Romans 4:1-8 presents to us the source of the life that pleases God: faith’s provision. God provides a righteous standing through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the one and only way anyone has ever been saved and the only way anyone ever will be saved. Paul appeals to the authority of the Old Testament as the basis for this belief. He doesn’t want you to think this is just an opinion. It is the clear teaching of the Word of God. He will illustrate this doctrine by a man who was a great saint—Abraham—to show that everyone needs to be saved by faith, and from a great sinner—David—to show that everyone can be saved by faith.
We read of ABRAHAM’S DISCOVERY OF THE SOURCE OF ACCEPTANCE:
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. (Romans 4:1-4)
The word “found” in verse one, in the Greek, is the word from which we get our English word, “Eureka!” Just picture someone digging in a deep, dark mine, and then they strike a vein of pure gold. With enthusiasm they cry, “Eureka!” That’s what Abraham felt when he found out he could be the friend of God through faith. But, what we’re talking about is much better than gold—indeed more valuable than all the wealth of the world, “For what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”
God sought Abraham (Abram, as he was called at the time) when he was not seeking Him. In fact, he was a pagan—living in the midst of idolatry—when God called him by sovereign grace. Because even the capacity to believe is a gift of grace, there’s nothing for us to boast about, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God” (Rom.4:2). No—there will be no one strutting down the streets of gold in heaven; none will swagger up to the throne. We will acknowledge, “Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe.”
Abraham responded to God’s call and in Gen.15:6 we find the words Paul quotes in verse three, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness’ ”. God sought him and God saved him! The word, “accounted” in this verse, or a form of it, is found eleven times in this chapter. It is a bookkeeping term that means our debt of sin has been transferred to Christ’s account and His righteousness has been credited to ours!
Have you made this discovery? Has there been that “eureka” moment in your life?
Paul also writes of DAVID’S DESCRIPTION OF THE SOURCE OF ACCEPTANCE:
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.” (Romans 4:5-8)
These words are from Psalm 32, after David’s horrible sin. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and conspired to have her husband Uriah put to death to try to cover it up. But you can’t hide sin from God and when David was confronted, he was convicted and confessed with deep contrition. God forgave him and God did what David could not—He covered his sin! John Phillips, in his commentary on Romans, adds, “his sins [were] not only forgiven but forgotten; not only covered but cancelled.”
There is but one way to a God-pleasing life—and that is the way of faith. Have you trusted in Christ’s work on the cross for you? You dare not trust in yourself. There is no hope to be found there. Place your hand in the nail-scarred hand of Jesus today.