Following an Example of Faith

Key Verse: “What saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
—Romans 4:3

Selected Scripture:
Romans 4:2, 3,

IN OUR PREVIOUS LESSON we saw that no man, Jew or Gentile, could keep God’s law perfectly. We also learned of the great importance of faith in the lives of those who would seek to be found acceptable to God. At the present time the foundation of this faith is seen in the redemptive work accomplished by Jesus. In this lesson Paul tells us that such faith has always been pleasing to the Heavenly Father, and he uses the example of Abraham and his faith to show how God has taken pleasure in those who have displayed this characteristic. The Key Verse says that because of Abraham’s faith he was counted, or reckoned, as righteous before God. How was this possible? How could an inherently imperfect man, as Abraham was, be considered righteous simply by having this quality of faith?

The answer to this question lies in the great love and mercy of God, and in the great wisdom with which he designed his plan for mankind. In the case of Abraham, God knew well in advance that he could not be justified by the works of any law, “Because the law worketh wrath.” (Rom. 4:15) Yet he saw that Abraham had a great desire to serve him, and had a heart condition and motivation toward righteousness. God, without violating his attribute of justice, could ‘count’ or ‘reckon’ Abraham righteous through his faith. Additionally, God tested and tried Abraham’s faith in order to prove its depth and sincerity. A few of these tests were: (1) asking him to leave his own country and kindred to go to a land he knew nothing about; (2) not providing a promised seed to him until he and Sarah were both well past the normal age of childbearing; (3) asking him to slay Isaac, his long-awaited son, and offer him as a sacrifice. All of these tests of faith, as well as others, Abraham passed. As a result, wonderful promises were made to him, promises that would eventually carry down to all the families of the earth. His testing, and ultimate promised blessing, were not the result of his keeping of any law, but through faith. “The promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”—Rom. 4:13

We are reminded that Abraham was “the father of us all,” (vs. 16) signifying that we, too, must display the same kind of faith that he did. Additionally, our faith must be thoroughly tested, as was his, in order to prove our loyalty to God under any and all circumstances. Further, Paul states concerning Abraham, that “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he was able also to perform.” (Rom. 4:20,21) The child of God today must develop this same level of faith exemplified in Abraham.

As was the case with Abraham, we too can be counted, or reckoned, as righteous before God through this attribute of faith. As Paul says, “It was not written for his sake alone, that it [righteousness] was imputed [counted, or reckoned] to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe [have faith] on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”—Rom. 4:23,24

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