Gracetidings: Faith the access key to grace

 Paul was showing how these things were proven even in the Old Testament. They were there for those who would read it. Then he shifted his attention to David:

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access by faith into this grace” (Romans 5:1-2). We are saved by grace through faith, not works lest any man boasts (Ephesians 2:8).

Why did God give commandments if salvation is just by grace? This betrays a misunderstanding of the purpose of the law. Some believers think that God gave the law so we could keep it and thereby earn relationship with Him. That wasn’t the purpose at all. In Romans 4, Paul went on to use examples from Scripture to answer this question, beginning with Abraham.

Abraham had some serious problems in his life. If Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.  “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for by righteousness” (Romans 4: 2-5).

God promised Abraham that he would be the father of all nations and that his descendants would become as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand of the earth, and in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:2-3; 13:16; 15:4-5.) Abraham then believed God and the Lord counted him, at that moment, righteous. (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3.).

This was thirteen years before Abraham received the sign of circumcision, which is the dominant tradition these legalistic Jewish believers were trying to impose upon the Gentile Christians.

 Paul was showing how these things were proven even in the Old Testament. They were there for those who would read it. Then he shifted his attention to David:

“Even as David also describes the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works, [then Psalm 32:1-2 is quoted] saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:6-8).

David was prophesying and describing the day that you and I live in when the Gospel is preached.

It had been revealed to David that a Savior was coming. Of course, he gave many prophecies concerning this and saw by the Spirit a wonderful day coming when we would be justified without the deeds of the law. Notice verse 8, how the Word says, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” It’s not just “did not” or “does not,” but “will not.” God’s Word plainly reveals that our past, present, and even future tense sin has been dealt with through the Lord Jesus Christ!

Paul was quoting David to show once again that the Old Testament had the Gospel preached in it. While repenting over his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11), David said: "For you do not desire sacrifice or else I would give it, you don’t delight in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart- these, O God you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16,17).

What a radical statement for David’s day. The law prescribed that certain sacrifices had to be offered for the sin that he had committed. However, according to the record of scripture, he didn’t offer those sacrifices. David simply repented before God with the knowledge that this was what the Lord was truly after. He had a revelation that all the Old Testament law was types and shadows of the Savior to come. David knew that the real thing God was after was his heart.

In the next three verses of Romans 4, Paul returned to Abraham, saying:” Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also” (Romans 4:9-11).

 Abraham was declared righteous thirteen years before he received the sign of this righteousness, circumcision. He was already righteous prior to being circumcised. This shows that it’s not any of the things, even sacraments, that we do that make us righteous. It’s not water baptism, the Lord’s Supper, or our own personal holiness.

These things are by-products of our relationship with God. They are the fruit of right standing with Him, not the root of it. In the latter part of Romans 4, Paul referred to Abraham once again as an example of believing God and his faith being counted to him for righteousness. He concluded by saying that these things weren’t just for Abraham alone, “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:24-25).

In other words, Abraham’s story was written for our sake. He did all these things that weren’t right, but God still counted him righteous because of his faith. By this example, we can see that God loves us independent of our performance. Right standing with Him comes through faith.

However, Abraham’s sin cost him. Lying two times to kings about his wife caused him hardship. (Gen. 12:11–18; 20:1–2.) Going into Hagar (Sarah’s maid) and getting her pregnant caused him some grief. (Gen. 16:3–4.) Although his sins cost him, God didn’t relate to Abraham based on his holiness (performance). If He had, Abraham would have been in serious trouble. Abraham had married his half-sister. (Gen. 20:12.) According to the law, this was an abomination in God’s sight, punishable by death (Lev. 18:29).

 If God had been dealing with Abraham according to his performance and giving him what he deserved, Abraham would have been killed. He wasn’t perfect. But God wasn’t dealing with him according to the law. Through Abraham’s example, Paul showed how the Gospel was being preached in types and shadows even in the Old Testament.

Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul was saying that the only way to have peace with God is to be justified, made righteous, by faith, not by works or performance. I have dealt with many people who have argued with me, saying, “You’ve got to be holy and do all these things to have God accept you.” Without exception, those who believe and preach that do not have real peace in their lives. This a performance mentality which has no place in the life of a believer. Your performance should come as a result of having a great relationship with God, not because you want to “gain favor” from God. In other words, it is a by-product of having an intimate relationship with God.

The only way that I have personally encountered real peace in my heart is through understanding these things. All of the people I have known, who have experienced God’s peace were those who had a revelation of justification by faith. That’s the only way to ever have peace with God. Otherwise, the burden of salvation is on your back. You have to constantly do this, do that, and hope that it’s enough. There’s never a time to just rest because you always have to perform. This is contrary to what Jesus taught: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:28,29 Jesus was saying, “Come unto Me. You can’t save yourself. You’re trying to do something that’s beyond your ability.

All you need is faith to access God’s grace and this is how we are saved.

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