Romans 4:16 “Therefore the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”
If the things God promises are merely rewards for good behavior, then we have little more than a business contract. It is a cold obligation, and nothing more. But if it is a gift we receive by faith, then it expresses God’s grace. Now we have the warm love of God setting his heart on us, choosing us for his blessings, loving us as his own. Then he is giving to us freely, because he wants to, even though we have not given him any reason to do so.
Still more, then we have a guarantee: “Therefore the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring…” If we possessed God’s promises by law, we could never be sure that we would get them, at best. We would live in never ending uncertainty about whether we had done enough, or whether we would blow it in the future. That’s at best. Actually, if we are honest enough to admit our sins, we would be certain that we had lost the promises. Either way, we would live in fear and doubt of God, not faith.
But since the promise comes by faith as a gift of God’s grace, it is guaranteed. God isn’t going to change, and what he does never fails. Forgiveness will never be exhausted. Love will always be our lot. Heaven will always be the home waiting for us at the end of our journey. Then we live in the happy security of children who are convinced their parents love him. They know mom and dad will always give them everything they needs. They never need to be afraid to ask. Even the household rules and discipline, which they may test, are setting loving boundaries around them that keep them safe. They never lose their trust and love for their parents, because the love they give is so certain. Even stronger is the faith God is building in the hearts of those who know that his gracious promises are guaranteed.
Finally, since the promises are possessed by faith, it brings a certain universality to them. “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” Today we Bible-believing Christians often need to emphasize the exclusivity of Christianity in comparison to all the other religions of the world. Even some Christians ignore Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.”
But there is an inclusivity here as well. The road to God and heaven through faith in Jesus is available to all. Since the promise comes by faith, not by keeping the Law, Paul recognized that this bridged the gap between Jews and Gentiles. Wherever there was faith in Jesus, there were children of Abraham, and they all received the same gospel promises once possessed by our common spiritual father. Regardless of race, or gender, or age, they found that faith, not law-keeping, was the key.
That’s still a truth worth making our cause, stirring our passions, even inspiring our sacrifice. God give us the faith to possess his promises, experience their power, and proclaim them to all.