Why God Honored Abraham
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 413 (Holman) For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that
he would inherit the world was not through the law, but
through the righteousness that comes by faith.
YHWH promised Abraham his influence would spread through all the earth for all time. Muslims, Jews, and Christians all revere this patriarch. Their homage to him fulfills Gods promise to Abraham.
The question is why did God choose Abraham for this honor The answer is Abraham did what was necessary to please God. The patriarch provides us an excellent example of how to be saved. One obvious lesson we learn from Abraham is that keeping the Law did not save him. This would have been impossible, because he lived 430 years before God gave the Law at Mt. Sinai (GL 317). Abraham did nothing to merit the blessing of God. It was a gift.
Everything Abraham received from God came through the channel of a righteousness based on faith. The same is still true of Gods salvation today. It is offered to us apart from the Law and any good works we might do. Verse 14 will tell us why we should be grateful for this fact.
Romans 414 If those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made empty and the
promise is canceled.
If salvation depended on keeping the law, there would be two disastrous results. One, faith would be made void, meaning there could only be doubt, never assurance in a persons mind. Two, promises would be nullified. It would be impossible for God to make unconditional promises. If our salvation depended on works, God could only make propositions, not promises.
For instance, Jesus said, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life (JN 647). Thats a promise. But if salvation were achieved by works, He would have had to say, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life, if he keeps the commandments. The promisor, regardless of what the promisee does, keeps a promise.
If salvation is not based on faith, we will have to rewrite hundreds of promises in the New Testament and change them to propositions. Imagine the doubt and insecurity that would result Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you might be saved (AC 1631) Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord will possibly be saved (RM 1013) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, may not perish, and might possibly have everlasting life (JN 316).
Gods promises are sure and unconditional. Anyone who receives righteousness by faith in the finished work of Christ can have assurance. We do not have to linger in doubt regarding salvation, or meet continuing conditions in order to enter Heaven. We will never have assurance regarding salvation as long as we cling to any doctrine linking salvation with works.
Romans 415 For the law produces wrath but where there is no law, there is
The law brings wrath and retribution, not mercy and blessing. But since salvation is independent of law, there is no way we can nullify it once we have it. We dont receive salvation by keeping the Law. Hence we cannot lose salvation by breaking the Law. This is our only hope for assurance, because we will be lawbreakers as long as we live.
Under any system of works, assurance is impossible. We may have a strong resolve for the future, but what about the huge backlog of sin we have behind us. Or, even if we feel good about all the works of our past, we might still slip in the future. After long years of care, we might lose it all in a moment of weakness.
If a person trusts in works, yet does little for God, he is nagged with the worry of whether he has done enough. If he does a lot for God, the same worry nags him.
What a contrast all this is to the person who accepts the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith. When the believer pauses, he finds himself in green pastures and beside still waters. When he walks, he travels in the paths of righteousness.
Once we plant our feet on receiving righteousness by faith, we are on terra firma, solid ground. There is bedrock at the foot of the cross. All other ground is sinking sand.
Romans 416a This is why the promise is by faith. . .
Since salvation is by faith, we need to be sure we understand its true meaning. It is trust in God that consists of three major components. One, renounce self. We must confess we are sinners incapable of saving our own selves. Two, rely on Jesus. Complete trust has to be placed in what the Savior did at Calvary. Three, receive the gift. We take to ourselves what God has promised. Faith implies confidence.
Romans 416b . . .so that it may be according to grace, to guarantee it to all the
descendantsnot only to those who are of the law, but also to
those who are of Abrahams faith.
This text gives two more reasons why justification by faith has to be the only way of salvation. One, it is the only way of salvation that gives all the glory to God.
Two, this is the only method of salvation that is fair to all. If salvation were of works, many would be too deeply in debt by the time they heard the Gospel. How could Rahab have ever atoned for her life in prostitution The dying thief had no time to do anything for God how could he ever have made up for his sins
Anyone trusting in works does not realize the horribleness of sin. They think a good deed can counterbalance a bad deed. Not true Adam was a perfect man in a perfect environment. He committed only one sin, and that nullified the value of all his goodness. God counted his one sin as worse than all of Adams perfections could make up for. Our only hope is to flee to the same refuge Abraham fled to.
Romans 416c-17 He is the father of us all in Gods sight. As it is written I
have made you the father of many nations. He believed in God, who gives
life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist.
Abraham depended fully on God, who gives life to the dead, and who calls into existence things that are not. God is in the business of resurrection.
Everyone apart from Him is dead in trespasses and sin, but God infuses life where there is death. Place your trust in the resurrecting power of the resurrected Lord, and you will experience a resurrection in your life.
It is true you have no righteousness in and of yourself. Nothing in you by nature pleases God. But praise God Jesus calls things into existence that do not exist.
He can bring something out of nothing. God has no problem dealing with the non-existent as if it exists. This is how he achieved the creation of our world. There was nothing, but God saw something. You are not righteous in yourself, but God can give you His righteousness. When you confess you have nothing, God puts something there.
Just as Jesus infused life into the dead physical bodies of Lazarus, the widows son at Nain, and Jairus daughter, He can breathe life into your spiritual nature. He alone can give you the life you must have to share His presence and His Heaven.