“What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.””Romans 4:1-8
There’s an old-fashioned phrase called preaching to the choir. It means you’re saying something that your audience already knows, and already agrees with. Generally when you’re preaching to the choir you’re just kind of wasting your time, since you’re not saying anything new, or changing anyone’s mind.
In this passage Paul is kind of preaching to the choir: he’s addressing Christians living in Rome, explaining to them what it means to be God’s people. But here’s where things get complicated: among those Christians are Jewish believers who think Paul is preaching to the choir, they think they know it all already. But in today’s passage Paul — who is Jewish himself — is trying to show them that they actually don’t know what it means to be God’s people, to be acceptable to God; Paul is trying to show them what that really means.Continue reading “on earning and righteousness”