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Romans 4:1-25: A Faith Like Abraham’s

A Catchy Tune

Did you grow up singing this catchy tune?

Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s just praise the Lord
Right arm

Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s just praise the Lord
Right arm, left arm

Pierre Kartner

Why does this song call Abraham “our” father? After all, I’m guessing most of my readers are not of Jewish descent!

God calls Abraham out of Ur, a pagan country, and promises him a great name and future blessings to all nations (Genesis 12). Abraham obeys God, and God renews that covenant with him, reiterating that Abraham’s offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15). Abraham trusts God and God credits righteousness to Abraham’s account.

Galatians 3:7-9, 29 NIV

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. …  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Notice that last line – that’s the source! All those who belong to Christ are also descendants of Abraham because God’s promises are true!

Credited as righteousness

Notice this “little” verse tucked in the big story of Abraham’s life, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6 NIV).” Was Abraham saved? Yes. How? He believed God! Abraham trusted God, trusted the promises of God, and God gifted Abraham with righteousness!

Did Abraham have to do something to get that righteousness? What about circumcision? Abraham was circumcised at age 99, an estimated 25 years after he encountered the promises of God. It was not his circumcision that saved him!

What about the law? Did Abraham keep the commandments? God gave Moses the law, what we know as the ten commandments, more than 400 years after Abraham’s call to leave Ur. Yes, Abraham obeyed God. But he was also a flawed human being. He did not earn his righteousness but instead received it as a gift!

What about us? What is saving faith?

  • Saying a few specific words in prayer does not save us.
  • Walking an aisle in church does not save us.
  • Attending church regularly does not save us.
  • Tithing, serving in the church nursery, sponsoring an orphaned child – none of these good works save us.

So what saves us!???

Romans 4 and the significance of faith

So what does having faith mean? How does having faith affect salvation? The Apostle Paul explains that concept carefully in Romans 4, using Abraham as our example.

Romans 4:18-22 ESV

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to Godfully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

  • Abraham’s faith was based fully on the promise of God! He believed what he had been told.
  • Abraham was not overcome by his circumstances; his age did not cause him to doubt God. Instead, he fully trusted the power of God to work miracles.
  • Abraham was fully convinced that God could do what he said he would do. He boasted in God’s power, God’s glory, not his own.
  • Abraham’s faith grew strong as he gave glory to God!

And all this matters because?

The words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Romans 4:23 – 25 ESV

When we believe God, believe that His Son lived, died, and was raised to life for our justification, we receive the gift of salvation. God credits our account with righteousness! It is through His power we are saved. And our faith will grow as we give glory to God!

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT)

A Song of Faith

My faith has found a resting place,
from guilt my soul is freed;
I trust the ever-living One,
his wounds for me shall plead.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
this ends my fear and doubt;
a sinful soul, I come to him,
he’ll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
the written Word of God,
salvation by my Savior’s name,
salvation thro’ his blood.

My great Physician heals the sick,
the lost he came to save;
for me his precious blood he shed,
for me his life he gave. 

E.E. Hewitt
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