“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:2-3).
Abraham was clearly a justified man in God’s sight, so Paul uses the manner of his justification as an example.
Paul then posed a hypothetical condition he knew to be false, assuming it for the sake of instruction: “For if Abraham were justified by works,” meaning if God had declared Abraham righteous based on what he did or by his good works, Paul reasoned that Abraham would have something to boast about.…
But Abraham had no grounds for boasting “before God,” because he received justification by faith, not “by works.” Paul then supports this from Scripture: “For what saith the Scripture?” (v. 3). That is always the question in determining truth when it comes to any issue. What does the Scripture say?
…As Paul wrote in Romans 10:17, “…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” The Word is the basis for our faith. Faith is confidence in the trustworthiness of God. It is the conviction that what God says in His Word is true. The revelation from God in His Word is the foundation for our faith.
Therefore, Paul appealed to Scripture here and spells out precisely “what saith the Scripture,” quoting Genesis 15:6: Abraham “believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” The thing that Abraham believed is in Genesis 15:5: “And He [the Lord] brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell [count] the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
Abraham and Sarah had no children. Sarah was barren. Abraham was in his 80s at that time. Sarah, his wife, was in her 70s. And God tells Abraham to look up to heaven to see if he could count the stars, for that is how unfathomably numerous his posterity would be. Although that would have been impossible in the natural course of things, Abraham believed God….
And by virtue of that alone, God imputed His righteousness to Abraham’s account. That is, Abraham was justified by faith alone….
What was true regarding Abraham’s faith and being righteous before God is true in regard to our faith and being righteous in God’s eyes. It’s not by works, but by faith alone.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
“It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles.”
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you’ll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.