The book of Romans was written by Paul as a letter to the church in Rome. Paul had not yet visited the church there and wrote this letter as a way to introduce himself and give them his statement of faith. The Life Application Study Bible divides the book of Romans into two parts: chapters 1-11 being about what to believe and chapters 12-16 being about how to behave in light of those beliefs. The book of Romans is a theologically rich book that lays out the foundation of the Christian faith:
All people have sinned and because of that sin, are separated from God
Christ died to forgive sin – He made the way for us to be in right relationship with God
We are made right with God (righteous) through faith
This begins a new life with a new relationship with God (see Life Application Study Bible introduction to the Book of Romans).
Chapter four highlights the faith of Abraham, “the founder of our Jewish nation” (vs.1). Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 in verse 3 when he says, 3 For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Paul is making the point that following the law doesn’t save us, our good deeds or being a good person don’t save us. We are only saved through Jesus - believing that Jesus’ death made a way for us to be in relationship with God. Only Jesus. Nothing that we have earned on our own or even deserved, our salvation comes to us by way of Jesus’ merciful gift.
Abraham had every human reason in the world to not believe God. God had told him he would be the father of a great nation, so massive that they would be like the stars that filled the night sky. That all sounds great, except for one small issue: Abraham and Sarah had no children. And they were old. Way too old to even hope that God’s promise would become a reality in human terms. But, our God is not limited by human reality. Take a look at this:
18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
Believing God regardless of my own circumstances was the turning point in my faith journey. Faith built solely on my own personal experiences can’t withstand the weight of the ups and downs of life. Rusty talked this weekend about living a life of devotion and not emotion – if my faith is only as deep as my current emotions, I for one am in trouble because my emotions can be all over the place! It’s a choice, a daily choice to believe God, to take Him at His word, to believe that what He says about how He sees me and loves me is TRUTH. I hope you will spend some time today thinking about these questions: Do I believe God? Am I fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises?
Executive Director of Education and Outreach