Sunday, July 21, 2013

KJV versus JST: Faith Counted for Righteousness, Romans 4:2-5


 Welcome to another episode of KJV versus JST!  Today we're looking at a block of verses in Romans about how faith is counted for righteousness.

KJV:  Romans 4:2-5
JST:  Romans 4:2-5
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, 
he hath whereof to glory;
but not before God.
2 For if Abraham were justified by the law of works,
he hath to glory in himself;
but not of God.
3 For what saith the scripture?
Abraham believed God,
and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
3 For what saith the scripture?
Abraham believed God,
and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh
is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
4 Now to him who is justified by the law of works,
is the reward reckoned, not of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not,
but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly,
his faith is counted for righteousness.
5 But to him that seeketh not to be justified by the law of works,
but believeth on him who justifieth not the ungodly,
his faith is counted for righteousness.

One of the things the JST makes clear here in v4-5 is the issue is not between doing works and not doing works like the KJV makes it seem like it is.  The issue is what we believe about the role works have in our salvation.   It says that if we think we are justified by works (whether the law of Moses or the ordinances of the gospel or good works done to our fellowmen), we are going to think (even if only subconsciously) that God owes us for what we have done, that we have put God in our debt thereby.  There is no room for Christ in this way of thinking, which is why it is mistaken.

What is the alternative?  We have to start with the realization that we have sinned and Christ has paid for our sins, putting us in deep debt to Him.  Believing in the salvation He offers us, we repent of our sins.  Knowing that He will not justify the ungodly (those who continue to sin), we forsake sin, receive the ordinances, keep His commandments, and do good.  These works can never be enough to repay our debt to Christ, but we do them anyway because they are what He asks of us in return.

So “seeking not to be justified by the law of works” (v5) is not referring to stopping works.  It means that you know your works are not enough to pay the debt of your sins or the debt you owe to Christ who paid for those sins.  It means you’re just doing your best to serve Christ because you love Him for what He did and want to follow Him.

This is a really hard thing for us to grasp.  Somehow we are so used to thinking of debts as something we must try to pay off.  The problem in the case of our salvation debt is, the very moment we think of trying to pay it off, that’s the moment we have stopped trusting Christ and started trusting ourselves instead.  We must be content to be His debt slaves and do His bidding forever.  Serving with that attitude—that we are forever in His debt because of His atonement—is how our faith is counted for righteousness. 

He’s the best Master because the things He asks of us are calculated to make us more like Him, but not because we are able to do it on our own, but because as we do our best, He gives us the power (grace) to do those things.  Yes, the better we become, the more we are in His debt because of His enabling power of grace.