What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. … It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 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. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
You Gotta Have Faith
During the 1980’s singer George Michael had a catchy and popular hit song called “Gotta Have Faith.” While “Gotta Have Faith” is not a spiritual song, that song title does sum up nicely what God is saying through the apostle Paul in this section of Scripture.
In religious circles, and maybe even beyond, Abraham is pretty famous. God kept his promise to Abraham: “I have made you a father of many nations.” Jewish and Arab people trace their family genealogy back to Abraham. But when a person is standing in God’s eternal courtroom and God asks, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”—will mentioning that you are a blood relative of Abraham help you out? John the Baptist answers that question: “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9).
So why is Abraham in heaven? It must be because he was such a moral man, a giving man, a caring man, a well-respected, community-oriented kind of a guy. All those things were true about Abraham, but let’s not forget that even Abraham wasn’t perfect. Abraham fathered a baby with someone who wasn’t his wife! And twice, while traveling in foreign countries, Abraham lied and told people that Sarah was his sister and not his wife. He made Sarah tell the same lies even though this put her at risk of being sexually violated by people in those countries! Even though God promised Abraham that he had big plans for him, Abraham failed to trust that God would keep his promise and protect his life while in those countries. And those are just the sins about Abraham that God shares with us. There were plenty more.
God’s Word says, “For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath.” God demands that human beings keep his law perfectly every second of their lives on earth. This is impossible for you, for me, even as it was for Abraham. We don’t deserve heaven for the way we live our lives; we deserve God’s wrath and punishment in hell.
So how can sinners like Abraham, you, and me hear a not guilty verdict in God’s eternal courtroom? “You gotta have faith” in Jesus as your Savior. God says, “To the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” It doesn’t matter what your ethnic background might be, when a person has faith in Jesus as their Savior, God credits Jesus’ perfection to them. Through faith in Jesus, God considers spiritually dead sinners deserving of hell as spiritually alive and perfect people deserving of heaven.
So, live your life at peace with God and in the confidence that you will spend eternity in heaven because your eternal salvation has nothing to do with you and everything to do with God’s amazing gifts to you—Jesus and faith that trusts in him as your Savior.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to be my Savior. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit working through your Word to give me faith that believes in Jesus as my Savior. Use that same powerful Word to keep me in the Christian faith until you bring me to my eternal home in heaven. Amen.
This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.
Source: WELS Devotions