Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Not only, says the apostle, did you begin the Christian life in faith, but even Abraham, whom the Jews reverence as their great exemplar, and whose heir they profess to be, even he was justified by faith; and therefore they who enjoy his blessing are the possessors of the same faith.
I. ABRAHAM WAS A MAN OF FAITH. He knew nothing of the Levitical Law. He walked by faith. His faith was not assent to a creed. Nor was it an intelligent conviction of any "plan of salvation" obtained by means of a miraculous foresight of the atonement to be accomplished many centuries later in the sacrifice of Christ. It was a grand, simple trust in God. It was shown in his forsaking the idols of his forefathers and worshipping the one spiritual God, in his leaving his home and going he knew not whither in obedience to a Divine voice, in his willingness to sacrifice his son, in his hope of a future inheritance. Such a faith is personal reliance, leading to active obedience and encouraged by confident anticipation. Abraham's faith is the model faith for us. For us faith is to rely upon Christ, to be loyal to Christ, to hope in Christ, and also to accept the fuller revelations of truth which Christ opens up to us as Abraham accepted the Divine voices vouchsafed to him. For the contents of faith will vary according to our light, The spirit of it, however, must be always the same.
II. ABRAHAM'S FAITH WAS RECKONED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. The special point in Abraham's character was not his holiness, but his faith. God's favour flowed to him through this channel. It was the way through which he, though imperfect and sinful, as are all the sons of Adam, was called to the privileged place of a righteous man. This is recorded of him in the sacred history (Genesis 15:6), and therefore should be admitted by all Jews. So much for St. Paul's special argument. For us the important lesson is that, if so famous a saint, living even under the older religion, was accepted through faith, how much more apparent is it that faith is necessary for us! The reasons for relying on faith are
(1) historical - faith justified Abraham, therefore it will justify us;
(2) theological - faith brings us into living fellowship with God, and so opens our hearts to receive the forgiveness that puts us in the position of righteous men; and
(3) moral - faith is the security for the future growth of righteousness, with the first effort of faith the first seed-grace of righteousness is sown.
III. PARTICIPATION IN ABRAHAM'S FAITH IS THE CONDITION OF PARTICIPATION IN ABRAHAM'S BLESSING. Jews claimed the blessing by birthright. Jewish Christians offered it to the Gentiles on condition of their becoming as Jews. Both were wrong. Abraham received his blessing through his faith. It was necessarily conditioned by faith. Only men of faith could have it. Therefore Jews who lost faith lost the blessing. But all men of faith are spiritual sons of Abraham. Therefore all nations are blessed in Abraham just in proportion as they have a similar faith. Indeed, the finest legacy left by the patriarch was his faith. Canaan came and went. Spiritual blessings such as faith includes are eternal. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.