Abraham Justified by Faith

James Dobson said, “When I went to my old high school in Texas I found my tennis trophies thrown away in the trash heap to make room for new ones in the trophy case. It made me realize that all human accomplishments are really nothing but trash that will not stand the test o … More


This chapter is perhaps one of the greatest chapters in the Bible on salvation by faith alone. Many religious groups claim to believe in salvation by faith, but not in salvation by faith alone. It is even common to find people in good churches who are not sure if they are saved or not because of something they may have done since they made their decision for Christ. If our salvation depends on something we have done, or have not done, then it is of works and is not by grace through faith alone as stated in Ephesians 2:8,9.

One of the biggest fallacies in the church today is that man has some spark of goodness which needs only to be fanned into a flame. The Jewish Rabbis taught that Abraham had a surplus of merit from his works that his descendants could draw on. Paul proceeds to show in this chapter how this is not so. He points out that if Abraham was justified by works, then he had something to boast about (vv. 1-5). However, his boasting could only be before other people and not before God (v. 2). Paul then asks - “What does the Scripture say?” He then refers to Genesis 15:6 where we are told that “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (v. 3). He then points out how a worker’s wages are what is owed to him because he earned them, and are not given to him as a gift (v. 4). The opposite is true with Abraham. He was not justified because he worked for this but because he trusted God.

Paul then used David as an illustration of this same truth (vv. 6-8). He quotes from one of David’s Psalms after his terrible sin with Bathsheba (Psalm 32:1-2). Here David gives a description of God’s gracious dealing with him. He explains how instead of his sin being credited to his account, God credits righteousness to him. This meant that his sins were forgiven and covered.


When I look back in my Christian life, I realize that my righteousness was a gift and not something I earned. I know various people today who are trying to work their way to heaven. What can I do to help them see from God’s Word that it is strictly faith, and not works, that saves a person?

Romans 4:1-8 (English Standard Version)

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."

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