The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 136 of 181
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One thing is certain, and that is, from the Apostle's argument, there is only one way to
justification for Jew and Gentile, namely the way of faith in Christ's work of redemption.
He asks, do we do away with the law if we stress faith? Paul uses the word law in
more than one sense; sometimes with the definite article and sometimes without it. But
in every sense that he uses it the declaration that law is established, not made void by
faith, is true. If it means the O.T. as a whole, it is true, for justification by faith
contradicts not one of its statements nor is inconsistent with its doctrines or promises. If
it refers to the O.T. typology then these were but shadows of which Christ was the
substance (Heb. 10: 1) and they were fulfilled in Christ, not proved spurious. If it means
the moral law then again this is not weakened by the law of faith, for by it no moral
obligation was weakened or penal sanction disregarded. No, the law is established by
faith, for the O.T. teaches that both Abraham and David were justified gratuitously by
faith and without works on their part.
Having come to this point, the Apostle is now going to give a concrete illustration of
what justification by faith means, and he found in Abraham an excellent example of this
truth. Several N.T. writers refer to Abraham to prove their points of doctrine for the very
good reason that in this man's life all the basic truths of Christianity are illustrated. We
find justification, sanctification, the power of prayer, fellowship with God, consecration,
and the goal of maturity all exhibited in his walk before God. To the Jew, Abraham was
their father and their supreme human example. No more telling practical setting forth of
the foundational doctrine of justification by faith could be made to an Israelite. Thus it is
that the fourth chapter of Romans which follows, shows how faith in God and His
promises forms the very basis of Abraham's life and witness.
4: 1 - 11.
pp. 201 - 206
The Apostle Paul now proceeds to set forth the case of Abraham and he continues to
use the style of question and answer. If ever there was a man whom the people of Israel
revered it was Abraham, for not only was he their human father, but his character was
such that even God Himself could say:
"Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes,
and My laws" (Gen. 26: 5).
This was high commendation indeed, and if a man's works could justify him in God's
sight, then Abraham could go further than most. But Paul has clearly shown that even the
best of human beings cannot reach God's standard of perfection by their own efforts:
"What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if
Abraham was justified by work, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as
righteousness" (Rom. 4: 1-3, R.S.V.).