Romans 4 MSG/NIV - Online Parallel Bible

 
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1 So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? 1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?
2 If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we're given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God.
3 What we read in Scripture is, "Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own." 3 What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
4 If you're a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don't call your wages a gift. 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
5 But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it's something only God can do, and you trust him to do it - you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked - well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
6 David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man: 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off, whose sins are wiped clean from the slate. 7 "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
8 Fortunate the person against whom the Lord does not keep score. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
9 Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don't we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God? 9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness.
10 Now think: Was that declaration made before or after he was marked by the covenant rite of circumcision? That's right, before he was marked. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!
11 That means that he underwent circumcision as evidence and confirmation of what God had done long before to bring him into this acceptable standing with himself, an act of God he had embraced with his whole life. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.
12 And it means further that Abraham is father of all people who embrace what God does for them while they are still on the "outs" with God, as yet unidentified as God's, in an "uncircumcised" condition. It is precisely these people in this condition who are called "set right by God and with God"! Abraham is also, of course, father of those who have undergone the religious rite of circumcision not just because of the ritual but because they were willing to live in the risky faith-embrace of God's action for them, the way Abraham lived long before he was marked by circumcision. 12 And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 That famous promise God gave Abraham - that he and his children would possess the earth - was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God's decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. 13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
14 If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That's not a holy promise; that's a business deal. 14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless,
15 A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise - and God's promise at that - you can't break it. 15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 This is why the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God's promise arrives as pure gift. That's the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father - that's reading the story backwards. He is our faith father. 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.
17 We call Abraham "father" not because he got God's attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn't that what we've always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, "I set you up as father of many peoples"? Abraham was first named "father" and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. 17 As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
18 When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, "You're going to have a big family, Abraham!" 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
19 Abraham didn't focus on his own impotence and say, "It's hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child." Nor did he survey Sarah's decades of infertility and give up. 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead.
20 He didn't tiptoe around God's promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,
21 sure that God would make good on what he had said. 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
22 That's why it is said, "Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right." 22 This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness."
23 But it's not just Abraham; 23 The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone,
24 it's also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness--for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
25 The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.