Romans Bible Study Number 12
Phrase Sola Gracia – by Grace Alone
Romans 3:31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according tot he flesh, has found? 4:2 For if Abraham was justified by works , he has something to boast about, but not before God. 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 4:7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. 4:8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.
Verse 3:31 “The Law” is not nullified by faith it is established. That is, through the eyes of faith we now see the Law, and its true purpose. The Law is the eternal “no” of God that then leads us to cry out for the “yes” of faith. The law puts us squarely under the unbearable weight of divine judgment, awaiting the amazing miracle of divine justification, which we receive by faith.
Verse 4:1 Abraham is held up, because if “this gospel” is to be ultimate truth, it must be shown to apply to the ultimate Hebrew. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was I am.” (John 8:58) This led to a discussion with the religious leaders of His day that led to them picking up stones to stone Him. So, when you bring up Abraham to a Jewish audience, the ears of all “perk up” and a new ‘weight’ comes to the conversation.
Verse 4:2,3 If Abraham was justified by works, this ‘gospel’ collapses. Either it applies to everyone for all time or it becomes optional, something that some people need, but not all. The “relative” boasting of men comparing themselves with men, example, Terry Bradshaw was a better quarterback than Bubby Brister, has no ground with God. Both are sinners, doomed to an eternal hell, if they do not repent. All that Abraham was, was proceeded by, “Abraham believed God.” We have no ‘sensible organ’ to see what is unseen, to see beyond death, to recognize ‘invisible authority’, the know Him who is unknowable. This belief in God is credited (an accounting term) as righteousness. The miracle of faith comes from God, and the free gift of righteousness comes from God. “Through what they are not, men participate in what God is.” “Faith is a vacuum and a limitation encompassed by miracle and by paradoxical impossibility.” Two quotes from Barth, he loves the word “paradox”, which he takes to mean para-beyond and doxa-opinion, also Doxa-Glory. So with Abraham, as with everyone who “Believes in God,” all of our “works” proceed out of what we are not...Faith is a miracle, a miracle that comes when we are at the end of ourself. It is the source of Abraham’s works and our works. Faith is “void of any human content” and because it is, “it is guaranteed by God as His righteousness.
Verse 4 God is not a builder paying a contractor to come and do work that benefits Him. So much depends on our view, our understanding of God. He is “other.” He has no ‘needs.’ It is completely impossible for us to do something for Him. Remember ‘sixpence none the richer’- CS Lewis picture of a boy going out and buying his father a present with his father’s money, so his father got a present worth sixpence, but he paid sixpence for it. The heresy of salvation by works is completely unmasked when you realize it is acting like a person could put God in his debt. “God, you owe me,” is a patently ridiculous statement.
Verse 5 Faith is the standard of God, and that faith puts us in the book of life. The knowledge of ‘good and evil’ the tree that we eat of and choose to judge from has been proven to be poison. God is the judge, and His true and right judgment is based on faith, which brings His life. We assign far to much ‘praise’ to “great men” and we assign far too much blame to “evil men.” Faith is reckoned as righteousness, God’s righteousness, the divine ‘nevertheless’ not the divine ‘therefore.’ Forgiveness of who we are, not approval of who we are is the key.
“who justifies the ungodly” is the key, there is absolutely no boasting.
Verse 6 One heavy-hitter from the Hebrew hall of fame has been brought out by Paul to prove that his Gospel is not knew, and now he brings out the other King David. What does David have to say about the possibility of a person working to be make himself right with God? Nothing!, because he knows there is no such possibility.
Verse 7 Those who are blessed are not “the godly receiving their wages” but the ungodly receiving their GIFT. The forgiveness of God covering the sins of man. Our righteousness is actually the death of any hope of our righteousness and then the conscious leaning on God and His righteousness.
Verse 8 The very next verse in the same Psalm (32) My sin, I don’t deny it, I own it, it is mine, but oh, oh, oh, what amazing grace is given to me, God does not take it into account!
Read Psalm 32:1-5
All false religions go off course right here at this point. They say there is a “stairway to heaven” works that can be done to earn a spot, service that can be rendered that puts God in your debt. Christianity shouts “NO” to all human righteousness and all human obtaining of right-standing with God. And in that, hard, unyielding, unscalable, wall of NO, God utters His YES. He offers a new relationship, one that has hope, as long as God is the only object of that hope. His forgiveness, His grace freely given, and absolutely, positively nothing else.
Sola Gracia by Grace alone. The second major theme of the reformation.
Because God loves us, through the blood of Jesus, He forgives us freely, because of His love. We do not deserve it, but the love of God gives it to us. By Grace alone, what is amazing is how “simple” these truths are, but in their simplicity they cut against the heart of man, that desires to prove itself as, good, right, deserving of love. The NO of God is; you deserve death (desperation), leads to the YES of God (hope) that flowing simply and powerfully out of His love, forgiveness comes to us at great cost. At a horrible cost we are freely made right with God, by faith.