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MINI-DESPATCH. October 15, 2001
From W. B. Howard ...Editor of Despatch Magazine
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ABRAHAM, THE FIRST MAN OF GRACE AND FAITH.
ROMANS CHAPTER FOUR.

Chapter four of Romans is an astounding chapter, packed with teaching on how Abraham was justified, not by works as some erroneously think, but entirely by GRACE. It is as though the period when Abraham was on earth was a Grace period, and then came the works of the Law as a sort of parenthesis, and then Grace was brought into complete fruition in the Church Age. The New Testament looks back to Abraham in Romans chapter four, not because he was a man of legalism who takes us back to our roots in Judaism and the Law of Moses, but because Abraham was a man of Grace and saved by faith! This chapter has all the answers for those who would seek to bring Judaism back into the Church Age of Grace by claiming Abraham as their proof for such heresy! Abraham’s faith and the record of his life with God show a different story entirely. Now let us delve deeper, starting with this tremendous quote from Lewis Sperry Chafer’s book “Grace.” Pub. Kregel Publications.

“Since the covenant of grace which is based on human faith was established in the promises made to Abraham, the covenant of the law, made four hundred years later, and added only for a temporary purpose, cannot disannul it, The reign of law, with its covenant of works, ceased with the death of Christ. Its purpose had been accomplished, and its appointed time had expired. Thus the by-faith principle that was announced in the Abrahamic covenant is brought again into force by the death of Christ. The divine blessing is now to him that “worketh not, but believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:3,5,24-25). By this Scripture it is announced that the by-faith principle of the Abrahamic covenant is continued and now offered through the sacrificial death of Christ. This fact is restated thus: “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them… The law is not of faith” (Gal. 3:9-12). The law was a covenant  of works; but the works always failed through the weakness of the flesh, and the law then became, of necessity, a condemnation and curse. According to this same Scripture, the holy will of God is not ignored in grace; “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us “(3:13). This, it must be observed, was wrought under the one great purpose: “That the blessing of Abraham [acceptance in the imputed righteousness of God] might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ” (3:14).” (End of Chafer quote, p.144).
“ Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances [the Law] that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”( Colossians 2:14).


ROMANS 4:1-25.
In the COURT ROOM scene, leading on from Romans chapters 1-3, we now have TWO FRIENDS of the Court. They are willing to swear to the fact that when they were saved they were both saved by Grace through faith by the MIRACLE of God centuries ago. They knew what justification by Grace was! Who are they? Abraham and David. They are cited as FAITH-EXPERTS no less.

READ Romans 4:1-5, 9-25.

FRIEND OF THE COURT ONE:
This is the sworn testimony of Abraham, who was ISRAEL’S racial father. Yet, today many will tell the uninformed that going back to Abraham, as Christians, will take us back to the LAW and a works system of Judaism. Not so, as the Bible clearly shows:
How was Abraham saved?
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (4:3).
(See Genesis 15:6). The word “imputed” could be translated here instead of “counted”.
It means to add to someone’s account, a banking term.

There are THREE major “imputations” given in the Bible:
1. The imputation of Adam’s sin to the whole race of humans
     (Romans 3:23; 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:22).
2. The imputation of the whole of the race’s sin upon Christ Jesus
     (Isa. 53:5; Heb. 2:9; 1 Pet.2:24; 11 Cor. 5:14).
3. The imputation of the Lord God’s righteousness to all who will believe (Phil.3:90.
 
An interesting question: When was Abraham actually saved?
Some say he was saved when he was circumcised. This is not the case, as can be easily seen. Genesis 15:6 tells that us that Abraham was “justified.” At that time he was 85 years of age (Gen 16:16). In Genesis 17:24 we are informed that he was circumcised, and he was then 99 years old. So, Abraham was justified and a saved man of God nearly 14 years before he was circumcised.

Another fascinating question: Why was Abraham saved?
The Bible tells us “…that he might be the father of all them that believe.” NOTE: it does say the father of all those who are under the Judaic system, or the Ten Commandments given by Moses! Abraham is our “father” today, in the Church Age, because he was saved by GRACE alone!!! Today, anyone who is saved by Grace can claim that Abraham is their spiritual “father” because of justification by faith alone. Included are uncircumcised Gentiles, or circumcised Jews. Paul points out that Abraham’s circumcision was THE SEAL of his faith, but justification by Grace was the SOURCE.
We do not have “go back” to Abraham in some sort of Jewish way, and seek our Hebrew roots! In fact, Abraham was the beginning of the great record of Grace and faith, and Abraham is far beyond Judaism  - right into the New Testament testimony of faith.

WHAT WAS ABRAHAM PROMISED?
READ Romans 4:13-15:
a) He was promised “…that he should be the heir of the world” (4:13).
Here ISRAEL is shown to be not cast away by God forever, because of the Abrahamic Covenant. This is an unconditional covenant, as is the New Covenant given in the New Testament. No one has to keep any special works or requirements to inherit the covenant. There are four covenants of great importance in the Bible; only one is conditional. That is the MOSAIC COVENANT. The Abrahamic, the Davidic Covenant, the New Covenant all are unconditional. The Abrahamic Covenant guarantees that Abraham would father a great nation, and it would some day own Palestine forever:
See Gen. 12:2, 3, 7; 13:14-17; 15:5, 18; 17:

HOW WAS THIS PROMISE GIVEN BY GOD?
“For the promise….was not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (4:13). Do you realize something that the Jews of today don’t seem to understand? The promise about the inheritance in the Holy Land was given to Abraham 430 years BEFORE God gave the Israel the Law of Moses.

IMPORTANT QUESTION – WHO IS THE ”SEED” OF ABRAHAM?
Now many Jewish or “Messianic Jews” will tell you that Abraham’s seed are the Israelites, the Jews. The Bible tells us, however, that his seed is THREEFOLD, not just ONEFOLD. Who will you believe, the Bible or those who would frustrate the Grace of God in our day?

1. Abraham’s seed in an earthly sense is ISAAC ( Gen. 21:3; Rom. 9:7);
2. His spiritual seed is ALL BELIEVERS who come by Grace alone (Gal. 3:7);
3. His single and most important seed of course is CHRIST JESUS (Gal.3:16).


Number one makes nonsense of any claim by any Jew to a spiritual inheritance being especially in Israel, and that the Christian Church must return to the “Hebrew Roots” in Abraham to find spiritual life.
Number two shows that the spiritual seed of all believers being our standing in Christ, we do not have to go anywhere, certainly not backwards, to be in Abraham at all! We ARE in Abraham! In fact, those who insist on Judaism and the Mosaic Law are NOT in Abraham, nor are they his seed in a spiritual sense. They are under the CURSE of the Law, as they cannot keep it perfectly.

HOW DID ABRAHAM RECEIVE HIS EARTHLY SEED (ISAAC)?
We read all about it in Romans 4:20,21.

HOW SAFE AND SECURE ARE THE SPIRITUAL SEED OF ABRAHAM?
We read about it in Romans 4:16.

HOW DID THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT SEED ACCOMPLISH ALL THIS?
We find in Jesus Christ the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham. That is why Christianity in Christ Jesus our Lord is far greater than Abraham, and far greater still than Judaism under the Mosaic Law. Read about it in Romans 4:25.

ROMANS 4:6-8.
FRIEND OF THE COURT TWO:
David is Israel’s ROYAL FATHER. Here is his SHOWN TESTIMONY.
Have the Jews any excuse then for rejecting justification by the Blood of Christ alone? By Grace alone?

1. What great sins was David forgiven of?
     He was guilty of ADULTERY and MURDER (11 Samuel chapters 11 and 12).
2. How was David’s sins forgiven?
Here is the mighty truth, he was justified by the imputation of righteousness, just as Abraham was! Some people do not believe that Grace saved O.T. saints, but this is so. There is NO other way to be saved except by the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. See Romans 4:4-6.
3. David wrote with great remorse of his sins, you will find two Psalms in the Old Testament which specifically with this: Psalm 32 and Psalm 51.


PSALM 32:
This Psalm shows the agony of soul, which afflicted David when he delayed confessing his sins to the Lord. He did this for perhaps a whole year. Paul quotes from this Psalm, verse one and two, in Romans 4:6-8.

PSALM 51:
This is the actual prayer that David prayed, so long ago, when he confessed his sins before the Lord God. See 51:16,17. Notice that David does not offer the Lord a sacrifice of animal blood. Why not? For the terrible reason that in the Levitical system there was no offering that COULD cover the sins of adultery and murder! David should have been taken away and stoned to death, and suffered eternal hell fire! He, however, threw himself upon the mercy of God [only found in Christ Jesus] and found His Grace. And the New Testament includes this record in the mighty chapter on justification by Grace alone - which is Romans chapter four! Praise the Lord, for His compassion is new every morning.

READ EPHESIANS 2:8-10:

“In this passage the only order which can exist between divine grace and human merit is made clear. Man is permitted to do nothing until God has done all that His grace designs. Good works grow out of, and are made possible by, the gracious work of God. To this exact order all revelation concerning divine grace is in agreement.” (Chafer ibid. page 23).


 (Acknowledgement given to the outline found in Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, published by Tyndale House).
 
 

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