God’s Ledger


ESV Romans 4:1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”


God has a ledger in heaven, a record of transactions called the book of life. He records the debt that each individual soul owes Him, as well as the credit of righteousness He has granted to His saints of the basis of Jesus’s righteousness. Faith alone is the currency God accepts to record a great exchange; whereby, our sin is credited to Christ on the cross and His righteousness is credited to us. Although the book of life is not explicitly mentioned in Romans 4, the language of debit and credit is used throughout. A key word of this passage is λογίζομαι. Depending on the English translation, this word is translated counted, credited, or imputed. It appears ten times in Romans 4, and five times in vs. 1-8.

Here, Paul gives three arguments that God’s ledger counts righteousness on the basis of faith:

  1. Vs. 1-3 God’s counts Abraham as righteous by faith alone.
  2. Vs. 4-5 God’s counts faith as the only payment for righteousness.
  3. Vs. 6-8 God’s counts righteousness as a blessing to the redeemed.