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Romans 4:13-17


Darlene

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Heavenly Father,

 

This morning You've been laying some final preparations I need to attend to, when I'm able. Thank You for Your faithfulness...I've been hearing so many that have felt Your urgency, Your leading, to close up a few areas. I also know that a few of these last minute preps will be very difficult to complete, so I turn to You, and to You only, as the source of doing that, which I'm unable to do myself. I was always so independent, so self sufficient..."where there's a will, there's a way"...and over the years, You've been teaching me how to stop relying on myself (which never gets me where I need to be anyway), and to rely on You, and You alone. You truly have been faithful so I worship You, I praise You, I thank You. May all the glory, the credit, the appreciation, lay at the foot of Your holy throne, rising before You...and as that happens Father, may those praises be tucked within my heart, and may that be, what You see...my heart. It is Yours, Father, it belongs to You. It is the only place that I can truly trust.

 

My heart has become so weathered over the years, having faced many storms. I had tried with all my might to house my heart in various shelters. Some of those shelters were very abusive, and more often than not, that abuse was by my own hand...by my own choices, by my own blindness. Other shelters weren't so abusive, as they were dead, and they never really fed my heart. Then, there came a time when my heart was starting to die and I knew it...it was shattered in a million pieces. I finally knew that there was no place that *I* could find to rescue it, and when I finally, honestly and truly gave up (even gave up on You), is when You moved in, picking up the pieces of my heart, holding them gently in Your hands, blowing Your life over it, causing it to begin to heal, and over time, to begin to be whole again.

 

A few times, I tried to take my heart back, always giving You the praise for putting it back together, and every time I tried, I could instantly feel it start to shrink again...I could feel it begin to shrivel. It would begin to gasp for air and that scared me, so I would once again, go running to the foot of Your holy throne, placing my heart, once again into Your hands.

 

Sometimes I wonder why You never have said, "too late, Darlene...You took it back one too many times". But You would always take it back, as if I had never taken it away again, and that just reduces me to tears.

 

So Father God, please don't ever let me take my heart back from You. May it forever and ever, be beautifully wrapped in the Blood of Your Son, and may that be the only thing You ever see.

 

As You hear my cries and see the tears rolling down my face right now, the power of Your Holy peace, fills my heart, that belongs to You.

 

Bless this study today Father...it is the single most important work I do each day. I love Your Word, I love Your children, but most of all, I love You.

 

In Jesus Holy Name I pray,

 

 

 

13. For not through law was the promise to Abraham or to his seed that he should be heir of the world, but, on the contrary, through righteousness of faith.

 

14. For if they which are of law be heirs, faith is made empty and the promise is made useless:

 

15. For law works out wrath [to sinful man]; but where there is not law [to transgress], there is no transgression [of it].

 

16. On this account the inheritance is on the principle of faith, in order that it may be according to grace: so that the promise [which could not be broken], might be made sure to all the seed [of Abraham]: not to that which was of the Law only, but also to that which [although not having had Moses' Law] was yet of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all [believers]

 

17. (As it is written, I made thee father of many nations) in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God [the God], who makes alive the dead, and calls things not existing, as existing.

 

Watchman Nee, in the 13th verse, comments on the word "heir" and says, "Justification is for God's chosen ones to inherit the world that they may exercise God's dominion on earth (Gen. 1:26)."

 

In the same verse, he also comments on the word "righteousness", saying, "The law was God's temporary economy (dispensation) for man in the Old Testament, since it was added temporarily because of man's transgressions (Gal. 3:19); the faith is God's eternal economy (dispensation) for man in the New Testament, because it is based on God's eternal plan...In the Old Testament God dealt with man according to the law. If, according to that dispensation of God, man would have done what God commanded in the law, he would have obtained righteousness, that is, the righteousness of the law (9:31), the righteousness which is out of the law (10:5, Phil. 3:9). In the New Testament God deals with man according to the faith. If, according to this dispensation of God, man believes in Christ, the One in whom God has ordained that man should believe (1 John 3:23), he will obtain righteousness, that is, the righteousness of faith (v. 11), the rightreousness which is out of faith (9:30, 10:6). The faith, which is ordained by God in the New Testament economy and which replaces the law of the Old Testament, did not come until the New Testament time (Gal. 3:23,25). This faith, which replaces the law, is objective to us. When according to this objective faith we believe subjectively in Christ, in whom God intended that we believe, we receive the righteousness of faith. This righteousness is the Christ whom we possess - whom we believe by our subjective believing according to the objective faith ordained by God - as God's righteousness received by us (1 Cor. 1:30)."

 

The rvbv states in verses 13 to 17: "Here is the further question of Abraham's "inheriting the world" is considered, and this again is only through the righteousness of faith: this expression not meaning that faith is a righteous, meritorious thing, but that, as explained before faith, not law, is the Divine mode of blessing.

 

Verse 13: For not through law was the promise to Abraham or to his seed that he should be heir of the world, but on the contrary, through righteousness of faith. "Heir of the world"; Behold, then a new order of all things! Adam had failed, and his fleshly seed were fallen. Abraham has succeeded, to become the father of spiritual seed, - "of all them that believe": it will be a believing seed, not a natural seed. This man and that seed shall enter into the inheritance Adam forfeited for headship! What can "heir of the world" mean? Nay, what shall it not mean? "The meek shall inherit the earth." And who are they? Not Adam's but Abraham's seed. Bishop Moule beautifully says: "Then and there, perhaps side by side with his Divine Friend manifested in human form, Abraham is told to count the stars under the glorious canopy, the Syrian 'night of stars'; and he hears the promise, "So shall they seed be.' It was then and there, that as a man uncovenanted, unworthy, but called upon to take what God gave, he received the promise that he should be 'heir of the world.' In his 'seed,' - that childless senior was to be a King of Men, Monarch of continents and oceans. 'All nations,' 'all the kindreds of the earth' were to be blessed in him, as their patriarchs! Chief, their Head, in covenant with God."

 

How hardly do we banish the thought of human "merit" in God's great saints! ("Merit" is a Romish term: away with it!) Faith is the ground of God's blessing. Abraham was a blessed man, indeed, but he became heir of the world on another principle entirely - simple faith.

 

Verse 14: For if they which are of law be heirs, faith is made empty, and the promise is annulled - Here Paul enlarges, that for God to bless the merit-folks, would make God's promise-method impossible, and so our faith in His promises, empty and void. (The reason God hates your trust in your "good works" is, that you offer them to Him instead of resting on the all-glorious work of His Son for you at the cross.

 

Reflect:

 

1. What it cost God to give Christ.

2. What it cost Christ to put away sin, - your sin, at the cross.

3. What honor God has given Him "becaue of the suffering of death."

4. What plans for the future God has arranged through Christ's having made peace by the blood of His cross, to reconcile "things upon the earth and things in the heavens, unto Himself."

 

Now, by that uneasiness o conscience on account of which you keep doing "dead works," you neglect all God is, has done, and desires, for you, and substitute your own uncertain, fearful, trifling notions of "works that shall please God." You would make God come to your terms, instead of gladly accepting His great salvation and resting in the finished work of Christ.

 

It is ominously bold presumption, when God is calling all to behold His Lamb, to be found asking God to behold your goodness, your works!) Faith and law are contradictory principles, the apostle shows: absolutely diverse means of blessing.

 

Verse 15: Law, Paul explains, given to sinners, simply brings forth God's wrath, - for sinners in the nature of the case will transgress. Law gives no life, and has no power over the flesh. So Paul calls law a "ministration of death and condemnation" (II Cor. 3:7,9). Alford well says, "From its very nature, law excludes promise, - which is an act of grace, and faith, which is an attribute of confidence." Where law is not, neither is there transgression. This brings out several things: First, that it takes law to bring forth transgression of it - though sin may be present. There can be no transgression of a law which exists not. The absence of law is the absence of transgression. The entrance of law (in the case of a fallen being) is the entrance of transgression. Second, that there may be Divine dispensations where law is not the principle of relationship with God. Third, that to come into a spiritual place where there will be "no transgression," men must be removed completely from under the principle of law. (This will appear in Chapters Six and Seven. God indeed has an entirely different manner of life for those in Christ than being under the principle of law!) Fourth, that only the place of freedom from law is the place of the inheritance."

 

Watchman Nee, in verse 16, comments on the word "father" and writes: "As the father of all those called by God, Abraham was the first of a new race chosen by God. We were born into the fallen Adamic race, but we have been reborn into the called-out Abrahamic race. Whoever is of faith, as Agraham was, is a member of this new race and a son of Abraham (Gal. 3:7)."

 

The rvbv writes: "Verse 16: Here we see anew God's great kindness. He desired that all the seed of Abraham, whether Jewish or Gentile believers, might have security, - that the promise might be sure to all the seed. Now if you introduce man's works (for man always says, "I must do my part"), you introduce an element of insecurity and uncertainty. For no man, trying to "do his part," is ever certain that he has done, or will do, his "part." Salvation is of God, not of man. it is of faith, and of grace; and thus, of God. For faith is unmixed with the vain promises and hopes of man to accomplish "his part"; but looks to what God has done, in sending His Son, to do a finished work on the cross; and to the fact that God has raised up Christ; and that Christ is our unfailing High Priest in heaven.

 

Abraham is declared to be "the father of us all," - of all who believe. Believers will come from all nations of the earth, and Abraham is called "the heir of the world"; which he will be openly seen to be in the millennial kingdom that is shortly coming: "Ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, in that kingdome of God" (Luke 13:28)."

 

In verse 17, Watchman Nee comments first, on the word "believed", writing: "Abraham believed God regarding two things: (1 ) the birth of Isaac, which is related to the God who "calls the things not being as being," and (2 ) the offering up and the gaining back of Isaac, which is related to the God who "gives life to the dead." Abraham believed such a God and applied Him to his situation. Because Abraham had such faith, he believed God's seemingly impossible word concerning the birth of Isaac, and he also immediately believed God's commandment to offer Isaac, believing that God would raise him from the dead (Heb. 11:17-19)."

 

Secondly, he comments on the word "give", stating: "This is God's great power of resurrection. This great power enables us to eliminate death and overcome all that belongs to death. Abraham experienced this great power of resurrection when he offered Isaac according to God's command.:

 

Third, he comments on the word "calls" and states: "This is God's mighty power of creation. As the creating God, He needs no material to work with; He can create something out of nothing simply by speaking: "For He spake, and it was done." (Psalm 33:9)."

 

In the rvbv, for verse 17, it states: "(as it is written, I made thee father of many nations) in the sight of Him who he believed, even God [the God], who makes alive the dead, and calls things not existing, as existing. The words "Abraham, who is the father of us all" in verse 16, are to be connected with "before Him whom he believed" in verse 17, the intervening words being a parenthesis. There is a great household of faith! Whether believers relize it or not, they are sharing Abraham's inheritance. The mighty promises of God to Abraham and to His Seed, Christ (Gal. 3:16), should be studied deeply and often by all Christians. "For if ye are Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise" (Gal. 3:29). God lodged the promises in Abraham: Christ fulfilled the conditions (of redemption), and we share the benefits! Abraham got us by promise; Christ bought us by blood. Abraham is the "father of all them that believe," whether his earthly seed, Israel; or his heavenly seed, the Church; or any who shall ever believe. As to our regeneration, of course, God is the Father of all believers. But as to our relation in the household of faith, Abraham is our father: Abraham believed for us all. That is, he believed a promise that included us all.

 

Believers may indeed be said to have a three-fold fatherhood: (1 ) that of Abraham, of the whole household of faith; (2 ) that of the teacher of the gospel who was used to win them to Christ ("For though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel" - 1 Cor. 4:15); (3 ) that of God, who is our actual Father, who begat us by the Holy Spirit through His Word. The first two fatherhoods, of course, are fatherhoods of relationship, so to speak; the last only is of life and reality. Yet the first two fatherhoods are also real, and should be recognized, - especially that of Abraham.

 

Let us hold fast in our hearts the great revelation about God which closes verse 17: "God wo makes alive the dead, and calls the things not existing as existing." The translation in both the King James and the Revision Version surely comes short of the meaning here. The Greek literally is, God making alive dead ones, and calling things not being, being! It is as when God spoke to the darkness, back in Genesis One (Hebrew), the creative word, "Let light be! - and light was." It shone, too, "out of darkness" - not a ray that was projected from already existing light! His word was a creative fiat; and answering it, "out of darkness" sprang the heretofore non-existent, now created, light!

 

Note that it is the God who makes alive dead ones; - not those with some faint and feeble existence, but actually dead ones, those utterly gone! It is the God who calls non-existent things existent, - not, "as though" they existed, a translation which, not reaching the Divine view, really involves doubt. "Not being, being," is what the text reads. It is as when God says of His words, "I make all things new," - "they are come to pass!" (Rev. 21:5,6). This is the God whose word Abraham trusted. It was in this character, that of Life-Giver to the dead, and the Caller of not-things ixistent, that he trusted Him. Thus Abraham was nothing (but dead), and the seed, non-existent! Yet Abraham believed God's word that he should be "Father of a multitude"; and obediently changed his own name from Abram to Abraham!

 

Therefore the actual process and progress of Abraham's life of faith in such a God, is vivdly set before us as our pattern. We should study it over and over. The character of faith will be the same, with this consideration: Abraham believed on God in view of what He said He would do; we believe on Him who has raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. So, in His counsels and reckoning the believer, in Chapter Eight, is seen already glorified! Of course, in counting things not being as being, God is committed to bring into outward actuality all that He reckons; thus the believing ungodly not only is accounted righteous, but will one day be publicly manifested as the very "righteousness of God"! Indeed, justification involves God's giving him life, as see 5:18. But that is not the ground of his being reckoned righteous - that some day he will be in experience as righteous as he is not reckoned - any more than that he is accounted righteous on the ground of his own good works. For justification is a sovereign, judicial - not creative-act of God, based wholly upon the death and resurrection of Christ. When a sinner is to be justified, then, righteous is that which he is not! But, he believing, God counts him, holds him as righteous. He has no more righteousness (as a quality) than when he a moment ago, believed. But he stands in all Christ's acceptance by the act of God, the Judge! Though we have said, God will make this standing good in glorious manifestation, yet no degree of sanctification or glorification is the basis of his being declared righteous, but the blood of Christ only, and His resurrection, - the sacrifice of Christ and God's soverign act in view of it.

 

For God to call the things not being as being; to extend to a man the complete value of Christ's atoning work and "reckon" him justified and glorified in His sight, although not yet so in manifestation, is God's own business. Let us praise Him for His grace!"

 

Heavenly Father,

 

I am continually amazed at all things I'm learning, day by day, in doing this study. While I knew some, it was only scratching the surface. As I do this study, and go deeper into Your Word, thoughts like, "wow, I never knew it was like that", or "wow, now I see", or "oh wow, this is so simple" continually cross my mind. I've been so deceived in my lack of knowledge thinking 'this or that', when it all boils down to the simplicity of what Newell wrote a few days ago..."Note that the Scripture does not say that God justifies the praying man, or the Bible reader, or the church member, but the ungodly. Have you yourself believed on the God that accounts righteous the ungodly? Have you ever really seen yourself in the ungodly class, a mere sinner, and as such trusted God, on only one ground, the blood of Christ?" I just can't get what he said out of my mind, it still continues to stun me.

 

With each verse I study, my awe and love for You go deeper. You know that's true.

 

So for today, just as I said yesterday, I place my will and my life in Your hands, to do with as You will. Yesterday was such an amazing day after I got done with my study. As I worked hard, and as the day wore on, I thought countless times about how the prayer that I had prayed that morning, was heard by You...and in being heard by You, I was getting more done than I would have ever dreamed. Not only do You bridge the gaps, but You also extend and accomplish far more than I can do myself. So thank You for that Father...it brings joy to my heart, and I know that it's all because of You.

 

And Father? There's a promise that You made to me a few months ago. After reading these past couple of days about Abraham, I have been convicted of my unbelief. While I believed what You had said to me, I didn't know what to do with it...I didn't know if *I* (how self centered...please forgive me) wanted it. As the weeks and months have gone by, that promise You made me, seems more and more impossible. This past week though, You have been leading me into a position of faith with it...believing, regardless of what I see today, Your will in this particular area. So once again, I want to publicaly state that I believe what You have promised me...and I'm also going to say that You are the only one that can fulfill this promise. Regardless of what I see, or what the days ahead bring, I just want You to know that I really do believe what You have said.

 

Anyway, draw Your people, Your children, closer to You. Pour out Your precious Holy Spirit over their lives, annointing them with Your grace, Your mercy, Your destiny. Fill their hearts overflowing with Your love so that they can do nothing but be captivated by it, because the power of Your love, once realized, is undeniable, inescapable.

 

I love You so much Father.

 

In Jesus Name I pray,

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There were many wonderful insights and scriptures. One of the comments really caught my attention.

 

Believers may indeed be said to have a three-fold fatherhood: (1 ) that of Abraham, of the whole household of faith; (2 ) that of the teacher of the gospel who was used to win them to Christ ("For though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel" - 1 Cor. 4:15); (3 ) that of God, who is our actual Father, who begat us by the Holy Spirit through His Word. The first two fatherhoods, of course, are fatherhoods of relationship, so to speak; the last only is of life and reality. Yet the first two fatherhoods are also real, and should be recognized, - especially that of Abraham.

 

I can't really make a lot of comment because I am now 'chewing' on this. It will take me a while to get down to the marrow in the bone. But oh how I enjoy the chewing process. :)

 

My first reactions are that so many are relying on ONE of the three Father relationships while ignoring the others. There are those who have a wonderful Pastoral/Minister Spiritual Father that has shown them the way. But, they never complete the trip by continuing on into a close and intimate relationship with the Creator, the one and only God.

 

Then there are those who connect to God the Father and yet never connect with a Pastoral/Teacher to guide them through the process of Christian growth. They are stuck and stagnate. There is never any sign of growth. They make themselves susceptible to attacks as they just stand there, never pursuring more.

 

Still, some who have sat under and benefit from Great Pastor/Teachers and also developed a wonderful, intimate, redemptive relationship with God - who have no idea what it means to be a part of the Abrahamic Family of Faith. These people love God, are taught by good teachers and yet through away their Biblical heritage by thinking the "old ways" have passed away and have no value any more.

 

Oh for the wisdom and balance and maturity to embrace the fullness of what the Christian Life has to offer.

Edited by Stephanie
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