Lesson 6:
Justification by Faith in the One Who Gives Life to the Dead and Calls the Things Not Being as Being
Bible reading
Please pray over these verses. 

Romans 4:3, 16-17
3 For what does the Scripture say? “And Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness.”
16 Therefore the inheritance is out of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise may be certain to all the seed, not to that which is of the law only, but also to that which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
17 (As it is written, “I have appointed you a father of many nations”) in the sight of God whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls the things not being as being.


After providing a definition of justification in Romans 3:21-31, Paul provides a living, experiential example of justification in chapter 4 with Abraham, who is the father of the called-out race. The kind of faith that is justified by God is one whereby He imparts His eternal life into man and calls the things not being as being.

Bible study reading
Please prayerfully read through the following portions of ministry related to this lesson.

Justification by faith is the crucial point in [chapter 4], but the crucial element is not justification by faith. We are justified by faith in the very God who gives life to the dead and calls the things not being as being. It is this kind of faith by which God justifies us.

In the past we saw only that when we were justified by God, He forgave us of all our sins and reconciled us back to Himself. As a result, we have no more condemnation but peace toward God. We never thought that justification involves the new creation being called into being and the divine life given to us. (Elders’ Training, Book 6: The Crucial Points of the Truth in Paul’s Epistles, ch. 2, section 3)

After dealing in chapter 3 with the objective, positional justification accomplished by the death of Christ, Paul in this chapter shows the subjective, dispositional justification carried out by the resurrection of Christ. He uses Abraham as the example to show that adequate, living justification is God's deeper work in calling fallen people out of everything other than God and bringing them back to Himself, so that they place their full trust in Him rather than in themselves. In Genesis 15 Abraham's being justified by God was not related to sin; rather, it was for the gaining of a seed to produce a kingdom that will inherit the world (v. 13). Likewise, this chapter indicates that justification is not merely for man to be delivered out of God's condemnation, but even more for God to gain many sons (Rom. 8:29-30) to constitute the one Body of Christ (ch. 12) as the kingdom of God (14:17) for the fulfillment of His purpose. The objective, positional justification covered in chapter 3 is related to redemption, through which man may be reconciled to God; the subjective, dispositional justification covered in chapter 4 is related to life, through which men may become heirs for the fulfillment of God's purpose. This requires that man's flesh and his natural ability be cut off, circumcised. (Romans 4:1, footnote 1, Recovery Version of the New Testament)

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Going deeper
Please read or listen to these materials for an in-depth study of this lesson.

Further reading:
Life-study of Romans, msg. 6, sections 2-6
Life-study of Romans, msg. 7
Life-study of Exodus, msg. 8
Crystallization-study of the Epistle to the Romans, msg. 7, sections 2-3

Radio broadcast links:
Broadcast 7, The Example of Justification
Broadcast 8, The Subjective Experience of Justification (1)

Footnotes from Recovery Version of the New Testament:
Romans 4:13, footnote 1
Romans 4:16, footnote 1
Romans 4:17, footnote 1
Hebrews 12:2, footnote 3

Questions for personal or corporate study:
References in brackets indicate readings or broadcasts that may be helpful in answering the questions.
  • How does the example of Abraham illustrate the fulfillment of God’s purpose in justification? (Broadcast 7)
  • What is the difference between objective and subjective justification? (Life-study of Romans, msg. 7)
  • Explain the origin of Abraham’s faith in relation to the terms transfusion and reaction. (Life-study of Romans, msg. 7-8)
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Works Cited

Lee, Witness. Elders’ Training, Book 6: The Crucial Points of the Truth in Paul’s Epistles. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1985.

Recovery Version of the New Testament. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1985.

All verses and excerpts © 2021 Living Stream Ministry.
Used by permission. Reproduction is prohibited. 
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