This foundation follows on from the previous one that taught that it is only by grace that we are made right with God. Here we ask the question of how we come to receive this grace, and the answer is through faith. When the Bible speaks about faith it does include intellectual belief, but there is more to it than that and the idea includes trust and loyalty.
Faith Is the Way to Receive Grace – Verses 21-26 explain how God has saved us by his grace, through Christ’s work for us on the cross. We have all sinned so none of us merit it, but we are justified by grace, through Christ’s blood being a propitiation (sacrifice to appease wrath). Three times in these verses it is clearly stated that faith is the way we receive this gift of grace – trusting in Christ for what we were unable to do in and of ourselves.
Faith Is In Contrast to the Law – Verses 27-31 draw a contrast between faith and the law. For many in a Jewish context, the law was seen as the way to ‘earn’ God’s approval, but nobody could perfectly keep the law and so the law doesn’t save but condemn. We shouldn’t think we are made right with God on the basis of what we do but rather by our trust in what he has already done for us.
Faith Is Shown In What We Do – In the opening verses of chapter 4, the example of Abraham is given to show what faith looked like. Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness. This faith was present before he acted in obedience to God, and yet when the moment came for him to put his trust in God (for example in being willing to sacrifice Isaac), the faith that he had shaped how he acted.
This would be a good opportunity to invite people to put their faith in Christ.