap but God is the one who makes it all grow.
The enemy obviously is Satan, he plants his tares amongst the wheat. Now the tares are an interesting type of weed, for they grow looking identical to the stalk of grain until a certain moment. You know when? Interestingly enough Jesus tells us. When it is time to show forth the fruit.
The grain has a fruit, has yielded a crop, the tares did not. So how do we distinguish the grain from the tares? By the fruit. The fruit of true faith will be evident in the grain, the plant that God grew.
Now the differences between this parable and the previous one are these: in the previous one the seed is the word of God and the actual subject of the parable is the person’s heart represented by the soil in which the seed the word of God falls.
The type of soil (hearts of man) therefore determines whether or not the fruit of faith becomes evident, in other words if a person has truly believed or not.
This last parable instead places the emphasis not on the soil, rather on the types of plants and who planted them. Real and false. True and counterfeit.
However the point is this, the enemy plants counterfeit believers, those who did not truly believe, those who did not exhibit true fruit producing faith. The end result, however, is the same as the previous parable. Those who have truly believed, the elect to faith, will produce fruit, a good crop. Those who resemble the true believers for a while when required to show forth the fruit of faith will not have it.
That is what determines the true faith and the false faith, the true elect and the counterfeit believers.
So what we also see here is that there are determined soils that determine the result of what the word of God produces, either unbelief or true faith. There are determined plants as well, which confirm the fact that there are only two types of people, those whom God plants and those who Satan plants and as it is true in the natural world it is true in the spiritual, a stalk of grain does not become a tare and a tare cannot become a stalk of real grain once planted and rooted. Remember what Jesus said?
Matthew 15:13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.”
Matthew 7:19-20 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
What’s the deal then? What God plants is His and He grows it and it produces good fruit, the fruit of true faith, the work of God. What God did not plant is planted by the enemy and does not produce good fruit, it will then be pulled up by the roots and cut down and thrown into the fire.
Jude 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;
Unbelief or counterfeit belief do not produce the good fruit of true faith. See also [2 Corinthians 11:13-15];[1 John 2:19].
Now that we established what TRUE FAITH is, how it is obtained and what FALSE FAITH is, we can understand better a lot of Scriptures and we can then continue the study of this chapter understanding better what Paul is writing.
Paul continues now saying, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.”
In this verse as small as it is Paul is saying volumes of things, especially to a person with a Jewish mindset, or for our modern purposes for people with a religious and legalistic mindset, and there are unfortunately many in the church.
Paul is saying, “If you work then you would expect some pay.” After all we know that even in Paul’s days and even prior, those who were hired, were hired for determined wages. The wages, the remuneration for the work done were agreed upon beforehand.
That is usually the practice, is it not? Even today there are contracts between employer and employees. A contractor gives you an estimate then you agree to pay that estimate for the work rendered. You agree to work for so many dollars, euros whatever your currency is, yet you agree to do a set amount of hours and a specific job for a specific and set amount of money.
If you work overtime usually you get time and a half, yet for the amount of hours you work you receive the beforehand set pay. When you work, your employer is in debt to you until he pays you for the work rendered. Wages then are employers’ debts for services rendered as agreed upon. If the contract in not honored or the hours are not worked than the employer has the right not to pay for there is no debt if the services are not rendered. However, let’s remember God is not in debt with anyone, it is we who have a debt toward God, a debt we can never, ever repay [Mark 8:36-37];[Psalms 49:6-8].
This sounds kind of elementary to be saying, but I believe it is key to understanding the truth of God’s grace and salvation.
For Paul says wages are not counted as grace but as a debt.
Listen, grace is unmerited favor or in this case we can say, grace is a gift for work not done. You do not perform any work yet God pays you lavishly and undeservedly. In fact, I will tell you more. God’s grace is a reward, a gift not only for not requiring working at all, but actually for having offended, disobeyed and even ignored God. That’s God’s grace and mercy. We deserve judgment, God gives us mercy. We do not deserve mercy, God gives us favor. That’s the description of God’s grace.
Read [Matthew 20:1-16].
How much did the farmer pay all the workers for working in His field? How much did He pay those who worked all day and those who only worked an hour? The same wages, the same exact pay. Why? Because that is how God’s grace and mercy work. We can serve God fifty years or one hour, yet the pay, if that is what we want to call it, salvation by grace, will be the same for all. God’s salvation is the same result for all those He saves no matter how hard and long or how little and short of a time you labored. Because again, true saving faith is part of God’s grace and therefore is a gift not an actual payment for a work.
This shows exactly what Paul is saying. God’s grace is not a wage or a payment for work that is rendered, in this case the working of the law or religion, yet it is God’s gift to the elect for doing absolutely nothing but being undeserving sinners. That’s why if I by myself had the ability and strength to fulfill the law or the will power or even human faith to believe, then righteousness would be a wage, a payment for something I did. Instead grace is a gift of God without any type of deserving it or earning it in some way [Romans 5:6-8].
Romans Chapter IV Verses From V to VIII
5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered;”8 “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
Beginning in verse 5 Paul states But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
We are made righteous by God’s grace and justified by God’s grace, this grace includes the faith we exercise to believe so that our salvation is entirely by God’s grace and mercy and it’s His work in us. See [Romans 3:24],[Galatians 2:16],[Titus 3:4-7]
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
In His grace He accounts the faith He has gifted us with and that we exhibit only by His doing, to us and therefore subsequently He imputes to us Christ’s righteousness and He justifies us through Him.
As we said this grace God gifts us with includes the faith He gives us to believe in Him, so that faith is a divine act of grace, it is an undeserved gift we receive without which we could not be justified and therefore considered righteous.
So as we have seen in the previous verse it is not the work rather the faith in Him who is the One who justifies the ungodly, this person’s faith is then accounted for righteousness.
Now someone will ask why if the faith comes from God is it considered that person’s faith and not God’s faith? Well, let me ask whose righteousness is it we receive our own or Christ’s? Christ’s right? Is it our personal righteousness? No, it’s Christ’s, we have no righteousness on our own, so by consequence we can have no faith of our own either. Yet Christ’s righteousness is our righteousness, in other words it is imputed or accounted to us [2 Corinthians 5:21].
Faith is an element of God’s grace conferred to us. Faith as grace are both undeserved gifts we receive as well as all other abilities God gives us by His Spirit in order to make our salvation entirely from Him and yet entirely and personally ours. God gives us the power to exercise belief and from this belief as a channel of God’s grace flow all other elements of our salvation, we have seen the fruits of faith or salvation for that matter.
Yet, although God gives us all this, it is us – those who believe – that believe and repent etc. It is not God that does it for us. You see as we read just above, we are God’s workmanship, in other words, the work of God created in Christ Jesus. It’s God’s work not ours.
Philippians 3:9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith
That faith is God’s gift through Christ’s redemptive work is evident also in
Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
He originates it and He finishes it, by Him we then receive it and He is the One that completes it in us by His Spirit.
We have seen time and time again in Scripture that faith comes from God, the ability to believe comes from God. The whole key to this passage is this, God justifies who? The godly, those who have repented on their own and somehow gained righteousness and then because they did God justifies them? No! God justifies us when we are still ungodly. That’s the prerequisite for salvation is it not?
What did Jesus say to those who considered themselves self-righteous through their works of the law?
Matthew 9:10-13 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Oh, but now someone will say, that I said before that regeneration precedes faith and justification in the chronological order so that we are not really justified as ungodly but having already been regenerated how can this hold?
Simple, God has chosen us, here we are, in Christ, when? Before the foundation of the world, so in God’s plan all those who will be justified have been elected already even before they are born. In God’s mind and plan, and in reality, we are ungodly men and women who are elected to faith and therefore to justification, hence God justifies the ungodly.
Who was saved that was not an ungodly sinner? Well, according to the Roman Catholic Church Mary, Jesus’ mother, was righteous on her own, but we know it’s not like that at all. She herself admitted to have need of God to be her savior and Lord [Luke 1:47].
God only justifies the ungodly because as Jesus said those who think they are righteous, although they are not, will not admit to be ungodly and sinners so they will not receive mercy, that’s the prerequisite for salvation, something God does in our life by His grace.
Proverbs 28:13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
That’s repentance, which is a fruit of true faith.
We are ungodly men and women who are justified by God’s grace, undeservedly justified, when? While we were still sinners Christ died for us, right?
Romans 5:6-8 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This passage proves all the more that we are elected to faith and salvation, because Christ died for us while we were still sinners, which means we had to be already, the elect only, in Christ when He went to the cross, there we were crucified with Christ or not? The Bible tells us we were, doesn’t it?
We just read part of that truth, Jesus died for the ungodly and while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, us who?
Ephesians 1:4-7 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
If we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world we were then crucified with Christ and risen with Him already when He did, yet, while we were without the knowledge of the true Gospel we were still dead spiritually and lived in sin and we were, in essence, children of wrath as the others, see [Ephesians 2:1-3].
Many theologians believe that being crucified with Christ happens somehow mystically when we believe and then we are catapulted back in time to be crucified with Christ. I do not believe it is that way. I believe the Bible gives clear confirmation that we have been crucified with Him when He was crucified, buried with Him when He was buried and risen to new life with Him when He rose form the dead.
After all, that is why all those who have been blessed with salvation did live until they were saved right? That proves that God has chosen us before the foundation of the world to receive salvation but had to wait for a certain planned time, planned by Him, time to find us, to bring us to salvation, to regenerate us. Yes, we were not practically saved or regenerated until God performed His salvation in us. However, we were already technically saved at the moment Jesus was crucified and risen because we were already chosen in Him before when? Before the foundation of the world. We just read it in Ephesians did we not? Oh, by the way this works exactly the same for all those who by faith believed the Gospel, the coming Messiah and God’s word and promises in the OT. The actuality of their salvation was delayed in time yet it was efficacious for them as well as it was anticipated for us. Nevertheless, ALL OT saints as well as NT inclusive of us who believed were ALL crucified with Christ when He was crucified because we were ALL chosen in Him BEFORE the foundation of the world, before anyone was born. ALL who were predestined to be in Christ, therefore, were crucified with Him.
Scripture confirms this as we said because if we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world that is exactly what it means. In God’s mind and plan, in the eternal state, we were already elected to be saved. In actual time though, and in our life, we were not yet saved.
Yes, we did technically belong to Satan for a time, being under His influence and slavery, slaves to our sinful nature, as every one after all, yet we were predestined by God to be redeemed from the slave market of sin and death.
Could any one who is predestined and chosen in Christ to believe and be saved actually be able to die before salvation? No! Absolutely not, if you did you would be damned, which would not make you predestined to believe and be saved, and that is not possible.
So how is it there are so many people saying that people are going to hell that otherwise would not go, and all to make people feel guilty of not evangelizing enough?
That is not the right motivation for trying to stir up people to evangelize, and by the way it’s unbiblical. What is the right motivation? Telling them they are being disobedient to God if they do not do it. That is all. No one, who was predestined in Christ to be chosen to believe, will be damned. If that happened it would mean that God is not in control man is, not so. God is sovereign and He is in control of His perfect plan, not man and not Satan. Man is powerless before God, Satan is more powerful than man and yet he is defeated and disarmed, he can only do what he is allowed to do by God who supervises his power allowing him to have control over those he still owns.
In God’s plan it was ALL already Tetélestai, all finished and completed even before Jesus came, but all things had to come to pass in the kairos of time. Kairos is a Greek word used to mark a qualitative period of time. For example, at the opportune moment, that is a kairos moment in the chronos. Chronos is the quantity of time, kairos is the quality, specific, opportune moment.
Remember that God lives in eternity but the world and human beings live in a certain space of eternity which is transitory. In the fullness of time Jesus came to bring to pass all of God’s plan and purpose which in Christ and through Him is being fulfilled and brought to pass day by day to the end of time. Jesus came in the very moment God chose Him to come. That was on the human side of eternity. God’s plan has already been spoken into being and it will come to pass exactly the way God designed to be, make no mistake of that.
Galatians 4:3-5 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Also, without dragging on this subject, see what we studied in Romans III regarding the verse no one who seeks after God.
There we proved that Jesus came to find that which was lost, His lost sheep, we were lost. Yet in God’s mind and eternal plan we already belonged to Him. We just needed to be found and we needed to be made to realize by God that we were lost. Yet technically we already were predestined to be found and saved, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
I firmly believe that the Bible teaches this and so far I believe that we have been able to prove this in this study.
In the next three verses Paul quotes a part of David’s Psalm 32 and precedes it with a brief comment, saying that David is describing the blessedness. The blessed condition of a person to whom God imputes righteousness apart from any work.
just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
Glory be to God, what a great truth David and Paul are giving us. This means that there is, as we see, the correlation between imputed righteousness by God’s grace through faith alone and the fact that that person’s lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the person whose sins are no longer imputed to them, rather righteousness is. All this is apart from any human work and only possible by God’s grace and mercy.
By the way, that is also called being justified, that is justification as well, rendered guiltless.
However, what sins is David referring to? Only the passed sins we committed before our conversion or is he referring to all sins, past, present and future?
No, David and the Bible for that matter show us that the blessedness of a person is when God does forgive, cover and not impute sin to that person any longer, that is all of their sins.
Let me ask you, what is the New Covenant also called? The Eternal or Everlasting Covenant right? It’s eternal not temporary. What is this covenant in? Jesus Christ right? Is Jesus Christ alive and eternal? Is He righteous? In what is this covenant sealed? In His blood. He is the High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us so that He can completely save those who come to God through Him. That is why God’s promises in Him are yes and Amen [2 Corinthians 1:20-22].
These are things the Bible teaches us, right? So in order to make good all these facts can any of our sins not be forgiven? No! Because if it was so all these facts, and more, all of God’s promises would not be true.
In the OT the high priest would have to go into the presence of God in the Most Holy place and bring the blood of the atonement of Israel’s sins once a year on the Day of Atonement and also daily they had to offer sacrifices on the altar to cover the individual sins of the people.
Once a year, however, as we said, the high priest only would sprinkle the blood of animals upon the mercy seat, the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, also called mercy seat, we did see this word used and we did explain it previously in the study of [Romans 3:25]. The word propitiation is the same word used to describe the mercy seat, the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, where God would meet with the high priest and accept the blood of the sacrifice and again be propitious, in other words, have favor toward His people as their sins would be atoned for and forgiven.
The NT, however, is a better promise, it’s the OT fulfilled and completed in Christ and it’s fulfilled forever. Now in Christ this truth is no longer temporary it’s eternal and it’s completed. All we need to do to understand this is to see what is written for us in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 7:24-27 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
See also [Hebrews 9:7-28],
Hebrews 10:4 for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Hebrews 10:11-18 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man (Jesus) , after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever (Himself), sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering (Himself) He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. “18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
All this gives irrefutable and incontestable proof that all of our lawless deeds God will remember no more. There is remission of sins, no other sacrifice, everlasting completeness and perfection that will come in glory, sanctification, no other thing is necessary.
All our sins are forgiven, blessed are we whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed are we to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.
Remember that in Christ propitiation has been made for us, in other words in Christ. We are in Him by grace through faith, we now have God’s eternal favor, it’s forever, in Him all our sins are taken away, forgiven and forgotten. From the salvation and eternal stand point this means that our sins cannot be counted against us any longer, they are forgiven, the are no more, they are forever blotted out.
Listen, if only one and I mean one sin of ours would not be forgiven we could not be made righteous nor be justified before God. If only one, just one sin remained in our account we would have to be condemned as transgressors of all of God’s law [James 2:10]. We could not have eternal life. We could not have passed from death to life. Nowhere in the Bible does it clearly and concisely state that an elect child of God, adopted as God’s child, will ever suffer the loss of salvation, quite the contrary. It is assurance that, in fact, is declared.
John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
These are all statements of fact, assurances, promises that have definite fulfillment, there is no maybe or conditions in having everlasting life. Jesus is saying he who truly believes has eternal life, he possesses it. Jesus promises shall not come into judgment and declares has passed from death to life . This is the assurance that ALL of our sins, past, present and future have been dealt with once and for all and again the assurance of the permanence of our salvation.
The erroneous doctrine that truly born-again believers can lose their salvation comes from the human pride that affects the proper interpretation of Scripture. The human pride wants at all costs to have something to do with salvation, some kind of work, in this case sanctification and perseverance.
Yes, it is true, just as it is with faith, where it is the individual person that actually believes, sanctification and perseverance are things apparently believers work at, things they do. However, although it is the believer that does them, it is God’s grace and power that enables the believer to do them and to desire to do these things.
So that in reality although it is the person that does them, it is however the power of God at work in us that enables us to desire and gives us the power to do them.
Faith works the same way; we have had opportunity to see how that works. There is nothing you and I personally can do apart from God’s grace and power that is at work in us, to either sanctify ourselves or persevere in our faith to the end. Scripture confirms this to be so
Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
We can also look at the most famous passage about grace and faith we find in Scripture, seeing there that also all that we accomplish in our Christian life and service is generated by God and not actually done by us exclusively.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
If it depended upon us, without God working out our salvation by His grace, giving us to will and to do for His good pleasure, persevere in our faith through His power, making us walk in His works prepared for us, we would definitely fall from grace, lose our faith and salvation, because it would be our efforts not the grace and power of God. Our efforts are not enough, they have no power to do anything, it’s God’s Spirit in us that does the work through us and in us. Thanks be to God it’s not us and it’s Him.
Now that all of our sins are forgiven, however, does not give us license to sin. Not at all. When we truly have exercised true faith we have a healthy fear of God, respect, love, honor for Him. We understand that sin offends Him. We understand the price that was paid for our salvation. We do not sin lightly, and we do not have pleasure in sin any longer.
We also have God’s Spirit that aids us into resisting under temptation and giving us the power not sin, whereas before our conversion we did not have the power to say no to sin, we were enslaved to sin. Now, we have double victory over sin – positional victory and practical victory. We now have the God-given strength to say no and to resist sin. Those who truly understand God’s grace and His salvation, those who have been saved by supernatural faith, know that they do not have the license to sin.
Paul did make this very clear especially in this very epistle. In chapter VI, and we will see this in even more detail when we get there, Paul explains that we do not have the liberty or the license to sin because we are under grace.
Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Romans 6:15-16 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
Paul is clarifying here, what he clarified in [1 Corinthians 6:9-11]. In other words, if there is desire to sin more than doing God’s will and continuance to live in a sinful lifestyle, without repentance of sin, without sanctification and holy living, true faith has not been exercised.
However, if indeed those elements, those fruits of faith are evident then you can know, you can rest assured your sins, all of them, have been forgiven, covered, taken away, remembered no more.
You see that is what Paul said in the passage above, if you present yourself as a slave to obedience to God that will lead to righteous living, and that is what God’s grace and faith produce.
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
This is what God’s grace and faith teach and produce.
Positionally then we are righteous in Christ and that is what God looks at, our righteous position in Christ not our sinfulness that still occurs at times. There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus [Romans 8:1-4].
This is the blessedness that David and Paul are explaining to us here. In Christ, by God’s grace through faith not works, we are considered righteous. All of our sins are forgiven, covered and never remembered again, period, Amen.
Romans Chapter IV Verses From IX to XII
9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? 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 still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
Paul now asks if this blessedness is only for those who are circumcised or also those who are not? Is it only for the Jews or also for the Gentiles? Well, the answer lays in the fact that Paul already had delineated for whom this blessedness is. Already in Romans alone to this point, several times he confirmed that this blessedness is for Jews and Gentiles alike. Let’s review these times where Paul confirmed this.
Already in the beginning of Romans he introduces this concept of faith in Christ through the Gospel for Jews and Gentiles alike [Romans 1:16-17] even here the just shall live by faith. That’s what he is saying now about Abraham, his righteousness was accounted to him through faith.
In [Romans 2:17-29] Paul practically demolishes the Jewish belief that they were privileged by their religious status, that circumcision in the flesh, in other words the symbol of their faith, is only just a useless thing if new birth and faith are not present in the person. Circumcision of the flesh alone without God’s regenerative work and faith in Christ avails to nothing and a circumcised person is as an uncircumcised one.
In [Romans 3:10-20] Paul continues placing both Jew and Gentile under sin and confirming that by the works of the law no one would be justified, no one would be considered righteous.
In [Romans 3:27-30] once again Paul concludes that every man, Jewish or Gentile are only justified by faith and no one will be justified by the works of the law and no one can therefore have anything at all to boast about, if not God’s grace through Jesus Christ that is.
This passage of Scripture we are studying now is also very important from the stand point of addressing the Jewish mindset regarding the attempt of acquiring righteousness by the works of the law.
From the very beginning of the church, which was at first all Jewish, there were misunderstandings of how this faith in Christ was to be exercised. At first many Jewish converts to Christianity retained that for a Gentile to become saved, in other words to have faith in Christ, they had to first of all become circumcised and adhere to Jewish law. Even amongst some of the Apostles there had been some confusion as to whether or not a Gentile had to be circumcised and obey the law of Moses in addition to having faith in Jesus Christ in order to be saved.
However, even then Paul and also Peter had to set some of the Apostles and many others straight in regard to this business of trying to obtain righteousness by the works of the law . See [Acts 15:1-5] and Peter’s answer.
Acts 15:6-11 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
Paul also had to write the entire book of Galatians basically because these believers had bought into the erroneous concept of seeking to be made righteous by observing the law and this definitely included wanting to force circumcision into salvation.
Galatians 1:6-7 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
There cannot be faith plus works of the law to be justified before God and to be counted as righteous.
That is a perversion of the Gospel, nothing can be added to faith. Remember, that is because faith is supernatural through the new birth, it’s God’s work in man through His grace by Christ Jesus. Faith does not originate in or by man but is given by God to man.
We need to be extremely careful even today in the church, because even beside the Roman Catholic Church which in doctrine teaches a perverted Gospel as it adds many, many works to faith for salvation, there are more subtle perverted versions of the Gospel as well that teach works of righteousness to obtain favor with God.
There are many denominations in Christianity that subtly teach works and law obedience to obtain righteousness, justification and favor before God. We must be very careful even at a personal and individual level not to fall into this trap, as it is very easy to think we have favor with God strictly because we perform many spiritual works.
Many measure up their level of spiritual maturity and favor with God with how many church events they attend, how many works they perform for God, how much they fast or how much money they give. No! All that does not make you more or less righteous before God. We are righteous before God because we have exercised faith in Christ’s work, His merits and virtues. That is how and why we have favor with God. In fact, if we think all our Christian activities makes us more righteous we better read the Sermon on the Mount and see what Jesus has to say about this.
Galatians 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Galatians 5:1-6 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
So Paul has made this subject abundantly clear through out his writings, he leaves no doubts. The just shall live by faith in Christ only, in His merits and virtues, it is only by Him and in Him that we are righteous and justified. Circumcision does not make one right with God. Neither is one righteous by the self effort of obeying the law, seeking self-righteousness.
In fact Paul asks now, when was Abraham declared righteous by faith? Before or after that he was circumcised? The answer lays within Scripture, does it not? Paul tells us, however, when this occurred.
Before Abraham was circumcised he was considered righteous, that is when he believed God.
This was before that God gave him the ordinance of circumcision.
Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
This is the Scripture that Paul quotes here in Romans, now God gave Abraham the commandment of circumcision in [Genesis 17:9-14].
Abraham was considered righteous by God when he was still uncircumcised, Paul concludes that Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
This is what makes Abraham the symbolic father of all the faithful, uncircumcised and not only exclusively of the circumcision, because God, in fact, accounted righteousness to him while he was still uncircumcised.
Righteousness then is imputed also to the uncircumcised just as it was done for Abraham. All those who follow the pattern of Abraham, believe God, when? Even while uncircumcised.
That is the point, circumcision was only considered valid when the Jew exercised true faith, a principle that is valid for the circumcised and the uncircumcised. Faith is what counts not circumcision. Make no mistake, God in the OT as God in the NT still justified men by faith in Him.
In fact, Paul explains all this again to the Galatians, because as we said before there were many who had been deceived into thinking that circumcision and law were to be practiced in addition to faith in Christ to be righteous before God .
Romans Chapter IV Verses From XIII to XVII
13For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed–God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
In the light of what Paul is saying here in Romans, I want us at this point to look at Galatians 3 and underline all of the points that Paul is making in regard to God’s promises to Abraham and consequently to those who would follow his pattern of faith.
Abraham believed and that belief was imputed to him as righteousness. These promises that we read in this passage are a carbon copy and described for us very well by Paul, of what Paul is also saying in Romans 4 in the next verses that follow what we have seen so far, take a look, for Galatians 3 is the more detailed exposition with an almost identical wordage.
Galatians 3:1-9 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? 5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
Paul is saying the same exact thing in both passages, here he goes into greater detail as here this church was already plagued and affected by a false and corrupted Gospel brought to them by those who were forcing circumcision and works of the law into the Gospel in order to be considered righteous before God.
Paul is saying that those who practice this are fools. Why? Because it is the work of the Holy Spirit to give faith through the hearing of God’s word [Romans 10:17]. So that having begun through the work that the Spirit of God does, how can it be the flesh now to complete the work of the Spirit? It cannot!
It’s the Holy Spirit that gives new life, that gives believers the divine nature, that gives believers the faith in Christ and all that is needed to live a sanctified life [2 Peter 1:3-11]. How can the flesh, in other words circumcision and law, complete or perfect the person now? It’s impossible!
God supplies the life giving Spirit, the grace giving Spirit, it is God’s Spirit that sanctifies the believer [Philippians 2:13],[1 Corinthians 1:30-31], [1 Corinthians 6:11],[Titus 2:11-14],[Titus 3:4-7], the law did not do any of this, the Spirit of God did.
Then even to the Galatians Paul repeats what he told the Romans, Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Paul goes on saying what he is saying in Romans 4, right? He is saying, “look, only those who exercise true faith are to be considered sons of Abraham”, not those who get circumcised or who practice the law, only those who believe God, in this case in Christ, the Gospel, because only they will be considered children of God. Only they will be considered righteous.
Paul tells us then a very important thing. The Scripture prophesied, foresaw, that God would justify the Gentiles by faith in Christ, so much so that God preached the Gospel to Abraham by telling him that all people of all nations would be blessed through him and in the same way he was.
That is also what Jesus repeated to Nicodemus after teaching him that man needs to be born from above to exercise saving faith. Jesus then quoted what today is a very famous verse, a verse that is saying the same thing but in other words that God told Abraham.
John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Through Abraham’s seed, as we will see later, in other words Jesus, God will love the world, Jews and Gentiles alike, and here it is faith, whoever believes in Himwill be made righteous and justified, this translates into eternal life, salvation. To make sure we understand, only those who have exercised true faith in Jesus will not be condemned, the others will. Another assurance of salvation for those who possess true faith.
This fact of the world mentioned in this passage of John 3was to make sure Nicodemus understood that salvation was not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles and that the method to obtain it is only through faith in Him acquired through the new birth of which He already previously spoke about.
Then Paul says those who believe are then blessed with Abraham, sure, it is the same blessing he received, the blessedness mentioned before, blessedness of being righteous and justified in Christ before God because of not having our sins counted against us any longer.
Galatians 3:10-14 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Once again Paul specifies that the law does not give righteousness at all. In fact, it becomes a curse for man, as man cannot continue in all that is written in the law to do what it commands.
We had already seen this point and Paul does not tire to mention this continuously in Romans but in most of His writings as well. Once again the just will live by faith, because only faith in Jesus justifies the sinners and makes them righteous.
The law is not of faith. Again, the blessing God first bestowed on Abraham and then to all those who would like him exercise faith, not the Jews only but also the Gentiles, the same blessing would come upon them in Christ Jesus and so all who have this faith receive through this faith the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 3:15-18 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Here Paul specifies that the promises were made to Abraham and his Seed. Seed singular Paul specifies. Why? He explains it. Not seeds as in many but only One. The Seed of which God speaks is Jesus Christ who would come in the flesh as Abraham’s Seed, but who is the promise of God for the salvation of the elect of the entire world and not of the circumcised alone. Jesus is God’s promise to Abraham and through Him to all nations.
So that anyone who is in Christ to them also, through Him who is the promise, the promise of salvation is given.
To confirm this Paul explains that the law, in effect, was given four hundred and thirty years after the promise God made to Abraham, so that it cannot, the law that is, annul the covenant that God made with Abraham beforehand – a covenant which is confirmed by faith in Christ, Abraham’s Seed.
When did God make Abraham this promise? After circumcision? No, before it, way before it. In fact, the very first time God made this promise to Abraham it was when Abraham was still called Abram.
Genesis 12:2-3 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
It was not until the repetition of this promise in Genesis 15 that Abram believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness and God made a covenant promising Abram He would accomplish by Himself what He promised. The promise was unilateral, one-sided, it was confirmed by the fact that God put Abram in a deep trance or sleep and God swore by Himself and by His name He would fulfill this promise [Genesis 15:4-21].
See also in reference to this [Hebrews 6:13-20].
This confirms as well that the promise through faith does not at all contain any human element except that which the man Jesus Christ did. That is the only human element that we can place into God’s promise, that is why it is by faith and not works. So all this confirms that it is a work completely wroth and fulfilled by God.
If then salvation or the inheritance of the faithful comes by the working of the law it would have to annul the promise God made. How can this be? When God promises He delivers, He keeps His promises. So the promise He made to Abraham was in regard to faith as Abraham had exercised in God’s promises, in this case the promise of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:19-25 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Once again this passage here is very clear, very self explanatory. As we did already read and study, all flesh, all men, Jews and Gentile have been placed under sin by God and the only remedy to have these sins covered and not counted against us any longer is by faith in Jesus Christ [Romans 3:9-26], so that the blessedness that Abraham had, righteousness through faith, the promise, might be also given to all who believe in Christ. This fits beautifully with the context in [Romans 4:5-8].
Galatians 3:26-29 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
This is the blessedness of God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus, we become children of God. So that baptized in the and with the Holy Spirit we have put on Christ, in other words, we have put on the virtues that belong to Him, namely His righteousness, and in Him we become the righteousness of God [2 Corinthians 5:21].
Once again, there is no Jew nor Gentile, no status, no sexual difference. Rather, in the context of the promise of being made righteous and being justified, all who have exercised faith in Christ are all one body, one with Him.
This, however, is not speaking of church roles and positions, such as pastors, elders and teachers, only as heirs to the promise of salvation in Christ. Many, unfortunately, like to use this passage to promote the equality of the sexes in church roles. However, they do so by eliminating the totality of Scripture that clearly shows that certain roles are not to be held by women and only by men for that is God’s will and design from creation and certainly it is to be so at least in the church.
For a more in depth study on positions and roles of men and women refer to the section on this website Commentaries- Roles in the Family as in the Church-The Role of the Woman and the Responsibility of the Mother
Being in Christ, Paul says, we then become Abraham’s seed, that is God’s promise, and yes, then heirs of salvation based upon God’s promise to him. Christ is Abraham’s Seed and God’s promise, as Paul had mentioned, and all who are in Christ therefore are also Abraham’s seed in Christ. This all is based upon the law of faith, the obtaining of righteousness, forgiveness of all sins, eternal life, being therefore justified before God all through the merits and virtues of Jesus Christ only.
So we have seen how beautifully what Paul explained to the Galatians helps us understand even better what Paul is saying to us in Romans IV.
This is the beauty of Scripture, it’s unity, it’s cohesiveness, how it agrees with itself, not as many say how it contradicts itself. There are no contradictions in the Bible. There appear to be contradictions because things are misunderstood, taught erroneously, and blocked to the understanding by the sin and pride of man that does not want to study and interpret God’s word how it has to be and that does not want to yield to its authority.
It does take humility to allow the word of God to transform our thinking and our living as well. It takes humility and a teachable spirit to admit that we are wrong and the word of God is right and to stop manipulating it, taking it out of context, in order to fit our doctrinal prejudices.
However, until that happens there will continue to be erroneously interpreted Bible passages and doctrines. It is possible to arrive to the only and proper interpretation of Scripture without exalting one self and being arrogant about it.
Until then there will be continuous battles amongst Christians in doctrinal areas. However, there is only one right interpretation of Scripture and, trust me, God wants you and me to know what it is. We can know it if we really want to.
Now let’s look at the conclusive verse of the passage we studied.
Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed–God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;”
Once again Paul quotes the OT actually when God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Abraham means father of many nations.
The passage of reference is
Genesis 17:4-7 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
OK, so God is talking about an everlasting covenant He made with Abraham. What covenant is this? Well, the Everlasting Covenant, the same one we, the church, are a part of, the New and Everlasting Covenant in Christ Jesus.
To Abraham and his descendants, who are his descendants? The circumcised only? No! That is what was explained until now, right? A father of many nations. Was this referred to as a father in the fleshly sense, the physical sense? No! Rather the spiritual sense, father of faith, that is what we have been talking about until now, that is the context. In Christ, Abraham’s Seed, all the nations have been blessed with the salvation of God through Christ Jesus.
Very easily one will say now that because of all this the promises made to Israel as a nation are no longer valid because now it’s all at a spiritual level and after all even Paul often has said that there is no more circumcised or uncircumcised in Christ. Many now think that the promises made to Israel as a nation are all fulfilled in the church. In other words, that the church replaced Israel. That’s Replacement Theology and it’s erroneous!
No, absolutely not! We do not have the time now to get into this in detail, but we will have the opportunity to see that it is not at all this way and to exclude that we Gentiles could even begin to think this thing as Paul wrote for us in Romans XI
For now, it’s suffices to look at just one other verse, watch carefully now at the usage of the words God speaks.
Genesis 17:8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
As God continues to speak His promise to Abraham He says, “Also” , in addition to this, in addition to blessing all people through him with salvation, to Abraham and his descendants, in this case the circumcision, the Jews after him, God declares that He would give the land of Canaan as a what? Everlasting possession and I will be their God!
Is this referred to the church? Is it referred to all the other nations that which Abraham was going to be a father? Absolutely impossible. Will all nations possess the land of Canaan? Obviously not. They are trying but this promise is not for them, it’s for Israel.
This is a reference to the Jewish people, theirs will be that land, the actual land God had promised to Abraham’s descendants, that’s Israel and He would be their God. The land of Canaan is not a promise of God to the church.
We are definitely talking about Israel, the nation, that will be converted and saved as a whole at Jesus’ second coming. We did, in part, mention this previously in our study. See the study of Romans 3:1-2.
That this is not a promise made to the church is evident also because in all the history of the true church, not the Roman Catholic Church as they did try during the Crusades to claim the land, there never was a time when the true church claimed this promise for herself. It is, therefore, evident to all that this is a promise made only to the nation of Israel. Rest assured the church DID NOT REPLACE ISRAEL.
Replacement Theology is very bad, erroneous and unbiblical theology.
Having said this, Paul now goes on in verse 17 saying that Abraham believed God’s promises as Him who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.
Abraham believed God had the power to raise people from the dead. In fact, we must arrive to see that one of the prerequisites of true faith in Christ is believing that God raised Him from the dead.
Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
[1 Peter 1:21].
You see, Abraham prophetically knew, saw, and believed by faith, the day of Jesus Christ’s salvation. He believed in Christ before He came. We believe in Christ, still without seeing Him after His coming. It is all the same faith in an unseen savior and unseen salvation. Abraham believed in the Gospel, remember what Galatians said?
Galatians 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”
Indeed the center of our faith is Christ risen, and so Abraham believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ and saw it by faith.
Jesus Himself said this was so,
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” See also Genesis 22.
In addition, it is clear that Abraham believed in the resurrection as the book of Hebrews confirms it.
Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
So Abraham believed in Him who could raise from the dead and believed in Him who calls those things which do not exist as though they did.
God calls things into existence as though they did naturally exist. God is the initiator and the finisher of our faith [Hebrews 12:2], because faith is what? The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, right?
So this verse that describes what faith is actually confirms the power of God and His veracity and faithfulness. Faith is believing what God says because He is the One who is able to call into existence the things that are not and that will bring to pass what He says He will. After all that’s faith, believing what God says without actually seeing right away the results of His promises and what He says.
When God promises something, declares something, says something, although not yet fulfilled before our physical eyes it will surely come to pass, so we can see the substance of what we hope for and the evidence of those things He promised although unseen. That is what faith is all about. When God says something He practically is calling what He declares will be into existence, the very things that do not yet exist He calls as they did exist because they actually do exist the moment God calls them into being. Remember how God created, He said and it was. That is God’s omnipotence and His creative power. We know because God called into existence what He created and it was so [Genesis 1:1-27],[Psalms 33:9],[Psalms 148:5-6]. When God speaks it happens.
That’s God’s word by the way, the logos of God, who is Jesus Christ [John 1:1-4].
Romans Chapter IV Verses From XVIII to XXI
18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
Abraham believed in this: God’s promises to him, the Gospel, Jesus Christ because He had the assurance, faith, that God is true and therefore all He said was as good as done.
Paul says something on the surface that seems as a contradiction in terms. He says that Abraham believed contrary to hope, yet in hope believed. What in the world does that mean?
Well there are two types of hope. Hope as the world has being wishful thinking and biblical hope which is again based on faith. That is a word that indicates assurance, being certain. In fact, once again we must look at the description of faith.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
So that Abraham against what the world would see as a hopeless situation, an impossible situation, instead had faith and believed what God said.
Yes, as we already saw, he believed in Him for whom all things are possible, in Him who has the power to make the impossible possible, and in Him who when He calls things that are not into being He does it as they were and, in fact, they are.
In this hope Abraham believed. The word used in the Bible for hope is the word elpis.
This word as we said is not the wishful thinking hope the world has, something that is unsure, that someone wishes it would be but knows that there are many chances that it will not be. No! Elpis instead means a glad expectation, confidence and assurance.
So Paul is saying that Abraham believed in what God promised, it was against human possibility and expectation, against human confidence, because it seemed humanly impossible, in fact, it was.
Yet, Abraham, because he was endowed with a supernatural faith gifted to him by God’s grace, believed God, rested in God’s promise, gladly expecting from God what He promised, having confidence in what God said, being assured that it would be as God said it would be. God will bring it to pass by His omnipotence. Humanly hopeless? Yes! Divine assurance? Certainly!
Abraham believed. He had this kind of faith, confidence, expectation, assurance, this made him strong in faith not weak, not doubtful, not wavering, saying,
“ Oh well, I hope it’s true, how can this be? I am old and Sarah is passed childbearing age, it’s actually impossible, maybe I did not hear God properly”.
No! Abraham did not doubt. He was strong in faith, he did not waver at God’s promise although it seemed against all common sense, against all natural possibility, it was humanly impossible.
Our faith, as his, is as strong as how much assurance we have that God is omnipotent, faithful and true.
That is where our faith, our confidence, needs to be anchored. After all, if God can raise from the dead, will he not be able to give life to the barren?
If He is the creator will He not be able to create what He calls into being? That is God’s creative power, what He calls into being, whatever it is He calls and what He calls will be.
Abraham believed in this and not in the situation that seemed impossible. He did not look at the physical situation, at the natural impossibility, rather he looked at the supernatural, omnipotent, true and faithful God he knew.
Do we believe in God like this? We should. We should not have any doubts at all because God is omnipotent, faithful and true. What He says He does, that is His title, you know?
Revelation 19:11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
I just want to say this now as I feel this is so important we understand this; and this will prove that salvation is a humanly impossible condition to obtain and that the type of faith required to believe onto salvation can only be generated and given by God’s grace through His will and design only.
The human being is in such a condition of spiritual deadness and corruption that it is humanly impossible to achieve faith and salvation. This we have already proved through Scripture.
However, what is impossible with man, is possible with God.
Matthew 19:25-26 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
OK, so, from man’s standpoint salvation is impossible, but with God it’s possible because as anything else what He calls into being certainly comes to pass.
All He does is done as He wills. All of His plan of redemption was called into being and declared, decreed into being and it has come to pass as He planned it and decreed it.
That is why we who were foreknown, elected and called into Christ before the foundation of the world, are saved today and will be saved to the end.
That is when God called into being our salvation. And when it actually occurred as it played out through time and it came to pass, what was yet not, God called into being and what was not instead has come to pass. Did we become saved? Yes, when did God call all this into being? Before the foundation of the world.
What did we have faith in? What God said regarding what He had already called to be in eternity passed, and that was fulfilled at the cross in Christ. Did it come to pass in the future? Yes, it did; and it will continue to happen because He determined it to be so.
This is what we can have, unwavering faith in a God who has the power to do what He says, a God who will certainly do what He said, a God who will continue faithfully to do what He said until it is completely accomplished. This is the God Abraham believed in. This is our God.
In so doing, Abraham gave glory to God and so can we. You know why? Because this kind of faith and grace can only be attributable to God, we can have nothing to boast about or at least we should not if we truly understand what gift has been given to us by God.
This kind of faith that points back and only to God’s grace, omnipotence, truthfulness and faithfulness, glorifies God, exalts God. Jesus is God’s glory and believing in Him and through Him and His work we glorify God in Him.
Once we were all fallen short of the glory of God. Christ did not fall short of God’s glory. Instead Christ is the glory of God and by believing in Him and actually being in Him we now glorify God as Abraham glorified God by his faith.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
See also [John 2:11] [John 11:40] [John 17:22].
We who are in Christ have been chosen to be in Him and to be, therefore, vessels that give God glory just as Abraham was chosen by God to do the same.
Romans 9:22-24 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Abraham was unwavering in his faith because the God who promises is omnipotent, faithful and true. This is exactly what it means to be strong and unwavering in faith, because Abraham believed that He who promised was also able in every sense to perform that which He promised, even raise from the dead.
That is why faith, my friends, has to be in God, in His promises and word, not in figments of our imagination, not in our desires and ambitions. Our faith is to be in God’s words to us and let’s be careful to qualify what God’s words really are. There is no doubt and no problem to have faith in God’s written word for it is a sure word to us and without doubt it comes from God. Let us be very, very cautious in regard to anything else but God’s word to place our faith in. Our faith is to be in Him and what He says. In fact, that is exactly what verse 24 will tell us, our faith is to be in Him and what He speaks.
Romans Chapter IV Verses From XXII to XXV
22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
This real and supernatural faith, unwavering faith, strong faith, this confidence in God and His promises, was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. It was given to him, as it has been given to us who have believed, by God Himself as part of His grace, from which, both grace and faith, Abraham and we, have obtained salvation and through which we have been re-created in Christ [Ephesians 2:8-10].
This faith then, although God-given, is not God’s faith is was actually Abraham’s faith, as it is our faith as well. Yes, Abraham believed as it was given by the Father for him to believe, even as Jesus says it is. See [Matthew 16:16-17],[John 6:44-45],[John 6:63-65]. We were awakened, made alive and persuaded of the faithfulness and truth of what God said [John 5:25].
Through this God enabled and God gifted supernatural Spirit produced faith. Abraham, and we, also believed what God promised and because of this God accounted to Abraham and to us, righteousness, God’s righteousness, Christ’s righteousness, not any type of human righteousness.
Even because human righteousness does not exist, we had established this fact in
Romans 3:10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one.
It is faith in God that is accounted as righteousness. His righteousness was imputed to Abraham and it is to us because after all it is His doing, by His grace, is it not?
Abraham, as we have been, was chosen by God to believe.
Acts 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
I do not believe there can be any misunderstanding in what the Scripture says as to who gives faith and how it is given, who believes and who does not. There is absolutely no way that a person can misinterpret the deep truth this simple little verse expounds.
Who believes? Those appointed to eternal life! Appointed by whom? Their own free will and human faith? I do not believe so at all! By God, that’s whom!
God appoints people to eternal life according to His benevolent design and the perfect counsel of His will for His good pleasure. When were we appointed to believe and have eternal life? Before the foundation of the world, that’s what the Bible teaches [Ephesians 1:4-14] – foreknown, predestined or elected if you want, therefore the called according to His purpose, justified and glorified [Romans 8:28-35].
So that no possible human righteousness can be attributed to a man, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us by faith. Abraham and we are not righteous because the act of faith has rendered us righteous in and of itself. It’s in whom we have placed our faith that makes us righteous, as says
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
So that we might become the righteousness of whom? Our own? No! Of God in Christ. Outside of Christ and God there is no righteousness. It’s all of God.
Philippians 3:9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.
Once again, let’s really get this, not our own righteousness but that which is through faith in whom? Christ! What righteousness is this? It comes from God, proceeds from Him also by the faith He graciously gives us. So again, we are not righteous by anything human, except that which the man Jesus Christ did and by His righteousness imputed to us we are made righteous. So that faith imputes to us God’s righteousness, the righteousness of Christ, and that is why we are considered righteous by God, because we are in Christ.
This righteousness was imputed to Abraham and this is also for us who believed in Christ and are now in Him, the righteousness of God in Him.
Paul now uses the word imputed, before it was the word accounted. Faith in Christ is accounted as righteousness. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to those who have exercised God-given, grace-generated and supernatural faith in Christ.
Righteousness was imputed to Abraham as well as to us. The same principle used by God for him is the same used for us.
Both words accounted and imputed originate in the Greek from the same word logizomai word that can be better translated in English as reckoned.
The use of this word both in Greek as in English is an accounting term which means really to be put into, estimated, accounted, considered, into an account, it also means to settle someone’s account. So that faith in Christ, as this verse says
It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.
This faith, our belief, is imputed. In other words, put into our account as righteousness – Christ’s righteousness on our side of the account’s ledger, our sin on Jesus’ account’s side of the ledger. Our account has been settled for good, righteous!
In fact, we have read the perfect description of imputed or reckoned in the verse we previously read [2 Corinthians 5:21].
Through faith in Christ then Christ’s righteousness is placed in our account and we are made righteous in Christ, because we supernaturally have believed in Him, that is God the Father who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Scripture confirms this fact in several places, believing in Jesus is believing in God.
John 14:9-10 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.
Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Let’s pause again here, with what does a person believe that God raised Christ from the dead? The heart, right? What kind of heart does an unredeemed man have? Of stone, right? So how can one believe with a heart of stone? They cannot! So what kind of heart does one need to believe? A new regenerated heart, because it is with the heart that one believes unto righteousness. No one can believe unless God has already regenerated the person’s heart and in which case one is appointed to salvation and therefore believes.
Anyway, with the heart one believes that God raised Jesus from the dead and this is imputed, reckoned as righteousness, it says it here also. We believe in God believing in Jesus.
You see believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection we believe in God the Father as well. Remember that this was the first prerequisite of faith we read about in [Hebrews 11:6]. By believing that Jesus rose from the dead we therefore believe in God who performed this.
Watch this next passage even more confirms [Hebrews 11:6] and what Paul is saying here in Romans,
1 Peter 1:18-21 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
What a glorious truth this is. We are redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus, through Him we believe in God. God raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory. Believing in Jesus, therefore, our faith and hope are in God.
Paul now concludes Romans chapter IV declaring that Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification.
This verse must be examined in two distinct parts. Both parts make up the work of redemption Jesus performed for the elect. Let’s look at the first part.
Jesus was delivered over to death. Let’s take this part and break it down. Jesus was delivered, the word in Greek is paredóthee from the verb paradidomi a word that means to surrender, to give up, to be given over to.
Jesus, therefore, was surrendered to death by the Father, it was His plan, His will, His work of redemption to surrender, give up His only begotten Son. For God so loved humanity, that He gave, surrendered, His own Son to death for the sins of those appointed to eternal life.
In fact, the word in [John 3:16] God gave His only begotten Son is the word édooken, this verb is the prolonged form of the verb didomi which is the same verb found in Romans IV 25.
Para-didomi, para/was-didomi/surrendered, given up.
It’s the Father who gave up, surrendered, His only begotten Son to death for the forgiveness of our sins.
It was the Father’s will and purpose from before the foundation of the world to give up, surrender, His only begotten Son for the forgiveness of sins.
1 Peter 1:18-21 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Revelation 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
This is by the Father’s design and will.
Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
This passage very well describes what it meant for Jesus to be given up. Here the word used in the translation in verse 23 is handed over.
Once again we see the surrendering nature of this word. It is a word formed by the preposition ék and the word doton; and once again this word has its root in the verb didomi, was handed over is a willing action of the Father and it was His set purpose and foreknowledge to do so.
We did mention it before but the Genesis 22 account of Abraham surrendering His only son, the son of God’s promise, to the will of God was a prophetic enactment of what God would do with His only begotten Son. In fact, the book of Genesis chapter XXII and Hebrews specify two things in the context of what we are seeing in Chapter IV of Romans. The first thing is that as Jesus was surrendered to death and raised from the dead, Isaac also was figuratively put to death and raised from the dead. The second thing is Abraham believed in Him that could raise from the dead, even his own son if he offered him in sacrifice.
Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
However, let’s remember that Jesus and the Father are one and that Jesus did only and always the will of the Father [John 5:19-21]. It was also Jesus’ will to surrender Himself over to death for His sheep.
John 10:15-18 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
We see the unanimous agreement between Father and Son, the willingness of the Son to obey the commandment of the Father. Hence both Father and Son have surrendered Jesus to death for the forgiveness of the sins of the lost sheep, for whom He laid down, surrendered, gave up His life.
This again is because redemption has to be entirely the plan and work of God and because it was and is impossible for man on his own to be saved from the guilt of His sinful nature and to be otherwise redeemed from the slavery of sin and death.
What man in the flesh could not do because the the law was weak through the flesh, Jesus Christ accomplished in Himself for us.
Romans 8:3-4 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
So Jesus was given over, surrendered to death, for the forgiveness of our sins, His life in exchange for ours. His precious blood was shed for us, to take away our sins as well as the sins of all who by faith were awaiting His arrival, so that their sins might also be taken away.
Remember, what John the Baptist said? “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
We have seen that from the beginning, even in the OT, for the sins of the people to be covered up sacrifices of animals had to be made. It is the life of the sacrifice, the blood, the life of the animals at that time, that would temporarily cover the sins of the people until Jesus came, whose sacrifice took away the sins completely.
Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
Once again this passage is very rich. However, for time’s sake, two important points. One, the life of the flesh is in the blood; and two, it is God who has provided this method and this is the OT symbol and shadow of what Jesus came to do. Salvation is of the Lord, all of it.
The blood and the sacrifices of animals was not designed to take away sin and it could not take away sin [Hebrews 10:1-4].
In fact, the sacrificial Mosaic system was designed only to cover the sin of the faithful of the OT times. It was Jesus who later took those away as well as ours [Romans 3:25] and [Hebrews 9:15-26].
However, without the shedding of blood, Christ’s blood, there can be no remission of sins [Hebrews 9:22].
So, Jesus’ life, His precious blood, were given and shed for the total and complete remission of all of the sins of the elect, all of them, past, present and future.
This is what it means that Jesus was surrendered, given over to death for our sin. This act of supreme love has taken away our sins and washed away our guilt. Because of this supreme act of love we can have, as a gift of God’s grace also, the next part of the work of redemption God provided that is mentioned in the second part of Romans 4:25b and was raised because of our justification.
So let’s look at the reasons, Jesus’ resurrection justifies us, in other words renders us righteous, accepted and guiltless before God.
1) It Completed His work of redemption by giving spiritual life to those He died for [Romans 8:1-2], [Romans 8:10-11], [1 Corinthians 15:45-49], [2 Corinthians 4:10-11], [2 Peter 1:3-5].
2) It Confirmed that Christ’s work was accepted by the Father and therefore we also are accepted in Him [Ephesians 1:5-6], [Colossians 3:3], [1 Peter 2:4-5], [Romans 5:18-19].
3) It Assures eternal life for those who are in Christ therefore assuring eternal favor before God [John 11:25-26], [John 14:19], [Romans 8:10-11], [Romans 8:29-34], [1 Corinthians 15:22], [Ephesians 1:13-14], [Colossians 3:3], [1 John 5:11-13].
4) It Assured the sending of the Spirit of Christ to apply His work of redemption to the elect and therefore be justified, accepted and rendered righteous [John 16:7-11], [1 Corinthians 6:11], [2 Corinthians 1:21-22], [2 Corinthians 5:17], [Titus 3:4-7].
He was delivered up to death by God the Father and also was raised from the dead by God the Father. His death purchased us out of the slavery of sin and death, took away all our sins and washed away the guilt of our sins opening the door for the next step, His resurrection which gave us His life. His divine nature made us new creatures and creations in Him and through Him [2 Corinthians 5:17],[Ephesians 2:10],[2 Peter 1:3-5] , and because He lives and is righteous, we also live in Him and through Him live for righteousness [Romans 6:3-11].
It is this judicial act of God that renders us just and righteous in Christ also because He lives to ever make intercession for us before the Father and is able to save us completely, us who have gone to God through Him [Hebrews 7:24-25]. This is because He lives to do this.
It is His life that justifies us before God. Remember, it is His righteousness that is imputed to us, this can only be because He lives. If Jesus had only died and not risen then our faith would be in vain, in vain also because Christ’s righteousness could not in effect be imputed to us [1 Corinthians 15:13-18], and we would still be in our sins.
It’s His resurrection that gives us new life and makes us positionally righteous. This we achieve through exercising faith in what He has done, His death and resurrection [Romans 10:9-10]. While it is His life giving Spirit that applies to us His divine nature, life, faith, we receive all this by His grace [Titus 3:4-7].
This is explained also in the fact that we are in Christ because, you see, we have been crucified with Christ and we therefore died with Him and we were risen also with Christ to new life.
1 Corinthians 1:30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
Because He is the righteous One and He has ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, this also makes us positionally righteous in Christ because we also are seated at the right hand of God with Him. This is our eternal justification. Scripture is filled with examples of this fact.
Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:31-34 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
This gives us the total picture of what the resurrection of Jesus did for us in order to justify us and render us righteous before God.
What does being justified mean anyway? It means to be considered just or righteous, without blame, above any accusation or condemnation. This also gives us proof that we can have assurance of salvation, eternal security.
This concept was in place since the OT times. We have, in fact, studied that Abraham was counted as righteous because He believed God’s promises, and since there are many who think that God did things entirely in a different way in the OT, we need to specify instead that God has always justified people, by His grace and mercy and because of these through exercised faith in Him.
See how in Isaiah this concept is delineated for us clearly.
Isaiah 54:17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD.
This is the OT mirror image of what is described for us in [Romans 8:1-4] and [Romans 8:29-39] and again the heritage or inheritance of the elect is the assurance of being kept by God’s power, no condemnation by anyone or anything and having God’s righteousness imputed to them.
In Christ and through Him we cannot be condemned any longer. We are justified before God. See also [Romans 5:9-10] and [Romans 8:1-2]. This is what the sacerdotal work of Christ does for us, it gives us eternal justification.
As Jesus said in John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
The Spirit of Christ gives life, the life of Christ, to regenerate the heart of the elect who can then believe with their heart onto righteousness, which is also being considered just or being justified. This happens in conjunction with the preaching of the word of Christ, the Gospel. See [Romans 10:9-17].
This is, by the way, what Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus in John 3. All of John 3 from verse 1 to the last speaks of the fact that being born from above is necessary to believe and that it’s a gift from heaven by God’s grace, by His Spirit that applies the redemptive work of Jesus onto the elect who are those who in essence believe. There is now, unfortunately, no time to do an in depth study of John 3. God willing it would be good to do a commentary and Bible study on the Gospel of John in the future.
I would just want to break it down for you in sections.
[John 3:1-12] Jesus tells Nicodemus that to be right with God, to be saved, to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, one must be born from the Spirit of God, must be regenerated, born again.
You see Jesus does not start telling Nicodemus that a person must believe, rather He begins by stating that a person must be regenerated by the Spirit, become a born anew person, and that this is from the Spirit according to God’s will and purpose. See [John 3:8].
It’s the Spirit’s work by God’s will. So we see that even in the chronology and order of Jesus, exposition of how you obtain salvation, regeneration is the first essential step. Without this essential work of the Spirit there can be no exercise of saving faith, which comes after.
Jesus also makes reference to what He is saying making an unspoken allusion to the OT, Nicodemus should have known the Scriptures and what they spoke in regard to Messiah’s work. Jesus is referring to the establishment of the New Covenant promise we find in
Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Compare with [John 3:3-10] and [Titus 3:4-7], notice in the passage who it is that is doing all the working.
God says I will sprinkle clean water on you, I will cleanse you, I will give you a new heart, I will put a new spirit within you, I will take out your heart of stone, I will give you a heart of flesh, I will put My Spirit within you, I will cause you to walk in My statutes,
So let me ask you, who is doing all the work? How much did you have to do in the process of your salvation?
Then in [John 3:13-17] Jesus explains to Nicodemus how God’s salvation would be provided, Jesus would have to be crucified. He makes allusion to this mentioning the serpent that was lifted up on the pole by Moses and all who by faith would look upon that serpent, the image of the very cause of their curse, would be healed and live. So Jesus would become sin for us, the very thing that is our curse and death, so that believing in His death and resurrection, by faith, we would be saved.
Then Jesus explains that God loves the entire human race and not only Israel, that is why He sent Jesus so that through faith in Him, whoever believes in Him would be saved, have eternal life, be justified before God. He did not come to condemn but to save that which was lost, His lost sheep from all over the world.
Jesus continues [John 3:18-21] confirming what He said previously because He says that those who believe will stand no condemnation, rather those who do not believe are condemned already, not will be condemned, they are condemned already and that’s why they do not believe after all.
They love the darkness, they reject the light of God’s salvation, this we established in the study in Romans 3, man loves darkness, he lives in darkness. Only God’s intervention, by His grace giving regeneration by Christ’s Spirit, will produce faith and save, that’s the point of John 3. It’s an entirely divine workmanship. It is nothing at all human except what the man Christ Jesus did, that’s the only human element in our salvation.
[John 3:27-29] This now is John the Baptist speaking and he confirms all that Jesus said and says throughout the Gospel of John and even other Scriptures.
Look at verse 27- John 3:27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.
By God’s grace, sent from heaven, comes regeneration, faith, salvation (of which justification is a part of), and a man cannot receive any of this unless it has been given to him from heaven.
This is an individual application not a general one by the way. It’s not said in a general universal sense. Rather in a way it’s general because it has been made available to every ethnic group on earth. See [John 3:16-17]. It’s individual because although it depends on the exercise of faith in Christ, even this faith cannot be received by anyone unless it is been given from heaven. See also [Matthew 16:16-17],[John 6:44-45];[John 6:63-66].
John 3:34-36 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John concludes this way. Again we see the Spirit is connected with faith and salvation. God does not give His regenerating Spirit by measure. The work of God is complete in the life of the one who believes. Sorry all you who believe in a second blessing of the Spirit, it’s not so. God gives you all of His life through His Spirit and applies all the merits and virtues of Christ to those who believe, we have received of Him fully [John 1:16],[John 10:10], [1 Corinthians 2:12].
Our spiritual life, divine life, and nature could only come through a savior that is alive. All this could only happen, you see, if Jesus was risen from the dead. Otherwise, it could not have taken place.
In fact, only if one is born from above does he or she have eternal life, right? So Jesus had to be risen and had to ascend to the Father to send the Holy Spirit who would do the work of regeneration in accord with the preached Gospel. The sending of the Spirit is crucial to apply Christ’s work of redemption to the elect, and it was determined upon His resurrection and His ascending to heaven .
Christ’s resurrection is essential to have His life giving Spirit apply all of His work of redemption upon the elect.
John 16:5-14 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
Is it clear now how essential the ministry of the Holy Spirit is in light of salvation? It’s His work to apply Christ’s redemptive work to the elect so they can be made alive and believe and this is only possible if the resurrection has occurred. Even as Jesus said it if He did not go away, ascended to the Father, the Spirit would not come. Without Spirit salvation could not be applied, neither could justification occur.
Let’s understand also that the work of salvation is clearly and completely the work of God, as we also clearly see all three persons of the Trinity at work to provide this salvation.
The Father has planned it entirely and by His omnipotence and faithfulness He brings it to pass. The Father in His plan provided the means, and not only He surrendered the Son, it was the Son who willingly came, surrendered Himself and perfectly fulfilled the plan and the will of the Father as well as the law of God and it is the Holy Spirit who is the One who applies it all in accordance with the plan and will of the Father and the Son.
So let’s do the equation. Without resurrection no life. Without life no ascension. Without ascension no life giving Spirit. Without life giving Spirit no spiritual regeneration. Without regeneration no faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, no conviction of sin, no forgiveness of sin, no righteousness for the believers therefore no justification, and no judgment upon Satan – no victory over death.
If Christ’s resurrection did not occur then neither would His life giving Spirit be sent to apply all that He did. Therefore, by conclusion, justification could not have occurred without the resurrection. We are, therefore, justified by His life, that is the fact. He rose from the dead, and He is alive and ever lives to make intercession for us. Thus He is able to completely save us, and He sent of His Spirit to give us His life and benefits of His life and righteousness. That, my friends, includes being eternally justified before God.