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Abraham And David: Saved By Grace

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness…Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works” (Romans 4:3,6)

Chapter 3 of the Book of Romans concluded with the statement, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (3:31)

In Chapter 4, we will see why. Paul is going to illustrate that justification has always been by faith with the examples of Abraham and David.

Justification Is Not By Works

First of all, the argument is made that Justification does not come by works. Three reasons are given:

1.) Justification By Works Glorifies Man

“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.” (4:2)

The first and most important issue is that if a man is justified through his own effort, then he has something in which to glory and boast. We saw back in Romans 3:27 that Justification by faith excludes boasting. There is absolutely nothing in which we can glory before God. If it was our good works and deeds that justified us, we would have something in which to take pride. One person could honestly say that they had done more to earn God’s favor than somebody else. But in the presence of God Almighty there is no room for anyone else’s glory. God will not share His glory with anyone (Isaiah 42:8). Since every single person who is saved will be saved solely by what Jesus Christ has done on their behalf, then all the praise and glory rightfully belongs to Him. We are all on equal ground and have nothing else in which to glory.

“That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:29-31)

We all have something, or Someone, to boast about when it comes to being justified in the eyes of God, but it’s not ourselves and it’s not our own efforts.

2.) What Saith the Scripture?

This should be the first question that anyone who places their faith in God should ask regarding any doctrinal, moral, or ethical matter. There was a time when more people honestly believed that the Bible is what it says it is: the Holy written Word of God. It is so sad that today there are those even within the Church who do not give any more authority to the Word of God than they give to the words of Shakespeare. When a verse of Scripture is brought to their attention that overturns something they are believing or something they are doing, they can come up with the most outlandish reasons why they are right and the Bible is wrong. But at least Paul’s Jewish readers were willing to concede the authority of the Word of God and he could appeal to it to prove the details of the Gospel.

“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

Paul quotes this verse in Romans 4:3. He can show by the Word of God that Abraham was counted as righteous by his faith.

The Greek word translated here as “counted” (logizomai, also rendered as “reckon” and “impute” in this chapter) is significant. It is a legal and financial term used to describe things that are credited to someone’s account. In other words, Abraham’s account was “balanced” by what God credited to it, not by what he himself was able to “put on the books.”

3.) Justification By Works “Earns” Salvation

“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” (Romans 4:4)

If Justification comes through our own effort, then it is not a gift. It is a wage earned. When someone’s employer pays them for the work that they have done, it cannot be described as a “gift.” If we can work for our Salvation, then God owes us that Salvation for the works we have done. Again, God does not receive the glory, we do.

What About Those Who Lived Under The Law?

OK, all of this is fine, but the objection might be raised that Abraham lived before the Law was ever given to Moses. Maybe a special exception was made for him since he did not actually live under the Mosaic Law. Well, what did David, who did live under the Law, have to say?

“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 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.” (4:6-8)

Abraham and David were not randomly selected by Paul to illustrate Justification by faith in the Old Testament. These two men were more revered than any other men by the nation of Israel because of the close relationship they had with God . No Jew would have argued that these men were not justified before God.

But what did David claim was the basis for his Justification before God? Certainly not works or strict adherence to the Law. David had committed murder and adultery (2 Samuel, Chapter 11). Yet in Psalm 32, quoted here, he described the blessed man not as the one who was without sin, nor the one who had worked to earn God’s favor, but the one whose iniquities were forgiven and whose sins were covered.

Sin is the problem that separates man from God. Sin is what must be completely dealt with before a man can be justified before God. We cannot hope to outweigh our sinfulness with deeds of righteousness, we’ll never be justified on that basis. The only thing that we can do is put our faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us and let God put that on our account for righteousness.

Mingling Faith With Works

It is hard for human nature to accept the fact that there is nothing that we can offer to God so that we can be justified. Some people are willing to accept the fact that they cannot be justified with God based entirely on their own works, but they still feel that somehow God must demand some works for their Salvation. So they attempt to add their works to the equation, believing that God will make up the difference by His Grace.

But the problems pointed out in this passage still remain. We try to magnify our own goodness by bringing our works to God for Salvation, but all we really do is de-magnify God’s goodness. Salvation is a gift paid for entirely by the Lord Jesus Christ when He bore our sins on the Cross. By thinking that it is necessary for us to pay even a small part of that price is to say that what Jesus has done is not enough. Wouldn’t it be insulting if someone gave you a million dollar house as a free gift and you offered them $5 so that you could “pay for part of it?” Especially if you proceeded to brag to other people, “Yes, this house was a gift but I paid for some of it myself.” This would be bad enough, but all of our “good works” wouldn’t even make 5 cents compared to what God has done.

God deserves all of the glory, let’s give it to Him.

In service to Him,

Loren

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10 responses

  1. Another great post and lesson, Loren. :) I find it very comforting that I can’t do anything to earn my salvation, that I have to rely solely upon Him. And also that all the glory belongs to Him . . .that is comforting as well. Maybe because it keeps thing simple and even. It ‘s all because of Him and He gets all the praise. :) I like simple. ha!
    God bless you and your important ministry that glorifies Him!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Loren,

    This is so well put, thank you…. When Christians do desire to do good, it is because: “We love because He first loved us.”….. And, as children of God, we want to imitate our heavenly Father….
    Margaret

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  3. I find that very comforting, too, Deb :)

    That God has done all that is required that I might be saved brings me such relief and joy; I know if any part of it were up to me, I would be doomed :(

    I also like that God gets all the glory and praise; He is worthy of it and so much more!

    Thanks, Deb, for the wonderfully encouraging comments. God be with you.

    Loren

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  4. Thank you, Margaret :)

    “We love Him because He first loved us”….we can’t even boast about our devotion, can we.

    We do want to imitate our heavenly Father’s love….I pray that He fills me a greater capacity to love Him and His people. That we could love the way that He does!

    Thank you so much, Margaret, for your thoughts on this. I am blessed by your encouragement :)

    Loren

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  5. […] Abraham And David: Saved By Grace (answersfromthebook.org) […]

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  6. Loren, This is a very well-written and insightful post. One of my favorite verses kept going through my head as I read this: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. I really love your discussion of David and Psalm 32. It truly is, and always has been, the humble of heart who are justified before God because they have relied solely on Him for everything, even the covering and forgiveness of their own sin.

    I also appreciate what you wrote about those in the church today not necessarily believing that the Bible is the Word of God. I recently left a church I had been a member of for a long time, and in which my son had only months before been confirmed, because the larger church organization was teaching that the Bible is not necessarily the inspired and inerrant Word of God. I dealt directly with a pastor who thought she knew better what was right or wrong than God does. I don’t always understand God’s ways, but I do believe that if there is disagreement between He and I, then He is not the one who is wrong.

    Thank you for this terrific post. It is the perfect “third” post for My Tuesday Three for next week as it goes well with two others that I have come across. Peace, Linda

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  7. Ephesians 2:8-10 is one of my favorite passages, too :) I am in the process of writing a book right now on Salvation and I am devoting the better part of an entire chapter to these verses. For me, no other portion of the Bible better sums up the role that works play in the life of the Christian (saved BY grace, THROUGH faith, UNTO works…the works part coming after the being saved part).

    That is unfortunate that you had to leave the church you were attending because the organization lost their trust in the Word of God. I am stunned by how many entire denominations, denominations with a history of staunch fundamentalism, have gone this route in recent years. When the authority of the Bible begins to be questioned and doubted in a church, it opens the door for all sorts of sin to creep in, as we are surely seeing today. The Foundation of any genuine church is Jesus Christ, and when His Word becomes disputed and discarded, there remains no foundation at all. I like what you said, “If there is disagreement between He and I, then He is not the one who is wrong”…amen to that. “…Let God be true, but every man a liar…” (Rom. 3:4). Even if everyone in the world disagrees with God, He is still the One Who is right.

    Thank you, Linda, so much for sharing your thoughts on this post, I really enjoyed reading them. I am glad that you liked this and am honored that you are considering adding it to your “Tuesday Three” :)

    God bless you,

    Loren

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  8. Thank you, Loren

    “Since every single person who is saved will be saved solely by what Jesus Christ has done on their behalf, then all the praise and glory rightfully belongs to Him.” … “By thinking that it is necessary for us to pay even a small part of that price is to say that what Jesus has done is not enough. “
    The thoughts contained make me a little sad – not because of what you presented but because so many still don’t know the truth. People still believe in working their way into His Kingdom because that is what they have been taught all their lives…

    “Sin is the problem that separates man from God. Sin is what must be completely dealt with before a man can be justified before God. We cannot hope to outweigh our sinfulness with deeds of righteousness, we’ll never be justified on that basis. The only thing that we can do is put our faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us and let God put that on our account for righteousness.”
    When I first examined the concept of Justification, I didn’t get it. It seemed unreal that all I had to do was accept His gift without doing anything, as it were. It just didn’t add up.

    “It is hard for human nature to accept the fact that there is nothing that we can offer to God so that we can be justified. “
    So true! I didn’t consider myself a ‘big time sinner’ …. I hadn’t stolen or murdered or done any of those ‘major sins’ but the thought that God could forgive me of my ‘little indiscretions’ the same way He could justify a mass murderer escaped me. I didn’t think I needed to do anything but I thought surely, the murderer or the adulterer ought to do more! [Mind you, I made my decision to follow Christ when I was a child but as I grew up, I felt the need to explore and wander and question… I regret the dark times but I do not regret the lessons learned.]

    It’s great to know that His all sufficient grace is available for all. If we had to earn our way into His kingdom, I’d be lost for eternity. I am thankful He is a fair and just God and that He makes the playing field level for all. I find the life of David particularly interesting. Some of my favourite passages of scripture are found in the Psalm. It’s interesting to reconcile the fact that this scheming, conniving, murderous adulterer ( and the list goes on) has been declared justified. His story is written for all to see … my transgressions may not been so diverse but sin to Him is still sin. Even so, His blood covers all His pardon makes all the difference in the world!

    Justified,
    ann

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  9. “The thoughts contained make me a little sad…People still believe in working their way into His Kingdom because that is what they have been taught all their lives”

    It makes me sad too, Ann. You know, so many controversial Biblical issues can be resolved when we take the time to see what the whole counsel of the Word of God has to say about the matter. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of positions are reached by only looking at one or two passages here and there and then running away with it. A works-based approach to Salvation is one of those issues, with only a handful of verses being taken out of context to support something that literally hundreds of other passages refute. It is my fervent prayer that more people will develop a love for the Lord and His Word which will drive them to search deeper in the Scriptures for themselves :)

    “When I first examined the concept of Justification, I didn’t get it”

    In some ways, I still don’t! I think of the words to the song: “Amazing love, how could it be, that You my King, would die for me?”*

    Justification by Grace is a concept that still utterly astounds me and something my flesh is still very uncomfortable with. Oh, how the pride in me craves something in which to glory!

    “I am thankful He is a fair and just God and that He makes the playing field level for all…His blood covers all His pardon makes all the difference in the world!”

    Amen to that, Ann :)

    Thank you so much for your comments, Ann, I enjoy reading your reflections on these posts and it is a blessing that you take the time to share them with us.

    Your friend in Christ,

    Loren

    *”You Are My King” – lyrics by: Chris Tomlin

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  10. […] third post that I want to showcase is titled Abraham and David: Saved By Grace by Loren at Answers From The Book. I’ve been reading Loren’s blog for some time, and […]

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