A gift for the world sounds like a great 80’s tune. The point of Romans 4 is the Apostle Paul expanding on the concept he throws out just a couple verses earlier: For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart the works of the law. That might not sound controversial, but it is a radical thought best summarized by this video.
That is a hard pill to swallow. You get something for nothing. Do you like to receive help? I’m sure you were thankful for help on that tough homework assignment or when you had a flat tire. But I’m talking about feeling chronically useless. EVERY day you need help. There is an odd thing happening in our society where people like to claim victim status. I’m not saying that there aren’t cases of this in society, but theologically speaking you are not a victim. You are the problem. I am the problem. 15 because law brings wrath. It is our active rebellion against our God that makes the gift of God shocking. AND it is also why it is one of our greatest needs. We are incapable of getting the righteousness of God in any other way. Don’t try.
There are many tribes of Christianity that get this confused. Roman Catholic and a Reformed Baptist theology ends up sounding very similar. For the Roman Catholic it is the work worked – opere operato. You go to the Lord’s supper, say the rosary, buy an indulgence to earn God’s favor. The Reformed Baptist is forever trying to prove their salvation to themselves and to God while paying lip service to justification by faith. Consider these quotes:
- Norman Shepherd stating that “The exclusive ground of the justification of the believer in the state of justification is the righteousness of Christ, but his obedience, which is simply the perseverance of the saints in the way of truth and righteousness, is necessary to his continuing in a state of justification” (Call of Grace).
- Pastor Steve Schlissel saying at the Auburn Avenue conference that “anyone who believes that the main message of the book of Romans or Galatians is justification by faith is a nutcase.”
- N.T Wright declaring that “justification…is not a matter of how someone enters the community of the true people of God, but of how you tell who belongs to that community” (What Saint Paul Really Said).
Want to hear more? Watch this week’s message taken from Romans 4 – the second in our Lenten series – Our Greatest Needs: A Gift for the World.
Series: Our Greatest Needs
Speaker(s): Fred Guldberg