Abraham lived many centuries before Jesus. He didn’t have the Bible (it wasn’t written then). He didn’t have the church (it hadn’t started). He didn’t know about Jesus. But he had faith and:
Faith pleases God
Paul says in Romans 4:3: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Faith still pleases God today. Nowadays we know that God wants us to put our faith in his Son Jesus. Eternal salvation is through Jesus. God has only mounted one mega rescue operation in this world, and that was when he sent Jesus to die for our sins and our forgiveness and to gain a place in heaven for us ultimately.
Why does faith please God? Well change the word “faith” to trust”. If someone came up to me and says: “Tony, I really trust you.” I’d be very pleased. It is wonderful to be trusted – a real honour. When we put our faith in God and in his Son Jesus, we are saying “God, I really trust you; Jesus I really trust you.” So faith pleases God.
Faith brings salvation
It follows from this, says Paul, that eternal life is not a wage but a gift given to people who have faith. Paul explains: “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.” (Romans 4:4-5, 13).
We know from what he writes elsewhere that Paul is not saying good works are unimportant. Rather he is stressing that we can never be good enough to earn God’s forgiveness or a place in heaven. We’d never make the pass mark in the “entrance exam”! We don’t do good works in order to earn God’s forgiveness and acceptance. We do good works to express our gratitude to god for accepting us when, and only when, we put our heart-felt trust in Christ.
So if we really have a heart-felt trust in Jesus, God gives us eternal life (which after death means heaven) as a free gift. You can’t earn a gift. It’s a gift based on the kindness of the giver – the grace of God.
Faith brings acceptance
At one time, Gentiles (non-Jewish people) were excluded from the chosen, covenant people. They lacked the privilege which acceptance by God gave. But now, all who trust in Christ – Jew or Gentile – are accepted in the worldwide chosen, covenant people of God.
As Paul puts it: “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 [Jewish people] but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” (Verse 16)
Are you a spiritual child of Abraham, part of the worldwide chosen, covenant people of God? If you have a heart-felt trust in Christ, you are. If not, why not put your trust in him now. He’s waiting to hear from you.
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction