ROMANS 4: FATHER ABRAHAM AND MOTHER SARAH HAD MANY SONS AND DAUGHTERS
as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised (Romans 4:17-21).
Many have grown up singing the children’s song “Father Abraham” hand motions and spinning included. Of course, it was not just Father Abraham—he need mother Sarah too. And the blessing was for sons and daughters.
Pointing this out is not to ruin a children’s song but to emphasize that Paul is going “far and wide” in Romans 4 to quote another children’s song. Abraham and Sarah serve as Old Testament witnesses to the gospel. Paul draws on accounting language to show that righteousness is an unearned gift of God’s grace given to the unrighteous who have faith. Moreover, as Paul points out, both Jew and Gentile are made righteous the same way—by faith. No one is excluded!
Which raises an interesting question, “What is faith?” We may assume we know what it means. However, contrary to popular opinion, Paul has a unique angle on faith. It is not simply agreeing that something is true like, “God exists” or “democracy is the best form of government” or “LeBron makes the Lakers the best basketball team." No, for Paul faith is more like trust.
Trust is not only conviction about something being true but something that we have some skin in the game. Some even say a good translation for faith is allegiance. So, Abraham (and Sarah) trusted God and gave their allegiance to God. Paul wants us to do the same with this God who has acted in a new way through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God is making all things new just like God did for Abraham and Sarah.
Take an inventory of where you pledge your allegiance? Can you honestly say the God we know in Jesus Christ is your deepest allegiance? If not, what are some concrete steps you can take to change that?
Lord God, thank you for the grace you have offered us in Jesus Christ. May we appreciate it and faithfully trust in your promises. In the name of the one who died and rose for us. Amen.
Mark Manassee is Senior Minister of Culver Palms Church of Christ, a vibrant mosaic of people representing the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of Los Angeles. "Our experiences are varied," says the church, "but we are united in and by the love of Christ." The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ thanks Mark for writing on The Journey Bible Project Blog.