Rom 4:1-3 “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Many of us are glad for our heritage. We enjoy coming from a lineage of people who have a good reputation in the community. Perhaps some of us have ancestors of note historically. However, our human ancestry should never be looked on as a claim to fame.
Abraham was the father of the Jewish people by human lineage. It was to him that God came and instructed him to take his family, leave his father’s house and his father’s gods, and go into a land that God would show him. It was to Abraham that the token of circumcision was first given. Abraham was a leader chosen of God.
Paul has already established that no man is justified by works. Yet the Jews often pointed to Abraham and his walk as a reason why they were above other men. In addressing this, Paul declared that if (not because) Abraham was justified by works, he still could not boast before God. If Abraham we were justified by works, his boasting would still be cut short because no flesh has reason to glory before God (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
What does the scripture tell us about Abraham? Even though he walked before God and did mighty things, he also stumbled at times. He lied about his relationship to Sarah and compelled Sarah to be complicit in the lie (Genesis, chapter 20). What made Abraham outstanding had nothing to do with Abraham and everything to do with the living God who had called him.
The same can be said of everyone who walks in service to God. The attention should not be on us, but on the God who is the possessor of heaven and earth. Abraham’s labors did not make him righteous. Rather, Abraham had righteousness imputed (counted) unto him as a result of his belief.
It is important to note that Abraham’s faith was not self-generated. Faith that is taught us by man eventually falls away. Many of us were once avid believers in a jolly old elf that delivered gifts once a year. This faith was taught by men, and eventually it proved false. Many fall away from following after God for the same reason: their faith was taught to them by men and eventually proves false.
The word translated as “believed” here means “to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ).” The scripture plainly teaches us that faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). So in order to have faith in God, then we must first be given faith from God. Faith that comes from God causes us to entrust our spiritual well-being to Christ.
It is the gift of faith from God that causes us to recognize the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. That which is imputed unto us is not ours by right, might, or lineage. It is ours by the purpose and power of the giver. Every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father (James 1:17).
May we rejoice in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ that justifies us before God our Father!