Romans 3:26 – 4:12

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

November 25, 1998


Paul has been carefully showing that both Jew and Gentile are under facing condemnation for their disobedience to God. He summed it up in last week’s passage by saying,

(Rom 3:23 KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

The good news is that God doesn’t leave men falling short of His requirements. God has done something about our need in sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins.

(Rom 3:24-25 KJV) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: {25} Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

As we mentioned last week, it’s not just some kind of general "faith" that saves us. It isn’t just "faith" that Jesus exists. It is a trust in the blood of Jesus Christ to pay for our sins that causes God to forgive our sins.

Romans 3

:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

God is absolutely just and right in making the person who believes in Jesus’ blood to be counted as right with God.

:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

excludedekkleio – to shut out, to turn out of doors. As soon as we start a conversation about how we can be made right with God, and the person called "Boasting" wants to come in and join the conversation, he’s left outside, shut out!

There’s no place for boasting in being right before God. It is impossible for it to be accomplished by us through our own good deeds as in keeping the Law. It can only be accomplished when we simply trust God to pay our debts with the blood of Jesus.

So there’s nothing for us to boast about. All the work was done by God, not by us.

Sometimes you’ll hear people give their testimonies and they’ll talk about all the things they gave up for Jesus. We need to be clear to realize that the act of giving something up doesn’t do anything for your salvation. Your salvation isn’t based on what you give up, it’s based on the trust you have in the blood of Jesus.

:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

concludelogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

Paul has logically come to the conclusion that man can only be made right with God by trusting in Jesus, specifically by trusting in the blood of Jesus.

:29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

He belongs to the Gentiles as well as the Jews because …

:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

The Jews wanted to make a case that God belonged to them because they were the nation with the Law. But as Paul has made his case that you can’t be made right with God through the Law, but that you can only be made right by faith, by trusting in the blood of Jesus to pay for you, then God is no longer exclusive property of the Jews. Instead, a right relationship with God belongs to any who would trust in Jesus.


The Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Pope are in a meeting in Rome. The Rabbi notices an unusually fancy phone on a side table in the Pope's private chambers. "What is that phone for?" he asks the pontiff. "It's my direct line to the Lord!" The Rabbi is skeptical, and the Pope notices. The Pope insists that the Rabbi try it out, and, indeed, he is connected to the Lord. The Rabbi holds a lengthy discussion with Him. After hanging up the Rabbi says. "Thank you very much. This is great! But listen, I want to pay for my phone charges." The Pope, of course refuses, but the Rabbi is steadfast and finally, the pontiff gives in. He checks the counter on the phone and says: "All right! The charges were 100,000 Lira." The Chief Rabbi gladly hands over a packet of bills. A few months later, the Pope is in Jerusalem on an official "visit". In the Chief Rabbi's chambers he sees a phone identical to his and learns it also is a direct line to the Lord. The Pope remembers he has an urgent matter that requires divine consultation and asks if he can use the Rabbi's phone. The Rabbi gladly agrees, hands him the phone, and the Pope chats away. After hanging up, the Pope offers to pay for the phone charges. The Rabbi looks on the phone counter and says: "1 Shekel 50!" The Pope looks surprised: "Why so cheap!" Rabbi smiles: "Local call."

Funny joke. Bad theology. God isn’t any closer to a Rabbi in Jerusalem as He is to the pope in Rome. He is only close to those who learn to trust Him.

:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

establishhistemi – to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set; to make firm, fix establish


The Law is necessary.

Paul isn’t doing away with the Law, he’s only explaining more clearly that it’s purpose was to show us our need for help. The Law was given to show us our sinfulness. The Law wasn’t given as a way of becoming right with God, it was given to show us our helplessness before God.

(Gal 3:24 KJV) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

The Law itself is the very foundation for understanding what the gospel is all about. It’s the Law that demonstrates our sin. It’s the Law that lays out the principles for substitutionary sacrifice. Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the Law both by completely obeying the Law and by dying to take our place.

There are some Christians who come to the conclusion that since we’re under a new Covenant with God, that we don’t even pay attention to the Old Testament. But just the opposite is true. We need the Old Testament to understand what has happened in the New Testament. Don’t just read part of your Bible, read the WHOLE thing!

Romans 4

:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

In dealing with those Jews who are beginning to have a difficult time even considering that God would dare think about Gentiles, let alone make them righteous, Paul is going to draw on some evidence from the life of Abraham.

The Jews are proud to be called the sons of Abraham. John the Baptist noted that:

(Luke 3:8 KJV) Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory;

glorykauchema – that of which one glories or can glory, matter or ground of glorying

(Rom 4:2 NASB) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God.

:2 but not before God.

(Rom 4:2 NLT) Was it because of his good deeds that God accepted him? If so, he would have had something to boast about. But from God's point of view Abraham had no basis at all for pride.

:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Note that Paul is again basing his theology on Scripture.

countedlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over. This is an old Greek accounting word which simply means to "set down accounts". It’s to write numbers into a ledger. It’s to record your checks in the check register.

It’s interesting that this word is found 40 times in Scripture, almost half of them (19) are in Romans, and 11 times it’s found in chapter 4 (verses 3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,22,23,24). Romans is Paul’s "accounting" book.

Paul is quoting from Genesis here:

Gen 15:1-6 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. {2} And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? {3} And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. {4} And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. {5} And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. {6} And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

When God promised Abraham descendants, Abraham believed God’s promise. And in turn, God took Abraham’s faith and wrote it down in His books as "righteousness".

:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

rewardmisthos – dues paid for work

gracecharis – grace; good will, loving-kindness, favour

debtopheilema – that which is owed; that which is justly or legally due, a debt

reckonedlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

If you are working, then your wages aren’t a "grace" or a "gift", but simply what is owed to you.

:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

justifiethdikaioo – to render righteous or such he ought to be

ungodlyasebes – destitute of reverential awe towards God, impious

countedlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over


God saves sinful people.

This is the incredible thing. This is what doesn’t make sense to the human mind. This is what flies in the face of traditional religious ideas.

The natural man thinks that he can approach God if he is a religious person. He thinks that if he can just be good enough, then he can go to heaven. But what God is looking for are people who realize that God takes "unreligious" people, people who don’t even give a hoot for God kind of things, and God will give them the righteousness that is required to enter into heaven. On one condition, that they come to trust Him. And as we’ve seen, that they specifically come to trust in the blood of Jesus to pay for their sins.

:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

imputethlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

He’s going to draw a quote from David showing the blessings of a man that has had righteousness reckoned to him without having done works.

:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

iniquitiesanomia – the condition of without law; contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness. I wonder if Paul isn’t even hinting at something here, using the word "lawlessness", in that God forgives even "lawlessness".

forgivenaphiemi – to send away; to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit

:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

imputelogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

Now Paul is quoting from:

Psa 32:1-5 A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. {2} Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. {3} When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. {4} For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. {5} I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Look carefully here. How did David go from a state of anxious, guilt-ridden condemnation to a place of blessing and forgiveness? Was it by works? Did he do enough good deeds to counter balance the sins he had committed? No, he simply confessed his sins. He simply admitted to being a sinner. Righteousness doesn’t come by works, it comes by faith.


Receive your forgiveness.

It’s been my experience that even people who have been Christians for years will go through times when they have a hard time receiving forgiveness. It’s hard to not slip into the feeling that if I could just do enough good things, that God would take me back. But the truth is that it all boils down to me simply choosing to take God at His word that if I simply confess my sins (1John 1:9), then He will forgive me.


A 17th century Roman Catholic Frenchman named Francois Fenelon wrote:

Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them, talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self- love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and to others.

If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subjects of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back, neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God. -- Strengthening Your Grip, Charles Swindoll

: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.

reckonedlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

Now Paul is going to go in for the kill and take the very sign of Jewish-ness (circumcision) and see if this righteousness is given only to those who are circumcised.

:10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

reckonedlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

Abraham received God’s righteousness while he was still uncircumcised.

Abraham was circumcised in Gen. 17:24, at the age of 99. He had received God’s righteousness in Gen. 15:6, when he was no older than 86 years old. He received the righteousness first, the circumcision came later.

:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised:

signsemeion – a sign, mark, token

sealsphragis – a seal; the seal placed upon books; that by which anything is confirmed, proved, authenticated, as by a seal (a token or proof)


Trust the right thing.

Circumcision was the seal of authenticity on Abraham’s righteousness. It wasn’t what made him righteous, it was the proof that he was already righteous.

Baptism is that for the Christian. Baptism doesn’t make you a Christian. It is supposed to be the seal that your Christianity is authentic. But sadly we’ve got some people who have it backward, thinking that the ritual of baptism is going to save them.


Imagine that going to heaven is like going to a movie theater. When you receive salvation from the Lord, He gives you the tickets to get into the theater. They are the "tickets-o-righteousness". It’s that righteousness that is required to enter into heaven. When you are baptized, He puts the tickets in an envelope and seals it for you. The envelope is your baptism. Trying to get into heaven by baptism (or circumcision) is as if you walk up to the entrance of the theater, and when the attendant asks you for your tickets, you give him an empty envelope. "Where’s the tickets?" the attendant asks. "You can’t get into heaven with a silly envelope, you need the "tickets-o-righteousness"!"

:11 that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

imputedlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

The Jews think of Abraham as the "Father of the Circumcision", which is true. Circumcision of believers started with Abraham. But it’s more correct to say that he is the "Father of the Believers", because he was a believer before he was circumcised. And it was his believing in God that allowed him to have God’s righteousness reckoned to him.

: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.

walkstoicheo – to proceed in a row as the march of a soldier, go in order; to walk

stepsichnos – a footprint, track, footstep.


Follow the footprints.


A few days ago, David, Daniel, and I were taking a walk in the morning along the beach at La Jolla. David decided to keep his shoes on while Daniel and I took ours off. After Daniel and I got used to the cold sand, we began walking in and out of the water. When we got to one part of the beach where the water had just washed over a stretch of sand and it was all smooth. I was ahead of Daniel and Daniel called forward to me, "Look Daddy, I’m walking in your footsteps!" As I looked back, there were my large footprints and Daniel was hopping from one footprint to the next. We played a game where I began walking around in circles, in and out of the water, up and down the beach, and he had a good time trying to match my footsteps.

There are a lot of footsteps out there to follow. Paul is saying that we ought to be looking for the footsteps of Abraham and trying to walk in them ourselves. And one of the footprints that Abraham made was that he was a man of faith. He trusted God, even while he was uncircumcised.

(Heb 11:8-10 KJV) By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. {9} By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: {10} For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

We have two examples of Abraham’s faith:

1) His faith resulted in obedience.

His righteousness came because he believed. His obedience also came because he believed.

Abraham obeyed God’s leading by faith. It didn’t make sense to him, but he did it anyway. He trusted that God knew what He was doing.

2) He kept his eyes on heaven.

Abraham didn’t get too comfortable on the earth. He knew he had another place where he would find rest.

There’s another set of footprints we’re to follow as well.

(1 Pet 2:18-23 NASB) Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. {19} For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. {20} For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. {21} For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, {22} WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; {23} and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;

The example here is that of being a good servant to your master, a good employee at work. Even when your boss is a mean jerk, we are told to bear up under it and follow in the footprints that Jesus has left us.