Read Rom 4:1-25
1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about — but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7"Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
9Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
16Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring — not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed — the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead — since he was about a hundred years old — and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." 23The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (NIV)
Paul continues his discussion on it is our faith, not our obedience to the law that makes us righteous. Paul turns to Abraham to make this point. First, Abraham is a very important figure to the Jew – he is called “Father Abraham” as his is the father of all the Jews.
In going back to Abraham, Paul notes to very distinct points. They are that Abraham’s faith precedes both circumcision and the law. Abraham was not circumcised until 14 years after he responded to God’s call and the law came over 400 years later. Abraham began with faith alone – faith that God would uphold his promises to him, regardless of what the circumstances looked like. The Jews lived without the law for 400 years until the exodus from Egypt.
Paul then points out that Abraham was also called to be a father of many nations, not just the nation of Israel. These are important for Paul because the show the promise of God is to both the Jew and the Gentile. All can have faith. All can believe. Verses 7 and 8 are a wonderful reminder of the reward of faith, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
For this passage, the most important thing Paul says of Abraham is in verses 18-21 where he points that “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead — since he was about a hundred years old — and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
This is the faith we are called to. A faith that can stand against all hope. A faith that can say this looks impossible, but with God is possible. A faith that says though it looks grim, I will not doubt. A faith that says I find strength to overcome. A faith that says I can give glory to God even though the outcome looks bad.
This kind of faith only comes by walking with God and growing in that faith. Thankfully God does not require us to have that complete faith from the very beginning. Even Abraham had to grow in his trust. Two different times he told foreign leaders that his wife was his sister for fear of being killed. He grew in his trust by remembering God’s faithfulness in the journey, even the little things. This is how we grow in faith, by remembering.
How have you grown in your faith as you walked with God?
Do you get upset when you doubt? This is a struggle for some until they realize that God helps us grow in our doubt. God I think even welcomes our doubt so that we can have a conversation with God. Looking back, some of my greatest growth in faith has come during times where I remained faithful and doubtful all at the same time.
Comments and questions?
Blessings and Peace