“Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.””
Romans 4:1-3 NLT
This is obviously Paul, the Jew, speaking here. Like all Jews, he could trace back his ancestry all the way to Abraham. In Genesis 15:5, God spoke to Abram, we read, “Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”” A bit further on, as we read in Genesis 17:4-7, God said, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”
The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were very proud of the lineage back to Abraham, and thought that because they were people of the covenant, following the Law, they were safe, with their future assured. But John the Baptist was having none of their religiosity – we read in Matthew 3:9-10, “Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the axe of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire”.
The Jewish nation was founded on faith. Abraham’s faith. And that was before the Law had even been given to the Israelites. There’s nothing God likes more than our faith in Him. In fact, He likes it so much that, through faith, we are made righteous before Him. We read in Genesis that Abraham “believed God”. And so it is with us pilgrims. We believe God and all that He has done for us. What we believe is summarised in the Anglican “Apostles’ Creed”. It’s worth including with the blog today. We believe it. And we have faith that through our belief we achieve righteousness before God, as Abraham did all those years ago. But just saying the Creed does not constitute faith. We really need to believe what it says, with all the implications behind it. The “head” knowledge needs to migrate to our “hearts”, where there can be an outpouring of our love and worship for our amazing God.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.