God made a promise to Abraham. He promised a “seed”—a son of his own that would bring the fulfillment of all the other promises of the covenant. Abraham believed God and through that act of faith, God’s righteousness was imputed to him. The promised seed would be Jesus Christ. If we will place our faith in Him, then we too can have a God-pleasing life.
Faith rests in the promise of God. We aren’t saved by our faithfulness, but by God’s. This is what Paul stresses in the fourth chapter of Romans.
THE EXPLANATION OF THE PRINCIPLE
For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. (Romans 4:13-15)
The law wasn’t given to Moses for five more centuries, so how could Abraham have known it? Even had he known it, he couldn’t have kept it. When we study the life of Abraham in the Old Testament, it becomes apparent that although he was a man who did many good things, he also had several significant failures in his life. Not a perfect man—Abraham must be numbered among sinners, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23). All the law can do is show us that we are lost, “because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression” (Rom.4:15). That is a vital part of salvation in that Christ came to save sinners. That’s the only kind of people He does save. Unless I am willing to acknowledge that I am a sinner, I will never call out for a Savior.
THE EXTENSION OF THE PROMISE
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” (Romans 4:16-18)
God didn’t intend for Abraham to be a reservoir of blessing, but a river of blessing. He would be the father of all those who place their faith in Christ. That is to be true of us as well. If the righteousness of Christ becomes ours by faith, then that faith in Christ is to be shared with others—for that too is their only hope of eternal life. How many spiritual descendants do you have? I think of an old song I used to hear:
“Must I go, and empty-handed?
Must I meet my Savior so?
Not one soul, with which to greet Him;
Must I empty-handed go?”
That certainly is not God’s intention for us. Share your life in Christ with someone today. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will open their heart, as He once did for you.
THE EXAMPLE OF THE POWER
And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:19-22)
Faith in God’s promise produced a miracle birth. Can’t you see an old man pushing his walker out of the maternity ward saying, “It’s a boy!” Abraham was one hundred years old! That took a miracle—a miracle that came by faith. Similarly, there is another miracle birth that occurs each time someone places their faith in Christ—a second birth, a spiritual birth into the family of God! Like Abraham, we simply take God at His Word, not trusting in our works. We believe in His promise and God gives His righteousness.
THE EXPERIENCE OF THE PROVISION
Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:23-25)
Abraham personally experienced God’s salvation, by looking forward to what Christ would do on the cross. Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). He placed His faith in the promise of what God would do, while we look back at the promise of what God will do for us based on what Christ has already done! The Apostle wants to leave no doubt that the story of Abraham isn’t just a bit of archaic trivia—it is an illustration for how contemporary man can experience the provision of eternal life.
Trust in Christ today. Jesus died for you. He will save you. He will save you now.