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0210 Righteousness Reckoned

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Encounter Radio Outline #0210                                                                   

Air date: 3/10/02

Righteousness Reckoned

Romans 4:1-25

by Dr. Stephen F. Olford



Introduction: Paul shows how the righteousness of God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, can be reckoned to the sinner on the principle of simple faith, as opposed to the principle of human merit.

I. Divine Righteousness is Reckoned to Man by Faith Apart from Naturalistic Merit  (vv. 1-8)

To show that the righteousness of God can only be reckoned to man by faith, Paul cites the lives of Abraham and David. Both hold a significant place in the Hebrew’s history and can be considered examples of meritorious conduct and achievement. Yet both men were justified by faith alone.

A. Naturalistic Merit at Its Best is Unacceptable to God  (vv. 3-5)

Of all the exemplary men in the Old Testament record, none can surpass Abraham. But Paul takes pains to show that until God accounted him righteous through simple faith, his naturalistic merits were totally unacceptable.

B. Naturalistic Merit at Its Worst is Unacceptable to God  (vv. 6-8)

David appears in sharp contrast to the character and conduct of Abraham. At the pinnacle of his power and prestige, David failed miserably. He was guilty of the sins of covetousness, adultery, and murder (2 Sam. 11-12). But he also knew the Lord’s forgiveness, for like Abraham, he came to God in faith and was made righteous.

II. Divine Righteousness is Reckoned to Man by Faith Apart from Ritualistic Merit  (vv. 9-11)

Paul knows that man will turn to the rites and rituals of religion once the prop of naturalistic merit is knocked away. So once again he argues that God reckons righteousness to man on the principle of faith alone. He carefully points out that these rights should be the outward signs of the inward experience of the grace of God.

A. Faith Alone Brings the Blessedness of God  (vv. 9-10)

Paul proceeds to ask the question as to how this blessedness of full and free forgiveness can be experienced. To prove that it is not obtained by ritualistic merit, Paul reminds his readers that Abraham enjoyed the forgiveness of God long before he ever submitted to the rite of circumcision.

B. Faith Alone Brings the Righteousness of God  (vv. 11-12)

Once again Paul mentions the circumcision of Abraham, this time it is to prove that righteousness is imputed to both the Jew and the Gentile who exercise faith.

III. Divine Righteousness is Reckoned to Man Apart from Legalistic Merit  (vv. 13-25)

Paul proceeds to expose the fallacy that man, by his own efforts, can keep the law. He goes even further by asserting that keeping the law renders faith void and makes the promises of God of no effect. To know the righteousness of God, in terms of personal experience, man must appropriate:

A. The Promise of God through the Righteousness of Faith  (vv. 13-16)

From these verses we learn that the promise of God rules out legalistic merit because the law invalidates faith (v. 14), the law precipitates wrath (v. 15), and the law extenuates grace (v. 16).

B. The Power of God through the Righteousness of Faith  (vv. 17-22)

Just as the promise of God must be received by faith, so the power of God must be realized by faith. The promise of righteousness cannot be experienced without the power of righteousness, as exemplified in simple (vv. 17-18), vital (vv. 19-20), and real (vv. 21-22) faith of Abraham.

C. The Purpose of God through the Righteousness of Faith  (vv. 23-25)

Paul gives an application of his preceding arguments. He states that righteousness means the forgiveness and acceptance of God (vv. 23-25).

Conclusion: God’s way of salvation is “by grace alone, through faith alone; to God alone be glory.”

Assignment for Home Study

1. Memorize Romans 4:1-25

2. Illustrate from Old Testament passages how righteousness was required, received, and reckoned in the lives of Abraham and David.



Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800
Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372

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