Most people believe a dangerous lie about how to be saved. Make sure you understand the simple truth.
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Romans 4 Summary
Our instinctual default understanding to achieve salvation is by doing something to earn it. Certainly the something looks slightly different in every different religion, but it's always there.
That's what makes the claim that Christianity makes so unique: we are saved by grace which comes through faith, and not by our own efforts.
In chapter four, Paul uses Abraham for an example. One of the most important verses in the Bible comes in Genesis 15:6, which is quoted by Paul in v3:
Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
This should get your attention, because the one thing you need more than anything else is righteousness. You need this in order to be at peace with our holy, righteous Father.
The concept of being reward for hard work is deeply embedded in our American psyches. It makes sense that those who have put in the extra effort deserve to reap more than those who sit around depending on others.
That's a great philosophy for our day to day lives, but be on guard: that sort of thinking quickly seeps into our understanding of salvation, to the point that most people would say that they'll be saved if somehow their good work outweighs their sinful actions.
But that's not true at all.
Look how Paul puts it in v5:
the one who
does not work
who justifies the ungodly,
his faith is counted as righteousness...
It's important to understand that although salvation comes completely by faith alone, the need for hard work is not eliminated. In other letters, Paul writes that even though faith is a gift from God, we can strengthen and increase this faith by working hard on Spiritual Disciplines like Bible reading, prayer and church attendance.
Know that your salvation is completely a free gift, and make every effort to add to your faith (1 Peter 1:5-6).
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father is the all powerful God who calls into existence the things that do not exist (v17)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to help you fully understand that salvation comes only by grace and through faith and not your own effort.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: