(originally published October 28, 2012)
The book of Romans was written by a man named Paul; a man born and raised in Hebrew tradition. He was a persecutor of Christians, however after a run in with God on the road to Damascus, Paul turned his life over to God. The first missionary, he traveled much of Greece and the east ministering to the Gentiles. Romans is a letter he wrote to Christians in Rome. In Romans 4 particularly, Paul brings up the story of a man named Abraham, the founding patriarch of the Israelites and a man well known in the Old Testament.
Of all the righteous men and women in the Old Testament, it would be hard to surpass that of Abraham. In fact, in Isaiah 41.8, God calls Abraham "my friend."
The question being posed in Romans 4 is one in regards to faith vs. works. Was Abraham called righteous because of his faith or because of his works?
"So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we're given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, "Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own."
Verse 2 makes an excellent beginning statement in favor of faith. Paul says that Abraham could certainly have taken credit for God's approval of him, IF he had been justified by works. However, Abraham did not take credit for anything at all. The account of Abraham's life is not an Abraham-story, but a God-story. Therefore a story only God could take credit for.
Who is taking credit for your story? When all is said and done, will your life be a God-story or a you-story?
Moving on to v. 3, this is a reference from Genesis 15. In the chapter God makes a covenant with Abraham; His famous promise. It's a beautiful picture of God taking Abraham outside and pointing to the heavens. He proceeds to tell Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. This to a man who was well in age and without any children. Can you imagine looking at the billions of stars in the sky and hearing God tell you there would be descendants from you that number as many? Abraham believed God at this and it was counted to him as righteousness.
You see, before there was time, before God created man, He had a plan for Abraham. A plan that was already in motion at the time of Genesis 15. What became a turning point for Abraham was the moment he entered into what God was already doing.
Just as God had a plan for Abraham mapped out, He has a plan mapped out for each and every one of us. God is not a respecter of persons and He delights in the plans He has for all of us. That plan for us is already in motion.
For a turning point to take place, we must enter into what God is already doing. Some of you may know the plan right now and some of you may be asking how you can enter into a plan at work if you don't know what that plan is. I know there are times in life when you hit a wall. You come to a standstill and you are wondering where to go.
What can you do?
1. Read the Word of God.
"Do all of the revealed will of God for your life and God will lead you in discovering the unrevealed will of God for your life." John Lindell
What would be the revealed will of God? Scripture says that you be:
Filled with the Spirit
Submissive to Authority
You do what you know to be His will, then He will reveal to you more.
In any relationship you have, you must communicate with the other person in order to know what's going on. It's the same with our relationship with God. We must be in communication with him DAILY in order to know what He is doing.
The Bible says some things only come by fasting and praying. Sometimes it requires from us to set aside a need in order that we may seek God for direction. When you commit to seek God, there is no way you can miss what He is doing.
Are you adding God into what you are doing, or entering into what He is doing?
Yes, invite God to be a part of your life, but the wrong approach is if we go about our day, tagging God onto certain parts. That is a life of convenience, not a life of righteousness.
Abraham simply took God at His word and acted accordingly. He understood that he must rely completely on God.
Above I have posed some questions throughout the study in order that you might think about the passage a bit more. Again, I hope you would read the passage for yourself and allow God to minister to you. Here are the questions again...please take a few moments to think about your answer.
- Who is taking credit for your story? When all is said and done, will your life be a God-story or a self-story? In what way(s) can you give glory to God?
- At the beginning of each day, are you committing yourself to God? How?
- Are you adding God into what you are doing, or entering into what He is doing? In what area(s) are you struggling to surrender to God? Perhaps take a moment to say or write out a prayer repenting from your lack of submission and asking the Holy Spirit to change your heart from the inside out.
Check back next week for part 2...it only gets better!