Cover to Cover

August 3

August 3, 2021

Romans 4

 

In his letter to the Romans, Paul has already written to the Jews not to do away with the Law, and he tells them not to enforce the Law on Christian Gentiles. In chapter 4, Paul builds on his message of faith on Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Redeemer of all mankind.  

 

Faith in the Old Testament

Relationship with God has always been based on faith, under both Old and New Testaments. When I first began to learn about the Old Testament, teachers often emphasized the works and performance of the Law, the anger and wrath of God, and the fierce punishment for sin. However, when I began to read the Old Testament, I saw God’s love, mercy, and compassion. I saw a real faith in many leaders and followers of Israel, a faith that showed dependency on God and obedience to His Word with confidence of His promises.

 

Self-sufficiency has always been the opposite of faith

The purpose of the Law was to point a person to a need for a Savior. Even while living under the Law, a Jew had to rely on God’s help to keep it; otherwise, it was impossible to follow. The opposite of reliance on God is the posture of self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is a pride that comes from the desire to be in control, and when it comes to faith, if self-sufficiency is not surrendered, it becomes legalistic in performance. It desires to earn righteousness from God, as if God could be manipulated by works.

 

Self-sufficiency in the New Testament and today

It was not just certain Jews that mingled faith with pride, control, and self-sufficiency. We also see it in the New Testament, and we see it today – the idea that if we are good performers or better than another performer, we will receive from God.

 

True, God-reliant faith will have action, not performance

When someone is truly reliant on the Father, then love will compel that person to action. Works or performance comes from self-reliance. See the difference? Not is not our ability to believe that God is loving and powerful. Demons believe that. The difference between us and a demon is surrender– a demon will never make Jesus his authority.

 

Paul teaches about the faith of Abraham, before the Law

Romans is a powerful book on faith. Paul knows part of his audience is rooted in religious self-sufficiency. In chapter 4, Paul starts with Abraham, who came before Moses and the Law, establishing the old covenant as a covenant of faith, not works or rules based. In verse 3, Paul quotes Genesis 15:6. Quoting from Scripture was the grounds on which Paul based his persuasion for reaching Jews. So he writes, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” The Greek word for believed is “pisteuo” means to not only believe, but give confidence/trust and to commit oneself. Abraham, the father of Israel, committed his life to God in surrender.

 

Paul talks about the faith of David, during the Law

David lived under the Mosaic Law. David was a man who loved and worshipped the Father from a place of deep intimacy. David had a reliance on God, a faith seen early on when protecting sheep and then facing the giant, Goliath. Paul quotes David from Psalm 32:1-2, saying, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed in the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” King David spoke of how blessed it is to receive right standing with God apart from works. This was at a time in history when the Law was in force. As we know, David murdered a man after trying to cover up a pregnancy with the man’s wife. According to the Law, David’s punishment would be death; however, David repents and is not put to death. The mercy of God was seen in David’s life.

 

Circumcision and faith

Paul speaks of circumcision, the cutting of flesh, as a sign and a seal. “The Circumcision” was a reference to the Jews. It was a sign that they were Hebrew and belonged to Jehovah. However, Paul points out that Abraham was not circumcised when he entered into covenant with God. Abraham was also before the Law. The covenant God made with Abraham was a righteousness that was imparted through his obedient surrender. Paul is laying a foundation of the Jewish roots that will take us to Christ.

 

Abraham’s Seed

Abraham is the father, or the originator, of a covenant. In this covenant, God makes a promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations and that through his Seed (Jesus) the entire earth would be blessed (Galatians 3:16; 22:18). The promise of redemption was not just offered to the Hebrew nation, but to many nations. It was never just about the Jew only; salvation has always been about everybody. When we read the Old Testament from this perspective, it can bring more light to how we read it.

 

Grace for Isaac through faith

Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 when Isaac was born, after the couple were beyond child-bearing years. It was after Sarah had gone through the change of life. It was 25 years after the promise. It was PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for Sarah to conceive. THUS, it had to involve a supernatural act of God’s miraculous grace.

 

Faith for our salvation

Our salvation is the same – it is impossible for us to save ourselves or make ourselves righteous. We require the gracious act of salvation through Jesus. Our faith is our dependency on God, a surrender that leads us to obey.

 

 

Psalms 70-72

 

These three psalms will complete Book Two. Psalm 70 is a psalm of David, written with a reliant trust in God and request for God’s help against David’s enemies.

 

Psalm 71 is written by someone who looks to God to be his refuge, lifting God up in praise.

 

Psalm 72 is written by King Solomon. According to I Kings 4:32, Solomon has written over one thousand songs; however, only two are record in Psalms (72 and 127). Solomon writes of the Lord’s reign over all the earth, an earthly kingdom, the millennium. He specifically mentions the kindness of an authority that considers meeting the needs of those who are weak and in need. A true authority that represents Christ is one who works to serve others and meet their needs. What a wonderful Savior!