Scripture printed text: Romans 4:1-12
Abraham, personal name meaning “father of a multitude”. The first Hebrew patriarch, he became known as the prime example of faith. He was the son of Terah, a descendant of Noah’s son, Shem, Genesis 11:27. His childhood was spent in Ur of the Chaldees, a prominent Sumerian city. He was known at the beginning as Abram, “father is exalted”, but this was changed subsequently to Abraham, “father of many nations”, Genesis 17:5.
The apostle Paul writes to believers at Rome, both Jews and Gentiles. Paul shared the good news to both Jews and Gentiles alike, resulting in the spreading of the gospel at Rome. Jewish Christian witnessed Gentile believers leading in growing numbers as Christ followers. Jews thought that Gentile believers had to adhere to their Jewish customs. That Gentiles should adhere to the practice of circumcision which had been established by the patriarch of their faith Abraham. Paul’s letter to the Romans offered an explanation of God’s interactions with humanity since the creation and fall. Belief in Jesus Christ for humanity redemption and understand that salvation is a gift that is available to both Jews and Gentiles. Salvation is not through human works, cutting the foreskin, but belief in the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Lesson outline: A. Faith builds relationship Romans 4:1-3, B. Faith becomes righteousness Romans 4:4-8, and C. Faith begets works Romans 4:9-12.
The Jewish people have always recognized Abraham as a progenitor for their monotheistic faith. Abraham heard and harken to God’s voice, so God blessed Abraham with great riches and gave him a covenant promise. God promised to give him and his wife Sarah a son in their old age, make his name great throughout all generations, because Abraham believed God and trusted Him with his life.
Human efforts earn human rewards, but faith in God gives something more significant, a relationship that puts a person in good standings with God. Abraham was given such right standing, not because he had done any specific work, but because God attached right standing to his faith. Only God could perform the work necessary to bridge the gap created by sin. To be declared right with God, is a gift that can never be earned.
The apostle Paul points out that Abraham was given right standing with God based on his beliefs, not from any form of circumcision or following Jewish tradition. For uncircumcised Gentiles had placed their faith in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, this message from Paul showed that God’s forgiveness and acceptance had been given to someone who was uncircumcised. Our faith in God puts us in right relationship with God. Abraham, as presented in Paul’s discourse was to be seen as the father of all who faithfully followed God. Abraham was more than the father of those who were circumcised; he was also the father of anyone who put their faith in Jesus. Faith in God results to work.
Paul used Abraham to show that good deeds don’t make him acceptable to God. Because human efforts are not acceptable to God, because they lead to boasting of self. However, the scripture says that Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Although Abraham was circumcised on the eight day, doesn’t compare to being in right relationship with God. Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous even before he was circumcised. Genuine faith in God, results in works of righteousness.