Romans Part 4: Justified by Faith

February 19, 2007

The first two-and-a-half chapters of Romans describes the plight of all mankind before God. We are all under God’s wrath because of the godlessness and wickendness in our lives. Not a single person on the planet is exempt from that wrath. And there is absolutely nothing we can do ourselves to remedy the situation.

Then in the latter part of chapter 3, Paul described God’s solution to our sin problem. By his very nature, God had to punish sin. But because of his love for us he devised a way to save us. Rather than bring that punishment upon us, he offered Jesus as a substitute. The sacrifice of Jesus atones for the sin of those who have faith in Jesus.

As a result of God’s gift, through our faith, we are granted a righteousness we do not deserve and could not possibly earn. Yet the righteousness we have been given is not imaginary nor theoretical. It is not righteousness in name only. The righteousness is real because the punishment inflicted on Jesus was real. The price that was paid was real. We are really redeemed from our sin.

From the earliest days, some people have taken this gift as a license to sin. Paul was well aware of this. Throughout Romans, Paul presented potential objections and mistaken conclusions to warn us not to draw the wrong conclusions from what he was saying.

Rom 3:28-31 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Both circumcised and uncircumcised would be justified by faith. The Jew would not be saved by following the Law of Moses. And the Gentile would not be saved by following the law written on their hearts (Rom 2:14-15). Both would be saved by faith. And both would be expected to uphold the requirements of God.

As previously discussed, the gospel Paul preached calls us to the obedience that comes from faith. There is another kind of faith that does not produce obedience. Such faith does not save. (It is unfortunate that this even needs to be pointed out, but it most certainly does need to be said in today’s religious world.) But the good news is that, to all who respond to the gospel of Jesus with the kind of faith that produces obedience, God grants righteousness. We pass from death to life, from damnation to heaven, from wrath to blessedness. What a magnificent gift we have been given!

The better we understand that gift, the more we will appreciate it, and the more we will strive to live appropriately in response. In the next post we will go into chapter 4, to look more closely at the wonderful gift of righteousness.


  1. Alan, I have been reading your reflections on Romans and have been enjoying them. I would like suggest that you include a couple more sources in your reading. First is K.C. Moser’s THE GIST OF ROMANS which is sort of THE CoC classic on the book. Second scholarship has undergone a sort of “revolution” in Pauline interpretation since the 1970s. Much of this revolution has been significant and I think in the right direction. The easiest intro to this “new perspective” is N.T. Wright. He has a nice little book called “Romans For Everone” that is worth reading. He also has a book called What St. Paul Really Said and Paul in Fresh Perspective. There are others in his resume that are DENSE. But I think you will be challenged and blessed in his works.Shalom,Bobby Valentine

  2. Hi Bobby, Thanks for pointing out these materials. I’ve read some of K.C. Moser’s material on topics of grace and faith vs works and law–though not the book you mentioned. Here is an interesting quote from K.C.Moser about the key texts from Romans and James regarding Abraham:Had he refused to offer his son, a lack of faith in God would have been manifested. His obedience, therefore, did perfect, complete, or confirm his faith in God–that is, the whole transaction as God ordained it was finished when Isaac was offered. And this suggests a fundamental principle of divine government–namely, that when a command is given which depends on faith for its performance, faith is not considered or accepted until the command has been obeyed. Faith and the command based upon it cannot be divorced. And faith that stops short of obedience to the command with which it is, by divine arrangement, joined, is a dead faith. So when Abraham received the command to offer his son, his faith then depended upon his obedience and was not to be considered apart from it.

  3. You presented an excellent study. Have you read Coffman’s Commentary on Romans? I just got it, but really am enjoying it. Feel free to read my blogs too. I have two. One is under my yahoo 360 ID joetenor_1066 and the other is http://www.joesjots.blogspot.com I am 4th generation church of Christ. God bless you in your evangelism.

  4. Joe,Thanks for the kind comment. I’ve used Coffman’s commentaries through studylight.org in the past, but they are currently not available there while they “await a new agreement from ACU press.” I hope that gets resolved soon.I’ll definitely check out your blogs. You are pretty ambitious to maintain two of them!

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