1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
If Abraham, therefore, had sought to obtain justification by working out a righteousness of his own conception, and God had justified Abraham on that principle, He would have paid Abraham a debt that He owed him. But it is not so, so Paul says it is a matter of grace.
"But to him that believeth, his faith is counted for righteousness" (v. 5).
That was just Abraham's case. Then the Apostle Paul quotes from the Psalms to show the same principle set forth by the Spirit in the Psalms.
"Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works" (v. 6).
(Paul quotes that from Psalms 32:1), saying, "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered," properly "covered over;" the word in the original expresses the idea of "covered over." And this leads me to make another remark, and that is, that, ever since the days when God appointed coats of skins to cover the nakedness of the first transgressors, Adam and Eve, from that day to this sins are pardoned on the same principle, i.e., the person pardoned being covered over.
Bro Thomas 1869 - The Christadelphian, Jan 1888
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Scriptural justification consists of a wiping out of a sinful past; accounting unjust men as if they had been just; wrong men, as if they had been right; a giving to them a clear foundation, whereon to build the "works" which shall be unto life eternal.
Justification does not ensure final salvation. A man may be "purged from his old sins," and forget himself (2 Pet. 1:9), and return like a washed sow to his wallowing in the mire.-(2 Pet. 2:22.)
In the justified state to which he is introduced on his obedience of the gospel, he may bring forth fruits of the flesh (Rom. 8:13), and not of the spirit, and of these he will reap-not life everlasting, but corruption.-(Gal. 6:8.)
Justification merely places him in a position where he may "work out his own salvation."-(Phil. 2:12.) This position is all of grace or favour. Without it, a man's exertions would be entirely in vain. In this respect, salvation is "not of works:" the basis of it is the bounty of God. Yet in the position, works will determine everything. We shall be judged "according to our works, good or bad."-(2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12.)
The Christadelphian, Sept 1871
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
11 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:
12 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.
13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Abraham should be heir of the world
Now you see who it is that is to possess the British Empire, the Austrian Empire, &c., &c., and the countries in the east. It is Abraham; for all these countries help to make up the world. And what a rich world it is! They all make up one system; and there is one man, who lived 3500 years ago, who is to possess them all!
Now you see what an advantage it is to us to be able to prove that we are children of, and heirs with, Abraham. Paul says-
"Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours." (1 Cor. 3:22).
They are addressed as future possessors of the world. Abraham is called the heir of the world, and Jesus Christ is called the heir of all things; and so we become the possessors of all things. If you be Abraham's seed, so as he is the heir of the world, and his children inherit the same estate with him, you are also heirs of the world.
This is a rich inheritance. This is a gift calculated to encourage the poor. No matter how poor a man may be, yet, if he be rich in faith, God promises him the world, and I am sure we could not ask for more than that.
Men laugh at the idea. Those who know the truth can afford to laugh, for "let those laugh who win." But it was not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Those who could establish their claim to justification by faith, can claim the world. "Abraham rejoiced to see my day," says Jesus.
He did not, however, rejoice to see the day of Christ's crucifixion, but a day still future. He saw it, and was glad; but he did not see it with his natural eye. He looked for the earth to be under a heavenly constitution, "Giving glory to God." The way to give glory to God is to believe what He has said. It was not for Abraham's sake alone that it was imputed but for us also. If we believe on God, that raised up Jesus, the faith will be counted for righteousness to us also.
Thus John's preaching was designed to develope the mode of thinking of the fathers, and the disposition of the fathers, that the company of persons to whom John preached should be like so many living Abrahams, that the Messiah might come to those who were comparable to the great friend of God, the father of the faithful.
The Christadelphian, Jan 1888
14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
When God has said a thing, it is as good as done.
His memory, His ability and His faithfulness never falter nor fail. It is because of this infallible certainty that the Spirit speaks of "things which be not as though they were' (Rom. iv. 17).
We have a beautiful illustration of this in the references to the saints and their future state. They are said to be free from condemnation (Rom. viii. 1), whilst actually under condemnation-to possess everlasting life (Jno. iii. 36), whilst actually their days are numbered-to have been translated into the kingdom of His dear son (Col. i. 13), whilst actually but heirs of it-to have been made kings and priests unto God (Rev. i. 6), whilst actually poor, lowly, down-trodden and oppressed.
This mode of speech is strengthening and encouraging. It lifts us out of the present, and makes the future more real. The disposition of man is to absorb himself in the passing moment-to think that that which is will always be. God would counteract this disposition.
As surely as sorrow followed the Edenic bliss, so surely will Millennial bliss follow sorrow. God foretold the one, and He has foretold the other. "The word of our God shall stand for ever." The only doubtful element in the case is as to whether we individually shall realise the bliss. This point is left for us to settle. It can be No, or it can be Yes. It will assuredly be the latter
"if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
ATJ - The Christadelphian, Oct 1887
18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
"Israel is my son my first-born." Ex 4:22
What does this import? Did not God tell Abraham that He had constituted him a father of many nations? Then these nations are in effect his sons; for a father implies sons. But of this family of nation-sons which of them is the first-born son? The testimony before us declares that Israel is. The nation of Israel then is the heir, and nearest to the throne in the empire of the world.
...When the events in Egypt shall be re-enacted... "a nation," even Israel, "shall be born in a day;" and other nations will soon after follow him in a birth into Christ and the political family of Abraham. When this comes to pass, all the nations of the earth will be Abraham's sons and rejoice in Israel their elder brother.
Elpis Israel ii.2.4. p299 Logos
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
For Abraham, then, to be fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able to perform, was for him to believe God. "Now," adds the apostle, "it was not written for his sake alone, that it [faith] was imputed to him; but for our sakes also, to whom it [belief of God's promise] shall be imputed, if we believe on him who raised up Jesus from the dead."
To believe on God, then, is not merely to believe that he exists, (none but a fool would deny that,) but to believe what he promises; "against hope to believe in hope."
To believe on Jesus, I repeat, is to believe what he preached. Not simply that there was, and is, such a person. A man would be set down for an ignoramus who did not admit this; and deservedly so. He that has no more faith in Jesus than that he exists, or died and rose again, does not believe on Jesus. He may believe the same thing of Lazarus; but he does not therefore believe on Lazarus.
To believe on a man, in the Scripture sense, you must believe what that man presents to you for faith. This is the great thing; for if you receive the man's doctrine, you receive him; if you reject that, you reject him also. "He rejecting me," says Jesus, "and not receiving my words - the word which I have spoken - the same shall condemn him in the last day." This is conclusive.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1854
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
"Raised for Our Justification"
It was a risen Christ that was to be the exerciser of God's power in the salvation of sinful men. Who would there have been to raise us from the dead, and give us eternal life, if Christ, who died for our sins, had not risen?
Nay, how, in the absence of such a mediator between God and man, could we have approached God and received the forgiveness of our sins, and the adoption of children?
In the way of Himself, as God has revealed it, His holiness could not have permitted the recognition of sinners whose righteousness is as filthy rags; and His justice could not have revoked the power of death passed upon them.
Consequently, if Christ, who was to appear in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24), and as Lord both of the dead and the living, to change our vile bodies by the power entrusted to him by the Father, had not risen, we must have remained unjustified and perished.
His being delivered for our offences was only the first part of the work. If his resurrection had not followed, his "deliverance for our offences" would have been a nullity, like the sowing of a seed which perishes in the ground instead of germinating. His rising justifies (or makes right) by giving us a mediator possessing the power to raise from the dead all who came unto God by him (Heb. 7:25; 2 Cor. 4:14; Phil. 3:20).
The Christadelphian, Dec 1898
The gospel of the kingdom was preached to Abraham, to the tribes in the wilderness, and to Judah by Jesus before his crucifixion; it was afterwards preached by the apostles, in his name, for the first time on the succeeding Pentecost. "In his name" is a phrase indicating something peculiar in their preaching of the gospel of the kingdom as compared with Christ's.
That peculiarity consisted in their inviting all who believed the glad tidings of the kingdom to become heirs of it by repenting and being immersed in the name of Jesus as the Christ, who was to be raised up to sit upon David's throne, for the remission of their past sins.
In announcing this new way of justification, they preached "the mystery of the gospel, " for the first time on Pentecost: and some years after, Peter preached "the fellowship of the mystery of the gospel" to Gentiles at the house of Cornelius. Proof; Gal. 3:8; Heb. 4:2; Matt. 4:23; 24:14; Acts 2:38, 30; 10:34-43.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, July 1855