How exciting is our God!
The Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ continues to amaze me as I sit under the preaching of His word.
It is a joy to have my heart and mind opened to the truths that are expounded through the messengers that He has chosen. Such is the case as I am experiencing the preaching of Paul’s letter to the Romans. I have read it many times and studied it; but never before heard and seen what I am seeing now. So had Martin Luther, and God changed his understanding, his life, and the church.
In Romans 4 there is a remarkable revelation of how well the apostle Paul knew Abraham. Should it not be so, since Abraham was his father ~ twice born?
Jews throughout history have claimed him as their father. But, Paul gives us a backward view of who has a true claim to this relationship.
God, the Father, chose Abram to be the father of many nations, not just a nation called Israelites. He made an everlasting covenant through him for all nations and changed his name to Abraham. He chose Abraham, made a covenant with him and gave him a promise to bless people from all nations through his obedience of faith. This is how he became the “father of faith” to all nations.
Let’s look back in time to this covenant blessing upon Abraham that is our blessing, too. We cannot skim over this, but we need to take the time to see the truths here.
“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.
6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. Genesis 17:1-7
The Lord appeared to a mere man on this earth, gave him a promise that through his physical seed a new nation of people would be born; a covenant that God, Himself would fulfill ~ an everlasting covenant ~ not just to the nation of Israel; and not just for a certain time, but a promise and covenant forever to all who believe in His promise. God is a God of covenant; a faithful God to His people who accept His word as truth.
How would this covenant be established except through Abraham’s physical offspring, a son that God promised to Abraham? Through him would come the Messiah promised by God since the beginning (Genesis 3:15). But do we see the catch ~ Abram was ninety-nine years old and had no offspring. There was yet no son through whom a people would be born.
But God promised. And Abraham believed what God promised, though it was physically impossible. His faith was counted as his righteousness before God. As difficult as it was for him to believe is it impossible for us to believe through our own insight. We are each in our own country, our own little worlds until God speaks through the power of the gospel to us. By human thinking we cannot see the incarnation, the righteous life of Jesus Christ, his death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father in heaven. It is by His grace, and His light in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6) that reveals Christ to us and gives us the new birth by His Spirit, so that we see and believe. (John 3:3; 6:44-45)
The essence of Romans 4 is that Abraham’s faith preceded his action of circumcision. It was his faith in what God promised that made him righteous, not his works. His obedience to God’s command for circumcision was a result of His believing God’s promise.
(Remember the purpose for Paul’s letter was to bring a people from all nations to the obedience of faith. His preaching the gospel was not to tickle the ears, but to lead people to faith in the gospel and therefore to proof of salvation and righteousness by obedience to God’s word.)
How well Paul relates to his father Abraham; and how well he knew his own people who trusted in their circumcision and the law for their righteousness before God.
The Lord had chosen Saul, appeared to him, changed his name to Paul, and sent Him, first to his own people. They tried to kill him, because they did not like the good news of faith in Jesus Christ. They proved themselves not to be true offspring of Abraham, because they did not believe that God had sent His Son for their salvation.
And so, Paul was sent with the gospel to the Gentiles; and all who believe God are the heirs of the promise; joint-heirs with Christ, Abraham and Paul.
“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
But 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 3:4, 24,25
Gracious heavenly Father, thank you for calling Abraham out of his own country to establish a new country, a new people of faith and obedience to your word. Thank you for stopping Saul from persecuting your people, that he might become your servant to all nations with the good news of our salvation. Thank you for giving us your word and your promises through others of faith. Thank you calling pastors to preach the gospel in our time. Thank you for calling each of us as your people, by your Spirit and through your word, that others may see and know who are your children; though there are those who will reject your promise and persecute us who live in obedience of faith. Today make us to know who you are, that we may know whose we are ~ heirs of promise. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Obligated and Eager Romans 1