BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For Sunday September 18, 2011
GOOD NEWS TO BELIEVE
(GOD saves people through faith)
(Romans 3:28-4:5 & 4:16-25)
In the first century, many Jews believed that Paul’s teachings on grace and salvation by faith, seriously undermined the Mosaic Law, and thus, denied GOD’s Old Testament revelation to man. Paul argued instead, that, the Gospel he taught only served to uphold the Law, and to give it the place that GOD always intended for it to have.
In Romans chapter 3, taking up at verse 28, Paul sets out to educate the early Christian Church in Rome and other places on how GOD’s grace and salvation through JESUS CHRIST actually establishes the Law in GOD’s intended role, which is to be a mirror that can, first, show us our sins, and then, point us toward faith.
In the Greek, the word New Testament writers use for “faith” is “pistis”, and it means “to rely upon with an inward certainty”. Even before the Law, there was Faith. And as I mentioned in the last week’s bible study, Abraham is the towering figure to whom the Jews traced their origins and special place as GOD’s chosen people. By quoting Genesis 15:6, in verse 3 of chapter 4, Paul is able to prove to the Jews that the roots of faith are anchored in an “imputed”, rather than “earned” righteousness.
Here Paul demonstrates from sacred history, that, salvation always has been a gift of GOD received through faith, and that, faith is the way by which Abraham received his salvation, even before there was a Law, or a “Ten Commandments”. Righteousness was accredited to Abraham, because he had faith, and he believed GOD (4:1-3).
In the Greek, there is also a wonderful sounding word that New Testament writers use for “promise”. It is “epaggelia” (ep-ang-el-ee-ah), and it is “an announcement of divine assurance of good”. In Romans 4:13-17, Paul argues that, the “promise” of GOD was given to Abraham because of his “faith”. And since the promises that are given to him, and, to his offspring are rooted in faith, and not in the law, the Jews then, must also rely on faith, rather than works, in order to please GOD.
Abraham was confident that GOD was able to do that which HE had promised, and, that HE would surely keep HIS word. Whenever we believe GOD’s promise of salvation through JESUS CHRIST, we too, are accredited with “righteousness” that we did not, or could not earn on our own (Romans 4:18-25). If salvation depended on us we would surely be lost, however, since our salvation depends on GOD keeping HIS promise to those who believe, we have the greatest of all possible guarantees.
In Mark 10:27, JESUS responded to HIS Disciples’ question of “Who then can be saved?” There JESUS answered by saying, “With men it is impossible, but not so with GOD: for with GOD, all things are possible”. There JESUS is saying, in effect, that, if a man is to depend upon his own efforts to achieve salvation, then, it is impossible for anyone. Salvation is a gift from GOD, and with GOD, all things are possible. If a man is to rely upon his own efforts, he can never be “saved”. However, if he will rely on the saving power and redeeming love of GOD, then, he will be able to enter, for free, into the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the thought that JESUS stated then, and that’s the thought that Paul is stating here in this letter to the Romans, and that’s the thought that is still today, the very foundation of the Christian Faith.
Paul used Abraham as an example, because the Jews regarded him as the father of their race, and the earthly pattern of what a man should live like. Paul was seeking to prove that what makes a man righteous, is not his works, but rather, it is his faith and trust in GOD and HIS word.
Paul also used Abraham as an example, because he himself was a wise teacher who could discern human thoughts. He recognized that faith is abstract, and, that the human mind finds abstract ideas hard to grasp. Using Abraham as an example was Paul’s way of personifying faith, and thereby, developing understanding in the human mind, not just for those people in his day, nor, just for the Jews, but for all people, for all time.
(1). Guard against losing faith in GOD because you are disappointed in people.
(2). Christians cannot operate without “faith”, and we certainly can’t please GOD
(3). Abraham is the personification of faith in Paul’s illustration, because he lived
before there was a “Ten Commandments”. Through faith only, he believed in, and
obeyed GOD, and GOD, as a result, accredited him with righteousness, and he
received GOD’s salvation based on his faith.
(4). When we obey GOD, we can be assured that GOD will keep HIS word of
promise to us even today, because GOD cannot and will not change.
Pray a prayer of thanks to GOD for promises kept when we trust and believe on HIM. Thank HIM for life more abundant when we live it through CHRIST JESUS, WHO continues to fulfill those promises that enhance and enrich our lives each day that we follow HIM.
KEY VERSE: Romans 4:20-21
DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Genesis 15:12-20, Acts -41, John 14:1-3
For questions and further information email Larry D. Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Bible Study Lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander