What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? Romans 4:1
It’s harder to unlearn something than to learn it. Paul’s consistent drumbeat to the Jews in Rome is belief; faith in God and justification through Jesus. It is the Gospel…salvation via grace through faith, not works. When you have spent your entire life (and the lives of many generations before you) believing something, it is not easy to change. The Jewish people have spent their lives enslaved to a law they couldn’t keep but were convinced would save them and putting their hope in their heritage as God’s chosen people.
Paul continues his case for the Gospel to the Romans coming at it from many different angles. He is trying to convince them it not only doesn’t go against what God has spoken, but it is actually the true essence of what God has spoken.
Paul brings it way back…all the way to Genesis 15:6 and reminds them of this truth they had been given long ago, “Abraham BELIEVED God, and it was COUNTED to him as righteousness.” Long before the law was even given to the Jewish people, Abraham was COUNTED – CREDITED – as righteous. Through FAITH, God put Abraham in the righteous column of His great ledger. Abraham wasn’t justified by his good works for God. Abraham wasn’t justified by his incredible acts of love. Abraham wasn’t justified by his maturing character. Abraham wasn’t justified by keeping the law that had not even yet been given.
Abraham believed God. Period. And this – his faith – was counted to him as righteousness.
Questions: Before we go further into Paul’s example of Abraham, what do you think it looks like to believe as Abraham did? What does it look like to have faith in God and His plans? Why do you think it was so hard for the Jewish faithful to look to faith over works for salvation?