FAITH ALONE; Romans Part 19

sola-fide-block.jpg.jpg Justified  by  Faith (e)  Faith  Alone

 

Romans  4:13-16

In  this  passage  which  essentially  teaches  the  Gospel  from the  example  of  Abraham,  who  is  the  Father  of  all  them  who believe,  the  Apostle  now  identifies  the  importance  of  faith. He  deals  with  faith  in  both  the  negative  and  the  positive, therefore  enabling  us  to  observe  this  grace  in  its  fullness.

1. The  Alternative to Faith

Already  in  this  4th  Chapter  Paul  has  been  dealing  with arguments   which   threaten   this   precious   doctrine   of Justification  by  Faith.    In  v2-5  he  examined  the  fallacy  of  a works  based  religion.    V9-12  focused  upon  the  dependency upon   religious   rituals  (circumcision   being   the   prime example  here)  for  justification.    In  this  study  Paul  critically considers  the  elevation  of  the  law  as  a  means  of  salvation. The  law  is  a  moral  code,  it  contains  a  set  of  values  which are  necessary  for  our  physical  and  mental  well  being  and which  provides  good  order  in  society.    Throughout  the religions  and  the  peoples  of  the  world  there  is  a  mindset which  insists  upon  maintaining  obedience  to  the  law  and to  morality  as  a  means  of  obtaining  God’s  approval. Paul  is  teaching  here,  however,  that  dependency  upon  law is   an  alternative   to   faith   because   it   cannot   co-exist alongside  true  faith:

a If  law  is  the  alternative  then  faith  is  made  void,  v14.

b If the law is an alternative the promise is worthless, v14.

c As  an  alternative  the  law  brings  wrath,  v15. 

This  is  the  key  point  because  there  is  nothing  wrong  with law  and  proper  moral  values.    The  problem  is  with  us because   we   fall   far   short   of   keeping   its   principles. Therefore  law  is  only  useful  insomuch  as  it  teaches  us  that we   are   sinners,   “…where   no   law   is,   there   is   no transgression.”

2: The  Value  of  Faith

Having  examined  life  without  faith  which  rests  upon  law we  shall  now  consider  the  true  value  of  faith  in  the  matter of  justification.

(a) It  is  faith  alone  which  establishes  grace,  v16.

Law  claims  what  we  deserve,  or  what  we  think  we  deserve. Faith  on  the  other  hand  looks  for  the  gift  that  comes  from God,  a  gift  that  we  have  no  right  to.

(b) It  is  faith  alone  which  makes  salvation  certain,  v16.

Law  based  salvation  is  never  certain  because  man  is depending  upon  self.    How  can  an  individual  be  sure  that they  been  honest  enough,  that  their  very  thoughts  have been  morally  pure  and  that  their  attitudes  have  been beyond  all  reproach.    For  example  the  Roman  Catholic Church,  a  law  based  religion,  offers  no  hope  to  its  devotees but  the  burning  flames  of  purgatory  because  even  that system  recognises  that  no-one  can  perfectly  observe  the law.    Faith,  however,  simply  supplies  assurance  because  it looks  upward  to  God,  not  inward  to  man.

(c) Faith  alone  makes  salvation  available  to  all,  v16-17.

Law  based  efforts  exclude  people  on  the  basis  of  religious affiliation,   culture,   language   or   past.     Faith  takes  us beyond  all  of  these  obstacles  and  extends  the  Gospel  freely to  the  whosoever  who  will  call  upon  the  name  of  the  Lord. 

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