“Wrestling With Romans”
Jesus + Faith = Spiritual Happiness (Chapter 4 Verses 1-25)
The case of Abraham illustrates the operation of faith working righteousness (v1). For he made the same discovery that Luther did nearly some four hundred years ago. That all the religious energy and observances in the world will not work righteousness with God. What is more (v2) if either of these men had found otherwise, they would have had something to boast about? Both made the same discovery that they were not only absolved (Romans 8.1), but credited with something, righteousness even (v3). And, that it came to them through faith in Christ and also to every believer since, who reaches out, and embraces the Lord Jesus by faith. God declares them to be righteous. It is by receiving the gift of God’s Son, not working (v4; Romans 6.23), that we enter and continue in, the Christian life. Jesus is all we need. As a Christian, today, now, declare with a spirit of humility, your total freedom from everyone and everything outside of Christ Jesus. That, I suggest to you, is the only pathway to a renewed assurance, and a turning away from the prevalent and miserable looking for of external evidence to verify your faith. If we are resting in knowledge, in human philosophy, in science, upon the law, upon spiritual gifts, good as all these things may be in themselves, they are not the basis of our faith. It is Christ and him alone, all the way. He is enough, our full sufficiency (Colossians 2.10; Corinthians 1.30-31) and he is ours by faith.
Not surprisingly David agrees with us too (vv6-8; Psalm 32.1-2). Blessed, spiritually happy that is, are the persons whose transgressions, whose sins, are covered not counted against them, who are justified before the Almighty. The happiness of this condition lies in that we are brought into fellowship, into a relationship with God (1John 1.3-6). As long as the law’s condemnation lies upon us, as long as God’s finger of judgment sternly points at us, true worship and friendship with God is impossible. True happiness evades us as long as we remain in the misery of sin. There is no material, or monetary abundance that can ever bring the happiness that knowing God as our Friend, and knowing the warm smile of his loving forgiveness can bring (Luke 5.20). Well, our gospel does this it silences the voice of the law, of sin, and that forever. Now today you can draw near, unafraid, with total confidence (Hebrews 4.16; 10.19), we are justified. That is the basis of true religion, through faith in Jesus, it is so now and always has been and always will be.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)