Scripture Memory Meditation | Romans 4:3
For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.
Romans 4:3 (CSB)
This holy week, as we ponder upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this is a fitting text to be meditating on. Paul is making the case that we are all under sin (Rom 3:9-10), and our only deliverance from it is by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. Justification by faith apart from works is the heart of Paul’s argument is this passage. The Jews considered Abraham as one whose obedience to God surpassed many. Paul is using the example of Abraham to clarify that even his works do not justify him before God.
Paul is alluding to Genesis 15:6. God had dealings with Abram, later called Abraham, over a period of forty years. During this time, Abraham was called to leave his homeland and journey to a country unknown to him. Initially God made promises to Abram (Gen. 12) that were later enshrined in a covenant (Gen 15, 17) and confirmed finally by an oath (Gen 22) (Gentry & Wellum, 2015). These promises are concerning progeny, land, and blessing. He shall be the father of many nations (Gen. 17:5, Rom 4:17)
Abraham might have perceived this promise as having many biological descendants, dwelling in a certain land, and becoming a nation. But God was referring to a near promise of Abraham’s physical descendants in the land of Canaan, and a far promise of Abraham’s spiritual descendants dwelling in God’s kingdom. There will be a need for Abraham’s tent to be enlarged (Isa. 54-2) because his child (Israel) will act as an instrument of blessing and will bring the nations into the family. All those who share Abraham’s faith shall be of his family, in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 12:3).
When God made this covenant with Abraham, he called him to walk before him and be blameless (Gen 17:2). However, God promised to keep both sides of the covenant. In any case Abraham or his descendants fail to walk in God’s ways, God is willing to pay the price. It is no surprise that Abraham and his descendants failed like Adam and Noah. And at that moment, Almighty God pronounced the death sentence on his Son Jesus (Laan, 1996).
The righteousness that is being credited or accounted to Abraham is not of his own. Paul is implying that one who believes is joined to Christ, whose righteousness is imputed upon that person. The righteousness on the basis of which God declares a person to be right before him is not that person’s own righteousness, but that of Christ himself (Moo, 2018).
Simply put, the Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Lk.1-54-55, 69-75). There is a Kingdom that is already here but not yet. This kingdom is brought forth in the new covenant. The new covenant is ratified by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Isa 53). All those whose souls are thirsty may come, and eat and drink, and be satisfied (Isa. 55:1-5, Matt. 11:28). This is a gift of grace that may not attained by any works or good deeds but may only be attained by believing in the death and resurrection of Christ (John 3:16).
This resurrection week, look not to fleeting joys but to be joined to the one who fully satisfies, whose perfect kingdom will have no end and be full of immeasurable riches of grace. There will be ever-increasing happiness in the hearts of the redeemed, as God displays more and more of His infinite and inexhaustible greatness and glory for the enjoyment of His people (Desiringgod.org, n.d.).
Desiringgod.org. (n.d.). The Desiring God Affirmation of Faith. Retrieved from desiringgod.org: https://www.desiringgod.org/affirmation-of-faith#0.1_14
Gentry, P. J., & Wellum, S. J. (2015). God's Kingdom through God's Covenants. Illinois: Crossway.
Laan, R. V. (1996). Echoes of His Presence: Stories of the Messiah from the People of His Day. Colorado Springs : Focus on the family.
Moo, D. J. (2018). The Letter to the Romans. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
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