Study of Romans, Chapter 4 Justification By Faith Illustrated

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faith

What is Faith?  The formal definition is:  To have complete trust in someone or something;  to have a strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.  The Biblical definition of faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen [Hebrews 11:1Hebrews 11:1
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11 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. substance: or, ground, or, confidence  

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].  For a Christian, faith is knowing that God is all present without ever needing to see Him.  We walk by faith, not by sight.  In order to have faith in God, you must first believe and trust in Him.

Romans 4:1-3Romans 4:1-3
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4 1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  

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1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

3 For what saith the scripture?  Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

The Jews were very proud to be descendants of Abraham, so Paul used the history of Abraham as an example to the people to get his point across.

Isaiah 51:2Isaiah 51:2
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2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.  

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Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.

2 Corinthians 11:222 Corinthians 11:22
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22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.  

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Are they Hebrews?  so am I.  Are they Israelites?  so am I.  Are they the seed of Abraham?  so am I.

John 8:33, 39John 8:33, 39
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33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.  

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33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man:  how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.  Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

Abraham had lived centuries before God established the law, so how could he have been justified?  Abraham was not circumcised until he was ninety nine years old , and there was approximately 250 years between the time of Abraham’s death at 175 years old [Genesis 25:7Genesis 25:7
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7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.  

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] and the the birth of Moses.

John 1:17John 1:17
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17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.  

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For the law was given by  Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

believe

Many believed that one could not be in God’s favor without strict obedience to the law, and by being circumcised.  Abraham had found God’s favor without either.  He believed in God with all his heart, and therefore had faith.

Romans 4:4-5Romans 4:4-5
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4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.  

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4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

When we take a job, we work with the expectation that we shall be paid for our service.  This is debt owed to us for our service.  If we could earn a right standing with God based on our ‘good’ deeds, then that gift would not be free.  It would be based on what we did.  When we believe in God, we have faith, therefore His Grace unto us is a gift, not debt.  Many times, we find ourselves doubting our faith:  do we have enough faith; is it strong enough to save me?  Our Salvation is not based upon our level of faith, but through the grace of God that was granted to us through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior, which in turn gives us our faith.  It is not our feelings or actions that save us, it is by God’s grace through faith that gives us our salvation.  We receive this gift of salvation because of God’s love for us, not anything we have done to ‘earn’ it.  Abraham’s faith was counted for righteousness.  

Genesis 15:6Genesis 15:6
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6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.  

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And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Galatians 3:6Galatians 3:6
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6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. accounted: or, imputed  

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Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

James 2:23James 2:23
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23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  

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And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed [credited] unto him for righteousness:  and he was called the Friend of God.

1 Corinthians 2:161 Corinthians 2:16
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16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. may: Gr. shall  

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Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law:  for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

It was Abraham’s belief in God that gave him his faith.  He did nothing physical to earn what he received from God.

Romans 4:6-8Romans 4:6-8
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6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.  

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6 Even as David also described the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth [credits] righteousness without works,

7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Jesus

Jesus suffered so much so that we wouldn’t have to.  He gave His life at the cross, the ultimate sacrifice for OUR sins.  Many times, we carry guilt around because of what we have done in our life, but what sin is so big that Jesus can’t forgive it?  None!  There is no sin too big for Jesus to handle.  When we recognize we are sinners, admit our guilt and ask God for His forgiveness, and then believe that He HAS forgiven us, we can experience the joy of forgiveness in our life.  Our memories of our transgressions in life can be haunting, to say the least.

1 John 1:8-101 John 1:8-10
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8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. occasion...: Gr. scandal  

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8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Acts 10:43Acts 10:43
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43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.  

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To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Isaiah 43:25Isaiah 43:25
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25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.  

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I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Romans 10:10Romans 10:10
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10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  

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For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Psalm 32:1-2Psalm 32:1-2
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32 A Psalm of David, Maschil. A Psalm...: or, A Psalm of David giving instruction 1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.  

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1 Blessed is he whose transgressions is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

2 Corinthians 5:19,212 Corinthians 5:19,21
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19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. committed...: Gr. put in us 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  

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19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Regardless if we think our faith may be weak at times, God’s word promises that our sins are forgiven when we confess unto Him.

Romans 4:9-12Romans 4:9-12
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9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.  

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9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?  for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

10 How was it then reckoned?  when he was in circumcision, , or in uncircumcision?  Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised:  that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

Circumcision was an outward sign, a profession, for the Jews that they were a special people to God.  Young boys were to be circumcised by eight days old, and this ritual set the Jewish people apart from other nations that worshiped other gods.  This was a command that was given by God to the Jewish people.

Genesis 17: 9-14Genesis 17: 9-14
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9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. he that is eight...: Heb. a son of eight days 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.  

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9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised:  and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

Abraham

In Abraham’s case though, he had been blessed by God long before this covenant came into effect.  Again, we see that Abraham’s favor with God was all because of Abraham’s faith, and nothing else.  We must realize that among the many rituals that we see today, there is none that give us any special place with God.  A ritual may express our inner belief and trust in the Lord, but none gain us anything in the eyes of the Lord.  We must always keep our faith focused on Jesus Christ and His Salvation, and not be distracted by our own actions.

Romans 4:13Romans 4:13
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13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  

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13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Although Jews have continued the ritual of circumcision to honor Abraham as their ancestor, it does not provide proof of their righteousness in God.

Galatians 3:29Galatians 3:29
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29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.  

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And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Abraham would be the father of all those who came to God by faith, whether or not they were circumcised.

Romans 4:14-15Romans 4:14-15
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14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.  

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14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:

15 Because the law worketh wrath:  for where no law is, there is no transgression.

If God’s promise was only for those who obeyed the law, then faith would not be necessary and the promise would be pointless.  The law within itself, brings punishment on those who try to obey it.  There is no way to avoid breaking the law other than to have no law in the first place.

Galatians 3:23-24Galatians 3:23-24
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23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  

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23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

1 Corinthians 15:56-571 Corinthians 15:56-57
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56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  

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56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In God’s eyes, we are all the same…not one of us is better than the next man.  The Gospel tears down all the boundaries that we have developed over the centuries, and allows equal access to God’s presence and Salvation, regardless of our race, gender, beliefs, or status.

Romans 4:16-17Romans 4:16-17
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16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 17 before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. before him: or, like unto him  

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16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

Paul is showing that Abraham pleased God through his faith alone, long before the rituals became important to the Jewish nation.  If you can imagine God’s hand, reaching down to us showering us with grace and mercy.  Now, envision ourselves lifting our hands back up to God, revealing our faith to Him.

Galatians 3:22Galatians 3:22
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22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.  

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But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Ephesians 2:1,5Ephesians 2:1,5
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2 1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by...: or, by whose grace  

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1 And you hath he quickened [made us alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins;

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

We are just as Abraham was, we are pleasing to God through our faith and nothing more, nothing less.

Romans 4:18-19Romans 4:18-19
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18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. 19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:  

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18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:

No where in the Bible does it indicate that our life in Christ will be easy, nor does it give a time frame that God will deliver His promises to us.

Genesis 17:17Genesis 17:17
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17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?  

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Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old?  and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

Hebrews 11:1Hebrews 11:1
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11 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. substance: or, ground, or, confidence  

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1

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Abraham

Abraham had waited a long time for God’s promise of a child.  He was older, and his body was feeble, but he never lost his faith in God.  Just because it may seem that God is not giving you what you think you need to have at the time you think you need to have it, doesn’t mean that God is not at work in your life.  Our faith must be strong, and we must continue to believe with all our heart that God is with us at all times and is at work within us.  He will reveal to us in His time, not ours, the promises He has made to us.

Romans 4:20-21Romans 4:20-21
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20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.  

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20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Abraham’s waiting did not weaken his faith, but made it much stronger.  His belief never wavered once, and in his increased faith, he gave glory to God.  He was convinced that God was able, and would deliver His promise, just as He told Abraham He would.

Luke 1:37Luke 1:37
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37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.  

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For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Abraham never doubted that God would fulfill His promise.  Abraham never gave up, even during his times of trials, he continued to trust in God.  He was a walking example of faith in action to all.  Do we display our faith to others?  Are they able to see the trust we put in God?

Romans 4:22-23Romans 4:22-23
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22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;  

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22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

God counted Abraham righteous, but not for Abraham’s sake alone, or benefit, but for all those who come to believe in God, and believes that it is God that rose Jesus Christ, our Lord from the dead; that Jesus is the One who was handed over to die for our sins, and was raised to life three days later to make us right with God.

1 Peter 1:211 Peter 1:21
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21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.  

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Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that you faith and hope might be in God.

1 Peter 2:241 Peter 2:24
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24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. on: or, to  

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Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:  by whose stripes ye were healed.

1 Peter 3:181 Peter 3:18
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18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:  

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For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Galatians 1:4Galatians 1:4
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4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:  

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Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Hebrews 9:28Hebrews 9:28
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28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.  

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So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:152 Corinthians 5:15
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15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.  

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And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

1 Corinthians 15:171 Corinthians 15:17
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17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.  

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And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

A wonderful exchange occurs when we accept Jesus Christ as our LORD and Savior:  we hand him our sin, and He makes us right with God.  How more simple could God make it for us, although there are many who will continue to reject God and His gift of salvation, only to continue living in the pleasure of their sin.  Do you know Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior?  Do you have that relationship with God that brings joy and peace to your heart?  If you have searched your heart, and you have answered ‘no’, don’t delay in your decision.  This is one choice that you make in your lifetime that will determine where you spend your eternity:  heaven or hell, your choice.

 

 

 

Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

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