Abraham Justified by Faith
(1)What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? (2)For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. (3)For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." (4)Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. (5)And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (6)just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
(7)"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; (8)blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."
(9)Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. (10)How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. (11)He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, (12)and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Paul starts off chapter four with a confirmation of his argument that it is by faith that we are justified. Justified is being declared righteous or free of sin which Christ purchased for us by His work on the cross.
Paul uses the most revered person in Old Testament times, Abraham, to prove his point. Abraham was considered to be the father of Judaism. Paul shows them that salvation by faith isn’t something new, but that it has been here since the beginning of time. That Abraham himself was given credit for his righteousness not by his works, which is the following of the law, the law which had not even been established yet, but by his faith.
Genesis 15:6 says this about Abraham, “And he believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness”.
The Jews had thought all this time that they needed to keep the law to be saved, but Paul tells them here that it wasn’t Abraham’s keeping of the law that gave him his righteousness, the law wasn’t even established yet, but it was that he had faith in whatever it was that God was telling him, that he had faith in the hope of the Savior. God could have told him to do anything and Abraham would have done it because his faith in God was strong.
A couple of quick stories about Abraham
Genesis 15:1-6 (1)After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." (2)But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" (3)And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir." (4)And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." (5)And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." (6)And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Abraham was getting a little worried here. He and his wife had been getting up in age and had not been able to have a child yet. God told him that not only will he and Sarah have a child but that his offspring would be as many as the stars.
Genesis 17:1-5 (1)When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, (2)that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly." (3)Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, (4)"Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. (5)No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
I can tell you this if I was Abraham I would be thinking, God you told me that Sarah and I would have a child and we are still waiting, now this covenant thing, I have to cut what off? It was the covenant of circumcision. At 99yrs old. That is faith. But God here again tells Abraham that he will be the father of a multitude of nations. Not just the father of Israel.