Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Romans 4 - Belief and Works

What, then, shall we say Avraham our father, to have found, according to the flesh? For if Avraham was declared right by works, he has ground for boasting, but not before Elohim. For what does the Scripture say? “Avraham believed Elohim, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.”  (Rom 4:1-3)

Now these three verses seem to contradict what Ya’akov (James) taught when he said “You see, then, that a man is declared right by works, and not by belief alone” (James 2:24). But the fact of the matter is that they do not in any way contradict each other. Ya’akov wrote much clearer and to the point than Shaul’s writings. You see, Shaul is teaching against the religious system that demands that you keep to all their laws and traditions that are followed by the flesh and not by belief. Avraham first believed and therefore his actions or works revealed his belief. This is exactly what Ya’akov also teaches, “So also belief, if it does not have works, is in itself dead. But someone might say, “You have belief, and I have works.” Show me your belief without your works, and I shall show you my belief by my works” (James 2:17-18). You cannot have belief without works, nor can you have works without belief.

For us to be declared righteous is a gift, but we need to follow the instruction of YHWH (His Torah) in order to receive this wonderful gift. It is ludicrous to think that we are declared righteous and still live our lives continuing in the abominations of this world. Throughout the entire Scriptures, there is a common theme, if you transgress the Torah of YHWH, it is an abomination and YHWH turns away from you, but if you guard to keep His Torah, then He is with you always. Nothing has changed, even until now, and that is exactly what the Messiah and His followers teach.

And to him who is working, the reward is not reckoned as a favour but as a debt. And to him who is not working but believes on Him who is declaring right the wicked, his belief is reckoned for righteousness, even as Dawiḏ also says of the blessedness of the man to whom Elohim reckons righteousness without works: “Blessed are those whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered, blessed is the man to whom יהוה (YHWH) shall by no means reckon sin.”” (Rom 4:4-8). Once again, Shaul is explaining the difference between being ‘under the Law’ and being ‘subject to the law,’ he is also teaching repentance and the engrafting of the Goyim (Gentile, wild olive) into the good olive tree here.

To those who are trying to earn the reward by doing ultra religious works and traditions believe that the reward is owed to them as they do these works without faith. This is not, in any way, having a relationship with the Almighty. Does this mean that Shaul is teaching that we do not have to keep the Torah of YHWH? Not at all, as we can see that when the wicked repent, they will be declared righteous and their past sins are covered. This does not mean that they can continue to transgress the Torah of YHWH as that would deem that person wicked again and not righteous.

Is this blessing then upon the circumcised only, or also upon the uncircumcised? For we affirm: Belief was reckoned unto Avraham for righteousness. How then was it reckoned? Being in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.” (Rom 4:9-10) Avraham confirmed his understanding righteousness-credit by obeying YHWH and getting physically circumcised! Shaul never teaches that it is not necessary to be circumcised in the flesh, but rather that you first build your belief and faith (circumcision of the heart), then by learning the Torah of Mosheh and having the desire to do the will of YHWH, then a person will, out of his own, choose to become circumcised in the flesh out of obedience to the will of the Almighty.

Shaul is also teaching to the Jews and the Gentiles here when he refers to the circumcised (Jews) and the uncircumcised (Gentiles, even though some of the Gentiles could be circumcised in the flesh too). The thought that Gentiles do not have to subject themselves to the Torah of YHWH is not ever taught throughout the Torah, in fact, the person who is accused of doing so (Shaul), is teaching the total opposite here by saying that everyone, Gentiles included, who convert to the Faith OF Yehoshua the Messiah, has to subject themselves to the Torah of YHWH just as the Messiah Himself did.

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the belief while in uncircumcision, for him to be a father of all those believing through uncircumcision, for righteousness to be reckoned to them also,” (Rom 4:11). Avraham is the Father of many nations. For example, he is the Father of the Arabs, who are mostly Islamic, through Yishmael his son from Sarah’s servant Hagar. Does that mean that Avraham would endorse Islam today? I don’t think so as he stood only for the One true Elohim . Avraham was uncircumcised when Yishmael was conceived, but was circumcised at the conception of Yitschak, through whom the covenant would be. Once again, notice that Avraham circumcised himself and all his household through obedience to the Almighty, should we not do the same?

"and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the belief which our father Avraham had in uncircumcision." (Rom 4:12) Shaul is teaching that Avraham’s physical circumcision came after he believed, after he had faith, after his heart was circumcised, in opposition to a contemporary false teaching that circumcision should come first before belief or faith. At no time does Shaul ever discount physical circumcision; he simply rejects false religious traditions that turned circumcision into device to control new converts. This principle also applies to those who would hurriedly baptize new converts in an effort to show strong numbers, or practicing “forced conversions.”

For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Aḇraham or to his seed through the Torah, but through a righteousness of belief. For if those who are of the Torah are heirs, belief has been made useless, and the promise has been nullified,” (Rom 4:13-14). Once again, Shaul is rejecting the ultra religious traditions that teach their followers to do all they say in order to be saved. This idea nullifies the promise of the Almighty. Like Shaul has taught before, you cannot have belief without the Torah. Once you come into the faith, then your knowledge will gradually increase as you study the Almighty’s Word, and then you will conform your life to His Instruction. This is all because of belief.

Avraham is heir of the world, just like he is the father of the Hebrews and the Arabs, as we saw above. He is also the father of Rome (Christianity) through Esau, who is Yitschak’s (Isaac) son. Whenever we read of Esau in the Scriptures and in prophecy, we know that he represents the Church (Rome), just as Yishmael represents Islam in prophecy. Once we know this truth, passages in Scripture start revealing things we did not realize. Consider the following verse, “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom 9:13). Jacob’s name changed to Israel whom the Almighty loves. Esau is Rome, whom the Almighty hates.

"for the Torah works out wrath, for where there is no Torah there is no transgression." (Rom 4:15). Like the Hebrew word “Torah”, the Aramaic namusa can refer to the entire corpus of work or to an individual instruction for a person or group (“torah” with a small “t”). This verse literally reads, “where there is no Torah provision against an action, there is no transgression.” The KJV reads, “Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” Mainstream Christianity translates this to mean that Torah is done away with, but Shaul is teaching the very opposite. Wherever Torah is NOT being taught, people will do what is right in their own eyes, thus bringing the wrath of YHWH upon themselves. You can think for yourself, if the Torah was done away with, then how can we know what sin is? Then we are able to do whatever we want without any consequence. It is just a preposterous idea.

"On account of this it is of belief, that it be according to favour, for the promise to be made certain to all the seed, not only to those who are of the Torah, but also to those who are of the belief of Aḇraham, who is father of us all – " (Rom 4:16)
Having Avraham as a father brings the responsibility of being honorable children, worthy of legacy! Contrary to Christian theology; faith, while credited to Avraham as righteousness, was not the only component of his total righteousness. It is what Avraham did with his faith that brings him near to YHWH. As YHWH Himself declares: “I swore to your father Avraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Avraham obeyed Me and kept My requirements, My commands, My decrees and My laws” (Genesis 26:4-5).

as it has been written, “I have made you a father of many nations” – in the presence of Him whom he believed, even Elohim, who gives life to the dead and calls that which does not exist as existing, who against all expectation did believe, in expectation, so that he should become father of many nations, according to what was said, “So shall your seed be.” And not having grown weak in belief, he did not consider his own body, already dead, being about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb, he did not hesitate about the promise of Elohim through unbelief, but was strengthened in belief, giving esteem to Elohim, and being completely persuaded that what He had promised He was also able to do.” (Rom 4:17-21). Do you think that Avraham would have had a son if he did not believe? It was unnatural for Sarah to have a child as she was far past the point of being able to conceive. It was only through belief and obedience to the Almighty that this wonderful miracle could take place. Israel is the Almighty’s beloved nation, and they all came into being through miracle after miracle showing us that it is a miraculous nation. We as goy (Gentiles) are now also able to partake in the promise of the beloved nation of Israel, but only if we join ourselves to the ‘good olive tree’ and fulfilling the requirements to do so.

Therefore also “it was reckoned to him for righteousness.” (Rom 4:22). Avraham believed and obeyed, therefore he was declared righteous. Has that concept changed since Avraham? Do we need to only believe without obedience to the Torah (Instruction of YHWH in righteousness) to be declared righteous? Certainly not, as that is never taught in the Scriptures. In fact, you can see a common theme in the Scriptures that when ever someone or a nation turned from doing the Torah of YHWH, then YHWH departed from them and gave them over to their enemies. Does the Almighty, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, change?

And not because of him alone was it written that it was reckoned to him, but also because of us, to whom it shall be reckoned, to us who believe in Him who raised up  יהושע (Yehoshua) our Master from the dead, who was delivered up because of our trespasses, and was raised for us to be declared right.” (Rom 4:23-25). The Messiah came to show us how to live. He was an example for us to follow. He also came as the sacrifice for us when He hung on the torture stake. The sacrificial laws of the Torah have not changed and have not been done away with. Only the blood of the Messiah (Lamb) is sufficient to replace all other blood. Every single sacrifice done before the Messiah, was only a symbol of the Messiah. It was not the blood of the goats and lambs etc. that could make a covering for sin, but only the blood of the Messiah. Those who made sacrifices in the past, did so because they believed in the Messiah and that His blood would make a covering (kippur) for their transgressions.

No one can ever know the Messiah or His role if we do not study the Torah of His Father as it describes His Character and duties and everything else about Him. In order to believe in Him, you need to know Him first.

Do you desire to know the Messiah?

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