This is the second part of my study in Romans 4. Last time we looked at how Abraham was saved by grace through faith; and yes, based on Scripture, that faith was in Jesus Christ. While that is absolutely amazing, it is not impossible for eternal God (who is not limited to our space-time, or our dimensions of reality) to reveal Himself and His Persons to any person. We are so linear in our thinking, and our “knowledge of science” is just starting to catch up with what actually exists. This time we will review how King David’s sins were not held against his account before Christ was born. Then move on
If you are following along with the outline, we are halfway through the first point. Just as a reminder, here is my outline for my Romans 4 study.
- The Covenant Plan: Righteousness through Faith BEFORE Christ’s Atonement. (In this section, we previously reviewed how Abraham was saved).
In this second part of this study, we will pick up from where we left off and see how David was saved. Then we will move to the remaining sections.
2. The Covenant Fulfillment: Righteousness Through Faith IN Christ’s Atonement (In this section, we will realize (1) grace is bestowed before entering the covenant; and, (2) grace cannot be earned or repaid).
3. The Covenant Eternally Realized: Promises are Inherited by Faith In God’s Covenant Made THROUGH Christ (In this final section, we will be amazed at the eternality of God’s binding oaths).
Ok, let’s jump in. Many of the Psalms (regardless of their author) and the historical telling of David are so relatable to people today because of the poetry and prophecy; because of the ups and downs, trials, passions, and mistakes; but also, I think because we realize that God chose this very human person to establish a throne promised to be an eternal one (intriguingly, one that the Christ will fulfill). Our God understands our humanity. Like a loving human father, He disciplines us and encourages us to get back up when we error and follow the right way; and, as the one and only perfect, unchanging, foreknowing Father, He has laid up an inheritance for us! It’s so exciting because He does not break His covenants.
Grace in Sins Not Imputed: David in Covenant and Under the Law (Romans 4:5 to 8)
Some of these Roman church-age believers were there when Peter explained what was happening on the day of Pentecost. Peter said:
- “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. “For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the LORD always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover, my flesh also will rest in hope. for You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.‘ “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, “he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ‘ “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:23 to 38).
Like Peter, Paul pointed to David’s writings in Romans 4:5 to 8 because David celebrated the same truth as Abraham. Consider these verses David wrote in Psalm 32:
- “… Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. … I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. … You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. … Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him.”
Here are the technical definitions or references you can investigate for the words used in David’s Psalm:
- Transgression is “overstepping the line”, “violating a boundary”, or a form of rebellion. (Refer to Strong’s G3845, G3847, and H6586);
- Sin is to do an evil deed which is “to miss the mark” of God’s glory and perfection. (Refer to Strong’s G265);
- Iniquity means inward perversion or depravity (from Strong’s H5771), and in the New Testament, a contempt or lawlessness because of ignorance or disregard (from Strong’s G458);
- Forgiveness is to lift in order to carry away. (Refer to Strong’s H5375 and G863). David was under the law, so please consider the picture of the Scapegoat on Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16:20 to 22; John 1:29)
- Impute is “To put on account”. (Refer to Strong’s 3049).
When we confess our sins, God cancels our debt and it is no longer on the books. Praise God!
- “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:10 to 13).
- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9).
I am not certain why people think that believers claim to be sinless. On the contrary, a believer KNOWS without a doubt that they are helpless without the Godhead; without the indwelling Holy Spirit given because of faith in Jesus Christ! Without Christ’s finished work on the cross and His resurrection, we would be unable to have peace with God; and, without God’s drawing, we would be powerless to respond to Him.
Think about this. Our original human nature has a sin bent and enjoys it. Even after Abraham was justified, he repeated some of the things he had done previously (refer to Genesis 20:1 to 18). That’s not ok, but there is forgiveness when it is humbly brought before the LORD (refer to David’s confession in Psalm 51). And be very certain that if a child of God is unwilling to acknowledge sin, the LORD will bring it into the light to stir-up repentance (refer to Nathan’s confrontation of David’s multiple and grievous sins in 2nd Samuel 12).
If there is true repentance, the sinful lifestyle must cease. Thank God that He reveals some sins immediately and others gradually; I’m not sure we could handle being confronted with the sum of our fallenness in one instance. This to me is part of God’s gentle kindness toward us and His longsuffering while He endures the ugliness of iniquity. Yes, a true believer’s desire is to be sinless and we learn to be obedient.
We grow to passionately enjoy our Saviour as He teaches us, but all true believers: know that we fall short of God’s glory; hate our ability to slip into sin; enjoy peace with God; and, delight in freedom from the power of sin. Spending time in Romans 6 helps us understand our calling to overcome sin through sanctification. That was Christ’s Prayer for Believers.
Who is it that accuses us? Not the Father who made the way! Not the Son who paid with His life! Not the Holy Spirit who is our deposit guaranteeing redemption!
So why did Paul bring up David (who was under the law) as an example in this passage about being justified by faith alone?
David, while celebrating “election”, still obeyed the law when he wasn’t breaking it. The law provided a temporary remedy through confession and sin sacrifices. But all of this was done away with through Christ’s final atonement and Paul was writing to New Covenant believers.
Here again, I see that the Holy Spirit is teaching us more about the character of the Godhead using the history They foreknew and intervened in. Listen to another verse from Tom and Sheila Pennington’s hymn called “Our Sovereign God” which I will quote throughout this blog.
Before our birth He planned our days, Laid out our course, ordained our ways. The moments of our lives He weaves, So all the glory He receives. To those He loved before all time, To all He called, and grace renewed, He cannot lie; His word is true, He makes all things to work for good, He makes all things to work for good.
The early church started with 13 Jewish leaders who were disciples of Christ. Eleven of them were chosen by Jesus before His crucifixion; one was brought on board by the eleven; and the thirteenth was selected by Jesus after His ascension, namely Paul the converted Pharisee. These church leaders knew the law but they were called to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Paul said he wanted to develop these (part Gentile, part Jewish) house-church believers. It seems that the early followers of Christ commonly gathered in home churches in addition to some who gathered in the temple in Jerusalem and for a time in some synagogues (refer to Romans 16:5; 1st Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 1:2; and Acts 2:46 to 47). His letter to the Romans started this way:
- “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. … For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Romans 1:1 to 4, and 11 to 12).
Again, Paul continued to make the distinction between God’s gracious gift of faith versus man’s attempt to earn a right standing before God. Here it is:
- “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:” (Romans 4:5 and 6).
Now, just to be clear, Paul was not the only one to have this revelation but he was the one that taught it most. Let’s take a look at the broad agreement by all of the church leaders at the Jerusalem council concerning salvation apart from works of the law according to the will of the LORD.
I love the fact that James (who taught that evidence or fruit of salvation is by works performed) was also at the Jerusalem council and agreed.
It is written:
- “Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 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. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 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? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” … And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: “Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles [speaking of Abraham] to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree [speaking of Scripture], just as it is written: ‘After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things.’ “Known to God from eternity are all His works. … For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:” (These are various passages from Acts 15, starting at verse 6 through 28). There is no disagreement. The Council at Jerusalem occurred around 48 AD and Paul wrote to the home churches in Rome around 57 AD.
Praise the LORD for the freedom in Christ! We don’t have to serve the corrupted nature by instinct nor be trapped in the snares of evil powers. But even more incredibly, we do not need to perform rituals and adhere to burdensome rules to be saved.
It is written:
- “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. … But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” (Romans 6:18 and 22).
And it doesn’t end with earthly freedom here and now. The LORD will set up the tabernacle of David in the coming earthly reign of the Messiah, the Christ. As it is written:
- “In mercy the throne will be established; And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.” (Isaiah 16:5).
Our unchanging God keeps His promises and so all of Israel that survives the time of “Jacob’s trouble” will be saved through faith in the Messiah. For some Gentiles and some Jews, the veil is lifted already although some will not receive it yet. Paul addressed God’s sovereign choice and timing in chapters 9, 10, and 11 of Romans.
He has written history’s final page, His Son’s return will end this age. The Lamb will come in glorious might, Take back His world and end its night. How deep the wisdom of our God, Unknown, unfathomed are His ways. None counsels Him or knows His mind. We bow before Him all our days, We bow before Him all our days.
The key passage from Paul’s use of David’s example in Romans 4 is:
- “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:” (Romans 4:5 and 6).
Note the present tense which means a “continuous action”. It could be stated as “he who keeps on ‘not working’ for salvation but believes on Him”. The word “accounted” in the Greek (Strong’s G3049) is logizomai which is an accounting term for keeping a record.
In essence, the person who believes on Christ AND refrains from working to earn or keep salvation has a recorded entry in a book that accredits them as having the righteousness of faith. This person trusts the sufficiency of Jesus Christ’s atonement of all their sin. This person trusts in God’s Covenant with them.
The believer’s name is entered in the Lamb’s Book of Life with their God-given pardon (refer to Revelation 13:8; and Revelation 21:27). Please note that the evidence of good works is also recorded in heavenly books (Daniel 7:10; Psalms 19:11; 1st Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:7 to 8; 2nd Timothy 4:7 to 8; and Hebrews 6:10 to 11).
The works of an unpardoned person are not birthed from a total reliance on Christ which will be rewarded with a lesser penalty in hell (works without faith). Romans 14: 23 says that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”.
The point is that those who rely on Christ alone and do not try to earn entrance into heaven remain in grace.
- “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1).
We can not have peace with God without having His righteousness imputed to us; we cannot be righteous without faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement for our sins (all of them). We can not have saving faith without becoming increasingly obedient to the Word by yielding to the Holy Spirit because obedience is the result of having the Holy Spirit within.
But if we think we are working to keep our salvation, we are misguided.
- “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4).
Wow! It is so important to ensure your convictions are Scripturally based and not unnecessary yokes heaped upon you by a ‘well-meaning’ person. God may convict one person of one thing, and not another. There may be very good reasons for these differences; ones that we do not understand or foresee. If you are concerned about something, seek it out in Scripture, pray about it, and allow the Holy Spirit to confirm conviction or free you of worry. The Holy Spirit will never disagree with the Word of God.
Know your Bibles and rest in the peace Jesus died to give you. Praise God!
The Covenant Fulfillment: Righteousness Through Faith in Christ’s Atonement
Since it was necessary for Jesus to fulfill all that was written in the Law and the Prophets about the Messiah, Jesus had to be the Son of David and the Son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). Jesus was the Seed of Abraham that fulfilled the promise and extended greater promises.
- “Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. … Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24:44 to 47 and 51)
- “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6)
Grace Gifted Before the Sign of the Covenant (Romans 4:9 to 12)
The Outline of Biblical Usage states that ‘grace’ (Strong’s G5485) is goodwill, merciful loving-kindness, and favour by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.
In Romans 4:9 to 12, Paul reminded believers that Abraham was granted grace before he was circumcised.
For the Jewish people, circumcision was the sign that set them apart as a covenant people, and those who wanted to join the covenant people had to be circumcised by law as an entry requirement. It was instituted by God and anyone not wanting to adhere to the requirement would be cut off (Genesis 17:6 to 14).
Circumcision was a symbol that foreshadowed the Holy Spirit’s sanctification in the heart. For the Hebrews and anyone wanting to join them, it was a sign of God’s covenant of grace prior to Christ.
- “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,” (Ezekiel 11:19).
- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17).
- “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15).
Currently, we symbolize our dying to self and rising with Christ through baptism and we remember His work through communion. The truth is that these symbols, which are Scriptural and so deeply meaningful for those who understand them, can never do what Christ did by dying for us. It was His death and resurrection that completed the justification (the removal of sin, the sanctifying effects of grace in the heart, a humbling and purifying) Refer to what God promised to do for His covenant people in Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:26 to 27; Romans 2:29; and Hebrews 8:10).
Paul’s point is that God’s grace is by His goodwill and not based on lineage and is extended before any ritual or human action. Righteousness is imputed to anyone walking in the steps of faith by God’s grace (Refer to Romans 12). Be careful not to judge your sibling who might just be steps behind you on the path.
Grace Cannot Be Repaid (Romans 4:13 to 25)
We have spent a great deal of time reviewing how God’s grace is extended by His will, and as such, He has chosen to impute righteousness because of faith in what God says, not based on obedience to the Mosaic laws. We know it is impossible to keep the law in our fallen state so we have to be grateful that God made a way.
I would like to highlight Romans 4:14. As I thought about this verse, I had to agree that without changing a person’s desire to sin, heaven would not be wonderful for anyone.
Mere adherence to the requirements of the law does not change a person’s heart. No. A person’s propensity to sin must be resolved. This includes attitudes and thoughts. And if humans are to spend eternity with God, we have to be made holy.
Besides, God ultimately wants individual relationships with each of us. He demonstrates His awe-inspiring nature in the affairs of our lives so that we desire to bond to Him (out of love, respect and understanding); not based on contractual obligations like those found in the law. He would prefer devotion and trust based on His character and getting to know His character takes time. By walking with the LORD through life’s experiences, tests, and trials we learn (on a personal level) that God is who He says He is.
It’s hard for us to have a relationship with someone that we don’t believe. Perhaps some people struggle with circumstances because their impression of God doesn’t match what the full counsel of Scripture states.
I sometimes wonder why God wants fellowship with people who would prefer He was different; someone they designed with the attributes they want. Perhaps God’s longsuffering love and mercy compels Him to forgive us for this (knowing that we don’t always know better). Do you want to have a meaningful relationship with someone who doesn’t believe you, or get to know you for who you are?
We know that God’s Word says that one cancels the other out. Let’s look at verse 14:
- “For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect”
The phrase “to be made void” (refer to Strong’s G2758) is translated to make of none effect, to make empty in a way that abases, neutralizes, or falsifies. What this verse is saying is that if you could be the beneficiary of salvation by fulfilling the law, then faith would be unnecessary and worthless. To top it off, even the promise of being “bestowed”, “bequeathed”, or granted eternal life becomes meaningless.
Looking at the phrase “of none effect” from the original Greek text (refer to Strong’s G2673, “katargéō”) is translated to be or render entirely idle and useless, literally or figuratively; to abolish, cease, cumber, destroy, to bring to naught, to vanish away, and to make void. We can see how this word is used in the following Scriptures:
- “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.” (Galatians 3:17).
- “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4). This verse in the original King James Version reads: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
What a thing! If you try to perform for righteousness, Christ’s atonement for your sin has NO EFFECT on you; it becomes meaningless for you.
God hates our reliance on our good works. Strangely, we can rejoice in ‘faith milestones’ or our ‘error avoidance’ as though any success was our doing. As a believer, any good I achieve is because of the Holy Spirit in me. Friends, I want my actions to be birthed from love and devotion; and, not just because I think it will generate some points with God.
- “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things (and the things that are not) to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 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.” (1st Corinthians 1:26 to 30 New International Version).
That’s right, it all goes back to the grace of God whether it is circumstances, intellect, favour, wisdom, or whatever. And the story of redemption is all about Jesus Christ. LORD, help us to remember this because the human brain (the flesh) needs to be renewed.
Sandwiched around verse 14, Scripture emphasizes that the promise of inheriting the world (whether for Abraham, Jesus, or us) had nothing to do with abiding by the Holy and Perfect Law given to Moses. Consider Genesis 17:16; Genesis 28:14; Genesis 49:10; Psalms 2:8; Psalms 72:11; and, Galatians 3:16. Regardless of dispensation, salvation has always been through total reliance on God for His promises. Even those who promised to fulfill the law believed in God’s covenant (both blessings and cursing). But, God’s perfect law is something that only Jesus could live up to and fulfill; and as such, any breaking or stepping over the line of the law causes separation and wrath. Please refer to verses 15 and 16.
As it is written:
- “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:6).
Oh, praise God with me friends. If we are relying on the finished work of Jesus Christ through increasing and sanctifying faith, then we have died to the law! And more than that! We have been resurrected with Christ specifically to serve God through the enabling guidance of the Holy Spirit who confirms His Word!
- “And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2nd Corinthians 3:4 to 6).
- “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Galatians 2:20 to 21).
The awesome and almighty God remains in absolute agreement with His holiness and righteousness, and as such, all of His substance opposes all that is opposite to it. The strength of God’s dealing with opposition and disobedience is what His creation experiences as wrath; it results in punishment that has a penalty.
Praise God! Where no law exists for a person, there is no punishment. Jesus paid the penalty for sin and rose to life to make available the newness of eternal life.
His character does not change. Praise God!
If He could change, we could have no assurance of escaping eternal punishment, nor could we trust His promise of eternal blessedness.
The Son of God who was incarnated during the age of the Mosaic covenant had to perfectly abide by the law so that He could be the perfect High Priest and the perfect Lamb of God. He fulfilled the requirements of the law for us so that the final atonement could be made. But, the promise of inheriting the world had nothing to do with Jesus’s fulfillment of the law since Jesus was the Creator of the world and the promise was by faith.
Jesus (being fully man while fully God, Hebrews 10:12) had to overcome all human desire to choose a different plan (refer to Hebrews 5:7 to 9) in order to be in perfect obedience and still represent humanity.
- “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2nd Corinthians 5:21).
- “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
- “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” (Acts 2:24).
It was Christ’s faith and total reliance on God’s plan that made Him the heir. He had to trust the Father’s character and plan despite all that He was to humanly endure. He overcame and fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophets (Revelation 3:21 and Luke 24:25 to 27). He is the only One worthy to open the scroll. (Refer to Revelation 5:4 to 10)
What a concept to meditate on. Jesus was the gifted payment for the totality of our sin; one payment once and for all (Romans 6:10). The Son of God had to:
- humble Himself, incarnate into human flesh (as the God-Man) ;
- walk a sinless life, be completely obedient to the Father (as the Son of Man);
- be tested in every way a human can be tested yet not sin (as the Suffering Servant);
- lay down His life (as the sacrificial Lamb of God)
- and then take it back up (as the Son of God had power in off Himself); so that
- all those who walk in the steps of faith are the seed of Abraham and co-heir of the world.
Reference John 10:18; Philippians 2:6; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; Matthew 20:28 ; John 5:19 and 30; John 13:3; John 14:10, 20; Romans 15:8; Hebrews 4:15; John 17:24; and Romans 4:12; Colossians 1:16.
I am astounded when I think that my Saviour did all of this to reconcile humanity back to the Godhead. And, that He is desiring to share His inheritance with the likes of you and me.
- The Father made the Son the heir of the Kingdom;
- The Son shares His Kingdom with us while He remains preeminent;
- The Son submits Himself and everything else under the Father.
If you would like to look into this some more, here are some Scriptures to start you off: Romans 8:17; 1st Corinthians 15:24; Galatians 3:29; Colossians 1:16; 1st Corinthians 6:14; 1st Corinthians 2:9.
These verses will demonstrate the complete unity and faith that the Father had for His Son’s ability to be victorious; and, the Son’s faith in the Father’s love for Him that manifested as obedience and humility.
This type of faith is what is growing within each believer at various levels and stages of maturity. When jointly nurtured by the Holy Spirit’s power and the believer’s submission, this faith will grow until the promise of complete unity with Them is achieved (1st Thessalonians 5:23 to 24; Ephesians 5:2; 1st Peter 2:21; 1st Peter 4:1; and 1st John 2:6) so that for eternity, all assignments under the Father will be of complete joy to the redeemed (1st John 5:3; Matthew 12:50; John 14:21; 1st Timothy 1:17 and Revelation 5:10). As an heir of the universe, how can you ever earn enough to repay the price of Christ’s sacrifice and the value of the universe? You can’t; and, to try to do so, cheapens the gift and inheritance and denies the graciousness and love of God.
I don’t want to ever insult my LORD by trying ineffectually to indebt Him to me with flawed works. Let anything I do be in response to the Holy Spirit and out of love for Him who graced me with Himself.
When we read Romans 4:18 to 22, we understand that saving faith must be outside of yourself. It originates from God’s grace which is His unmerited favour that freely shines His divine influence on your heart. This illumination helps the heart realize that God is entirely capable of doing whatever He promises. Saving faith acknowledges there is absolutely nothing you can do to save yourself; that you entirely trust God for justification, for Him to keep your spirit safe as you traverse this earthly journey, and then to take you safely home to a peaceful and joyful abundance in eternity with Him.
You see, Abraham “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed”, and God’s power manifested what God promised him. Initially, Abraham and Sarah tried to help God fulfill the promise through Sarah’s bondservant. Abraham may not have understood how God was going to fulfill the promise but he did not waver in his faith in God’s promise. Like most of us, we tend to solve problems independently. But when he had been corrected by God, Abraham was fully convinced that God was able to perform life-giving miracles in both Abraham and Sarah. Abraham’s faith moved from just believing to expecting although physically and logically it seemed like an impossibility.
Do you see how a God-birthed faith grows? Although logically it seemed impossible for Sarah to physically give birth, Abraham’s faith moved from just believing to expecting. God could have given this promise to Abraham while they were naturally capable of having children.
But the promise is supernatural. It is entirely God’s doing. Praise God that our Creator Saviour “gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” (Romans 4:17).
- “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:1 to 5 New International Version).
Friends, there is nothing wrong with wanting your life to be pleasing and acceptable to God; if that is not your desire, then a serious adjustment needs to be made. This adjustment can only come from repentance and God’s work in your heart.
But sometimes we drift from “resting in God’s character” to “striving to make things happen”. With the best of intentions, we can move from “grace” to “works“. Our obedience and deeds are incredibly important because they are the fruit of a personal relationship with the LORD. The law is perfect and holy and we can never measure up to it. It is there to (1) tell us how we transgress; (2) identify our need for the Saviour; and then (3) point us back to the only source of reconciliation (which is faith in God’s promise).
I will never tell anyone that they should not obey the commandments. Instead, I will tell them that they are free from performing to earn Salvation because it cannot be earned. It’s an unmerited gift.
Obedience is the necessary result of saving faith, but a REGENERATED HEART that imperfectly obeys only comes BY God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Disobedience is unbelief and saving faith repents when confronted by Scripture or the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Recognize that in the most technical terms, it is God’s grace that saves us because it is God’s grace that originates our ability to believe; and, once we believe, our faith in God’s goodness brings us to an obedient love.
Do you know why this is important? If you think your faith saves you, what happens when your faith is shaken? And if you believe that you can just create faith in Christ, then would you expect God to owe you salvation because you were able to manufacture it for yourself?
No friends, God wants your salvation to be a gift of His grace which awakens faith; and when, by this faith, you rely on Him, you are pardoned. When you realize that your heart could never have that regeneration without Him; then your response is an increasing gratitude and love that wants to please Him; then your spirit sees His ways are right and obedience is not a hardship.
- “If you love me, keep my commands.” “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 14:15 and John 15:10 New International Version).
Let me ask you this. What happens when you have the promise and God asks you to surrender the very thing that He had promised you; the thing you agreed with Him on and received? If you have some time, please review Genesis 22 which details Abraham’s testing.
When we think about our respective journeys of faith, have we considered what tests we will need to pass?
Abraham’s test was designed to bring him to a place of surrender; a place of willing obedience regardless of the personal cost. Abraham surrendered the very promise to God by almost sacrificing Isaac, his only child with Sarah. Abraham so believed in God’s ability to deliver what He promised, that Abraham was willing to trust Isaac’s mortal fate to God.
Do we trust in God’s character and His Word enough to lay down the very things He promises?
Here is how it is summed up in Hebrews:
- “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” (Hebrews 11:17 to 19).
Having foreseen the entirety of humanity’s sin, the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) still loved Their creation so much that They provided a reconciliation path for anyone willing to accept the Messiah, the promised Seed. God knew that we had no way of coming to Him without His grace, and He needed a righteous way to pardon us. Through the ages, El Elyon (The Most High God) has always pointed to Himself (ĕlōhîm, the plural singularity of the Triune God).
This Holy Self-Existing One has been with us as:
- Creator (Yᵊhōvâ, Yahweh, the LORD, Jehovah; Genesis 2:4), and
- Covenant-keeper, our Saviour (Daniel 9:4; Leviticus 26:42; 2nd Chronicles 7:14; Exodus 34:6 to 7 and Luke 1:72). Praise God!
Please note that in the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), the words “Kurios” (which means Lord or Master) and “Despotês” (which means Lord signifying the omnipotence of God as the absolute ruler) are used in place of the Hebrew name “Yahweh”.
These Greek words are the same titles used by the Apostles for Jesus (Refer to Romans 4:8; 1st Peter 1:3; Revelation 1:8; Acts 4:24; Revelation 6:10; and 2nd Timothy 2:21 for examples). The Covenant LORD is the same yesterday, today and forever!
- He revealed to Abraham when making the covenant that He was El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty) when He appeared as a flame (refer to Genesis 15:17; Exodus 3:2 to 3; and Jeremiah 34:18). This relationship came with the command to walk with the LORD and be perfect. Why would God pardon Abraham knowing that he would error but grow in faith? Because God would be the All-Sufficient One who would provide ALL of Abraham’s needs on earth and in heaven. (Please see Genesis 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; and 48:3 for references to El Shaddai)
He revealed to Moses that He was Yahweh or Jehovah, “the existing One” (Exodus 3:2, 4; and Exodus 6:3). He again appeared in flames in the burning bush.
- He gave His personal name to Moses when He called Moses to deliver this 4th generation born in Egypt as God had promised Abraham. He gave the law to Moses so that these called-out covenant people would know how they transgressed God’s laws and provide a way for them to temporarily appease His righteous wrath until the birth of the Messiah.
- He revealed to a chosen shepherd and forgiven prophet-king named David so much more about His nature which resulted in many Psalms including the understanding that the LORD is a shepherd leader and protector; the redeemer; the healer; and our provider. Refer to Psalms 23:1; Psalms 24:10; Psalms 48:8; Psalms 57:2; Psalms 78:35; Psalms 80:1, 4, 19; Psalms 84:3; and Psalms 103:3).
Now faith must result in an action. If you believe, you will trust what He says and obey it; you will believe who He says He is and rest in it. You will believe in all of it (even what you don’t understand yet).
- “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,” (Romans 4:23 to 24).
Now I understand that there are many things we may wrestle with within Scripture. That is the challenge. Are you willing to walk the steps of faith? To hear what God says and to step out into it?
The way to hear is to meditate on the Word of God and to talk to God about His Word in prayer. As circumstances confront you, you need to rest obediently on what God has said in His Word and by His Spirit. If you do (even if you misstep from time to time), you know you are justified by faith, from faith to faith.
- “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
- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9).
- “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1st John 5:1 to 5 New Living Translation).
The Covenant Eternally Realized: Promises are Inherited by Faith In God’s Covenant Made through Christ
Romans 5:1 reminds us that since we have been justified by faith (alone), we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. God’s plan from the beginning was to be in a loving relationship with those who willingly believe in Him. He gives us every reason to believe in the Godhead:
- creation points us to a creator;
- the eye-witnessed and recorded miracles of Christ;
- the finished work of Christ on the cross;
- the eye-witnessed and recorded resurrected Christ;
- the supernatural creation of the church called the body of Christ;
- Scripture (both old and new point to Christ and are authoritative for daily living; and
- the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower people to have faith in Him.
Is there a step you haven’t moved past? By His grace, He draws us and we respond to the call just like Abraham, following in the steps of faith.
Praise God. He paid the debt of sin for us through the crucifixion of His Son and created one simple and just way to pardon people through the belief that He raised His Son from the dead to reconcile sinful humans to Him. And through this initial response of faith, we are pardoned (but that’s just the beginning).
We cannot have peace with God without being righteous; we cannot be righteous without faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement for our sins. We can not have saving faith without becoming increasingly obedient to the Word by yielding to the Holy Spirit which is fruit, works of faith.
- “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life (present continual tense) and will not be judged but has crossed over (present continual tense) from death to life.” (John 5:24 New International Version)
Jesus prayed to God the Father:
- “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:18 to 23).
- “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 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.” (Romans 8:30 to 34).
- “… 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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9 to 10).
- “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1st Corinthians 6:9 to 11).
- “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” (1st Corinthians 16:13).
- “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1st Timothy 1:15).
- “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2nd Corinthians 12:10).
- “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3 to 7).
- “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. … “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” …. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (Various Scriptures from the New International Version of 1st Corinthians 15).
O sovereign God, we praise Your pow’r; Your wisdom, goodness we adore! We bow our hearts before Your throne; Help us, O Lord, to trust You more, Help us, O Lord, to trust You more.
If you have not placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Redeemer and you sense a tugging at your heart, it’s probably the Holy Spirit beckoning you to meet Him. You can use your own words to tell the LORD you believe and ask Him to fill your heart with the knowledge of Him and the power to choose freedom over sin.
Then start reading the Bible (perhaps start in the book of John). Get connected to other believers who will help you understand and encourage you during life’s challenges and celebrate the journey with joy!
For prophetic documented proof that Jesus is the Messiah, please visit https://desiringfruitfulness.ca/choices/
All Scripture in this blog is from the New King James Version unless otherwise specified.