S (Scripture): Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.
O (Observation): These 2 little verses bring us a heaping of help in understanding how God’s grace works.
Paul is in the midst of addressing the Jewish Christians in Rome, encouraging them to understand the nature of God’s relationship with Abraham (the great earthly father of their faith). Paul reminds them that Abraham’s Identity is NOT found in his choice to receive circumcision, but rather by God’s choice to bring Abraham from unrighteousness to righteousness.
The emphasis is on what God does, not what Abraham does. In this way, Paul declares that Identity (having been established first) then leads to Obedience (see picture above). This is what happens when a covenant is declared by God for our benefit.
A (Application): The picture above is part of the concept brought forth by Mike Breen in his book: Covenant and Kingdom. The book declares that these two themes (Covenant and Kingdom) represent the ways that God joins in relationship with us, making us as one (covenant), and how God works through us to represent God in this world (Kingdom). [Click here for Mike Breen’s hour-long video teaching session on this concept of Covenant and Kingdom.]
We continually find hope in following this way of Covenant. God comes to us and brings us to faith. Any Obedience we have in faith flows from the relationship that God establishes with us. That is how grace works. See the picture above. When we reverse the flow, we get into works-righteousness (trying to earn our way into God’s good graces.
In what ways have you sensed God’s covenant with you? In baptism? In community? During your time of devotion?
P (Prayer): Lord, bring us to faith, not through works, but recognizing that you make us (the unrighteous) righteous, solely by your amazing grace. Amen.