The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 137 of 181
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It will be well to pause here and consider the word translated `count' in this context as
it is vital to the argument. The word in the Greek is the verb logizomai which occurs no
less than eleven times in this chapter. It is translated `count' in verses 3 and 5, `reckon'
(verses 4, 9, 10), `impute' (verses 6, 8, 11, 22, 23, 24). Looking carefully at the context
we note that it is used in two different ways (1) of imputing something, (2) imputing one
thing for another.  The former sense occurs in verses 6, 8, 10, 11, 23, 24. In these
passages one thing is not imputed for another, wages, righteousness and sin are
actualities. But in verses 3, 5 and 22 faith is imputed for righteousness. We have the
same thought in 2: 26, "therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the
law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?".
The principle of faith is of extreme importance, but we must not go to the length of
making it another "work". If we do, then we empty the gospel of the grace of God of all
its meaning. Faith is not a work, although it leads to works, but this is another matter.
We have a comparatively modern example of these two expressions. There was a time in
the history of our country when the standard coin of the realm was the golden sovereign.
One could never have said with truth that the golden sovereign was reckoned for twenty
shillings for it actually was worth twenty shillings. Whatever happened to it! Today we
have a pound note.  Its purchasing power is exactly the same as that of a golden
sovereign, but it would be very unwise to conclude that the note itself was actually of the
same value as the gold; it was and is merely "reckoned for" 1. The intrinsic value of
each would be evident if both were dropped into the fire. The sovereign would survive,
but the note would quickly be reduced to ash. On the other hand we must not think that
the value of the 1 note is fictional, for behind it are the resources of Great Britain.
So it is with faith or trust. Faith is not righteousness; but is reckoned by God for
righteousness. The real righteousness is found only in the Lord. Nevertheless faith is
precious and is the one thing necessary to please God (Heb. 11: 6), but we must not
magnify it into a procuring cause or a work of merit on our part. As Charles H. Welch
expresses it so aptly, "there, in the great capital Bank of Heaven, is the genuine gold of
perfect righteousness, wrought by Another (the Lord Jesus) on our behalf, that alone
makes our faith of any value" (Just and the Justifier, p.77).
The section of the epistle we are now dealing with stresses three things:
(1)
The relation of circumcision to the argument;
(2)
The nullifying of God's promises if the law and human works are introduced; and
(3)
The supreme example of Abraham and the way he was justified by God.
Romans 4: 3 reads:
"For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him
for righteousness."
The Apostle is clearly quoting Gen. 15: 6, but we have a problem here because in the
Genesis record we are assured that Abraham believed God some time before this.
Hebrews 11: 8 states that "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out unto a place