Tuesday, June 14, 2011
COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 4:9-16
Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. (10) How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. (11) And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: (12) And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. (13) For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (14) For if they which are of the law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: (15) Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (16) Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.
Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, makes it clear in this chapter four of Romans that the promises to Abraham are Gospel promises in which the distinction between Jew and Gentile is obliterated (see verses 9-18). We must remember that Abram received his new name, Abraham “the father of many nations,” to denote in advance that his seed was the mystic nation to be gathered out of all peoples. The promise, Paul teaches, takes precedence over the earthly nation and the Law. The nation was constituted as a temporary expedient under the Law, “until the seed should come to whom the promise was made” (see Gal. -19). The principal enunciated in this fourth chapter of Romans is thoroughly carried out by Paul in Galatians where there can be no dispute that the seed of Abraham is Christ and His Church, without distinction of Jew and Gentile.
Verse 9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. He speaks of the blessings that were from the testimony of David and here is every blessing to make poor sinners happy. Righteousness imputed without works. (1) That there is an offence against God which is said to be forgiven; iniquities forgiven without merit. (2) There is a filthiness in sin, which is said to be covered; sins covered without deserts. (3) There is guilt in it, which is said not to be imputed. These blessings flow from the heart of God in His free grace. Does this blessedness of being justified come on the “circumcision” — the Jews — only? Or does it come “on the uncircumcision” — the Gentiles — also? as he had already answered in (-30). The question is asked if these blessings is only for the Jews and does imputed righteousness depend upon circumcision. Our Lord always, and in Gospel times abundantly grant salvation and good hope to believing sinners of every nation (Acts -35). Righteousness comes to no man through ordinances. “We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness” — that he was justified, not by working, but by believing. This proves that all of whom Abraham is the pattern and spiritual father must be justified in the same way. O precious faith, in a precious Saviour!
“Here, the wise God and vain man differ in judgment. Legal hearts are ever thinking, of obtaining righteousness by works, and pardon upon conditions. But God imputes righteousness without works, even the best robe. None but untoward children find fault with their father’s gifts. None but proud children find fault with their father’s clothing. For thy righteousness, even if perfect, O soul, is at best but the righteousness of a creature; but Jesus’ righteousness, is the righteousness of the God-man; alike infinite in value with His precious blood, by which our sins are atoned. They are not imputed to us, because laid upon Jesus. God pardons them, in justice to Him. Christ hath performed every condition for us. Faith takes its views, and forms its judgments from revealed truths. So it evidences its Divine original. Thus it gives all glory to God; while the sense of pardon, and the knowledge of justification, are applied to the soul by the Spirit, who comforts the soul in belief of the truth. And thus, a living, vital union is preserved, between Jesus and His members, through faith. From a joyful sense of pardon, and the Lord’s not imputing sin, love is increased — holiness incited — the sinner humbled — Jesus exalted — free grace gloried in — hope encouraged — slavish fears ejected — and the Heavenly inheritance longed for, as a free gift by Jesus. Thus all is of God — all is of grace —all cometh freely. Even eternal life is the free gift of God, by Jesus Christ, who saith, ‘Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom’ (Luke )” (William Mason).
Verse 10 How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. The question is easily and quickly answered: “Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.” The promise to which Abraham’s faith had respect was made to him at least 14 years previous to the institution of circumcision, before he was circumcised (see Gen. 15:2,6 with 17:24-25 and also Gen . 16:16). So far from circumcision being the ground of Abraham’s justification, it was not in any sense even a condition of his acceptance with God. This gives undeniable proof that circumcision had not only nothing to do with Abraham’s justification, but nothing to do with the justification of those of whom he was the spiritual father. This was no accident and it was so ordered, “that he might be the father of all who believe, though they should not be circumcised;” that it might be clear that justification was for them equally with their circumcised brethren; and that it might be indicated that, if he was the spiritual father of believing circumcised persons, he was so on the ground, not of their circumcision, but of their faith. Abraham was saved long before God revealed to him the sign of circumcision that was to mark his body, as faith in the God’s word and the Living Word was to mark his soul. And now the written Word of God has turned the Jew’s boast regarding circumcision upside down. It is not the Gentile sinner that must come to the Jew’s circumcision for salvation: it is the Jew who must come to the saving faith of the Gentiles, such faith that as Abraham had long before he was circumcised. God never saved a sinner except through His gift of faith (John ). How the darkened, evil heart of man shows its perversity by his desire to seek salvation in the symbol of the reality rather than in the reality itself. We see this in the so-called churchianity of our day when millions of people seek salvation in baptism and church membership. Baptism can be a picture of a sinner being vitally joined with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, a very beautiful thing, but most certainly the baptism itself is not salvation and could never wash away the sins of the sinner. Many religious organizations proclaim the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration and set it forth before men as a work of God, when the Scripture teaches us in every part that it has nothing to do with the regenerating and converting of the soul.
Verse 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also. The parenthetical clause in the beginning of this verse answers the question, “What profit is there in circumcision?” And the reply is substantially, while circumcision can have no casual or instrumental connection with justification — for Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, that “sign,” that mark, which was an outward badge of a race, and the emblematical expression of spiritual truth, was to Abraham a token, a “seal,” of the fact that he was a justified person through believing at the time that he received it; and a confirmation to all, in all succeeding ages, of the great truth — that the restoration of a sinful man to the Divine favor is entirely independent of external privileges, or personal services or sacrifices. Circumcision signified something; what was it a sign of? It signified that the heart must undergo a great change, that the natural corruption of the natures of the ungodly must be cleansed by the blood of Christ, His redemption being applied to them. Read the explanation of Moses himself in the Holy Scriptures; “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked” (Deut. ) and “The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Deut. 30:6). Read the following passages from the New Testament, Rom. -29, Phil. 3:3, Col. 2:11, which confirm that circumcision was a sign of the cleansing of our natures by Divine grace. But it was more than a sign or a token. It was also a pledge, a “seal” or confirmation of the righteousness of faith. It was not the means of begetting faith and it certainly was not the efficient cause of it; nor a seal of faith itself. It was a seal of the righteousness of Christ, which had been imputed to Abraham long before his circumcision, even when he believed God. Circumcision speaks not of that which is in order to salvation. It speaks of that committal of the true believer unto the Lord God and his Holy Law as his rule of life, in loving obedience, as a seal or evidence of salvation. So circumcision was an outward “sign” of the circumcision of the heart, of original sin and its cure. And it was a “seal ‘of the righteousness of faith’.” Circumcision did not guarantee the person circumcised that he was saved, justified in the sight of God, though the majority of the Jews mistakenly believed this and their blindness is spoken of in Romans chapter 11.
Even as the promises of the Gospel are particular and are only for true believers, that is, therefore, in the last analysis, for the elect (Acts 2:39), so also the seal of the sacrament is a particular seal: the sacrament sets the inviolable seal of God upon the unbreakable connection between faith and righteousness without the works of the Law. True faith is directed to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the Cross (Heb. 12:2).
It must be noted that Abraham’s case is not to be regarded as an exceptional one, but rather as a representative and typical one. This verse, as well as the 16th, teaches that Abraham is a pattern and father unto all believers. Those who are his spiritual children (
9:7-8) and seed (Gal. 3:7, 29), “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (vs. 12) and “do the works of Abraham” (John ), and they are owned by our Lord Jesus as His “friends” (John ). Observe that in both 2 Chron. 20:7 and Isa. 41:8 it is “the seed of Abraham thy friend,” while in James 2:21 Abraham is plainly presented in that passage as “our father.” It was revealed to Abraham that Christ should be his seed and it was promised to him that all the families of the earth should be blessed in him. (Gen. 12:2). And in the renewal of the covenant of grace with Abraham (Gen. 13:14; 15:5-6; 22:16-18), several particulars concerning that covenant were revealed more fully than ever had been before; not only that Christ was to be of Abraham’s seed, but also, the calling of the Gentiles, and the bringing all nations into the Church, that all the families of the earth were to be blessed, was now made known. And then the great instrument that God would grant and use in the covenant of grace, which is faith, was most fully made known. And the New Testament teaches definitely that Christians as Christians are the heirs to the promises made to Israel in the past (Rom. 4:11, 14, 16; Rom. 9:7-8; Eph. 3:6; Heb. 12:28; Gal. 3:16; Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 3;21-22; James 2:5). The true Israel (Gal. 6:16) who are the true heirs to the promises given in the Old Testament, that true Israel is composed of Christians who are both believing Jews and Gentiles, who share equally and on the same basis in all the blessings and promises of God (Eph. 2:11-22). And they are all received only and in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom.
So according to the apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ through whom came the interpretation of the prophecy, the seed promised to Abraham was of a spiritual kind; It comprehended all the children of faith, wherever they might be found, — as well as children of faith apart from the Law, as the children of faith under the Law. Patrick Fairbairn adds, “The justness of this wide and profoundly spiritual interpretation, the apostle specially bases on the time when circumcision — the sign and seal of the covenant — began to be administered; not before, but after the promises were given. And he might also have added, as a collateral argument, the persons to whom it was administered — not to that portion only of Abraham’s lineal descendants, of whom the Jews sprung, nor even to his lineal descendants alone as a body; but to all collectively who belonged to him at the first as a household, and all afterwards who, by entering into the bond of the covenant, should seek to belong to him (Ex. 12:48, etc). What more could evidently show that Abraham’s seed, viewed in the light contemplated in the promise as a seed of blessing, was to be pre-eminently of a spiritual nature? A seed that was only in part to be found among the corporeal offspring of the patriarch; but wherever found, was to have for its essential and most distinctive characteristic his faith and righteousness?”
Paul is bringing out the positive side of the matter: his object is to show how far the spiritual element in the promise reaches. But in Romans 9:6-13, he shows the negative side; he shows how the same spiritual element excludes from the promised seed all, even within the corporeal descent and the outward legal boundary, who at any period did not possess the faith and righteousness of Abraham. All along the blessing was to descend through grace by faith; and all such who were destitute of these were not, in the sense of the original prophecy, the children of Abraham: they were rather, as our Lord expressly called the Jews of His day, the children of the devil (John 8:44) — a declaration that rests on the same fundamental view of the promise as that unfolded in the proclamation of the apostle Paul. Abraham is described as “the father of all them that believe” and it is spiritual kinship and not physical descent that is the determining factor. While all of Abraham’s natural seed were circumcised, it was only to those who had his faith that he was a father in what is spiritually represented by circumcision. All uncircumcised believers are appropriately included among the children of Abraham, because the righteousness which was reckoned to him in that state, is also imputed to them upon exactly the same terms (vs. 22-24).
Verse 12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. Abraham was a model of how God justifies a sinner by grace, just as Paul was a pattern of how God saves sinners (1 Tim. ). Abraham was a spiritual father, not only to believing Gentiles, but also to believing Jews, who rely not on circumcision, but have real faith like that of Abraham, believing all God speaks and reveals to them, and in particular rejoicing in the Redeemer, whose righteousness is imputed to all believers without regard to nationality. Only true believers, Jew or Gentile, are the true spiritual children of Abraham. Our Lord Jesus Christ denied that the unbelieving Jews, although flaunting their nationality, law-keeping, and circumcision, were the children of Abraham, or the children of God, but made the charge that they were, in fact, of their father the devil (John 8:39-44).
Paul, the Lord’s penman, has proclaimed in the epistle that man is completely ruined in sin. He has demonstrated the total inability of any man to save himself or to be saved by his will or anything man can do or combine, even in his religious or national organizations, to do for the outward need of the sinner. Relentlessly, Paul has closed off every avenue of escape, leaving the sinner bankrupt, before the throne of a Holy God. He brings us to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and shows that it is only there that God declares a poor, ungodly sinner to be righteous on the grounds of the satisfaction that was made in the death of His Son (Col. 1:13-14)..
This verse confirms the promise to those of the circumcision, and those also not of the circumcision, who walk in the steps of the faith of their father Abraham which he had while yet uncircumcised. The first step of his faith is revealed to us in the great discourse of Stephen which was given at
on the day in which Stephen was killed as the first Christian martyr. He began his address at the time of his arrest in the following terms: “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Jerusalem Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in ” (Acts 8:2). The glory of God is a great and wonderful subject, but the GOD OF GLORY is even greater and Abraham was stricken with awe in the revelation of HIM. Abraham knew that the God of glory (the Word of the Lord), had appeared to him (becoming his shield and exceeding great reward), changing his heart and life, rejoicing in Christ (John -58). His past life of self-will, worldliness, false gods and idols became nothing, vanity, and the hated things in his past life that he once loved. He rejoiced that he now knew “the only true God and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3) as a living reality and that he would never be the same, to his great delight. The soul, born of God’s Spirit, who has comprehended the glory of God in Christ, can never be the same person as before for those truly converted by the grace of God are taught in their inward being by His power “that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:12). It is God in His sovereign, distinguishing grace that makes “us to differ” (1 Cor. 4:7) by coming to us ungodly sinners as we travel along in our unregenerate state, “walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). He comes in His awakening, saving mercy and grace and reveals Christ in the hearts of His elect, enabling them to “behold the glory” of Christ our Lord (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 4:6). Haran
It is a matter of great concern in the life of the saints that the enemy of souls, the Devil, has, of course, sought to counterfeit the glory, and he appears to men as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). But there is a vast difference between the God of glory, and Satan transformed as an angel of light. The God of glory awakens sinners to their guilty, lost, and helpless condition and He always appears in relationship to the promise of redemption as it is in Christ our Lord. He abases the sinner and exalts the Lord Christ, making Him the most precious thing in the world to a truly awakened sinner. Satan, the angel of light, will seek to draw men to works, goodness, ethics, brotherhood, religion, churchianity, false professions and decisions. But the true light of God that ever shines forth in His sovereign grace will reveal within the heart of a sensible sinner true faith which shall be enabled to “see the Son” Himself (John 6:40) and delight in true desire to bask in the glory of the God of glory.
To “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” is a life changing occurrence that leads all the true spiritual children of God to a godly life as great “carefulness is wrought within them” (2 Cor. 7:11). The puritan Robert Bolton reminds us of what walking with God really is as he defines this walking with God as “a sincere endeavor, punctually and precisely, to manage, conduct, and dispose all our affairs, thoughts, words, and deeds, all our behavior and conversation, in reverence and fear, with humility and singleness of heart, as in the sight of an invisible God, under the perpetual presence of His all-seeing, glorious, pure eye; and, by a comfortable consequence, to enjoy, by the assistance and exercise of faith, an unutterable sweet communion and humble familiarity with His holy majesty; in a word, to live in heaven upon earth.”
Verse 13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. In the promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:8) there was a land promise and the promise of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ — “In thee shall all nations be blessed” (Gal. 3:8). Jehovah repeated these promises to Abraham several times and renewed the same covenant with Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 26:3-5; 28:13-14). God said He would not leave
until He had fulfilled His promise. God did promise Abraham that He would give him the land of Canaan, and that He would make his seed as the dust of the earth, as the stars of heaven, and as the sand on the seashore innumerable (Gen.13:14,17; 22:16). When Abraham asked God, “whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (Gen. 15:8), the Lord told him that his seed would so sojourn in a strange land 400 years and that He would bring them back into the land, in which Abraham was not a stranger. After the many plagues inflicted on Pharaoh and the Israel , in order to bring them out, the Israelites were delivered from bondage by the hand of God. This the Lord did in faithfulness to His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exo. ; 6:8; 33:1). land of Egypt
Once the Jews were safely out of Egypt God made a covenant with them in
(Sinai). “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people . . . and all the people answered together, and said, ‘all that the Lord hath spoken we will do’.” (Exo. 19:5-8). Then Moses wrote down the words of that covenant and sealed it with blood (Exo. 24:3, 8). This was very definitely a blood covenant and corresponded with God’s promise to Abraham “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Nevertheless the Jews completely broke the conditional covenant within 40 days, and it was never renewed again (Exo. Chapter 32). Just at Canaan’s border God made another covenant with the children of Israel BESIDES the one He made with them in Horeb (Sinai) (Exo. 34:10; Deut. 29:1). This was definitely a land promise and was in keeping with the land promise to Abraham. The book of Deuteronomy contains this covenant and also THE CONDITIONS laid down by God on which depended the blessings of this inheritance. The Jews in their wicked rebellion forfeited this covenant in every particular. Mount Horeb
The Lord told Moses to encourage and strengthen JOSHUA (Deut. -28). The Jews were to inherit this land only on condition that they obeyed the God of Israel (Deut. -28; 8:1, 11, 18). God told the Israelites that rebellion and disobedience would lead to curses upon them FOREVER (Deut. 28:45-46; also vs. 15 to 45 and 49 to 68). How definite and certain these curses for
’s stubborn disobedience have been carried out by God, is witnessed in Jewish history even unto this day. God had preserved the Jews all down through the centuries as a perpetual warning to those who know the Lord’s commandments and yet disobey them (read Deut. 28:37-65). Many years after the death of Moses, the Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah to the nation saying, “Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger which shall burn FOREVER” (Jer. 17:4, also see 2 Kings 22:17). God made further promise to David concerning his son Solomon (2 Sam. -16; 1 Chron. 28:4-8; 1 Kings 9:3-7). Solomon was informed by the Lord that He would establish Solomon’s throne if he obeyed His voice. It is an unvarying principle of the Word of God that any blessing is conditional upon obedience. The temporal blessing of Israel of inheriting and keeping the land depended upon their obedience to God, even as Moses and Joshua said. Israel
The earthly aspect of God’s promises to Abraham’s natural seed, likened to stars (1 Chron. 27:23), dust (2 Chron. 1:9), and sand innumerable (1 Kings ), was regarded as having been fulfilled in Solomon’s reign (1 Kings ; Joshua , 45; Neh. 9:7-8). Whatever earthly promise was included in the covenant made by God to Abraham was fulfilled to
as these Scriptures clearly reveal. Take heed oh ye dispensationalists and premillennialists, your theory of prophecy will not stand the light of Holy Scripture for you ignore or deny what is clearly revealed here. Israel
At the same time that Moses pronounced a curse upon
for disobedience, he spoke a blessing (read carefully Deut , 31; 30:1-8, 11-14). And the apostle Paul quotes from this very O. T. Scripture and states that Moses was referring to the word of faith which we preach (Rom. 10: 6-10). Paul carefully explains here that God’s promise of mercy to future generations of Jews must come through the instruments of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Christ, and although this quotation from Deuteronomy seemingly spoke of material blessings, it in reality was the promise of spiritual salvation through the Christ that the Gospel proclaimed. The literalists, dispensationalists, and Premillennialists need to take serious notice of the fact that this blessing that Moses spoke of was to come to the Jews when turned to the Lord in the LANDS where they were DRIVEN — not a country of a few thousand square miles in the Middle East ( read carefully Deut. 4:27-31; Lev. 26:28-42; 1 Kings 8:46-52). Those Jews today returning to Israel are not fulfilling these Scriptures since they are migrating there in unbelief. The remnant, the elect, the spiritual Israel, Jews who do savingly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will not be occupied with the nationalization of Israel in Palestine but will be concerned with the preaching of the Gospel of the grace of God and waiting for the glorious return of Christ from Heaven to take the Church, Jew and Gentile, unto Himself forever. Palestine
Immediately after sin entered the world through the Adam fall God promised a Saviour (Gen. 3:15). This Saviour was to come through the nation of
(Gen. 22:18). After the Lord had brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt He made a blood covenant with them. It contained the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic laws (Exo. 19:4-6; 20:1-8: 24:8). Paul in the epistle to the Hebrews explains how the Mosaic sacrifices and laws were only shadows of the substance, which is Christ. He explains how it never was possible for the blood of bulls and goats, etc., to take away sins: that atonement remained to be finished in God’s plan by the sacrifice of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself to God (Heb. 9:11, 14). Even the sins of the O. T. saints still remained to be atoned for by the death of Jesus Christ (v. 15). Many different mediators came between God and the O. T. saints but each was but a type of the Mediator of the new covenant whose work as both Priest and Sacrifice was done once for all and forever (Heb. 10:10-15). Israel
The nation of
broke every covenant which God made with them. Then God made an everlasting covenant with the true spiritual Israel, Jew and Gentile, which could not be broken for it was a spiritual covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). This is the only covenant which God has made with His people, His Church of Jew and Gentile. The Holy Ghost plainly states in the book of Hebrews how this new covenant is the one made by the blood of the Lord Christ. The old covenant, along with the ritual of the tabernacle which was given to Israel at Horeb (Sinai), was “old and is ready to vanish away” (Heb. ). Jeremiah 31:34 is quoted, thus showing that this Scripture was also a part of the covenant of grace (Heb. 8:8-11). And every soul, Jew or Gentile, in God’s covenant of grace, does know the Lord. He knows Him as his Saviour who gave His own blood in the everlasting covenant; he knows Christ as the one Mediator who reconciled him to God: he knows Him as his own Lord, who bought him, a sinner, deserving only judgment, into that Heavenly kingdom of which there is no end. Israel
So when we speak of “the promise” we are on Gospel ground for the idea of the Gospel is that it is the good news concerning the promise. This is clearly brought out in Gal. 3:8: “And the Scripture, forseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” This last clause: “In thee shall all nations be blessed,” is, of course, simply the promise. And this verse simply declares that when God makes an announcement of this promise to Abraham, the Gospel is preached to him. The Gospel, therefore, is identified with the promise. Acts -33 states the same truth and when it says that the promise as being “made unto the fathers,” is the same as the one mentioned in Gal. 3:8. The essence of the Gospel was the promise. Of this promise our 13th verse of Romans speaks and it was to Abraham and his seed the promises were made (Gal. ). And seeing that the true seed of the promise is Christ, we are also Abraham’s seed if we are of Christ, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. ). For this reason Scripture speaks of “the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13); and of “the children of the promise,” that is, of those children that, in distinction from mere children according to the flesh, are born in virtue of and through the power of the promise (Rom. 9:8); and of the heirs of the Promise, unto whom the Lord seals the riches of the promise and the inheritance with an oath (Heb. 6:17; 11:9). The Gospel, therefore, is the glad news concerning the promise that was given to Abraham and his seed, the heirs of the promise, chosen before the foundation of the world, as they walk in the midst of darkness of this sin-cursed world.
“Heir of the world” is not a quotation of a Scripture but an interpretation of the Holy Ghost through His servant Paul of the spiritual meaning of the promises made to Abraham. That Abraham understood them in a spiritual sense is made plain “for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:9-10). What was true of Abraham, was true also of all the lineage of faith (Heb. -16). Thus Abraham is said to be the heir of the world, not in himself, but in his seed, which is CHRIST, as was clearly shown by the verses referred to in Galatians above. And how was this to be fulfilled in Abraham, but by God fulfilling that great promise, that “in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed?” For that promise is what the apostle is speaking of; which shows, that God has appointed Christ to be the heir of the world in His Kingdom of grace, and to possess and reign over all nations, through the propagation of His Gospel, and the power of His Spirit communicating the blessings of it. God hath appointed Him to this universal dominion by a solemn oath: “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isa. compare with Phil. -11). Though this solemn oath of God the Father is to be understood in so comprehensive a sense, as to extend to what shall be accomplished at the Day of Judgment, yet it is evident that the thing most directly attended is what shall be fulfilled by the spreading of the Gospel of His salvation, and power of the Spirit of grace, bringing His elect from “all the ends of the earth to look to Him that they may be saved, bowing unto and confessing Him as Lord, and come to Him for righteousness and strength, that in Him they might be justified, and glory in Him. In Him, the Heir of the world, Abraham and all believers are heirs of all things concerning this world and the world to come. (Heb. 11:8-10, 13; Luke 20:34-36). All the promises of God are in Christ (2 Cor. ). The covenant, in all its promises in reference to spiritual blessings, was established in Christ, who was Abraham’s seed (
), and was given to all His Church in Him (Rom. -17). There is no other inheritance for humanity save in “the Seed”, CHRIST. He is the heir of the inheritance, and only in Him, and that by God-given faith, can it be obtained. As it was by Abraham, so it is by all the true Church. Paul tells us what it really means to be “heir of the world”; “therefore let no man glory in men, For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, of life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3:21-21). Paul tells us our participation in “the inheritance” is through God’s Predestination, counsel and will (Eph. ). Peter adds, “God . . . hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). Ga.
It was “not through the law but through faith” and the temporary supervention of Law could not annul God’s gracious promise to Abraham. It was not through the Law of Moses, nor the law of ceremony, nor the law of circumcision, but by faith in Christ (Gal. -22). As condemnation inevitably results from the slightest infringement of Law, it follows that righteousness must be a free gift of pure, sovereign grace to all who truly believe the promise. And the faith here designed, is, therefore, to be considered as the receiving of Christ and His righteousness; or, as a dependence on Him alone for salvation. Believing the gracious report, we receive the atonement; we enjoy comfort; and have the earnest of eternal glory. The faith of Abraham, and of all true believers, was nothing more and nothing else than the renunciation of all virtue and strength in self, and a hanging in childlike trust upon God for what He was able and willing to do. Far, very far indeed, was his faith from being a mere substitute for a “righteousness” which he lacked. And in no way was God accepting his faith in lieu of a perfect obedience to His Law. Rather was Abraham’s faith the acting of a soul which found its life, its hope, its all in the Lord Himself. And that is what justifying faith is: it is simply the instrument by which the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness are received in order to justification. It is emptiness filled with Christ’s fullness; impotency lying down upon Christ’s strength.
Verse 14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. If the Jews, and all others, who are seeking righteousness and eternal life by the works of the Law, and if the inheritance is to be earned by an obedience to Law, whether written on the conscience or inscribed on tables of stone, then faith is made void and the promise nullified. Paul has labored to show that obedience in any form, works of any kind, cannot justify any man before God (Rom. -11). If salvation is by works, it is useless for God to promise life to sinners who, because of their inability to keep the Law, seek it by faith. Salvation cannot be by faith and works (Gal. ; ). Reliance on the Law takes away all hope of salvation and renders faith completely inoperative. The true saint of God, humbled by the powerful application of the grace of God in the Gospel of grace, has a firm persuasion that in the obedience of the regenerate there is not a righteousness to be obtained before God by the performance of any duties or obedience of ours whatsoever. In God’s only way of justifying and saving sinners, faith fixes upon the sole work of the Lord Jesus Christ; by faith we become joint-heirs with Christ, enter in and possess the hope of eternal life, and we are in actual possession of it. That soul who is striving by any works or doings of his own to make himself an heir, and get into God’s Kingdom, sets aside Christ, makes faith void, and he is so far under the Law that “the promise is made of none effect.” If it were possible for men to become heirs of salvation by the Law, the whole Gospel would be subverted, and its provisions rendered of no importance whatsoever. Robert Hawker says, “It is of no use for God to promise, if the accomplishment depends upon man’s performance of the Law. And as man cannot come up to the Law, so man can never attain the promise if it depends on his obedience. It is of no use to hold forth any blessings, if those blessings depend on man’s taking them when they are out of his reach.”
If it were so that by works man might obtain that inheritance, all faith, covenant of grace, and promises would be void, which is wicked and most absurd to even think. The theory of dispensationalism had best take note of this verse of Scripture and rethink their position on the natural Jew, the promise and the land of that small country. The Jew is of the Law and circumcision (this verse and Gal. 5:2). These two things constitute
and Jewry. It is not sufficiently perceived by this school of thought and many evangelical expositors that there can be no restoration of earthly Israel to Divine favor without the complete abrogation of those very rites which make the natural Jew a Jew. The Holy Spirit tells us through His penman that the Jew as a Jew cannot be an heir (of the promise made to Abraham) without making promise and faith of none effect. He must cease to be a Jew distinctively if he would be a citizen of the Kingdom of grace. Listen up O ye naturalists for your literalism abolishes the Gospel, embraces the blindness of the rabbis with their nationalistic interpretations, and in utter horror establishes the Law and works in place of faith and grace. Dear reader, Paul in Galatians and Romans teaches that the Law and circumcision are ended and are hostile to the Gospel. The literalists deny that this is so. They teach that Law, temple, circumcision (Ezk. 44:9), and animal sacrifice for sin (in denial of the book of Hebrews) must be re-established, even if the deed can only be done on the ruins of the Gospel and the abolition of the Cross of Christ. Reader, beware of such heresy. Israel
Verse 15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. The Law works wrath or brings a curse, but in itself the Law is holy, just and good (Rom. ). It is by means of this standard of perfection that sin is identified, for sin is any and every lack of conformity to God’s Law (1 John 3:4). The wrath of God is brought upon us because men are wicked, break and transgress its holy precepts, and so incur the righteous penalty of God’s Holy Law. As man is in a state of sin, the Law works wrath. It reveals the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Rom. ). It fastens a charge of guilt on the criminal, and works a sense of deserved wrath in his conscience (Rom. ). Far from justifying any offender (for justification by the Law is an impossibility), it denounces utter destruction against him, and unsheathes the sword of vengeance. There have been infractions of the Law by all men, and all men therefore are the children of wrath (Eph. 2:2-3). God’s broken Law is so far from entitling to the promised blessing, that it exposes all men to the curse and wrath of God (Gal. 3:10).
“Where no law is, there is no transgression,” but the Law has come, “sin is the transgression of the law,” — not only the written Law, but that Law which is revealed through creation and conscience and the work of which is written on the heart. Because we as fallen men are naturally bent to do that which is forbidden us; and so by the reproofs of the Law, the rebellion and stubbornness of man’s heart is increased. The godly William Mason has written: “Consider what is meant by the law working wrath. (1) ‘Sin is the transgression of the law,’ 1 John 3:4. (2) ‘The law was added because of transgressions,’ Gal. . (3) ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ Therefore, (4) ‘By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in God’s sight,’ Rom. . For, (5) it is a ‘ministration of condemnation,’ 2 Cor. 3:9. ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in
ALL things which are written in the book of the law to do them,’ Gal. . Hence is it any marvel, that we, who are transgressors of the law, and cursed by the law, if we examine ourselves by the law, and judge of ourselves according to the law, that it should work in us a sense of wrath, a dread of damnation, and a fearful looking for of judgment, and of fiery indignation? Therefore we must see and own, that by nature we are children of wrath even as others — deserve Hell as well as others — and can do no more to save ourselves than others. Now, have we thus seen ourselves under the law, and felt the law working wrath in our consciences? If so, this is the certain consequence: Our mouth is stopped: we are ‘become’ (O awful word!) ‘guilty before God,’ Rom. ”
In this our 15th verse and also 2 Cor. 3:6,7,9, the Law is called the letter that kills, the ministration of death, and the ministration of condemnation. The wrath, condemnation and death that is threatened in the Law to all its transgressors, its final perdition, the second death, eternal ruin, as is very plain, is confessed. And this punishment which the Law threatens for every sin, is a just punishment, being what every sin truly deserves; God’s Law being a righteous Law, and the sentence of it a righteous sentence.
We conclude our remarks on this verse with these words from Charles D. Alexander: “Only God can redeem, and redemption may not be found through another than Himself, for only He is the LAW and qualified thereto to uphold it in judgment. That LAW of GOD is not an arbitrary code of behavior invented for the purpose of rule and order, but is the pattern of His own being and nature. There never could be any other standard of right and wrong, as there never could have been any other kind of creation. All is patterned on what God is; therefore, only God in Person can redeem and atone. This is permitted by His own Three-in-One Being or essence, by which He is able at one and the same time to be the Judge and Avenger, Victim and Accursed.”
Verse 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all. This servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, has proven that the whole work of our salvation is of grace, not of our merit; by favor, not by debt. The miserable condition of us as guilty, helpless sinners renders salvation to be possible only by grace; by no other way. If our heirship depended on our conformity to the Law of God, we would all certainly perish. But it depends on faith graciously given us by God, it clearly depends on God’s unmerited and boundless kindness, given us in His eternal purpose, promised in the covenant of grace, revealed to us in the Cross of Christ, and applied to us in the work of the Holy Ghost. Therefore righteousness and justification are of faith and not of works. In no other way but through faith can salvation be by grace (
11:6). As true believers in Christ we have received our inheritance (1) by purchase. Our Lord Jesus Christ, THE SEED, paid the full price for it for all the seed, believers in Him. “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” Eph. 1:14. (2) It is ours as His free gift as Christ said “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” Luke . (3) It is ours by heirship: we were born — not natural birth — by the spiritual birth and now we are “heirs of God, and joint –heirs with Christ,” Rom. . (4) We hold it in hand by faith, not that faith is our title to it, for it was purchased by Christ for us, ours as the heir of our Elder Brother, and given us in God’s free grace. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom” Heb. , by faith we take possession of it, and enjoy the comforts of it. (5) The Holy Spirit is the earnest of this inheritance. He makes us an heir, then bears witness to that fact, by working in us the graces and gifts of the kingdom and brings us to full enjoyment of it in glory. (6) “It is of faith, that it might be by grace.” It is not in the least by any works which we have done. It is a merciful gift of the free favor of God. Rom.
Being effectually called in God’s pure, sovereign grace it is Paul’s constant delight to exalt the grace of God, for God will have every crown thrown at the feet of grace, free grace, and every song in Heaven sung to the tune, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name be the praise.” The righteousness of faith is opposed to the righteousness of the Law: for here God’s saving us according to His mercy, and justifying us by grace, is opposed to saving us by works of righteousness that we have done (Gal. 5:4). The exercising and magnifying the free grace of God in the Gospel for the justification and salvation of sinners, is the chief design of the apostle. All the seed, all believers, are saved by “grace,” and God’s grace is in His eternal purpose. Before the foundation of this world, before any were created or had a being, everlasting love decreed our salvation (Eph. 1:4). And in the accomplishment of this grace He provided a Lamb for our ransom (1 Pet. -20). In the fullness of time, our Saviour is born in human flesh (Gal. 4:4). He lived for sinners and died for their sin. He made an end of sin; made reconciliation for iniquity; brought in an everlasting righteousness (Dan. ); His expiring breath, proclaimed, salvation work is finished. But our poor soul’s lay in nature’s darkness; in the sleep of death; and would have slept on to our everlasting shame and condemnation. But grace came forth triumphantly for poor sinners. We were chosen unto salvation in His decree: redeemed by our Saviour’s precious blood: grace challenged and renewed our souls. By grace we were saved through faith. All the chosen of God were called by the word of truth, quickened by the Spirit of grace, and a true saving interest in Jesus Christ became the desire of our soul. God gave His Son for us. The Spirit gave us faith and the Lord Christ became precious; sin hateful; our selves vile and holiness lovely to our hearts. And all the spiritual children of Abraham are saved by grace through faith.
It is by grace that “the promise might be sure to all the seed,” even the promise of eternal life. This promise of life, made to Abraham, was not to be the prerogative of an earthly people who throughout their history thrust it from them, but was something only faith could grasp. The promise is by grace; therefore it is absolute, sure, and certain. God promised eternal life, “before the world began” Titus 1:2. This promise was to Christ: for, and in behalf of, all His spiritual seed: therefore in Christ our title is sure. It is sure to those, Jew and Gentile, who sustain none but a spiritual relation to Abraham, and are his seed only because they have like precious faith with him. It is refers not to nationality but solely to the spiritual children of Abraham (vs. 12). So the natural seed of Abraham was never the subject of the promise — only that spiritual seed which by faith and the new birth partakes of the new life in Christ. This is the only
which inherits the promises, and it is an Israel of Jew and Gentile, on the terms of absolute equality and right, indifferent as to ancestry, a people of faith and repentance. Nothing is sure for a sinner that is not from the hand of our gracious God. A promise dependent on our personal obedience, so far from being sure, would seal our eternal doom. The promise of salvation that is dependant to any degree on the merit, the goodness or ability of man, is assured to fail. Unless we are saved by pure, free grace, we cannot be saved at all. A gratuitous salvation in the only method of salvation for sinners. And we stress once again the clear declaration of Scripture that the “seed of Abraham” is CHRIST, and they who are Christ’s and no one else are “Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise”; that this “seed” abolishes all distinction of birth or privilege, for “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female: for all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:16, 28, 29). Israel
“Not to that only which is of the law” here means true believers among the Jews, who are referred to in verse 12 as “of the circumcision.” The Gentile believers are simply described as sharing Abraham’s faith, because this is their only link with him, whereas the Jewish believers were connected with him by a twofold tie — the natural, and the other, spiritual. This “faith of Abraham,” wrought by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, brings us to feel our spiritual poverty and abases us in our own eyes, and causes us to be struck with the display of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and is peculiar to believers in all ages. “Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day of incarnation; he saw it and was glad” (John ). And all the children of Abraham’s faith now, see the glory of our Lord Jesus, by the same Spirit, whose office it is to glorify Him. To know Christ as God-man, the anointed Saviour, brings life and peace to our hearts. To see His glory as the God-man, fills our souls with the triumphs of salvation. And we rest in Him as our Lord and our God. We look to no other god, but Him who became flesh and dwelt among us. He is full of grace and truth to His elect (John ). Without this saving view of God in Christ, all pretended knowledge of Him, is only pompous ignorance, and human deceit. But when our Lord Jesus is embraced in the arms of true faith, our enraptured heart cries out with Simeon, “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.”
It is only by this God-given faith that Abraham “is the father of us all.” Abraham’s case is representative and typical as our 11th and 16th verses teach; he is a father and pattern unto all true believers. Those who are his spiritual children (
9:7-8) and seed (Gal. 3:7, 29), “walk in the steps of that of our father Abraham” (Rom. ), and “do the works of Abraham” (John ), and who are united to Christ (Gal. ), and they too are owned by the Lord as His “friends” (John ). In the words of A. W. Pink, “For one to be owned by God as His ‘friend’ imports that person has a friendly disposition of heart and deportment of life toward Him, as one friend bears unto another. Wherever a saving faith exists it frames the heart of its possessor into a friend-like temper and brings forth a friend-like carriage in our life.” It should be noted that the inferior position which is given to the Old Testament saints by modern dispensationalists is surely not upheld by the teaching of the New Testament. Those “which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal. 3:9) and they are all one body in the true Rom. (Eph. -22). RCLVC. Church of Christ
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Quotes on Romans 4: 9 – 16.
Verse 9. The doctrine of justification by faith . . . is a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort. — A. W. Tozer (1897-1963).
Justification is through faith, not on account of faith. — B. B. Warfield (1851-1921).
True Religion is not a matter of public display to be seen of men, but of private devotion before the eye of God alone! Luke 18:13; Romans 10:13. — Wylie W. Fulton (b. 1939).
The heavenly perfection of Jesus discloses to us the greatness of our own possible being, while at the same time it reveals our infinite shortcoming and the source from which all restoration must come. — Augustus H. Strong (1836-1921).
Verse 10. Christ and ritualism are opposed to each other, as light is to darkness. The Cross and crucifix cannot agree. Either ritualism will banish Christ or Christ will banish ritualism. — Horatius Bonar (1808-1889).
Justification is totally against formal religion. God has no room for those who persist in relying on forms or ceremonies. — Robert M. Horn.
No man shall be in Heaven but he that sees himself fully qualified for Hell, as a faggot that is bound up for eternal burnings unless mercy plucks the brand out of the fire. — Robert Traill (1642-1716).
The only things that are improved by breaking are the hearts of sinners. — Anonymous.
Verse 11. God’s promises are within reach of a humble, believing heart. — Jabez Burns (1805-1876).
True righteousness is not by works of righteousness we have done, but of God’s righteousness put on me by His Holy Son. Titus 3:5. — Wylie W. Fulton (b. 1939).
This justification, in its own nature, is authoritative, complete and final. It is an act of God’s mercy, which, because founded upon the mediation of Jesus, may, with no less truth, be styled an act of His justice, whereby the believing sinner is delivered from the curse of the Law, from the guilt and power of sin, and is “translated into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13). It includes the pardon of all sin, and admission to the state of a child of God. It is a “passing from death unto life” (John 5:24). By faith of the operation of God, the sinner, once far away, is brought nigh, is accepted in the beloved, and becomes one with Him, as the branch is united to the vine, and the members with the Head (John 15:5). The sanctification of a believer is imperfect and gradual; but his justification, in this sense, from the moment when he begins to live a life of faith in the Son of God, is perfect and incapable of increase. The principle of life in a new-born infant, and the privileges dependent upon his birth (if he be the heir of a great family), are the same from the first hour, as at any future time. He is stronger as he grows up to the stature of a man, but is not more alive; he grows up likewise more into the knowledge and enjoyment of his privileges, but his right to them admits of no augmentation; for he derives it, not from his years, or his stature, or his powers, but from the relation in which he stands as a child to his father. Thus it is with those who are born from above; they are immediately the children and heirs of God, though for a time, like minors while under age, they may seem to differ but little from servants (Gal. 4:1-2); and it doth not yet appear what they shall be. — John Newton (1725-1807).
Verse 12. Brethren, we have got to give people the BOOK and not our opinions, for while our salvation in Christ is never by works, walking with the Lord is most assuredly by the WORD! — Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
Christianity is summed up in two facts: Christ for us and Christ in us. — Augustus H. Strong (1836-1921).
Christianity has the only true God; all other gods are idols. Christianity has the only true Saviour; every other saviour so called leaves and leads men to destruction. — R. B. Kuiper (1886-1966).
All of our salvation consists in the manifestation of the nature, life and Spirit of Jesus in our inward new man. — William Law (1686-1761).
Verse 13. A change in the mode administering the government of the world, plainly took place when our Lord, the incarnate Son, the perfect Redeemer, sat down on the right hand of His Father. Henceforward the affairs of the universe are under the immediate direction of the glorified God-man, to subserve the high, and holy, and benignant purposes of His mediation. The promise to Abraham was fulfilled to him in its fullest extent. He became “the heir of the world” (Rom. ; Heb. 1:2). He claimed and treated all men, all beings, as His rightful property, and thus drew them to Him, to be employed by Him as instrumental agents in accomplishing the ends of His government. There is not a living being in the universe on whom, when He requires its service, He cannot lay His hand. He has but to say, Come, and he comes; Go, and he goes; Do this, and he does it. All human, all angelic, power and activity is entirely at His command. This authority He is continually exercising; and in the close of the present order of things He will remarkably manifest it, when, coming in His glory in the clouds of Heaven, with all His holy angels, He shall sit on the throne of His glory, and draw to Him all nations, — when the quick and the dead, small and great, brought together by His irresistible fiat, shall stand before His tribunal, and be judged by Him in righteousness. — John Brown of
We cannot close with Christ without a promise; and we must not close with a promise without Christ. — Thomas Manton (1620-1677).
We are refugees from the sinking ship of this present world-order, so soon to disappear; our hope is fixed in the eternal order, where the promises of God are made good to His people in perpetuity. — F. F. Bruce (1910-1990).
Christ is the fulfiller and fulfillment of all the promises of God because He is the sum and substance of them. — Geoffrey Wilson.
Verse 14. A great number of persons who pass for Christians in these days, seem to have a great deal of confidence in the flesh; they have a great deal of confidence that they can command the flesh, and some of them that they can command even their thoughts. They are not Israelites; I will not say what they are, whether they are Turks, or Pagans, or what; but they are not the true circumcision. — Joseph Irons (1785-1852).
Christian morality differs radically from legalism. Legalism is obedience to the letter of the Law to the neglect of the spirit; Christian morality is obedience to the spirit of the Law as well as the letter. — R. B. Kuiper (1886-1966).
What is legalism? It is a wrong attitude towards the code of laws under which a person lives . . . Thus legalism may be defined as “a fleshly attitude which conforms to a code for the purpose of exalting self.” — Anonymous.
Whatever we are in our religion, let us resolve never to wear a cloak. Let us by all means be honest and real. — J. C. Ryle (1816-1900).
An apple, if it be rotten at the core, though it has a fair shining outside, yet rottenness will not stay long, but will taint the outside also . . . hypocrisy will discover itself in the end. — John Bond.
Verse 15. Consider, (1) An heir of promise is one who has no just right or legal title to an inheritance, but as it is insured to him by the promise of the owner; just so the Lord makes sinners, who have no right or title to His Heavenly inheritance, a free promise that they shall be heirs to it. (2) When was this promise made? Before the world began, God, who cannot lie, promised eternal life! Titus 1:2. (3) To whom could the promise be made, seeing man was not then created? It was not made to man, but for man; not for any thing in man: nor does this promise receive any stability by any thing done by men; it was made in the eternal counsel and covenant, by God the Father, to His co-equal Son, for and in behalf of all the heirs of God. (4) Who are the heirs of promise? God knows every one of them: we know their name, it is sinner: in the fullness of time He makes them manifest, and they have blessed evidence and assurance of their being heirs; for as the Father gave them to Christ, the Spirit draws them, and they come unto Christ: this is the blessed evidence of heirship. They are refugees; they flee for refuge, from the curse of the law, the desert of sin, every hope, and all help in themselves, to lay hold of Jesus, their Trustee, to whom the promise was made, in whom it centers, and through whom it shall be filled; but neither their fleeing nor their faith makes them heirs; but, being heirs in Christ, they are enabled to flee to Him, believe in Him, and enjoy the comfort of it. (5) See then, ye believing heirs, how safe your state, how secure your inheritance. It is “reserved for you,” 1 Pet. 1:4. “God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath.” Heb. 6:17. Oh the love of God! Oh the horrid blasphemy of men! Those who say an heir of promise may be damned, charge the great God with perjury! For, (6) The inheritance is not by works; not for any thing we have done, or can do; nor for any grace given us: but being heirs by promise, grace is given us, that we should live and walk like sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ. — William Mason (1719-1791).
At the heart of everything that the Bible says are two great truths, which belong inseparably together — the majesty of the Law of God and sin as an offence against that Law. — J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937).
There is a universe of moral law, whether we like it or not, and when we disregard it we pull down the house on ourselves and our generation. — Vance Havner (1901-1986).
Verse 16. Nothing suits my soul but sovereign, omnipotent and super-abounding grace. I am no common sinner, and must therefore have no common grace. — J. C. Philpot (1802-1869).
How can anyone think of GRACE as “common”? Grace, if truly “grace,” must be particular, not common or universal! Grace, if truly God’s “unmerited favor,” is bestowed sovereignly by the Spirit, and not merely a general offer by the preacher! Grace, if truly “grace,” gives spiritual life prior to a man’s ability to either recognize it or receive it. Grace, God’s own “grace,” is sovereignly operative in a sinner’s case before he knows anything about it. The “operation” is God’s giving of life to us (or quickening); the “knowing about it” is our response in faith and repentance (that is, our conversion). Then Grace, to be “grace,” cannot respond to anything of merit (or “works”) in us sinners, or it would be merely the payment of a debt and not Grace at all (Rom. 11:6). How clearly this distinction rings true to the experience of every soul who has been made to see himself a poverty-stricken wretch at the door of God’s grace and mercy! The realization of this ALMIGHTY GRACE awakens a sense of unworthiness and gratitude in my heart as I write this, and so, laying writing aside, let us WORSHIP! Selah! — Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
“Grace” is more than mercy and love, it super adds to them, it denotes, not simply love, but the love of a sovereign, transcendly superior, one that may do what HE WILL, that may wholly choose whether He will love or no. There may be love between equals, and an inferior may love a superior; but love in a superior, and so superior as He may do what He will, in such a one love is called GRACE,: and therefore grace is attributed to princes; they are said to be gracious to their subjects, whereas subjects cannot be gracious to princes. Now God, Who is an Infinite Sovereign, Who might have chosen whether ever He would love us or no, for Him to love us, this is GRACE. — Thomas Goodwin (1600- 1680).
By comparing verse 16 (of Romans 4) with Romans chapter 9 we see that the distinction between Jew and Gentile is obliterated and the Gospel makes it impossible thereby to re-establish that distinction without assailing the foundations of the Gospel itself. — Charles D. Alexander (1904-1991).