Abraham was a sinner like us
I was once asked why I like the Bible over all the other religious books in the world. I said
“the Bible doesn’t candy coat its subject’s sins and shortcomings but shows God’s faithfulness to save them anyway”. Its heroes have bad blood too. King David was a murderer and adulterer. Adam, well we all know what Adam did. Noah got drunk. Aaron made the Golden Calf. Moses disobeyed God and was refused entrance into the Promised Land. Samson had quite the thing for a foreign prostitute. The disciples were always clamoring for kingdom positions of importance. Paul was a murderer and to use his own words, the “Chiefest of sinners” (sic). (Picture credit: Donell Trostrud)
Today’s passage is about the Father of faith; Abraham the father of the Jewish nation. He was written into the hall of faith of Hebrews ch 11 thus we make him out to be our hero. The Jews have always believed that they are safe from God’s wrath because of their physical relationship to him. But we tend to overlook the fact that when God found him, he was a pagan sinner just like we currently are. We don’t like to mention his failures and shortcomings because we tend to make Abraham out to be perfect and not the sinner that he was. Let’s look at his record. He twice lied about his wife (half truth) being his sister to the king of Egypt as well as to the king of Gerar to avoid being killed. He succumbed to the pressure of his wife and slept with his wife’s hand maiden producing Ishmael. But we forget the fact that when he was called out of Ur to go to Canaan, instead of leaving everything behind him as God had told him to, he took his father along with his father’s household and his nephew Lot (producing the Moabites and Ammonites – enemies of Israel) to boot. All of which gave them problems which still haunt the Jews and the world to this day. My point in this first half of chapter 4 is that Abraham was an undeserving sinner. But God calls all sinners to repentance; and those who come to trust him are justified by faith and made his righteous children just as Abraham was.
Abraham Justified by Faith
Rom 4:1-12 Use this link to the NIV or your favorite version of the Bible. Highlight verses 3, 5b, 7,8, 9b, 11
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who justifies the wicked, ungodly and uncircumcised. All men are such, but I will only save those who recognize that fact. Those who don’t think that they need a doctor will not get the help that they desperately need and will succumb to their illness. Whether you are too cool, too strong, too educated, too righteous, but spiritually speaking, you are all terminally ill– you just don’t realize it yet. Do you realize your spiritual condition? Come let us reason together.
I AM the God who chooses who will be my Children. Out of the entire world I chose Abraham to be the father of faith for all who would believe and become my children. If you feel my calling, do not harden your heart against me, take me at my word and trust me. Allow me to make you righteous. Let me save you. It is your choice.
I AM the God who knows you. I see your heart. I know whether you have faith or not. I am calling you to believe and trust me, and just like I was with Abraham, I will be with you wherever you go. You may be afraid, but I AM with you and will never leave you if you would but trust me. You don’t have to worry about changing yourself first; I will do that for you. First things first, you simply need to repent and let me forgive you. Then for the rest of your life, I will work in you to make you like myself in practice.
Like Abraham, you can be made righteous
In this first half of chapter 4 we see God’s sovereign choice in who he will call. We see his righteous character in who he will declare righteous and for what reason. Abraham could have stayed there in Ur following the pattern of the world, but he didn’t. He got up to follow God, and we have salvation today because he did. God saw Noah’s heart and the faith that was in him to believe. He also saw Abel’s faith. God saw the disciple’s hearts and faith even though it was full of misconceived ideas of who and what the Messiah would be and do on this planet at that time. So too, God sees your heart with all the cultural clutter and expectations of churches. But like those mentioned above, are you willing to admit that you are depraved in spirit and need his salvation? Are you willing to step out to follow Jesus as he calls you? Are you willing to place your trust in his remedy for your sin? Will you take God at his word that he will make you righteous as you believe and depend on him? Unlike Abraham, you don’t need to be circumcised in the flesh, but let him circumcise your heart as you believe. And you will be Abraham’s child in the faith. Paul says that as Abraham believed it was credited to him as righteousness. Faith comes first to receive righteous and salvation and his Holy Spirit’s indwelling as the result by God’s gift of grace.
We are all sinners, just like Abraham
Do you feel like you have to get your life turned around first? Or do you feel that you are too bad to come to God? These are both ploys of the devil to keep you from coming to God for forgiveness. News flash! We all are “Not good enough”. That is what it means to be a sinner. We all need to admit that we cannot turn our lives around. Like Abraham, God is calling us just the way we are. Then like Abraham by faith, God makes us righteous in his sight. He changes us to make us holy in his sight positionally. He saves and forgives us. He does this work for us so that only he can receive glory and not us. We receive the benefit of his work – Eternal life, and we will spend eternity praising him for it. In the mean time know that “Christians are not perfect – Just forgiven.” But that God loves us too much to leave us like that and will work in our hearts for the rest of our lives to make us holy in our daily practice as we let him.
More to come,