Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.Romans 4:4(NASB)
The important message that Paul is sharing here is that we are justified by faith and not by works. We are saved by believing the Word of God and not by the keeping of the works of the Law.
Justification by grace through faith is not a new way to be saved. Throughout the Old Testament we see that salvation has always been given, by believing the Word of God and not by meriting God's favour through works of the Law.
We see that Abel, Noah, Abraham and Sarah.. Ruth, David, Isaiah and many others, were saved by grace through faith and not my works of the Law - and the same continues to be true today.
Paul compares receiving something from God as a reward for work we do.. with being given an unmerited, free gift for the work Christ did - by faith. The first is a deserved entitlement while the second is an undeserved favour. The former is a well-earned wage while the latter is an unmerited gift. Meriting a reward for carrying out a specified task is very different from simply receiving a good-will gift as a kindness.
Paul contrasted the receiving of a wage for an accomplished task and being given a free, unmerited, undeserved gift of gracious kindness. He draw our attention to the fact that.. in the former we deserve what we receive, while in the latter we receive that which we certainly do not deserve. Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favour, but as what is due.
Paul may seem to be labouring the point.. that being entitled to a wage or receiving a reward for working should never, ever be considered the same as being given a free, unmerited, undeserved favour - and yet then, as now, there are many believers who insist.. that although salvation is a faith thing - we can't be saved without adding some works.
This is NOT what the Bible teaches. A reward for something we do is not the same as a free gift of God's grace, for what we believe.. and Paul quotes from Genesis 15:6 to emphasis that salvation ALWAYS has.. and always will be - by grace through faith in God. In Genesis we read: 'Then he (Abraham) believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness'. And the same is true of Abel and Noah, Sarah and Ruth, David and Isaiah and all those who are identified in the Word of God as men and women of faith - as we read in the Hebrews 11.
Praise God that we are saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ at Calvary and receive forgiveness of sins and life everlasting as a free, unmerited gift of God's goodness and grace.
Heavenly Father, thank You that my salvation does not depend on what I have done but one what I believe. Thank You that I am not saved by what I do, but by what Christ has done on my account. Thank You that I am saved by grace through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. May I also live every day of my life by grace through faith.. and may my prideful Self remains nailed to the cross, as the indwelling life of Christ works through me, to Your praise and glory - this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.