Our epistle lesson this week is Romans 4:13-25.
For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. If those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made empty and the promise nullified, because the law produces wrath. And where there is no law, there is no transgression. This is why the promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace, to guarantee it to all the descendants —not only to the one who is of the law but also to the one who is of Abraham’s faith. He is the father of us all. As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations —in the presence of the God in whom he believed,the one who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do. Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness. Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, but also for us. It will be credited to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Paul explains in this letter that God’s love and His promise were intended for all people, not just a select few. He also teaches that specific practices cannot redeem us; it must be based on our faith and our acceptance of the responsibility He places on us. It’s all about our relationship with God and each other.
Paul was in between Gentiles who were eager to hear God’s word and the Jewish faithful who believed that obedience to the practice of the Law as they knew it was essential. He writes that Abraham did not have the Law but that his faith “was credited to him for righteousness” (v. 22). In all of this he is trying to show that God loves us because we are His children, and because we love each other.
Our connection to God is about living in His creation, under His benevolent rule and using the gifts He has given for the good of all. God wants us all to come to Him to be part of His kingdom and His work. While we may worship differently, our process is not as important as our faith.
Loving Lord, thank You for bringing us all together in Your love. Help us to see our differences not as a divider but as a blessing to be able to do all things through Your grace. Amen.