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3. Abraham and David as an example of justification by faith
(Romans 4:1-24)

a) Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness
(Romans 4:1-8)
1What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh?2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.3For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."4Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.5But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,6just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:7"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;8blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin."

Paul sought to lead the believers of Jewish origin in Rome to true faith on the level of the New Testament. As examples he took Abraham, their father, and David, the prophet. By doing so he proved that they attained their forgiveness and righteousness by their faith, and not by their works.
Abraham lived as any other man; he was neither better nor worse than others. The Lord knew his many sins and corrupt heart, but he found in Abraham’s longing to him a preparation for spiritual obedience. God spoke directly to Abraham and called him, and the old Bedouin believed his call. He did not understand the promises of God with all their depths and meanings, but he trusted God himself, that his word is truthful, and that he is faithful in the fulfillment of his promises. With this faith, Abraham honored God, and glorified the name of the Lord. Abraham did not think of his own power, or his clear weakness, but had strong confidence in God and his unlimited abilities. His trust and faithful engagement quenched the thirst of his heart.
This firm, implicit and assured faith, and not his doctrinal understanding, was the cause of his righteousness. Abraham was not righteous of himself, but his faith was credited to him as righteousness. He was sinful like us, but he responded to God’s choice, listened carefully to his word, accepted his promise, and kept it in his longing soul.
In chapter 4, we read many times that this kind of faith was “accounted to him for righteousness”. This statement became an emblem of the Reformation. He, who honors God with his faith, accepts the gospel of the cross without any reservation and builds his life on Christ, is completely justified without the works of the law, and without personal diligence.
Have you heard the word of God revealed to you concerning your lying, impurities, and little love? Do you believe that judgment will fall on you? Are you regretful and repentant, and do you ask for God’s forgiveness? If you become broken from your arrogance, the Holy Spirit will draw the crucified Son of God before your eyes, stretching out his hands and saying to you: “I have forgiven you your sin. You are not righteous of yourself, but I make you righteous. You are not clean, but I sanctify you completely.”
Have you heard the word of God? Has it penetrated into the depths of your stony mind and heart, and your superficial spirit? Accept the word of your Lord; believe in the gospel of salvation, and hold fast to the cross that God may consider you as truly righteous. Honor the Crucified with your faith, and you will be sanctified in your communion with him.
The inspired Psalmist, King David, who was also sinful, experienced himself the mystery of divine justification. He neither boasted of his wonderful psalms, nor was justified by his great victories, nor was proud of his warm prayers, or his generous donations. Instead he beatified the man who receives forgiveness of his sins from the grace of his Lord. The righteousness given to you in Christ is God’s greatest gift.

O holy God, we thank you because you gave us your word embodied in your Son, and you told us about your justifying grace in his cross. Open our ears that we may hear your promises, understand them, and believe in you. Thank you because you justified us freely together with all those who trust you everywhere. Help our friends to accept this calling that they may experience the power of the cross of your Son.
How were Abraham and David justified?