Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith …
Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” (verses 6-9, 11)
In his old age, Abraham received a mind-numbing promise. He was 75 years old, but God said he was to become the father of a whole nation. A stupendous promise, especially given the fact Abraham had no children yet whatsoever, his age was definitely advanced and, most problematic of all, his wife was completely barren. Difficulty and impossibility abounded. Yet God promised.
He got older yet. The painful longing intensified. The impossibility only grew. Then God spoke again, making it clear to Abraham these promised descendants would not result from adoption, but rather via “a son coming from your own body.” He told him to tip back his head to look up to the night sky. “Count the stars,” God invited. “So shall your offspring be” (Gen 15:5).
Did Abraham do a quick stock-taking? Did he review the odds? On one side were decades of childlessness, together with increasing age, ongoing barrenness, and the logical expectation that nothing would ever change. On the other side was the promise of God.
Abraham opted for the promise. “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Against all odds, he threw in his lot with the Lord.
Abraham’s story is the first time in Scripture that belief in God’s promise is specifically referenced. As such, Abraham becomes the standard-bearer of faith. Indeed he shows the pathway to receiving right-standing with God, for as he simply trusted God’s promise, the Lord “credited (it) to him as righteousness,” allowing Abraham to partake in the blessing of the gospel itself.
The example is crucial. The Galatians were falling for the false idea that their own efforts were a necessary ingredient in receiving salvation. But Abraham simply trusted. He believed God’s promise. The sole ingredient was faith. And it was enough.
Ironically, the false teachers in the Galatian church were pushing the distinction between Jew and Gentile, claiming that keeping the Jewish law (especially circumcision) was required in order to be right with God. They would have proudly claimed the label “children of Abraham”for themselves alone. Yet Paul says otherwise. Faith is the issue. It’s “those who believe (who) are children of Abraham.” Indeed, Gentiles are justified before God in exactly the same way as was Abraham himself: by faith. Not by law; not by circumcision; purely and simply by faith.
Gladly we follow Abraham’s lead, putting full trust in God’s promise. But we have the advantage. We see it all more clearly than did Abraham himself, knowing the promise is fulfilled in Jesus. Yes! We believe. Weighing the odds, we see on one side our own sin and powerlessness, and on the other, the promise of God. We opt for the promise, placing faith in Christ’s sacrifice and work of redemption.
And it is credited to us as righteousness. What grace. Praise his worthy name.
Thank you, Lord – your promise of blessing is fulfilled in Jesus. Thank you for grace – you invite me to simply believe. Again, I say “yes,” choosing to “live by faith,” trusting myself for time and eternity into your hands. Praise your name.
Reflect: Take time before the Lord to reaffirm faith. Acknowledge your need. Remember the fullness of the promise in Jesus. Consider the length and breadth and height and depth. Stand firmly in his grace. Receive. Give thanks.