Romans 4* The doctrine of justification by faith is shown by the case ofAbraham. (1-12) He received the promise through therighteousness of faith. (13-22) And we are justified in the sameway of believing. (23-25)1-12 To meet the views of the Jews, the apostle first refers tothe example of Abraham, in whom the Jews gloried as their mostrenowned forefather. However exalted in various respects, he hadnothing to boast in the presence of God, being saved by grace,through faith, even as others. Without noticing the years whichpassed before his call, and the failures at times in hisobedience, and even in his faith, it was expressly stated inScripture that "he believed God, and it was counted to him forrighteousness," #Ge 15:6|. From this example it is observed,that if any man could work the full measure required by the law,the reward must be reckoned as a debt, which evidently was notthe case even of Abraham, seeing faith was reckoned to him forrighteousness. When believers are justified by faith, "theirfaith being counted for righteousness," their faith does notjustify them as a part, small or great, of their righteousness;but as the appointed means of uniting them to Him who has chosenas the name whereby he shall be called, "the Lord ourRighteousness." Pardoned people are the only blessed people. Itclearly appears from the Scripture, that Abraham was justifiedseveral years before his circumcision. It is, therefore, plainthat this rite was not necessary in order to justification. Itwas a sign of the original corruption of human nature. And itwas such a sign as was also an outward seal, appointed not onlyto confirm God's promises to him and to his seed, and theirobligation to be the Lord's, but likewise to assure him of hisbeing already a real partaker of the righteousness of faith.Thus Abraham was the spiritual forefather of all believers, whowalked after the example of his obedient faith. The seal of theHoly Spirit in our sanctification, making us new creatures, isthe inward evidence of the righteousness of faith. 13-22 The promise was made to Abraham long before the law. Itpoints at Christ, and it refers to the promise, #Ge 12:3|. InThee shall all families of the earth be blessed. The law workethwrath, by showing that every transgressor is exposed to theDivine displeasure. As God intended to give men a title to thepromised blessings, so he appointed it to be by faith, that itmight be wholly of grace, to make it sure to all who were of thelike precious faith with Abraham, whether Jews or Gentiles, inall ages. The justification and salvation of sinners, the takingto himself the Gentiles who had not been a people, were agracious calling of things which are not, as though they were;and this giving a being to things that were not, proves thealmighty power of God. The nature and power of Abraham's faithare shown. He believed God's testimony, and looked for theperformance of his promise, firmly hoping when the case seemedhopeless. It is weakness of faith, that makes a man lie poringon the difficulties in the way of a promise. Abraham took it notfor a point that would admit of argument or debate. Unbelief isat the bottom of all our staggerings at God's promises. Thestrength of faith appeared in its victory over fears. Godhonours faith; and great faith honours God. It was imputed tohim for righteousness. Faith is a grace that of all others givesglory to God. Faith clearly is the instrument by which wereceive the righteousness of God, the redemption which is byChrist; and that which is the instrument whereby we take orreceive it, cannot be the thing itself, nor can it be the giftthereby taken and received. Abraham's faith did not justify himby its own merit or value, but as giving him a part in Christ. 23-25 The history of Abraham, and of his justification, wasrecorded to teach men of after-ages; those especially to whomthe gospel was then made known. It is plain, that we are notjustified by the merit of our own works, but by faith in JesusChrist and his righteousness; which is the truth urged in thisand the foregoing chapter, as the great spring and foundation ofall comfort. Christ did meritoriously work our justification andsalvation by his death and passion, but the power and perfectionthereof, with respect to us, depend on his resurrection. By hisdeath he paid our debt, in his resurrection he received ouracquittance, #Isa 53:8|. When he was discharged, we, in Him andtogether with Him, received the discharge from the guilt andpunishment of all our sins. This last verse is an abridgement orsummary of the whole gospel.
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