Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
1 “’What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter?’ 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 ’Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.’”
There’s that word “boasting” again. Why was Paul bringing it up again?
Remember back to 3:32-31 where Paul drove home the truth that we are justified faith and not by “observing the law.” We can’t boast in our own religious accomplishments, that goes for every one of us Jews and Gentiles alike. However, there is one thing we all have in common, it is equal access to justification. So there is no room for boasting in ourselves.
Boasting was mentioned again because Paul knew that in the mind of his Jewish reader, if anyone had reason to boast, it would have been Abraham. But Paul wanted them to see that in reality, even the patriarch Abraham had nothing to boast about before God because he also was justified by faith, not by his works. Abraham’s works fell miserably short of God’s righteousness.
Think about it. If Abraham was justified by works, then he would have all the reason in the world for boasting. In fact, he could pat himself on the back for earning a righteous standing before God, but this is entirely impossible. You can read through Gen. 12-17 and you’ll find there is nothing to indicate that Abraham had any ground for boasting that he was justified by his works.
The same is true for us; no one will ever be able to boast before God. Eph. 2:8-9 says, “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
This is what distinguishes the gospel from all other religions. In fact, it’s what simply makes it good news! We have a way back to God and it is found in the work of Jesus on our behalf.
It all begins with the grace of God; He took the initiative in providing it to us. Amazingly, salvation is given to those who are utterly unworthy of it, on the basis of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The cool thing for you and I is that it’s given as a present possession. What do I mean by that? It means that we who are saved can know it right here and now—it’s a done deal! We don’t have to hope we’ll be good enough, that we won’t screw up and blow it in the end. You see, we don’t have to hope that if we’re good enough we might make it to heaven; we can know with certainty that we’ve already made it because of Jesus’s sacrifice. Yes, it truly is good news and the way we receive the gift of eternal life is through faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. It means that you and I take our place as a lost, guilty sinner and receive the Lord Jesus as our only hope of salvation. This is the gift of God. It’s a gift, of course, that is a free and unconditional present. This gift is the only basis on which God offers salvation. The gift of God is salvation by grace and through faith. It is offered to all people everywhere. It is not of works, that is, it is not something a person can earn through supposedly meritorious deeds.
We are not saved by works or by faith plus works; we are saved through faith alone. The minute we add works of any kind or in any amount as a means of gaining eternal life, salvation is no longer by grace…it’s by efforts. If we could do it on our own, we’d have all the reason in the world to boast because we wouldn’t need Christ; His death would have been unnecessary. But we know the truth; Christ died because there was no other way by which we could be saved.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible; The Bible Readers Companion.