A Sermon on Romans 4:9-16
Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
The Promise Realized Through Faith
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (ESV)
Was Abraham, a prominent figure in the Old Testament, justified by works? Paul says no, he was justified by faith alone. Just as a teacher lectures and then takes time for possible questions, Paul has presented his case on the true gospel and a message on salvation and has now been answering potential questions that might arise. The Jews might have brought up the idea that since Abraham was not justified by works, then it was because he was circumcised! Paul again says no. Abraham was the father to all men, both circumcised and uncircumcised, because it shows in scripture that he was justified before he was circumcised. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows that Paul warns against those who merely held to the fact of their own circumcision as a means of salvation. In this sermon, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains how the Jews had not properly understood why the Lord gave them the sign of circumcision and explains how Paul refutes their wrong beliefs. When Abraham was credited as righteous, it is marked as the first time in scripture that salvation by faith alone was defined. The Lord promised that because of Abraham’s faithfulness, his seed would produce the son of God.