For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)
Do you want to please God? “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Now, let that sink in for a moment. It doesn’t say that without faith it is unlikely that you can please God. It doesn’t say that it is difficult or improbable, but the Holy Spirit inspired author says, “It is impossible!” Faith is the only way to please God. This is Paul’s theme in Romans 4.
God provides a righteous standing through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (v.1-8). 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. 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. The word, “accounted” is found 11 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!
Most people in our world profess some kind of faith. There is only one genuine faith. You can profess faith without possessing faith, but you cannot possess faith without professing it (v.9-12). We are not saved by works, not by faith plus works, but by a faith that works! There came a time when God commanded Abraham to be circumcised as a symbol of the covenant. Abraham was already justified by faith. Circumcision was the outer testimony of the inner transformation. There are those who insist faith in Christ alone is not enough. You must believe and be baptized according to the Church of Christ. You must believe and keep the Sabbath according to the Seventh Day Adventists. You must have faith in Christ and keep the sacraments according to Roman Catholicism. It is the great dividing line between the Gospel and a false gospel; between truth and error. By no means are we suggesting that a person’s lifestyle is unimportant. Abraham was a faithful servant of the Lord. It was, however, a walk of faith! Faith was the root of his righteousness; his good works were the fruit of his faith.
Faith rests in the promise of God. We aren’t saved by our faithfulness, but by God’s (v.13-25). The law wasn’t given to Moses until five centuries later, so how could Abraham have known it? Even had he known it, he couldn’t have kept it. All the law can do is show us that we are lost (v.15), but that is vital for we won’t be saved until we see that. God didn’t intend for Abraham to be a reservoir of blessing, but a river of blessing. He would be the father of all who place their faith in Christ.
In the high court of heaven, you can plead not guilty and go to trial. The evidence against you will bring the death sentence. Or, you can plead guilty and throw yourself on the mercy of the court and be pardoned. Jesus has paid our penalty. We don’t have to do so!