How does Abraham fit into the gospel? Paul appears to be in a debate of some sort in this chapter as he asks and answers a series of questions. Abraham was obedient to God's law centuries before it was given, so is his justification by works or grace? Paul argues that Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. The Message translates it as being willing to live in the risky faith-embrace of God's action. Paul quotes a psalm of David (4:6-8) that describes righteousness as a gift of God. There is no indication that anyone deserves grace. If we could earn God's favor and deserve his reward, then we could control him and rest content in our own achievements. What is required of us is self-surrendering trust in God's mercy. Justification is and always has been by faith.