The Faith of Abraham (Day 9)

Read Romans 4:1-25
   The Jews were proud to be called children of Abraham. Paul uses Abraham as a good example of someone who was saved by faith. By emphasizing faith, Paul is not saying that God’s law is unimportant but that it is impossible to be saved by simply obeying it. 
Verse 4 means that if a person could earn right standing with God by being good, the granting of that gift wouldn’t be a free act; it would be an obligation. Our self-reliance is futile; all we can do is cast ourselves on God’s mercy and grace. 
  When some people learn that they are saved by God through faith, they start to worry. “Do I have enough faith?” they ask. “Is my faith strong enough to save me?” These people miss the point. It is Jesus Christ who saves us, not our feelings or actions, and He is strong enough to save us no matter how weak our faith. You just give to Him what faith you do have and He will take it from there and grow your faith as you walk with Him. Jesus offers us salvation as a gift because He loves us, not because we have earned it through our powerful faith. What, then is the role of faith? Faith is believing and trusting in Jesus Christ and reaching out to accept His wonderful gift of salvation. 
   What can we do to get rid of guilt? King David was guilty of terrible sins: adultery, murder, lying, and yet he experienced the joy of forgiveness. We, too, can have this joy when we 1) quit denying our guilt and recognize that we have sinned, 2) admit our guilt to God and ask for His forgiveness, and 3) let go of our guilt and believe that God has forgiven us. This can be difficult when a sin has taken root in our life over many years, when it is very serious, or when it involves others. We must remember that Jesus is willing and able to forgive every sin. In view of the tremendous price He paid on the cross, it is arrogant to think that there is any sin too great for Him to forgive. Even though our faith is weak, our conscience is sensitive, and our memory haunts us, God’s Word declares that sins confessed are sins forgiven (1 John 1). 
   Circumcision was a sign to others and a personal seal or certification for the Jews that they were God’s special people. Circumcision of all Jewish boys set apart the Jewish people from the nations that worshiped other gods; thus, it was a very important ceremony. God gave the blessing and the command for this ceremony to Abraham (Genesis 17). 
   Rituals did not earn any reward for Abraham; he had been blessed long before the circumcision ceremony was introduced. Abraham found favor with God by faith alone, before he was circumcised. Genesis 12:1-3 tells us of God’s call to Abraham when he was 75 years old; the circumcision ceremony was introduced when he was 99 (Genesis 17). Ceremonies and rituals serve as reminders of our faith as well as instruct new or young believers. But we should not think that they give us any special merit before God. They are outward signs and seals that demonstrate inner belief and trust. The focus of our faith should be on Christ and His saving work, not on our own actions. 
   Paul explains that Abraham had pleased God through Abraham’s faith alone before he had ever heard about the rituals and the law that would become so important to the Jewish people. We, too, are saved by faith plus nothing. It is not by loving God and doing good that we are saved; neither is it by faith plus love or by faith plus good deeds. We are saved only through faith in Christ, trusting Him to forgive all our sins. 
   The promise God gave Abraham stated that Abraham would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17) and that the entire world would be blessed through him (Genesis 12). This promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus was from Abraham’s line, and truly the whole world was blessed through him. 
   Abraham never doubted that God would fulfill His promise. Abraham’s life was marked by mistakes, sins, and failures as well as by wisdom and goodness, but he constantly trusted God. His faith was strengthened by the obstacles he faced, and his life was an example of faith in action. If he had looked only at his own resources for subduing Canaan and founding a nation, he would have given up in despair. But Abraham looked to God, obeyed Him, and waited for God to fulfill His word. 
   When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, an exchange takes place. We give Him our sins, and He forgives us and makes us right with God (2 Corinthians 5). There is nothing we can do to earn this. Only through Christ can we be made right in God’s eyes. What an incredible bargain this is for us. But sadly, many still choose to pass up this gift to continue “enjoying” their sin.