daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, 28th Week of the Year, October 19, 2013
Rom. 4:13, 16-18, Ps. 104, Luke 12:8-12

"The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith" (Rom. 4:13).

Abraham is the father of the world not because he observed the law, but because of his faith. He is the father of all who have faith and are justified by faith. Abraham himself was declared and made righteous by God not because he observed the law, not because he was circumcised according to the law, but because he believed. So it is, for his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness in chapter fifteen of Genesis; but it was not until chapter seventeen of Genesis that the law of circumcision was revealed to him. Therefore his righteousness came to him because of his faith, not because of his works according to the law. Hence he is the father of all who are justified not by their works but by their faith (Rom. 4:11). He is also the father of those who follow the law if they also have the faith that Abraham had before he knew about the law of circumcision (Rom. 4:12).

Thus Abraham was not justified by his works but by his faith, as are we who follow his way of justification by faith by believing in Jesus Christ for our justification. It is only God who forgives our sins, making us righteous, and he does so freely as a gratuitous gift through our faith, not through our works.

"If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about" (Rom. 4:2). But "what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness'" (Rom. 4:3; Gen. 15:6). "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom. 4:5 KJV). It is not that his faith was such a great virtue that it merited him the gift of justification. Rather the gift of justification was given to him freely, gratuitously, without works, as a present, and his faith was his act of receiving this gift.

It is the same with us. God forgives us for our sins and declares and makes us righteous through the work of Christ on the cross, for he served our just sentence for our sins on the cross, satisfying for us the justice of God and placating his wrath against us because of our sins (Rom. 5:9). When we put our faith in Christ, God justly forgives us for our sins, not because of our works but because of Christ's work on the cross, and we receive this forgiveness and justification through our faith in Christ.

King David is another example of this. "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Rom. 4:6-8 KJV; Ps. 31:1-2).

We should be like Abraham, whose faith was counted as righteousness without works, and like St. Paul who said, I want to "be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith" (Phil. 3:9). So should it be, for "by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight" (Rom. 3:20 NKJV). "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Rom. 3:28 KJV).


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