THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS
OT Evidence that God Makes Us Right With Him Through Faith
Todayís lesson falls in the overall outline of Romans in the following way:
Theme: The Faithfulness and Righteousness of God (1:16-17)
I. The Need for God's Righteousness (1:18-3:20)
PROMISE OF MANY DESCENDANTS (4:13-22)
(13) For the promise to Abraham and his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law but through the righteousness of faith. (14) For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified. (15) For the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no Law, neither is there violation. (16) For this reason it is by faith that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham who is the father of us all. (17) As it is written, "A father of many nations have I made you," in the sight of Him who believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (18) In hope against hope he believed in order that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "So shall you descendants be." (19) And without becoming weak in faith, he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead, since he was about 100 years old and the deadness of Sarah's womb; (20) yet with respect to the promise of God he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, (21) being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. (22) Therefore, also it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
In the first part of chapter 4 Paul has shown that the event of God declaring Abraham to be righteous occurred before he was circumcised, before the invention of the Jewish culture. The Jews though continued to maintain that Abraham was justified by his works. Paul now is going to analyze even more deeply the events surrounding the birth of Isaac. Paul focuses on this because it is so integrally tied up with the promise.
Now the birth of Isaac is the beginning of the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham. How was Isaac conceived and birthed? Through human effort or God's effort? Paul answers that in this section. If it is by human effort, then works may just be necessary in order to be right with God; if by divine effort, then they are not necessary in order to be right with God.
Just a word of caution though. Isaac is not born by means of a virgin birth. In faith Abraham had relations with Sarah AFTER God had made this promise to him and Sarah. Unlike his sexual relations with Hagar which came out of works and human ingenuity rather than out of faith, Abraham's sexual relations with Sarah resulted from his faith in God. Moreover, in this instance no works of the Law are being performed to produce Isaac. Abraham doesn't tithe in order for God to give him a son. Rather out of faith he obeys God and has sexual relations with Sarah--major difference.
Paul introduces this topic by saying that the promise to Abraham was not through the ____________ but through the righteousness of _____________ (4:13).
According to Paul what happens to faith and grace if lawkeepers are the ones who inherit the promise to Abraham (4:14)?
When the Jews heard Paul speak about the chasm between Law and Grace, they countered by saying that the Law was a "gracious" gift from God, that Law and Grace go together. For Paul though they are in 2 totally different spheres. In math we studied sets. Sometimes sets would completely overlap or just partially overlap based on the # of common elements in them; sometimes though they did not even touch each other because there were no elements common to both. That is the situation here. There are no elements found in the set (sphere) of the Law which can be found in the set (sphere) of Grace. They are 2 entirely different entities.
According to verse 15 what does the Law bring about? How do you get rid of violation then? By keeping the Law?
According to verse 16 why does God give the promise to us on the basis of faith? (Paul lists 2 reasons).
Here's a little assignment for you. Start 2 lists. One list should be entitled LAW while the other list should be entitled GRACE. Under each title list the characteristics of the title. Under LAW, for example, you would write down "works" and "violation," while under GRACE you would write "faith" and "no violation." Give yourself plenty of room because this list will get fairly long eventually.
Reflect for a moment on what Paul has just said in verse 16. He says that the promise to Abraham is based on faith and not law so that everybody can receive it, not just the Jews. Faith makes the promise accessible to everybody because whereas only the Jews had the Law, everyone can exercise faith.
How does Paul prove in verse 17 that God wants all people to receive the promise and not just the Jews? (Note that if He wants everybody to receive the promise to Abraham, they must receive it by faith and not by the Law since everybody can exercise faith, while only the Jews had the Law.)
What does Paul tell us in verse 17 which guarantees us that the promise comes to us only by faith and that God will never break that promise? (In other words where does God make that promise which proves He will not break it?)
Here Paul is referring to the practice of sealing a contract. In the ancient world whenever you concluded a contract, you sealed it by swearing an oath. When you swore the oath, you swore by something or someone greater than yourself. For example, you would either swear by heaven (God's throne), earth, the Temple, or by Jerusalem. God in concluding His oath with Abraham cannot swear by someone or something greater than Himself since nothing and no one is greater than He. As a result, He swears by Himself to seal the oath by swearing by Himself. In order to do this, He must be present at the swearing ceremony (which Paul is referring to here). See Heb. 6:13-17.
At the end of v. 17 Paul gives a description of God. What is that description? (This description of God is necessary for what follows, especially as it deals with faith and works.)
Paul 3x in this passage refers to God's ability to raise the dead (vv. 17, 19, 24). Two of the references apply to Abraham, while the last applies to Jesus. Since the dead cannot work, Paul is stressing the fact that our being made right with God results only from God's work and our faith, and not from our works. St. Thomas Aquinas calls justification "Operative grace" and sanctification "cooperative grace." God's grace alone operates in justification; we simply receive it by faith. We, though, cooperate with God in the sanctification process in the sense there are some things He might want us to do to grow to be more like Christ: give to the poor, actively forgive others, give the tithe, etc.
Fill in the blanks to discover how Abraham responded after God gave him the promise and yet no child was forthcoming. In _______ against _________ he ___________________ in order that he might become the father of many nations" (4:18). What does this in __________ against _____________ mean?
How did Abraham view his own body (4:19)? What also was true about Sarah's womb (4:19)?
Many have pointed to Sarah as being the real problem because later we hear that Abraham had children by Keturah. Abraham though probably was a major part of the problem. Simply because he was sexually alive after Isaac's birth does not mean that he was sexually alive when he was 100. It is quite probable that God's power which produced Isaac through Abraham's dead body was so effective that it allowed him to produce children afterwards. It was a gift that kept on giving. It is similar to the effect of God pouring out His power on Jesus' tomb. It was so powerful that it spilled over into other tombs and raised some OT saints from the dead so that they were seen in Jerusalem for several days thereafter (Matt. 27:52-53).
In verse 20 Paul shows how Abraham continued to deal with the fulfillment of the promise being delayed. First, he did not _____________ in unbelief" but instead grew strong in faith by "giving _______________ to God."
Because Abraham responded in faith to God, what resulted (4:22)?
(23) Not not for his sake only was it written that it was reckoned to him, (24) but for our sake also to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (25) He who was delivered up because of our transgressions and was raised because of our justification.
Up to this point Paul has been focusing on the way Abraham was made right with God. Paul now turns his sights on us and how Abraham's experience affects us (verses 23-25).
According to verse 24 the statement "it was reckoned to him as righteousness" was written not only for Abraham's sake but "for _________ sake also."
According to verse 24 God did something in the case of Abraham which was similar to the thing He did in the case of Jesus. What is the similarity between the 2 cases?
According to v. 25 Jesus was delivered up to death because of our ______________ and was raised from the dead because of our ________________.
We can easily understand why Jesus was delivered up to death because of our transgressions; however, it is more difficult to understand the connection between Jesus' resurrection and our justification. What connection do you make between the two?