Abraham believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness.
This is the first time in the Holy Scriptures that the word “believed” is used. Although Abraham was not the first to believe, he is called the father of those who believe. He is our father, if we have faith as he did.
Faith, which is exactly the same thing as to believe, is a foundational concept to the Christian religion. We need to understand and grasp what is going on here in this passage.
With the relatively few words in this verse, the Lord God overturns all human religions and sets up His own way of doing things. He does not judge Abraham by his good works. Instead, God looks at the faith of this man. By this standard, the Lord judges Abraham to be righteous.
Every other human religion judges you by some standard of works. Maybe you have to think the right thoughts. Maybe you have to perform the correct rituals. Maybe you have to feel the right emotions. Maybe you have to say the right words or have the right attitude. Maybe you have to do more right than wrong. Whatever the standard, it all comes down to what you do.
But the Lord judges by faith. If you have faith, then He sees you as righteous. It says that He counted Abraham as righteous. The word “counted” can also be translated as “reckoned” or “credited” or “accounted”. Because of Abraham’s faith, the Lord chose to see Abraham as right in His sight – right with God, right in his actions, right in every way.
That is quite a deal. Just believe and you get your credits filled up to maximum. You are judged by God as if you have all the righteousness you could ever need for eternal life. Just believe. That is all you have to do.
Little problem here. Sinners cannot believe. It is impossible.
Why? Well, first we consider what faith is. It is a trust in God that considers Him faithful. In other words, faith believes that the Lord will keep His promises.
Sounds easy. But this big disaster struck mankind twelve chapters earlier in Genesis. Adam and Eve decided to not trust God. He told them not to eat the fruit, but instead of trusting His Word, they trusted the serpent. He promised that they would be as God if they ate, and they believed in that promise. They trusted their senses, which told them that the fruit was desirable and good for them. They trusted in themselves to make their own choices. They trusted everything but God.
From that hideous beginning, the human race became corrupted into a state of mistrusting God. We would rather trust in money, or our hearts, or our hard work, or most anything in the world except for God. Since Adam and Eve, none of us, their descendants, are capable of coming to faith.
Fortunately, the Lord is able to do what is impossible. How did He do it with Abraham? He spoke to him, and through the Spirit, working with the Word of promise, He implanted faith in Abraham.
What promises did the Lord give? First, He said, “Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Then He added, “One who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” And finally, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be.”
The Lord promised that He was with Abraham to defend him. He promised that a miracle of birth would take place so that Abraham would have a son, even though it seemed impossible. And He promised that His descendants would be immense in number.
What do these promises have in common? They all center upon Christ. Only through Christ the Lord could Abraham be defended and given exceedingly great reward. Only through Him could Abraham be counted righteous with the righteousness of the Son of God. Therefore Abraham would be defended from his enemies, satan, sin, death and hell, and receive the very great reward of eternal life.
The whole reason for Abraham to have a miraculously born child was to establish the line that would lead to Christ being born of the blessed virgin Mary.
As for Abraham’s descendants, they are not necessarily those who were his blood descendants. All who believe are children of Abraham. We are part of that number of stars in the sky that were promised to Abraham. We are those who trust in the Lord’s promises that are in Christ Jesus our Lord, the Seed of Abraham.
He, our forefather in faith, trusted that God would keep His promise. Therefore he was counted righteous. You trust in the divine promises as well. You trust that the Lord does not see your sins because Christ was crucified for them. You trust that God has protected you from your enemies, satan, sin, death, and hell by bringing you into the kingdom of heaven and crushing the ancient serpent’s head. You believe that you will be raised from the dead, as Christ was raised.
The Lord has promised, and you believe Him. Therefore, He has credited it to you for righteousness. You are holy and right in His sight. Therefore, you receive all these His blessings in His Son.
All praise, glory, and honor be to this one true God. Amen.
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