Article 43

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What we Believe







"The Promise Sure to All the Seed"

"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" Romans 4:16.

In this verse we hear Paul express the manner of salvation, that is to say, the way of righteousness before God. Paul then expresses why God purposed it in this manner. One part of the "manner" of salvation includes one part of the "why." Even so, one part of the "why" includes one part of the "manner." To explain -- grace is the connecting, inclusive part in both "manner" [faith] and "why" [sure] which did ensure the promise of righteousness before God through faith to all the seed. The manner of salvation (or righteousness) before God is faith and it is of faith that grace might be the sole cause of the manner: "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace." Grace is the sole cause of the manner in order that the certainty (the why) of the promise might be sure to all the seed: " the end the promise might be sure to all the seed." Grace is what makes righteousness before God a matter of promise rather than of law and works. Grace reveals righteousness before God to be a matter of ensured promise rather than a matter of offered possibilities through human effort. This is true in that faith is not a human effort but a divine gift of grace (Eph. 2:8-9) to all the seed (Jn. 6:45,64-65). Thus, grace ensures the promise to them all. One can take notice in this passage that Paul gives great attention to doctrinal detail.

Many in this day do not like Paul’s attention to doctrinal detail, especially in the area of soteriology. General phrases such as "salvation is by grace through faith" is all that is required by many today for one to be considered a defender of the gospel of the grace of Christ. The less detailed explanation one gives the better; the more detailed explanation one gives (especially if that one explains in like manner as did Paul) the more one is branded as being uncaring toward the souls of men and women. However, in this day of politically correct speech and ecumenical pandering for the sake of filthy lucre and a false sense of security, it behooves those of us who believe God to detail exactly what the scriptures teach rather than use general terms. Men and women clamor for "the details" of a political candidate’s policies. They desire "detailed" advance warning of possible terrorist attacks. Those who teach the arts and sciences in "great detail" are lauded as professionals. But when it comes to the word of God people despise those who actually seek to teach the truth of scripture with detail. Such inconsistency is the human condition by nature, nevertheless, we should hold true to scripture in an uncompromising fashion. There are details which must not be passed over in the chapter of the text.

Salvation is not just "being allowed to go to heaven when we die." Salvation is to be righteous before God. The Roman epistle certainly teaches the truth that salvation (to be saved) is to be declared just by God on the grounds of imputed righteousness (Rom. 3:21-28; 4:3; 5:6-11,18-19). No right minded person wants to go to hell, but many have a false hope of righteousness before God and thus no good hope of being with Christ when they die seeing that God sees them as unrighteous. The details which bear this out as the truth are clear in the chapter of the text.

Let us then look at the details. Our works cannot produce the righteousness God demands for no one will glory before God in their works (Rom. 4:1-2). Seeking righteousness before God by works shows such an one to reckon God as being indebted to them (Rom. 4:4). But God is indebted to no man! God is the Creator and we are the creatures. God is perfect in holiness and we are fallen, sinful, ungodly persons. But the ungodly among men who refuse to work for righteousness and rather believe on Him who justifies ungodly persons, that believing person’s faith is counted for righteousness before God (Rom. 4:5). Paul declares this to have been the truth even before the covenant of circumcision was given (Rom. 4:9-10). It was even true after the giving of the law of Moses (Rom. 4:6-9, see David who lived under the law). Circumcision is not a requirement of righteousness before God (Rom. 4:11). To those who are circumcised their circumcision alone is of no value, for apart from faith there is no righteousness before God, even that righteousness Abraham had imputed to him, by God, even in his uncircumcision (Rom. 4:12). Thus, it is not circumcision and faith but faith alone! Next, we hear that all human efforts, be it even circumcision which was given before the law, they are all included as legal efforts (Rom. 4:13, note the word "for" beginning verse 13 which places even circumcision as a law work). Those "of" legal efforts (that is, those who seek righteousness before God by their deeds) cannot be heirs of the righteousness God requires for such a manner makes faith to be empty or void and makes the promise entirely useless or of none effect (Rom. 4:14). Those who practice such as this are in fact attempting to discredit God and His ability because believing itself is to be fully persuaded that God is able to perform what He has promised, in spite of man’s own total inability (Rom. 4:19-21). Unbelief, though it be accompanied by numerous "good"efforts, rests in man rather than in God. In the context of this chapter unbelief is not seen in the worst of human deeds as considered among men (i.e. fornication, homosexuality, drunkenness, theft, etc. -- or at least at one time they were so considered, but that is another message) but rather unbelief is seen amidst the most respected deeds among men, such as follows: circumcision, sabbath keeping, monotheism, baptism, prayer, bible reading, hymn singing and such like. Those who seek righteousness before God by "good" deeds (even the good deeds before mentioned) are revealed to be unbelievers, for unbelief relies upon works. We read in scripture that unbelievers shall have their place among the rest of reprobate humanity (Rev. 21:8).

As I write this I realize that most of humanity cringes at such detail concerning spiritual truth. Nevertheless, this is the truth Paul taught. We either believe God concerning the manner of salvation (that it is by grace through faith) or we stand in the unbelief of works (which includes believing that salvation is by faith through grace). One would do well to take notice of the great difference between salvation by grace through faith and salvation by faith through grace. Moreover, we either believe God purposed the manner to be by grace through faith, that the promise might be sure to all the seed, or we reject the certainty of salvation for a system of works and uncertainty. Those who think themselves to be something before God reckon their works to be of value; to those who have been revealed their ungodliness before God, these believe that what God has done in Christ He was able to perform, even their justification by Christ and righteousness by a God given faith. The truth concerning the seed is this -- BY GRACE WE BELIEVE GOD! Thus, the scripture was written for our benefit and assurance (Rom. 4:23-24).

Those who reject the truth do so unto their own destruction. The seed believe God concerning the record of His Son and all the glory is God’s, for He accomplished our forgiveness of sins and our justification by Christ Himself in representative substitution and resurrection (Rom. 4:24-25). This is grace and grace supplies faith that salvation, even righteousness before God, is certain to all the seed. Truly, salvation is of the Lord!

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