Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
December 18, 2011
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
1901 ASV Translation:
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.
7 Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed.
9 So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.
11 Now that no man is justified by the law before God, is evident: for, The righteous shall live by faith;
12 and the law is not of faith; but, He that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
- I. Paul's Linkage of the Gospel to the Methodology of God's Dealings With Abraham [See notes for Dec. 4, 2011<135>].
- II. Paul's Focus Upon Abraham's "Believing" [See notes for Dec. 11, 2011<137>].
- III. Paul's Interpretation of God's "Accounting" (KJV word, NASB uses "reckoned").
- A. It is indisputable that Paul considered God's "accounting" of Abram as righteous as directly linked to the issue of how one becomes a "son" of Abraham.
- 1. Just as the New Testament declares that being "born again" so as to become a child of God is directly tied to a person being declared righteous by God, so also the Old Testament (particularly Genesis 15:6) declares that no one becomes a "child of God" without first becoming a "son of Abraham". Thus, whatever it takes to become a "son of Abraham" is the prerequisite for becoming a "child of God". Paul calls this "whatever" a two-fold issue: a man's response to God called "believing", and God's response to man called "accounting as righteous".
- 2. Paul's use of Genesis 15:6 to argue his case is, in a most fundamental way, inescapably tied to the divine solution to the human/divine problem. Man is, essentially, corrupted as a sinner. God is, essentially, uncorrupted as the thrice "holy" Ultimate Person. The two can never be compatible as long as that reality exists. God's solution to this is to resolve the "essential corruption of man". The first major step in this resolution is to simply declare the man "righteous". But, such a declaration, in the face of the "on-the-ground" facts, appears, at first blush, to be an amazing case of divine delusion. It took a long time for the facts to come clear in the progress of revelation as God doled out inspired Truth through the prophets and apostles. However, this emphasizes at least one of the reasons that "faith" is the issue: man will never be omniscient and, even if God had delivered all of the Bible in one fell swoop, man would still have to grow in understanding of the details over his lifetime. This means that "faith" simply takes God at His word as "God" -- even when there is little to no understanding of how those words can possibly be true. What this boils down to is this: "faith" locks in on "God" so that whatever is understood and not understood is not the ultimate issue; God is. In other words, the human expectation of God in "faith" is that whatever He says is true, not whatever man understands of what he says, and that "whatever" is true is "good". Hebrews 11:6 says that faith must rely on the fact of God and on the fact of His willingness to "reward" (i.e., "bring good to you").
- B. At the heart of this issue is God's decision to treat Abraham as a sinless human being. That is what "accounting someone righteous" ends up meaning.
- 1. Paul, in making this point to the Romans (4:8), quoted David's statement in Psalm 32, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin". This is directly off of his direct statement in 4:6, "...David describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works." What this boils down to is this fact: God refuses to attribute sin to anyone He has already declared to be righteous.
- 2. This does not mean there are no "boundaries" to this reality. Certainly God responds to men who are righteous when they sin in ways that acknowledge the sin. Galatians 6 is very clear on this fact because Paul says that if a righteous man commits sin, he is "mocking" God and that God will not accept that without consequences (Galatians 6:7-8). But how can this be? Does not God have to "impute sin to a man" in order to make sure he "reaps as he has sown"? No. Not when the boundaries are understood. The imputation of sin to a person who sins is a matter of the Justice of God. The outcome of sin under Justice is Death: permanent, unmitigated, eternal, condemnation. The outcome of sin under Grace is discipline by a Perfect Parent: temporal, carefully gauged, educationally suitable to the crime, without any form of condemnation.
- 3. This means that Paul, following the Old Testament revelation, considered "accounting" ("reckoning", "imputing") a judicial issue completely handled by Jesus Christ as the Second Adam. Those who are "in Him" are absolutely free from Justice, without degree or time frames. They are "accounted" righteous because they are "in" the Righteous One.
- a. Romans is the New Testament where "accounting" is highly emphasized. The word is used in 19 texts in sixteen chapters. The closest comparative accumulation of references is 2 Corinthians where we find it in seven texts.
- b. There are two major issues that surface when we consider Paul's use of the word: first, it involves a particular "way of thinking"; and, second, it involves "thinking" about a comparison between two related, but dissimilar, issues (Note Romans 2:26 and, of course, our Galatians text).
- C. The conclusion of the matter, then, is that Paul "interpreted" God's "accounting" of Abraham as righteous as a Judicially-focused reality in which God made it possible for Him to deal with Abraham in terms of "blessing" -- which could not be done if Justice was not to be absolutely fulfilled. Thus, Christ was the Lamb slain "from the foundation of the world" and, because of His identity in that regard, the Father has always been free to be gracious to the children of men.