Justification by God’s Faithfulness: Notes


ONE gospel

Romans 3:27-4:25

Justification by God’s Faithfulness

“He (Abraham) is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. (Romans 4:17b)


What are some statements of belief that you might have declared today? (Ex. “I believe it is going to rain..”; “I believe Costco is better than Sam’s Club”; “I believe the Titans are going to win on Sunday”) How do you determine what you believe? What makes you believe one thing over another?


Romans 3:29-30 gets at the heart of Paul’s immediate focus in this part of Romans. Are Jews the only group that belongs to the family of God? They were given the Torah. They are the circumcised. Can Gentiles be equal members of God’s family? It is human nature (and Christians are still humans) to assume your own position and your own group as superior to others. We wouldn’t belong to our group if we didn’t think it to be in some way superior. Our measuring sticks are not Torah and circumcision, but what are they? Where do you see within Christianity and modern churches the tendency to elevate (or even include) one group (church) over another?

Read Romans 4:4-5. Consider especially the phrase, “…trusts God who justifies the ungodly…”(NIV). How does that phrase contrast with the idea of Torah (or rules) and getting it right as the basis of justification? How does that phrase interact with what we read in Romans 1:18; 2:1; 3:10-12? What does it mean to us (and to you personally) that God “justifies the ungodly?” What does it mean for those around you?

According to Romans 4:3 what was the means of “justification” for Abraham? According to Romans 4:5 what is the means of justification for the “ungodly?” What do you take from that? Paul will go on to say in what follows that Abraham believed BEFORE he was circumcised or had any access to the Torah. What do you make of that? Why might that be significant?

Romans 18:1 reads, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…”(NIV). How does one arrive at such a faith? Is it by ignoring the reality of the circumstances? Read Romans 4:19.

We know enough of the story for Genesis 15 and beyond to know that Abraham’s faith was not always rock solid (called Sarah his sister, Hagar and Ishmael, etc.). Assuming that Paul does not intend to gloss over that but instead knows that we understand all of that, what does that tell us about the faith that Paul is describing? How might what Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 17:5-6 fill out this picture for us?

Read Romans 4:20-25. In view of what Paul has described of Abraham, what does he now say this all means for us? Some have said that the issue is not the strength of our faith but the strength of the ONE in whom our faith is placed.” How might that be reenforced by what Paul says in these verses? Where does faith come from? How is faith formed in a person? How is faith formed in you?


As you end your study time, pray the prayer of Jesus’ disciples in Luke 17:5, “Increase our faith.” If faith is a gift, ask the Lord for more of his gift and then consider the character and nature of the ONE to whom you pray. What are the very real circumstances of your life that you can entrust to “the God who gives life to the dead and call into being things that were not.”

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