Summary: The foundation of Abraham's life was that he confidently placed his trust in God. That decision determined all of the choices he made in his life.
“Between the Lines: Choosing Your Credit Union”
When investing or saving our money, we look for an institution that has a good track record, a firm in which we have great confidence. Our hard earned dollars are simply too precious to entrust to someone or something we do not know or that does not have a solid, earned reputation. Whom we trust determines the choices we will make. The same principle is true in regards to other choices we make. Our lives are simply too precious to entrust to someone or something we do not know or that does not have a solid, earned reputation. Consider Abraham – verse 3: "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." The foundation of Abraham’s life was that he confidently placed his trust in God. That decision determined all of the choices he made in his life. Since the Bible names him to be the father of our faith, we look to gain instruction this morning from Abraham’s faith.
First we discover THE SUBSTANCE OF FAITH IS THE PROMISES OF GOD. Verse 16: “Therefore, 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.” Any solid relationship is based on promises and expectations. Think about a wedding ceremony. Imagine the bride and groom facing each other, holding hands, ready to exchange vows. The bride promises to ”to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death us do part, according to God’s holy law; and thereto I pledge myself, truly with all my heart.” The minister looks at the groom who sputters, “I’m not making any promises. I’m not sure how this will all work out. Right now I feel like I love you, but – hey – nothing’s sure. I’m not making any guarantees – I might feel differently down the road. I’m not saying anything that I might regret later.” What do you think? Will the bride go through with the rest of the ceremony? Hopefully not! A marriage relationship must have promises and trust as its basis or it will not last. Promises and trust provide us with commitments by which we are obligated to live. Without them, there is no strength to the relationship.
So GOD, IN ESTABLISHING A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS PEOPLE, THROUGH ABRAHAM, MADE A PROMISE. He told Abraham to look toward heaven and, if he could, to number the stars; the number of the stars would be the number of Abraham’s descendants. God said, “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and to your descendants after you.” So with nothing but this promise of a son, Abraham packed up and left everything he knew in order to go to a place he had never been. The promise was the foundation of Abraham’s faith.
Notice that THE PROMISE WAS BASED UPON A COVENANT. As Bruce Shelley has pointed out, there’s a difference between a contract and a covenant. Contracts are broken when one of the parties fails to live up to their end of the bargain. If the goods aren’t delivered, if the job isn’t done, if the conditions are not met, the contract is broken and both parties are relieved of the contractual responsibilities. But a covenant puts no conditions on faithfulness. A covenant is the unconditional commitment to love and serve. God made a covenant with Abraham. God cannot and will not break a covenant.
So GOD HAS PROMISED US SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. For three chapters Paul has been graphically reminding us that salvation only comes though grace, that it comes because of Jesus Christ. God exchanges our account of sin for Jesus’ account of right standing with God. Come to think of it, which is more unbelievable – that God would eventually give a couple of octogenarians a son, or that he would save us? Both are the result of a promise from God. He has promised us that our salvation is sure. Therefore nothing can shake us or destroy us.
Do you believe the promises of God? Do you believe that what God promises He performs? Are you willing to stand on these promises of God, “no matter” – no matter what happens, no matter where He leads, no matter what the cost?
In Abraham’s life we also discover THE SOURCE OF FAITH IS THE CHARACTER OF GOD. The quality of our faith depends on the quality of that in which we place our faith. Abraham’s faith relied on the promises of God because God has the power and wisdom to carry out His word. Specifically, Paul lists three characteristics of God.