Romans 4:1 "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 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. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."I don't really understand how this would be meaningful to the Romans, but let me consider it! Abraham meant nothing to them. Perhaps this was a sly way of speaking to the Jews in Rome who were bound by works. Whichever is the case, Paul's doctrine was of God either way so what he said and to whom he said it was God's will! It could be that Paul was merely telling the Romans more about the Jewish faith.
Paul's faith was the faith of the Hebrew people! Never forget that. Paul wasn't teaching new beliefs, but was correcting error in belief. One must remember how Satan works. Sinners are already his. He merely feeds them enough pleasure to keep them in chains. That's an easy task for him because people are inclined genetically to seek pleasure. That inclination is due to original sin; the desire to sin, which we inherited from Adam.
Satan's self-ascribed job description is a more difficult task. It's to take God's children from him. How does he do that? By deception! By the time God came around to fulfilling the "Abrahamic Covenant" by giving Jesus to the Jews, it's obvious that Satan received a merit raise by that time. He did his job well! The Jews were deceived and it was Satan who did the deception!
My sincere belief is that Judaism is NOT a viable true faith. My belief that it is an aberration of truth. What Judaism consists of is a cloud which still hovers after the curtain was ripped in the darkness of Jesus' crucifixion! As the curtain was torn asunder the light returned, but the Hebrew people failed to see the Light.
Paul, a disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, was of the same faith as was Adam, Noah, and Abraham, Moses and David. All the patriarchs of the Old Testament are Christians! I say "ARE" because no one can have eternal life without belief in Jesus Christ, and all the patriarchs are now saved!
The promise was made to Abraham! He was a Jew. Eternal life was given to Abraham we know because Jesus spoke of Lazarus in "Abraham's Bosom". There is ONLY heaven and hell. Purgatory is a fiction created by Satan! Abraham is in heaven! Abraham is a Christian!
Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name (Jesus)under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."Jesus Christ was the Word who spoke with his own Voice back there in the Garden of Eden. Adam was "born-again" when God's Light shed the blood of animals for him! The original faith was in the Messiah. The faith of the patriarchs was in the approaching life and death of Jesus Christ. The Word revealed God's plan to the Jews and in Paul's time converts were made to Christianity by prophecies and activities and FAITH in the Messiah of the prophets and patriarchs. Paul used Abraham, who is a Christian (present tense because he is alive today in paradise), to convince the Romans because Abraham was (is still) a devout Christian!
Judaism is a sect of Christianity. Since they do not meet the criteria of Christianity because of denying Christ, they are a cult who distort the teachings of Christ. The distortion is their interpretation and use of the Law and that the hope of salvation is for the Jews alone. Most cults claim that they are the only group who can go to heaven. Of course Christ is the Way, but the Jews claim that it is them alone who will have the promise and that it is by works.
The "mystery of God" which Paul reveals throughout his letters to the true church is that salvation is and always been for everyone and that it was always by faith because of God's grace! Judaism denies that. They fail to understand grace and faith because they are enslaved to the Law. In other words they are so zealous in DOING things that they fail to LOVE. All cults are militaristic and regimental in REQUIRING people to DO things their way to gain honor and stature.
WORK is YOU DOING things to EARN salvation. It is depending on one's self to get to heaven. It's the worship of another god besides God. It's self-worship. The Jews did worship God, albeit incorrectly, because they still worshiped the god of self. The leaders of the Jewish faith in effect were deceiving their followers! Their first desire was that the Jews please them, by earning salvation by worshiping the self!
Paul came to dispel the heresy of Judaism, and who better to expose a fraud than a Jew himself? Jesus was of the Jewish race, but he was not of the Hebrew faith. The faith of the Hebrew people had been mutated by generations of deception by Satan. Of course scripture never changed, but just as Eve did, the Jews kept adding links to the chain of burden. When she added that God said "do not touch" God didn't say that. It was an extra burden which Eve put on herself. Jews are noted for adding heavy chains just as Eve did to make salvation impossible to OBTAIN!
"Grace" is the removal of that heavy chain by merely accepting the gift of salvation! In effect WORKS is endeavoring to PAY the debt owed to God by working it off! What is the condition of those who work off debt? They are indentured servants and since the sins are so great that the debt is infinite, it can never be worked off. The servant is indentured for life and becomes a slave. They are in bondage to the Law. Grace is accepting Christ's payment such that we don't have to work it off. His blood was the pecuniary measure which redeemed the prisoner bondage to the self. The curtain which were the bars of prison were torn when Jesus paid the price. The debt was paid and the prison cells were thrown open!
The payment has already been made because God loves us so, but yet people still try to WORK it off! Paul was telling the Romans to not do it like the Jews do. Let God DO the DOING and we set back and enjoy the gift! It's just too easy to believe!
People always want "free things". Eve wanted the good "free stuff" on the tree and it was hers for the taking. People are the Eve's yet today. People still want free things to appease their self-idol. The ultimate "free thing" which is available is faith, yet it's the one "free thing" at which they turn up their noses. The Jews turned up their noses at free grace and Paul didn't want the Romans to copy them. That's what the Jews wanted! "Be like us. We're the way it should be done!" They could not be more wrong, and maybe while Paul was writing to the Romans, but knew the Jews would read the letter!
The Romans came part of the true church. Most of the Christians of the world are products of Roman Christianity. They were not the "universal church", but were certainly part of it because many listened to Paul. The universal, or catholic faith, was of the true faith. It's the Romans who committed the same sins that the Jews did which eroded the Roman catholic faith into the Roman Catholic Church. With time the Romans, one link at a time, put chains about their own body in spite of Paul's admonishment in these passages! Today that denomination is again bound in the chains of works still trying to earn their salvation without being born-again.
The new birth is when the sinner dies to DOING and becomes a parasite on the body of Christ. We must partake of the blood of Jesus. His is the host body alone and our very livelihood depends on his blood.
Adam's sins were covered when the pre-incarnate Jesus covered his shame with the blood of innocent animals, but it was Jesus who did it! Before that Adam's sole job was to tend to the Garden. (That is to be a servant of God). After his disobedience he was required to work and sweat with the futility of weeds and thorns. Even with his own WORK it wasn't the work which saved him, but when Jesus, because of grace, covered Adam's shame with the skin of animals. WORKS were not necessary for Adam and neither are they for us! That's what Paul was telling the Romans: "When in Rome, do not do as the Jews do!"