Rewarded according to our works? (part 5)

God deals a crushing blow to the pride and hypocrisy that plagues all religions in Romans 3:21 – “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.”

That’s great news because it does away with all the rules, rituals and religious duties we create that make hypocrites of us when we don’t live up to them – and it frees us from the pride that being good at religion creates, too. God does away with all of that for us by providing a righteousness “apart from law.” We don’t have to do anything to get it.

Why not? Because, verse 22, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” It comes through faith, not obedience. But faith and belief in what, though? Verse 24, that we “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We are justified (made totally acceptable and righteous in God’s eyes) by what Jesus Christ did for us, not by what we do. Because of what Christ did, we have all we need for eternity, given to us freely by God’s grace, not our works. And if we believe that, then this righteousness from God is given to us. We don’t have to do anything to earn it or work for it, it’s a gift, given to us for simply believing it’s true.

And the first person to experience this was Abraham. In Romans 4:3, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” All Abraham had to do was believe God, and his belief was counted as righteousness. It’s an amazing deal: Simple belief equals total righteousness. How can you beat that? So what was it that Abraham believed? The same thing King David believed, verse 7, that “God credits righteousness apart from works.” And what did David understand “righteousness” to mean? Verses 8-9, our “transgressions are forgiven,” our “sins are covered,” and God will never count them against us, and all freely given to us for nothing but believing it’s true.

It’s all there in the Old Testament, too. Romans 4:7-8 is a direct quote from Psalm 32:1-2, and being “justified by faith” is in Habakkuk 2:4, too. It’s just as Paul said in Romans 3:21 that the “Law and the Prophets” talked of this righteousness from God apart from law. This has always been God’s plan, to give us everything we need for eternity without us ever having to work for it. So how, then, are we rewarded for our works, if our works aren’t even necessary?!…(continued in Part 6)


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