Romans 4: – Abraham’s walk of faith
Verse 1 – 8: – Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” [NLT]
Reflections: – Most of us grew up singing “Father Abraham has many sons, I am one of them and so are you”. He is called out father in the first verse but he dug up a hard truth through his experience with God [There are certain things we can only fully understand through our own personal experiences]. Vs 3 is equally quoted in Gen 15:6. The righteousness associated with Abraham was as a result of his faith in God. Everything within him didn’t add up to what God promised to him. In Gen 12, God had already said Abraham was going to be made a great nation even when Sarah had been declared a barren woman. But in Gen 15 Abraham responded to God for the first time when God told him not to be afraid. I needed to emphasize this, Abraham was scared when God said he had a great reward. How often have we received a word concerning our lives and freaked out? Maybe looking at your current capacity, you’re unable to carry it through but it was this fear that led Abraham to ask God a couple of questions that prompted God to tell him his descendants will be too many to be counted. Childless Abraham with a barren Sarah believed God, he amplified God and his inability took second place. God was all that mattered in the equation. Just like in linear algebra, He was the X that needed to be found to complete the equation. Abraham was just the perfect candidate for God. He knew it wasn’t about his efforts cos of their present situation, he had nothing to boast of. Abraham wasn’t a perfect person, he was a sinner but the faith he placed in God by believing in Him is righteousness. It isn’t the sinner that is counted righteous rather the faith at work in them, this faith now transforms them daily into becoming Christ-like.
Verse 9-12: – Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. [NKJV]
Reflections: – Paul definitely knew how to ask those questions that linger on in our hearts. All those who associate with Abraham apart from Christians practice circumcision. I’m wondering why the question popped up. Maybe the religious leaders at that time and even now were using it as a yardstick to measure the level of Christianity. Perhaps a class system was created; Christians without circumcision [Beginner’s class], Christian with circumcision [Mature class]. But Abraham’s righteousness came before his circumcision. Remember in Chapter 3 we respond to what God has done, the circumcision came as a sign of his faith in God’s acceptance of him. So now we have Abraham who is righteous both in the uncircumcised and circumcised. What this clearly says is ACCEPTANCE. Circumcision involves removing of the foreskin, Abraham still had it but God called him righteous. What is your own foreskin? Oh how God is waiting patiently for you to believe Ciin Him, to trust in His saving power. After you come to Him, your foreskin will be taken away.
Verse 13-18: – Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.”This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” [NLT]
Reflections: – God’s promise to Abraham was not in any way tied to his adherence of the law which involves human effort. It was going to be both a walk and work of faith. Although there was a promise from God, there wasn’t a step by step instruction on how it would come to pass, after a while Sarah advised him to help God by sleeping with her maid Hagar. It was still his seed besides his clock was ticking and so was Sarah’s, or maybe God was sleeping on the job or perhaps forgotten or just maybe they needed to speed up the time. But we forget the race isn’t to the swift, time is in His hands, our God is faithful and keeps His words. Can you put yourself in this scenario? Has HE promised, then let Him be God and do what He said. If God wanted Hagar to be part of the grand design, Abraham’s faith wouldn’t have been necessary. T.D. Jakes says if you have a shovel dig that “mountain” out of the way instead of using your faith. In essence we use faith when our human ability can’t achieve certain things. While Abraham’s faith is explored you might be thinking if it’s ever possible to get to the level he got in his walk with God. Don’t be mistaken, he was human just like us, while God was speaking to him about the blessings on him and his generations in Gen 17, he was busy thinking of Ishmael and after God had corrected him by saying the heir was going to come from Sarah, he didn’t just doubt it, he even laughed. But he went beyond doubting, in the face of contrary evidence he chose to believe God. We are constantly faced with doubt and belief; it’s entirely up to us to choose.
Verse 19 – 25: – 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.” 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. [NKJV]
Reflections: – Although Abraham had fathered a child by Hagar when he was 86, God spoke to him when he was about 100 years, coupled with Sarah’s infertility, it looked impossible. But his faith was strengthened the more cos he knew it wasn’t about him, he kept his eye on the promise. I’m pretty sure he was excited to see how God would pull such stunt, it’s like seating in a movie theatre, watching your life play out on the big screen but not knowing what the next scene will be like. The anticipation!!! He was fully, not partially convinced in God’s ability to fulfill the promise. Now that was what gave him right standing with God, he simply said to God I TRUST YOU. How reassuring to know we are giving such privilege of right standing with God when we believe in the One (God) who raised Jesus from the dead. Our sin led to His death and His resurrection leads us to right standing with God.
Loads of Love