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Romans 4:
Don’t be
Satisfied with
the Promise!

22 March 2022

We must press on until
we actually possess
what God desires
to give us

How can we enter into God’s purpose?

As we have seen in our previous Notes in this series, we, like Abraham, were not saved just for our own sake. Rather, just as God called Abraham to raise up the nation of Israel through him, so God called us and justified us to establish His kingdom on the earth through us. (See “Abraham’s Calling, and Ours”). And in fact, to have this realization is the first step to actually entering into God’s purpose.

But, Romans 4 shows us a good deal more concerning this matter.

At the beginning of this chapter Paul quotes Genesis:

Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
— Romans 4:3b; cf. Genesis 15:6

The promise Abraham believed was that he would have a son. But what if he had been satisfied merely to have this promise, without ever actually having a son? In that case God could never have fulfilled what he wanted to do through Abraham.

Therefore, in using Abraham’s history to illustrate our experience of justification, Paul does not stop with the promise. Rather, he goes on to the point when Abraham was circumcised (v. 11) and was “about 100 years old” (v. 19). Here the subject is no longer the promise; rather, now Paul is speaking of the point in Abraham’s life when he actually had a son, which is something far beyond the mere promise.

We need to be very clear on this point: the promise was not sufficient to fulfill God’s purpose for Abraham; eventually, he had to actually possess what God had promised him in order for God’s purpose to be carried out through him.

In the same way, if we desire to enter into God’s purpose, we must not be satisfied merely to have His promise of justification. If we settle for that, God will never be able to work out in our lives what He desires to do. Rather, we must press on until we actually possess and experience what God desires to give us.

And what is that? According to Romans 4, what is it that God desires to bring us into? That is, how does God’s giving Abraham a son relate to our Christian experience?

That is what we will consider in our next Note in this series.

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— 22 March 2022 —