Romans 4:3-5 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
This is a vitally important passage, and it has been rightly applied by some and twisted by others down through the centuries. It was part of Luther’s spiritual awakening, and so is a foundation stone of Protestant theology, but it is also misused by the “easy believism” crowd to say that it doesn’t matter how we live, if we only believe. The thing is, true righteousness is indeed a gift of grace. However, saving faith at least desires to be faithful. We cannot be fully faithful in our own strength, but if our commitment is to Jesus Christ as Lord, He manifests His faithfulness in and through us. (2 Corinthians 5:21) We must remember that whatever true righteousness we may have, our salvation itself, is a gift; there is absolutely no room for pride. (Ephesians 2:8-9) However, precisely because it doesn’t depend on us, we can have great assurance, because God, who has called us, is faithful. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
This is of course foundational to my understanding of salvation, but the question is always one of my consistent application. I am all too prone to descend into pride, and that is never good. As a pastor, I deal both with people who are proud of their righteousness and those who think they can never be righteous. I need to get God’s grace through to both! That will happen only as I walk in that grace by faith myself. As in everything else, my focus needs to be on Christ, and not first on myself or even on the people to whom I minister. I will see things correctly only to the degree that I am looking first to Christ.
Father, You know my weakness and foolishness even better than I do, and yet You love me. Thank You. Thank You for circumstances that confront me with my humanity, so that I may repent and receive Your grace. Thank You for the message You’ve given me for this morning on repentance. I’m not capable of delivering it correctly on my own, but if You will speak it through me by Your Spirit, this church will be transformed. That’s what I ask for, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!