Romans 4:1-5 – What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…”
When we want to repeat something, we create a prototype that serves as a pattern and precedent that is copied. Examples include the Wright Flyer which is the prototype for airplanes, and the Ford Model T which is the prototype for mass-produced automobiles.
When it comes to faith, our prototype is Abraham. In Jesus’ day, they said, “Abraham is our father” (John 8:39). To this day, the three major world religions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims all point to him as the father of their faith tradition.
Abraham is named roughly 300 times in the Bible, and his name remains popular through history, including Lincoln. He is just another pagan when God shows up and starts speaking to him around Genesis 12. He was told to leave everyone and everything that was certain and known for a future that was uncertain and unknown. Abraham believed God internally and obeyed God externally by doing what God commanded.
Abraham models biblical faith for us. Faith is an internal conviction leading to an external action. Paul emphasizes the internal conviction of faith in belief whereas James emphasizes the eternal action of faith in behavior.
Paul compares and contrasts faith and works because, in his day, religious people wrongly thought that their external obedience to God’s Law could save them whether or not that had internal faith. His argument is unbeatable – Abraham could not have been saved by obeying God’s Law because he lived roughly 500 years before it was written. Additionally, God made His covenant with Abraham while the man slept as he literally did nothing (Genesis 15). Lastly, God gave Abraham the Promised Land, but he gave it away, God gave Abraham Sarah as his promised wife, but he gave her away twice, and Abraham committed adultery getting Hagar pregnant. Abraham was not without sin, and he was saved by his faith in a faithful God who overcame his messy mistakes. The same is true for every believer as Abraham’s son brought forth the nation of Israel through whom came Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the sinner’s faithful Savior.
What makes Abraham’s faith amazing is one simple fact. Abraham’s knowledge was minimal, but his faith was massive. In comparison, we tend to know a LOT more, and believe a LOT less.
What risks and loss has God asked of you as acts of faith?
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