Do you have a favorite place? Someplace on the planet that you think about when you wish you could just get away from it all? Someplace where you are both relaxed and excited at the same time?
For me, that place is a little campsite in the Yosemite wilderness. It’s a place nestled in where the Merced river takes a gentle 09 degree turn on its way down to the Yosemite valley. I love to sit, in my mind’s eye, just at that corner, amidst the pine trees, as the Stellar’s Jays call out and the occasional brown trout jumps out of the gently flowing water chasing a mosquito for dinner. Since it is in the wilderness, this spot is well away from the crushing crowds of tourists who never leave the paved paths of the valley. Only backpackers get to see this area. It’s a peaceful spot, and oh so exciting at the same time because so relatively few get to enjoy this place.
That’s how I feel about Romans, chapter four. Peaceful and excited. I love to read this chapter. The excitement comes first, for me. How can you *not* be excited to read, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Wait. What? All he did was believe God, and God credited him with righteousness??? Really? You mean old Abe didn’t have to go slay a dragon or kill 100 bulls or starve himself for a month or, or, or? He just believed God?
Yeah. That’s it.
You say that can’t be right. Surely he did something. Nope. Listen. “Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.”
Abraham faith was credited as righteousness. Not his work, because that would have been a payment of obligation.
Well, you heard the chapter. Paul went into a fair amount of detail…all of it good. And it is all so exciting to see that it is not works that earns righteousness.
And that’s a good thing, keeping in mind what Paul wrote in chapter three. You know, where he said, “There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is on one who show kindness, not even one.”
But back here in chapter four, we get the good news that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. What’s good about that? The closing sentences tell us, “ But the statement it was credited to him was not written only for Abraham’ssake, 24 but also for our sake, to whom it will be credited, those who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was given over because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of our justification.”
This is the part of the chapter that gives me peace. I’m excited that God’s plan for man is so incredibly generous. Believe and be righteous. I find infinite peace in the knowledge that this lavish grace is extended to me and to you. When we really begin to grasp this truth, there is nothing that can steal your peace.