Romans Bible Guide – Day Twelve
February 26, 2016
Previously, in Romans: Paul is half way through a case study on Abraham, discussing why faith – trust in God, and not anything else – makes us part of God’s family and restores our lives.
13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23 Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
Points of Interest:
- ‘the promise that he would inherit the world’ – That’s a big inheritance, the whole world! In Abraham’s story, God promises that his descendants would be blessed by God and be a blessing to the whole world. It was never about ultimately about a particular plot of land, but about the whole earth be changed through what God did in their story.
- ‘did not come… through the law’ – Like circumcision, the law comes after Abraham trusts God, steps into the good life as a result, and this story of making things right is set in motion.
- ‘For the law brings wrath’ – Paul does think God has expectations for human living that are good for us. He’d said these can be written on our hearts. (2:14) But the law itself has all kinds of other drawbacks. It judges people who don’t follow it (2:12), it can become a source of status boasting (2:17 2:25-27), and it leads to wrath – the consequences God has established for when we don’t live rightly.
- ‘it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace.’ – The answer to this problem isn’t better law-keeping, but faith. Paul insists that Jesus has revealed more clearly that all people can trust God to make them right, giving them the chance to be included in God’s family and experience all of God’s benefits.
- ‘Hoping against hope, he believed’ – Many of you are participating in a 40 Days of Faith season, in which you are trusting God to do something good for you as well as for some other people you care about. If it’s any encouragement to you, you are doing this in a long line of others for whom that has gone well. In Abraham’s case, the odds against his faith were enormous. His faith required a God “who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” Know that the God you are trusting when you trust the God of Abraham and David and Jesus has done just this, again and again.
- ‘when he considered his own body… or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb’ – For Abraham, faith did not involve denial of his present reality. He noticed and considered the odds against God’s promises coming true. Yet for much longer than 40 days, he kept praying, and his trust grew stronger. Of course, we can misunderstand the details of God’s promises, but Paul admires Abraham’s considered trust, and says that God considered it to be wonderful as well.
- ‘It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead…’ – In the shortest possible way, Paul summarizes what it means to follow Jesus. It is entering into Abraham’s story of a God who does the impossible. It is entering into the story of a God who can give life to the dead, and has specifically done that in Jesus on the first Easter. It is trusting that Jesus’ death cleared out the weight of our trespasses that these first four chapters have talked so much. And it means that in Jesus coming back to life, he set in motion our justification – our inclusion in God’s family, and our lives and all things on earth being made right and new.
Taking It Home:
For you – If you have been asking God for something for this 40 Days of faith, has your trust in God changed? Has your faith grown or decreased? How can Abraham’s example encourage you?
For your 6 – Pray that your friends would experience full inclusion in God’s family. And if any are up against great odds, hoping against hope, pray that God will answer any prayers they have spoken and connect them with a God who gives life to the dead.