Romans Chapter 4: 1 – 6
“What shall we say then…….. Abraham believed God and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous….”
God accepted Abraham as righteous because of his faith in Him. In Gen Ch 12 God call Abraham to leave his nation his fathers home and his own people, and here we see this man Abraham accepting the Lords word and moving out into an unseen future. And then we know of what happened to Abraham thereafter.
In Rom 4:3 we see that God accepted Abraham as righteous because of his faith. It was not because of any good things that Abraham had done, nor it was because of the great things he had done for the Lord, it was purely an act of God to accept Abraham as righteous and shower the divine grace upon him.
Abraham was not justified because of His work, but because of his faith or his personal relationship with God. Abraham was still a gentile when he found favor in God’s sight. Abraham had nothing to boast except his God who had saved him by his grace that came through faith.
There are two major covenants in the Bible. The First one is the Mosaic covenant seen in the Old Testament, the covenant of law which is a conditional law. This law is based on parameters, which needs to be fulfilled and equivalent for a result. For eg: it would sound more like
Do and obey = Blessing & Failure, Disobey = Curse or Punishment.
The New Testament (NT) law is a law based on Grace. It’s an unconditional law. It does not depend on what a person does or acts but is only based upon God’s favor through faith.
As we are under the NT Covenant, God blesses us and keeps his promise to us despite our failures, sins and shortcomings. We are abiding under the grace. Whenever we make a mistake, we run to the one who can forgive and then we are forgiven, there is no condemnation.
Legalism demands obedience or high level of holiness God’s grace is motivated by love. The bible demands us to be holy because God is Holy, but as Apostle Paul puts it (Rom ch 7:14), at times I cannot do what I am supposed to do and do things that I am not supposed to do. He cannot be purely holy perfect, but we are constantly striving to be more holier than we are at time moment.
What is Grace ?
Grace is unmerited favor, it is unrelated to any deeds we do. It is not withheld because of anything or any act or work. God’s grace is consistent. God’s grace is reaching down to help the sinner who is unable to help themselves. (Churches which do not allow sinners to come inside should think twice)
We sustain because of the Grace of God not because of the works of our hands. So as in Romans Ch 4, we have no scope to boast.
The people who claim to follow the Bible and depend on their work and actions to be declared right before God have not understood the Bible.
The Catholic understanding is that Grace + Good Works = Salvation
The Evangelical or rather Biblical understanding is Grace + salvation results in Good Works. Most people have mixed it up.
Paul says “What a wretched man I am…”
Many a times we are faithful but despite there is no blessing or fruit. We are diligent but there is no result. We exercise or faith, believe in God, but everything is in vain. Let’s understand we cannot get results until we find God’s favor or grace through the faith in His son.
Psalms teaches us that God is close to the broken hearted and to hears those with a contrite spirit.
So we need to lift our eyes from who we are and what we have and confess that “Lord. I am nothing without you, I need your favor and Grace”
Remember Ps 137, unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers are in vain, unless the Lord, protect the watchmen are in vain” Unless we fins God’s favor, our efforts are in vain. It is not because there are not enough laborers to build and watchmen to protect, but unless the Lord is over it..;…. it’s in vain
The same principle which we have read above works with our finances. We cannot expect God to bless us more because we pay more for in the church and different ministries. In Mark 12: 41- 43, we read about the poor lady who puts 2 copper coins in offering. Jesus says she has put more. The other people too have put their tithe. The NT does not mention about tithing, here its more of a generous giving. We do not give out of the need to fulfill the law, but out of love for God and for God’s mandate. It’s a sorry state that today’s evangelist and tele-evangelist have corrupted the New Testament understanding of giving. They have made it into give and take or invest and profit or give 1 and take 2.They have degraded the very power of God and are questioning the grace of God through their teachings.
In Gen Ch 14: 20, Abram, gives 10% to the King of Salem. Right after this giving, the King of Sodom offers Abram the wealth of his kingdom. But Abram strait away refuses it. He refuses it because he was not expecting a return when he gave to the Lord, because he did not give so that he would get back more. His eyes were set on Highest of the Highest. Because of his faith, God gave him much more in later stages as we know.
Psalm 50: 12 says that the whole world and everything in it belongs to God. Today for many giving to God is a kind of business or investment for profit. The eyes are upon the things of this world or for the pleasure this world can offer. It’s a common thing this day to hear preachers on the stage shouting: Give and it shall be given unto you. Or the Lord needs, it an urgent needs to give and help, or support.
They have bounded God under a law. Take and Give more.
- They prove that God has lot of needs. (Questioning God greatness)
- You have to give to him so that he can give you back. (Questioning the love of God)
- We are paying God for our blessing and to receive his Grace.
- Sow $50 or $100 in this particular ministry, and the Lord will give you a car or a house or for a job………….. whatever you ask. (But the Bible says whatever you ask in my name, I will give it to you…, there is no precondition to his giving, now we are setting our focus on the things of the world, listen to Jim Reeves song “This world is not my home….. I am just passing through…”)
Its time for us to come back to the basics, and not give heed to such heresies that are creeping into the Church. God is all sufficient to provide all your needs irrespective of what you can give to him.
In John 21:15-17 before Christ’s crucifixion, Peter had denied the Lord three times. This was the culmination of three and a half disappointing years that he had been with the Lord, during which he had proved himself proud and self-assertive. Peter himself and the other disciples must have thought that Peter would be condemned or punished for such an act of denying and disowning his relationship with Christ. Yet it was to Peter to whom Christ gave authority over his sheeps. When Christ was about to entrust Peter with the feeding of His sheep, he made no reference to any of these weaknesses or failures. He did not even challenge him to be humble and prayerful in the future and to witness boldly, facing persecution if need be for the sake of his Lord. No, He did not ask any such questions, although these are indeed the qualifications we should look for in a spiritual man, and especially in one who is to be a leader among God’s people.
The Lord Jesus knew that one simple question would be sufficient. If that question found a true response, everything else would automatically follow. “Lovest thou Me more than everything and everyone else?” Love for Christ is the real test of any man’s spirituality.
The test of genuine spirituality in God’s sight is one thing and one only: the extent of your love for Him. Ultimately that is something between you and your Lord alone. He puts the question: “Lovest thou me?” and it is for you to find the answer.
And when you get into this divine relationship there begins the divine Grace. Then you are under His grace. Then our merits and actions are completely washed away and just his grace continues. My Grace is sufficient for you.
May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.