Romans 3:28–4:5, 16–25comment (0)
September 15, 2011
By Robert Olsen
Related Scripture: Romans 3:28–4:5, 16–25
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Good News to Believe
Romans 3:28–4:5, 16–25
It’s Through Faith (3:28–31)
Verse 28 is one of the clearest statements in the Bible that salvation does not hinge upon what man is able to do or actually does. In fact, Paul asserted that the law does not save but rather faith is what saves. Almost every religion on the planet teaches that man must do something to be saved or get right with God. Christianity is not like that. The Bible states that no one can get to God based on his or her own righteousness. God demands perfection and since every man has sinned (see Romans 3:23), every man deserves eternal death, which is separation from God. The only way for man to be saved is by faith — faith that Jesus Christ paid the price for his sins; He died in his place. Those who believe this are the ones who are saved.
Most Jews believed that they were saved based on their lineage, but Paul asked if God is only the God of the Jews. Obviously, since there is only one God, He must be God of the Gentiles, too. This means that salvation is not an exclusive commodity belonging to the Jews. But if this is true, then what happens to the law God gave the Jews? What becomes of the law if salvation can be attained by the Gentiles as well? Paul said the law is not nullified but rather the law now can be followed through faith in Jesus. Jesus summed up the law as loving God and neighbor. Only through the strength given to us by Jesus and through the Holy Spirit are we able to actually do this.
It’s a Gift (4:1–5)
To show that salvation is dependent upon faith, Paul brought Abraham into the discussion. Abraham is the father of the Jews, but he did not have the law. The law was not given by God until generations after Abraham. The Bible states in Genesis that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. This is a righteousness based upon belief, not works. This still applies to people today. Salvation is a gift from God, not something that can be bought or earned. It is sad to see so many people in America think that their salvation is dependent upon their parents’ faith, their church attendance or the fact that they were baptized. None of these brings salvation, since salvation is based on grace through faith.
It’s by Grace (4:16–19)
When looking back at Abraham, you will recall that God blessed him and said he would be the father of many nations, despite the fact that he and his wife, Sarah, were well beyond childbearing years. But Abraham never lost sight of God’s promise and did not doubt that He would fulfill it. Many Jews had missed this point. In the years leading up to Jesus’ birth, the Jews had become very nationalistic and believed that salvation was for them alone instead of using their special status to go and spread the message of salvation to the nations. You merely need to look at the prophet Jonah to see how Israel viewed the surrounding nations. The other nations were viewed with contempt. However, Paul stated that Abraham’s offspring are not those who are Jews by birth but rather those who believe by faith as he did. The salvation of God is by grace through faith, not birth or race. God is the One who gives salvation, and because it is by grace, it is free. If one could earn salvation, then it would no longer be free, thus nullifying grace.
It’s Assured (4:20–25)
Abraham believed God had the power to do what He promised, which is true faith. Faith for us also is believing in God’s promises, even when circumstances might suggest otherwise. It is not irrational for us as Christians to believe in God’s promises. We can look at all of history and see God working in our lives as well as the lives of those who came before us, to know that He fulfills His promises. The Israelites always recounted the stories of God saving and protecting them, passing these stories on to their children to strengthen their faith and show that He is faithful. And today, despite our circumstances, we can hold firm to God’s promises because He is still faithful and we can be assured that He will forgive our sins.