To us (part 2)
It’s amazing how God gave credit to Abraham for not “weakening (or wavering) in his belief in God’s promise,” Romans 4:19-20, when it was only because of God “strengthening his faith that Abraham was fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he promised,” verses 20-21. No wonder Abraham “gave glory to God,” not only in God making such an amazing promise to him in the first place, but in giving him the strength to fully believe it too.
It was all God’s doing, from the initial promise to Abraham believing it. But God, amazingly, gives Abraham the credit for believing. What did Abraham contribute to this process? Absolutely nothing. And it didn’t make him a better person for believing either. His belief didn’t suddenly make him a righteous man, which we see in the many mistakes he made later in Genesis.
So what was God up to here? He makes a promise, enables Abraham to believe it, and then credits Abraham with righteousness. Why, though? What did it accomplish?
Paul answers that for us in Romans 4:20 – Abraham “gave glory to God.” That was the goal. It’s what being “credited with righteousness” means too; it means “setting one’s relationship with God to rights.” Well, that’s what happened to Abraham through the process God took him through – from a standing start in Genesis 11, with no record of Abraham knowing much about God at all, to being swept away by God’s greatness. From Abraham possibly having no opinion of God, to revelling in him.
So is this the process God takes us through? Yes, it’s meant for us too (Romans 4:24). So out of the blue, just as it was for Abraham, we got to hear about God’s promise of justification – that our relationship with God has been set to rights through Christ’s death and resurrected life.
But why did we take any notice of it, let alone believe it? Because, Ephesians 2:8, “it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this (faith) not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Just as God strengthened Abraham’s faith, he strengthens ours, enough for us to be fully persuaded that God has the power to fulfill the same goal he had for Abraham in us. That from a standing start we too, knowing little about God, end up giving glory to him as well…(more on this tomorrow)