No man can pretend to merit eternal life, nor show any worth in his work which may answer such a reward. Disclaiming any pretension he must cast himself wholly upon the free grace of God by faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. To such a one faith is counted for righteousness.
1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Romans 4 Intro – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 4:1 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 4:2-3 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 4:4-5 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 4:6-8 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 4:9-25 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 4:1-8 – Blessedness Follows Faith
In this chapter the doctrine of justification by faith is illustrated from the life of Abraham. It is evident that he was not justified because of his good works. Nothing is said of them, though he had crossed the desert in obedience to the divine command. No; he believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness, Romans 4:3. The life of God in the soul of man is one and the same in every age. The measure of light may vary from the twilight in Ur to the meridian glory of Patmos, but the attitude of the soul toward God must always be the same.
From the earliest times men have been justified by faith, Hebrews 11:4. Faith has two invariable elements: attitude and receptiveness; that is, the right position toward God, and the power of receiving the full inflow of the divine nature. We are made “partakers of the divine nature,” II Peter 1:4. This was the case with the great Hebrew pilgrim—first of the pilgrim race. Rising above the rest of his contemporaries, he saw the advance gleam of the day of Christ and was glad, John 8:56. David also sings of the same grace which justifies the sinner and counts him as righteous, notwithstanding his iniquities and sins, Psalm 32:1-2. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Romans 4:9-15 – This Blessedness Is for All
In Abraham’s case it is clear that he was justified when he was still a Gentile. The initial badge of Judaism was stamped upon him long after he had believed God. The Apostle lays great stress on this order of time: first faith, then obedience, and afterward circumcision, that made him the father and founder of the Jewish people. Justification is imputed to him in the first stage—not in circumcision, not even in obedience, but in the simple act of believing God, as we have it in Genesis 15:6. We do not hear of circumcision till Genesis 17.
Clearly, then, if we Gentiles have Abraham’s faith, we may also claim the same justifying righteousness, though we have not received any outward rite. And also, we may be reckoned among his children. If we enter into the meaning of these earlier stages of the patriarch’s life, we may claim the promises made to him in uncircumcision. Count them up; they are yours. We, too, may become heirs of the world; in us also, because we are his seed, all mankind may be blessed. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Romans 4:16-25 – Following Abraham in Faith in God
In Romans 4:19, Abraham refused to consider the physical disabilities which seemed to make the fulfillment of God’s promise impossible. He looked them all quietly in the face, as though taking into account all their significance and force. Then he looked to the promise; and after balancing one against the other, he decided absolutely and confidently that the Word of God must stand, however great and forbidding the difficulties in the way. He was fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able to perform.
Let us remember, then, that from the time we trust Christ—whatever may have been our present frailties and temptations—we are reckoned as righteous in the sight of God. Yes, and in addition, we may count on absolute deliverance from the power of sin. Do not look down, brooding over your weakness! Do not look back upon your past, strewn with failure! Look up to the living Christ! All the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus, II Corinthians 1:20. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Romans 4:20—He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.
It was a marvellous promise that this childless pair should have a child, and become progenitors of a great nation, so that the stars of the heavenly vault and the sand-grains on the ocean-shore should not be more numerous. And it was enough to stagger any man to be told of it. But Abraham staggered not. How was this?
It did not arise from ignoring the difficulties that obstructed its realization.—He might have done so. Whenever the natural obstacles arose in his mind, he might have ignored them. But this, according to the previous verse, was not Abraham’s policy. He quietly and deliberately considered the enormous difficulties that lay in the path of the Divine purpose, and in spite of them “he staggered not.”
But his unstaggering faith arose from, his great thoughts of Him who had promised.—He kept saying to himself, He is able, He is able. He knew that God would not have said what He could not perform. He knew that the God of nature was Lord of the nature He had made. He knew that no word of the Almighty could be destitute of power. He fed his faith by cherishing lofty and profound thoughts of God’s infinite resources. There rang in his heart the assurance, I am El Shaddai.
It is remarkable that, throughout Abraham’s life God was continually giving new glimpses into his own glorious nature. With every temptation, call to obedience, or demand for sacrifice, a new and deeper revelation was entwined. This fed his faith, and gave it unstaggering strength. Child of God, feed thy faith on Promise. For every look at your difficulties, take ten at what thy God is. —Our Daily Homily