Tag Archives: Example of Abraham

Kel Hammond on Faith, grace and works

Kel Hammond

Faith, grace and works.

As I understand it, it is by faith that we enter into grace (Rom.5:2). That is, we are now in Christ, having put on Christ by faith and baptism (Gal.3:26-27), and thereby enveloped in grace … having been saved by grace through faith, and not by our works (Eph.2:8-9).

Baptism in the first place represents death of the old man. It declares this principle (Rom.6:3-4, Col.2:12). It means that we bring no virtue to God – only a conscience influenced by the gospel message (1.Pet.3:21). We are thereby saved by faith through grace, which is God’s free gift to us (Eph.2:8-9). Having now ALSO risen with Christ, we are to walk by faith, which keeps us in grace – that is, we must now stay true to the things received by the preaching of the gospel, firm to the end (1.Cor.15:1-2).

We have been created anew in Christ, and by faith we are to walk in newness of life (Rom.6:4, Col.2:12), having been born again / created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph.2:10). These works that come AFTER baptism into Christ demonstrate that our faith is alive, and therefore James says

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” James.2:26.

In this context, James has already presented two examples from Abraham’s life to show what he means. One is drawn from early on and the other from much later. Early on, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness (Gen.15:6). Later one, Abraham was faithfully obedient when he offered up Isaac (Gen.22:16-18), and his “works” demonstrated that his faith was alive and had grown.

By this we “see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works, and the Scripture was fulfilled that says,

“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”” James.2:22-23 ESV.

Now ponder James 2:24 in this context –

“You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only”

Martin Luther, the ‘great’ reformer, was not happy with James’ epistle and tried to remove it from the cannon of Scripture. He called it ‘an epistle of straw’. Luther, because of his misunderstanding of how God saves in Christ (i.e. his belief in penal-substitution), was not able to understand James.

Peter also speaks of the need for spiritual growth in the following words –

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;..” 2.Pet.1:5-10

We will let the apostle John have the last word, where he later writes –

“Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” 1.Jn.3:7

 

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Preceding articles

  1. The works we have to do according to James
  2. Comments to James remarks, about Faith and works
  3. Luther’s misunderstanding
  4. January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I condemning Pelagius about Faith and Works
  5. Our life depending on faith
  6. Romans 4 and the Sacraments
  7. Is Justification a process?
  8. Justification – salvation is by grace through faith – JI Packer
  9. Faith itself not the cause of justification – Louis Berkhof
  10. Letter to the Romans, chapter 3
  11. Letter to the Romans, chapter 4
  12. Additional comments to the 3rd Letter to the Romans
  13. Additional comments to the Letter to the Romans 4
  14. Which is worse–works without faith, or faith without works?
  15. James 2:14-23 — Justified Dynamic Faith & works
  16. James 2:24 – You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
  17. James 2:25. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
  18. Paul giving notice of the works we have to do

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Additional reading

  1. Risen With Him
  2. The way of salvation
  3. A “seed” for the blessing of all mankind would come through the family of Abraham
  4. God works faith
  5. Faith is the belief that god will do what is right
  6. Christ’s ethical teaching
  7.  Being Justified by faith
  8. Faith is knowing there is an ocean because you have seen a brook.
  9. Faith Requires a Basis
  10. Walking in love by faith, not by sight
  11. Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does
  12. Thought for those who think it is not necessary to do any works any more
  13. When having found faith through the study of the Bible we do need to do works of faith
  14. A Living Faith #1 Substance of things hoped for
  15. A Living Faith #2 State of your faith
  16. A Living Faith #3 Faith put into action
  17. A Living Faith #4 Effort
  18. A Living Faith #5 Perseverance
  19. A Living Faith #6 Sacrifice
  20. Faith and works
  21. Sharing your faith
  22. Bearing fruit
  23. Observing the commandments and becoming doers of the Word
  24. The first on the list of the concerns of the saint
  25. Be holy
  26. 1 Corinthians 15 Hope in action
  27. Chief means by which men are built up
  28. Not to play at Christianity
  29. Outflow of foundational relationship based on acceptance of Jesus
  30. Faith, storms and actions to be taken
  31. Establish your hearts blameless in holiness
  32. A race not to swift, nor a battle to the strong

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Additional comments to the Letter to the Romans 4

Peter Forbes comments:

4:2      In questioning Abraham’s righteousness Paul develops the point that he made in Rom 2:13 showing that the law does not bring righteousness.

4:3Abraham believed God …‘ the quotation is from Gen. 15:6. Righteousness is imputed by God on the basis of faith, not works of the law. Gen. 15 predates the giving of the law. This is the thrust of the argument in verses 4:4,5 and circumcision – the implications of this are developed in Rom.4:9-13.

Man reading Psalms at the Western Wall. Jerusa...

Man reading Psalms at the Western Wall. Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine, March 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4:6-8 The appeal to Psalm 32:1-2 which is a Psalm that David wrote after Nathan had spoken of God’s forgiveness for David’s adultery [2 Sam.12:13] continues the theme of forgiveness from ch. 3:4 We should take great comfort from the fact that God was willing to forgive the repentant David.

4:7  Notice the subtle but important difference between the language of  Psa 32:1 – and Paul’s words here. Whilst the Psalm has ‘he’ whereas Paul here says ‘they’. Paul generalises from the Psalm. The Psalm has specific relevance to David’s situation. Paul says that specific application of forgiveness actually extends to all who follow David’s example of repentance.

4:11 Whilst Israel seemed to see circumcision as the ultimate test of Jewishness Paul clearly says here that it is a sign of what has already been seen in Abraham – that is his faith in God which was counted for righteousness.

4:18against hope believed in hope‘ tells us that Abraham had to have faith in the promise of the seed as it was humanly speaking impossible.

4:23 The implication from ‘now it was not written for his sake alone …‘ is that Abraham had a written copy of the promise.

Cliff York comments

Romans 4 To meet the views of the Jews, the apostle first refers to the example of Abraham, in whom the Jews gloried as their most renowned forefather. However exalted in various respects, he had nothing to boast in the presence of God, for he too was saved by grace, through faith, even as others. Without noticing the years which passed before his call, and the failures at times in his obedience, and even in his faith, it was expressly stated in the Scripture that “he believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness,” Genesis 15:6. From this example it is observed, that if any man could work the full measure required by the law, the reward must then be reckoned as a debt, which evidently was not the case even of Abraham, seeing faith was reckoned to him for righteousness.

It is clear from the Scripture, that Abraham was justified several years before his circumcision. This then is Paul’s point to those who prided themselves on their pedigree and/or on the very private mark they received in their flesh whilst they were too young to effectively protest otherwise. It is, therefore, plain that this circumcision was not necessary in order to that justification which is by faith.

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It is truly fascinating to reflect on the great wisdom of the Father as one reads the 3 portions of Scripture each day, and often there runs a “Golden Thread” through them all. For example, one of the Golden Threads evident today, is the concept, that we can only be Justified by the Grace of God. Paul deals in great detail with the subject, of course, in Romans, Joseph in his life revealed how great a force faith in God is the life of each of His saints – Genesis 47:12, and the Psalmist captured the same beautifully in the closing verse of Psalm 50Whoso offers praise glorifies me: and to him that orders his conversation aright, will I show the salvation of God.”

John Wilson comments

Prayer of David, psalm 51

Prayer of David, psalm 51 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rom 4:7  As we read from Psa 32 the other day, and as we read from Psa 51 tomorrow, we can clearly see, and appreciate that the confession of sin is not seeking forgiveness, it acknowledges the righteousness of our Heavenly Father. We must also be aware of the fact, that our failings can not be forgiven unless we are prepared to acknowledge them.

Rom 4:17  “I have made thee a father of many nations.” Paul is quoting from Gen 17:5  Sarah was still barren at this time, but we see that this is written in the past tense. This was foreordained. There is a difference between pre-existence and being foreordained. The seed of Abraham, both Isaac and Christ were foreordained.

4:21 All promises that have been made by God, he is able to perform, certainly different from promises made by man. God never forgets a promise, while man frequently forgets, God’s promises are priceless, while promises of man are often times useless, God’s promises are always right, while mans are often wrong.

Michael Parry comments

Paul; the writer to the Hebrews; James; and Peter all talk about Abraham. He was the patriarch of the physical Jewish nation and also father of the faithful (4:16).
He was given the promises before the Law (Gen 17:5-8) – even before his circumcision (Gen 17:24).  The particular seed of his promise was Christ who fulfilled the Law (Matt 5:17, Gal 3:16).  However, God still has a covenant with the Jewish nation and the land of Israel even though they have not (yet) accepted Christ.  It is a mistake to believe, as some groups do, that any prophetical reference or future application concerning the Land and people of Israel is purely spiritual and not physical.

Rob de Jongh comments

For many of us the intricate arguments of scripture are too much to grasp. That’s why we’re given Abraham as an example. All we need to do is read about his life, emulate what we see, and we will obtain the same promises as him. Rom 4:3, 11-12, 16, 20-25.

 

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Preceding articles

Luther’s misunderstanding

January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I condemning Pelagius about Faith and Works

Our life depending on faith

Romans 4 and the Sacraments

Is Justification a process?

Letter to the Romans, chapter 3

Letter to the Romans, chapter 4

Additional comments to the 3rd Letter to the Romans

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Additional reading

  1. Written down in God’s Name for righteousness
  2. Testimonies to observe, inspired by God
  3. Necessity of a revelation of creation 5 Getting understanding by Word of God 3
  4. A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
  5. The Right One to follow and to worship
  6. God showing how far He is willing to go to save His children
  7. A secret to be reveiled
  8. Gone astray, away from God
  9. Back from gone #4 Your inner feelings and actions
  10. Looking for something or for the Truth and what it might be and self-awareness
  11. Two states of existence before God
  12. The God of hope filling us with all joy and peace
  13. God receives us on the basis of our faith
  14. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us
  15. With child and righteousness greater than the law
  16. Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus Declared God’s Son at His Baptism
  17. Atonement and the race been bought
  18. A race not to swift, nor a battle to the strong
  19. Fixing our attentionSelf inflicted misery #8 Pruning to strengthen us
  20. Gaining Christ, trusting Jehovah
  21. Set free from any form of mental torment or self-condemnation
  22. Doctrine and Conduct Cause and Effect
  23. Hope by faith and free gift
  24. God’s love – Equal and unconditional for all believers
  25. True richesBeing Religious and Spiritual 7 Transcendence to become one
  26. If you have integrity
  27. Honor your own words as if they were an important contract
  28. All Positive Energy People Are Acceptable
  29. Our openness to being approachable
  30. Preaching to an unbelieving world
  31. Is your mind thirsty?
  32. The Dress Code for Women in the Quran

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Further readings

  1. Daily Devotional – Romans 4:1-12
  2. Daily Devotional – Romans 4:12-25
  3. Romans 4 and the Sacraments
  4. Faith-full Father Abraham
  5. Paul’s Scriptural Argument
  6. Paul’s Argument of Maturity
  7. What works was Paul talking about in Romans?
  8. Background to Romans 9-11: key teaching from Romans 1:16-4:25
  9. Structure of Romans 1:16-4:25
  10. May 23 2 Chronicles 6,7; Psalms 135; Romans 4
  11. Devotional # 90. Galatians 3:15-29
  12. A Promise
  13. God is righteous and just (God is good 4)
  14. “It’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it.” ~Apostle Paul
  15. The relevance of  God’s Word today
  16. Righteousness of Faith
  17. Could Abraham have remained childless?
  18. Would Your Faith Save You?
  19. It’s not about you
  20. The Best Way to “Stand Up” For Jesus: Revisiting Romans
  21. What works was Paul talking about in Romans?
  22. Nullify the Torah?
  23. Apart From The Law Of Righteousness
  24. Under The Law
  25. Scriptures on Righteousness- Joseph Prince
  26. Righteous and Right-ness
  27. Greater Love Hath No Man
  28. Jesus Christ has done enough
  29. Verse of the day – Righteousness of the Law
  30. Grace words for today Devotional
  31. It is in difficult times that we choose to continue to do what is right while everything else seems wrong that we grow
  32. Getting wisdom
  33. Moral Image
  34. Incredible Peace
  35. It Is God’s Presence in Us
  36. Strength In Your Hair Or Your Faith?
  37. Daily Inspiration, January 28th
  38. You Have on Different Clothing Now
  39. Christ: A Place In God
  40. The Privilege
  41. The Sermon on the Mount is not a Guide to Christian Salvation
  42. Experiencing Revival Part 3: Obedience
  43. Righteousness Pt 10
  44. Kingdom Come
  45. You Christian, shouldn’t carry guilt, or seek ongoing forgiveness to stay “right” with God.
  46. Exodus 4-6 Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son
  47. The Myths and Facts of Circumcision
  48. The Question of Circumcision II
  49. God confronted even Moses for not keeping the covenant
  50. What is so important about this Commandment?
  51. Experience the change in status from “Children of the flesh,” and of the world : to “Children by promise,” and in the World -Guy#2:03
  52. Surrender: Circumcision of the Heart
  53. Is your heart circumcised today?
  54. Only Jesus Christ – no if’s, no but’s (1)
  55. Yes’s and No’s
  56. entering in…as chosen ones

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