Reading through Romans
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory. You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
A reading from Romans: Romans 4:13-17a (NLT)
Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)
So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.”
Reflection: Romans 4:13-17a (John Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World)
The promise in mind must still be Genesis 15:5, that Abraham’s posterity would be as numerous as the stars. It was a promise without any conditions or requirements attached to it. God’s word came to Abraham as gratuitous promise, not as law. He simply believed God and was justified.
Why does Paul assert so strongly that [the promise] is received and inherited by faith, not law? He gives three reasons.
The first is an argument from history. Namely, that ‘the covenant previously established by God’ could not possibly be annulled by the law which was given 430 years later….
Secondly, there is the argument from language…. Law-language (‘you shall’) demands our obedience, but promise-language (‘I will’) demands our faith. What God said to Abraham was not ‘Obey this law and I will bless you’, but ‘I will bless you; believe my promise’….
Thirdly, Paul now develops an argument from theology…. The reason justification is by grace through faith… is so that the promise … may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring — not only to those who are of the law (meaning Jews who trace their physical descent from Abraham) but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, that is, all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, who belong to the spiritual lineage of faith….
All believers belong to Abraham’s seed and so inherit Abraham’s promise. The fatherhood of Abraham is a theme which runs right through this chapter.
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen