Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Romans 4:1-11
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Romans 4:1-3
vs 1-3: Yet during the course of his lifetime he became righteous. How did that happen? Paul invites us to reflect on the account of Abraham in the Book of Genesis which records his failures as well as his successes, so we know he wasn’t a perfect man, yet even if someone were to try to argue that he was, that he had somehow earned the right to boast about his obedience, Paul says the Bible proves that God wasn’t impressed. He quotes Genesis 15:6 where it says, “Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” This statement only makes sense if God considered Abraham to be “unrighteous” up until that very moment when he responded in faith. It was his faith that made him righteous in God’s eyes, not his obedience.

Monday: Romans 4:3
v3: We must not miss the significance of this verse (Ge 15:6). This was the moment Abraham was “saved.” Today we are saved by believing in Jesus Christ. Abraham was saved by believing God’s promise that he would be given an heir from his own body and in time have so many descendants their number would be uncountable (Ge 15:4, 5). He is not the first person recorded in the Bible to become righteous by faith. Hebrews 11:1-7 lists others who “gained approval” before him: Abel, Enoch and Noah. But a covenant began with Abraham which would be passed to his descendants so long as the males were marked by circumcision (Ge 17:1-14).

Tuesday: Romans 4:3
v3 (continued): At that moment he became the father physically of all Israel and spiritually of all Jews who become righteous by faith. But Paul also wants us to recognize that this man was unrighteous until the very moment faith arose in his heart. In other words, Abraham was a Gentile who became saved by faith. The law of circumcision was given to him after he was saved, not before. So he is also the spiritual father of all Gentiles who become righteous by faith as he did (Ro 4:11; Gal 3:14, 29).

Wednesday: Romans 4:4
v4: There are two ways people try to come to God: The first is by carefully performing religious practices and personally living such a disciplined life that God has no choice but to recognize that person as righteous. He or she has gained the status of righteousness like a worker being paid a wage. This approach doesn’t require grace. God simply gives that person what is justly due them. This is what Paul is explaining when he says, “Now to the one working, the reward is not reckoned according to grace but according to debt” (literal).

Thursday: Romans 4:5
v5: The second way is very different from the first. Instead of trying to earn God’s approval, he or she refuses to try, considering it to be hopelessly out of reach, and relies entirely on the merciful character of God, who, because of His great love, is more than willing to declare those who put their faith in Him to be righteous. To these God gives His approval as a gift which is totally undeserved. This is what Paul is explaining when he says, “But to the one not working but believing on the One who justifies those who have ignored or defied His Laws, that person’s faith is reckoned to him for righteousness” (my paraphrase).

Friday: Romans 4:6-8
vs 6-8: What we are to understand from this is that Abraham became righteous by the second way, not the first. He gained God’s approval because of his faith, not because he earned it. Centuries later one of his greatest descendants, King David, made it clear that he too realized that he had to come to God by the second way. In Psalm 32 he expresses his great relief that God forgave him (probably for his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba). He certainly makes it clear in the psalm that he knows he’s a sinner, one who stubbornly refused to confess his sin until God severely convicted him. He is enormously grateful God has not chosen to give him what he deserves. He opens this psalm by saying, “Blessed is the man to whom God reckons righteousness without works. Blessed are they whose lawlessness were forgiven and whose sins were covered over. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord by no means reckons sin” (my translation). David is expressing his gratitude because God has considered him righteous because he repented and had faith, not because he earned it.

Saturday: Romans 4:9-11
vs 9-11: In effect Paul asks, to whom will God give such mercy? To Jews only or also to Gentiles? He calls Jews “the circumcised” and Gentiles “the uncircumcised.” To answer this question he directs our attention back to Abraham. He reminds us he became righteous by faith (Ge 15:6), and then asks us another key question: was Abraham circumcised or uncircumcised when this happened to him? He immediately answers his own question: Abraham was uncircumcised at the time. In fact, he would wait at least another 14 years before enduring this surgery (Ge 16:3; 17:23-27). Circumcision was a mark in his body and in that of all his male descendants (Ge 17:4-8). So Abraham is proof that uncircumcised people can receive God’s mercy. He’s a spiritual father to all Gentile peoples who become righteous by faith.

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