Amazing Grace- Friday, 28th week in ordinary time- Romans 4: 1- 8
St Paul, in chapter three, discusses the issue of Righteousness through faith. He states that the “righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ, for all who believe.” (3: 22) . Because of sin we have fallen short of the glory of God but BY HIS GRACE we are justified. For Paul this grace is a gift given through Jesus Christ and not something that we have merited.
So Paul tackles two issues. The first is that sin cannot exist in the presence of God, who is justice and good. The problem that arises is, if sin is worth nothing what happens to the sinner? In His love, God found a way by which he destroys sin and saves the sinner. He makes the sinner ‘right’ again, that is to say, righteous or just. That is why from ancient times, salvation has been called justification. We are justified through Jesus and this is an unmerited grace. Secondly, that this grace is for all, not just for the Jews but for Gentiles also.
Paul argues that this principle of unmerited grace was operative already in the New Testament and uses Abraham and David as examples. Abraham was reckoned as upright because of his faith and not because of his circumcision. As a result he is our father in faith. The Jews boast was that they were descendants of Abraham whom they held was an observer of the law. They spoke of his “deeds”; for example, his defeat of the kings in Genesis 14 or of his trial in Genesis 22 as a source of his uprightness.
For Paul, what makes Abraham the father of faith was not his observance of the law but his belief in Yahweh’s promise of a numerous progeny. Abraham accepted Yahweh at His word and lived by it. God was never in Abraham’s debt and hence his justification was thus not owed to Abraham.
For most of us it is hard to understand Gods free and unmerited grace for us sinners. Unconditional love is divine and often beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Yet to God all things are possible. If Abraham, like us, was justified only because of his deeds, then his and our justification is like a labourer who can demand his wages in lieu of the work done. But God’s grace was freely given because like Abraham we called to trust.
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