16 April 2018Romans 4:13-25 (God’s promise, realised through faith)
“For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” (v. 13)
Psalm: Psalm 39
Paul could not be clearer. The promise that Abraham would become “the father of many nations” (vv. 17, 18) is not because Abraham had adhered strictly to the law of Moses, or even would do so in the future. Such a promise would have been conditional on good behaviour and impossible, in human terms, to fulfil. Paul had tried the route of law himself and he had found it wanting. How could he achieve a sense of righteousness with God, when he was bound to fail because he could not keep the law? Was he therefore doomed to be living forever under God’s wrath or condemnation?
Paul’s words to the church in Rome were explicit. Righteousness with God is not earned. The way, in fact the only way, to be in relationship with God is to trust God enough to be opened up to God’s mercy and grace. It is not so much what we might do for God; rather, it is to realise the enormity of the promise of God – that we are loved so much that God was willing to do the most selfless act of love imaginable – for us all (see the second verse of the hymn Jesus is Lord (Singing the Faith 353)
This does not mean we just sit back, luxuriate in God’s incredible goodness, and do nothing. Belief in Jesus, dead, resurrected and alive in Spirit, requires faith. This is the very heart of our Christian belief and understanding; and everything is underpinned by love, God’s love. Our faith is fundamentally in God’s love. We look at the cross of Jesus and see there nothing but selfless love, in its reason as well as its fulfilment.
How does this affect our living today? People of faith, who know that God has compassion for us and has forgiven us through his mercy and grace, will live in an attitude of thankfulness. Such gratitude should inevitably affect our daily behaviour, most notably with other people who may need our own forgiveness and grace - not because we have to, but because our living is a response to the greatest love of all.
- Do you need to be ‘put right’ with anyone at the moment, but do not want to make the first step towards reconciliation? Think again about the enormity of what God, in Jesus, has done for us first.
- Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever pray is ‘thank you’, it will be enough.” Give thanks to God for those people down the years who have nurtured you, forgiven you, and loved you to be the person you are today.