Skip to comments.Which comes first, Faith or Works? Romans 4
Posted on 09/04/2010 4:40:51 PM PDT by pastorbillrandles
Which comes first, Faith or works? Romans 4 by billrandles
Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.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: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.(Romans 4:9-12)
Was Abraham blessed by God because he was circumcised,and kept Gods statutes and commands? Was that how Abraham was so blessed? Or was it the other way around? That is, that Abraham believed in the gospel, was justified, and as an outcome of that justification, he was circumcised and conformed to Gods will.
Our text tells us that it is the second option. As a sinner , Abraham believed God, and was justified before God. All of Abrahams good works came as a result of his justification, and outflow of being made the friend of God.
It was while Abraham was uncircumcised, that God reckoned righteousness unto him. All Abraham could say of himself was, that as an idolator , he met the LORD, who told him the good news of the one who would come through his loins, to bless every family on earth. He simply believed God.
Abraham was justified by God before any of his children were born. But he was not circumcised until his son Ishmael was 13 years old. He was justified well before he rendered any obedience to God. Saving faith in Gods promise is the cause and not the effect of all good works.
Why does it matter which came first, Abrahams faith or his works? it matters because it is deeply ingrained in the human heart to want to earn Gods blessings, to put God in debt to ourselves. This is almost the default position of humanity, to try to earn our own way, to obligate God to ourselves by our own works. It is humbling to have to be rescued by a free gift.
It is critical to understand once and for all that God cannot and will not be indebted to any man. The only way to be saved is to humbly accept by faith the gift of Gods righteousness, and that it would be impossible to earn it.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. (Romans 11:34-36)
The difference between Salvation by Gods grace and a religion that seeks to earn life by works, or obligate God, is the difference between Life and death, pride and humility, true spirituality and humanism, and even ultimately it will be the difference between heaven and hell.
Abraham was not justified by being circumcised , his circumcision came more that thirteen years after his justification. The circumcision was a seal, an evidence of his God given righteousness, it was an effect and not a cause. Abraham the idolator was justified and included in Gods purposes only by the free love and choice of the Holy God.
He is called the Father of all who believe because in Abraham, God took an idolator,revealed Himself to Him, preached the gospel to him, gave him faith to believe, justified him, and made him the Father of true faith for all time. That is the story of my life and countless millions of others also.
Though I am not physically a child of Abraham, my encounter with God as a sinner, who simply believed the gospel when it came to me, who was willing as a result of this faith, to leave my Fathers land and kindred(morally and spiritually) puts me in spiritual affinity with Abraham.
This is the teaching of Jesus, to the physical seed of Abraham, that it is spiritual affinity with Abraham that counts with God, not physical blood relation alone,
They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abrahams children, ye would do the works of Abraham.But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.(John 8:39-40,56)
Therefore Abraham is ever the type , not only of the true Hebrew, (literally means One who crosses over), but of all believing gentiles. The common thread is faith in the gospel of God. Abraham believed in Jesus, he believed in the gospel, and was justified by God.
I wish our dear deluded dispensational friends knew this precious fact. Sadly, some of them (John Hagee, e.g.) still preach that the blood of Jesus Christ is unnecessary for certain people, who are saved by genetics and self-righteousness instead of by saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, when he left Ur of the Chaldees, his homeland, to follow where God ordered him to go (to a land that He would show him), he was NOT rendering any obedience to God?
Would you believe that statement if you hadn’t any preconceived positions, read it for yourself, then some pastor tried to convince you?
Why conflate circumcision with “any obedience to God”?
An Israelite (what Abram’s seed would later be called) could easily be circumcised yet rebel and disobey all others of God’s commands.
Just so, one could obey God’s other commands but delay circumcision as he did, but it can’t be accurate to say that such a person never rendered any obedience to God.
As between faith and works, my reading of Scripture is that obedience is the key. God doesn’t like it when humankind refuse to obey him. He also reveals that “without faith it is impossible to please God”.
I don’t call obedience “works”. I call obedience, obedience.
A person can do works that aren’t even demanded by God. He or she can decide for themselves what they will render to Jehovah, apart from what God himself has asked of them. The religious elite in Bible times did just that. People today often do that. That isn’t obedience. It is a form of works but not according to what God asked. Jesus condemned such.
So, the issue isn’t framed this way in Scripture but is framed obedience vs. disobedience to the Divine Word. Jesus said, if you continue IN MY WORD, then are you truly my disciples.
Faith is ALWAYS required.
James wrote that if it produces no works it is a dead faith.
The Bible says even the demons believe (because they actually KNOW the truth) and tremble (but obviously they refuse to obey).
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:1-4)
I Know - that is utter apostasy- denying Jesus Christ- the very sin the book of Hebrews warned of
The truth is,He was justified before he rendered any works to God. I agree wholeheartedly that Faith is obedience-"the obedience of the faith"
But I stand by the main point that I believe the Apostle Paul is making, tha Faith precedes "Works"- it is essential, it is the only way to recieve the gift of God's justification, end even Abraham's leaving of UR (obedience) came out of faith and not vice versa- thank you Rangerette!
Amen to that. Incidentally, Abraham walked out his faith by accepting the new name that God had given him. From his birth, his name was Abram which is what everyone called him. God changed his name to Abraham which means Father of Nations. So his declaration of faith was activated every time someone uttered his new name. When Sara told him to take out the garbage, she was declaring, "Hey, Father of Nations, take out the trash."
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. God gave man the ability to create. It is an ability that satan does not possess. So satan tries to get man to create for him. The choice is ours. We can either get in agreement with God or get in agreement with satan. Abram made the decision to get in agreement with God, and thus Abraham was born.
Just what can anyone possibly give that he didn't already make/have anyway?
Worthy is the lamb!
Hagee is a charismatic ... and you ought to know that dispensationalists reject the continuation of the charismatic gifts outright. If he claims to be a dispensationalist then he is an abborant one; but his views are NOT dispensational. Prosperity, positive confession, non-regenerate conversion, etc. ... these are not doctrines that a dispensationalist espouses.
Perhaps you could try to use someone else as a typical dispensationalist ... How about Ryrie, Showers, Toussaint ... mainline dispensationalists who publish theological works in respected journals. But then that wouldnt really fit your agenda would it?
In this passage the purpose - the aim - the goal - is to show that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is the key.
It is fairly narrow in that scope because that very issue was constantly being pressed by what were called “the Judaizing teachers”. They followed everywhere the disciples went to evangelize, trying to convince the converted that they must be circumcised as well, in order to be one of God’s own. This passage is aimed squarely between their eyes.
But to us today, unless we are Jews believing in circumcision in order to please God, it isn’t squarely between our eyes. The temptation is to broaden its scope as if it were saying something beyond what it says.
Circumcision was NEVER the key to becoming one of God’s own. Yet here are these Judaizing teachers running around with the gall to demand that Christians of Greek (read Gentile) decent also be circumcised. And that Jews who became Christians continue to practice circumcision in their families IN ORDER TO BE SAVED.
If Abraham had not obeyed God, his faith would have been dead. (per James). If so, he would have refused to follow God’s directives and continued in his idol worship in his native land, and would have never been justified.
Even the demons believe in God and his power, because they KNOW and FEAR Him. Satan is a fallen angel who rebelled against God in Heaven. These can never be justified because they are the disobeyers-in-chief and entice others to disobey.
We are saved by the faith of Jesus, I would say saving faith is a gift of God...it is not a work of the flesh but a spiritual gift
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
faith without works is dead...so what’s the difference?
Thief on the cross had no time for works...but his faith in Christ took him to heaven with Him....faith first...always.
Thief on the cross had no time for works...but his faith in Christ took him to heaven with Him....faith first...always.
‘The just shall live by faith”
**If Abraham had not obeyed God, his faith would have been dead. (per James). If so, he would have refused to follow Gods directives and continued in his idol worship in his native land, and would have never been justified.**
Exactly. Abraham, and all the others mentioned in Hebrews 11 had DIRECTIONS from God. Had they not obeyed the call, they would not have had faith, only disobedience. But you are dealing with tradition/doctrine that is centuries old. It’s a false teaching which would make you still able to produce a crop after the fowls have plucked the seed from the wayside. It’s ‘believing in Jesus’, but rejecting his words (not all, but some very important ones).
First of all, the method these teachers use by preaching grace from the epistles is out of context. All of the epistles were written to already established churches. Most of them mention in the greeting: ‘to the saints at..’, or ‘...called to be saints’; clarifying who the letter is intended for. They are written to people that have already been born again. The unsaved are certainly welcome to read the epistles, but need to read them in that context; understanding that those letters really apply to them after they experienced the rebirth.
Faith in Jesus Christ is more than that he lived, died, and resurrected; it’s believing his words that lead to everlasting life.....ALL of them.
There can be arguments about dispensations, but whatever God’s commands at that time were, they were to be obeyed.
Jesus commanded the leper he had just healed to go and show himself to the priest and offer the gifts that Moses commanded as a testamony of his cleasing.
“..Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”. John 3:5
He commanded his disciples to baptise for the remission of sins, for after his commands recorded in Matt. 28:19, Mark 16:16, and Luke 24:47, his appointed messengers began preaching repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus for the REMISSION of sins, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).
Those scriptures are held in varying degrees of unimportance, even completely disregarded by some saying to be christians, yet claiming to be faithful to the Lord.
If I call out to a stranger, offering him a job with the one condition: that he get a drug test that I pay for (born again the SCRIPTURAL way), and he shows up without the drug test, is he officially my employee, or does he just think he is? It’s not unlike entering in through an unapproved entrance instead of the employee entrance. Does it sound somewhat familiar? Some will say ‘Lord, Lord’, and the Lord will say “.. I never knew you”.
This faith in Jesus Christ isn’t some sloppy feel good way, it’s done according to his word.
I see it my way, you see it yours.
It's a pity he only "cherry picked" the worst aspects of dispensational theology, and missed some of its strengths.
Our church follows the John 4 model -- we are pentecostal Presbyterians, or maybe charismatic Calvinists, who seek to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. From our pulpit, the question posed in the original post is a non-issue, a circular "chicken vs. egg" argument that keeps us running in circles, since it confines itself to the human plane. What comes first is God's election, which manifests itself in a heart to repent, a mind to convert, and a will to obey. On the human level, one of those three may seem most important -- but each of us is different.
The "one size fits all" conversion experience is the false conversion model foisted upon the American church by pelagian heretic Charles G. Finney, who invented vile, unethical hypnotic techniques for mass-producing false conversions -- especially the "altar call."
The repentant thief at Calvary was under the Law, for Jesus Christ was still alive: “For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of NO STRENGTH AT ALL while the testator liveth.” Heb. 9:17
Jesus told the leper he had healed to “go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testamony unto them”. Matt. 8:4; see also Mark 1:44, and Luke 5:14 for the same event. The thief had the Christ presently offering the sacrifice; Himself! But the thief did not need the Spirit, for it was not yet poured out.
Probably one of the larger stumbling stones to understanding God’s word in the age of the mass printed Word is the placement of the page ‘New Testament’ in between the OT and the gospel according to Matthew. For Christian teaching, that page shouldn’t even be in a bible. If it must, it should be placed between John and the book of Acts, for the Holy Ghost was not poured out in the gospels, but in Acts.
Jesus told his disciples that if he didn’t leave them, the Comforter (the Holy Ghost) would not come unto them. John 16:7. In Romans, where Paul is teaching to people that are already born again, he said, “..if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”.
Jesus foretold of the experience of receiving the Spirit: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou HEAREST the SOUND thereof, but CANST NOT tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is EVERY ONE that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
Believing in Jesus Christ is believing in him AND his words, which the apostles were messengers of.
Before ascending to heaven Jesus commanded ‘that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in HIS NAME among all nations, BEGINNING at Jerusalem”. Luke 24:47
When asked by the lost souls (that Peter had just preached to) “..what shall we do?”, Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized EVERY ONE of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”. Acts 2:38
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