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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Romans 4 - The faith of Abraham (2)

In this chapter, Paul is explaining how Abraham is an example of how sinners are justified by God and given blessings by him even although they have lost all claim to his kindness because of their sins. We mentioned some details in a previous reading, but here are some more.
Paul mentions that Abraham could only become the heir of the world through his faith in a saving God rather than through attempting to achieve it through keeping the law of God. If he had tried to achieve it through his obedience he would have failed and all he would have earned would be wrath.
Moreover, everyone who has the same faith as Abraham will receive the same blessings as Abraham, whether they are Jews or Gentiles (vv. 16-17). The blessing is an inheritance (Abraham was heir of the world, and not only of the land of Canaan, which means he must have seen the promises of the land that God gave to him as depicting the world – perhaps this is an illustration that God’s promises are larger than we usually imagine). Believers, including Abraham, are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. The amazing thing is that none of those believers are perfect, indeed in themselves far from perfection, with some of them having been great sinners. Yet they will all receive the inheritance.

Abraham’s faith is also an example for us. What did his faith include or involve? Here are five details and no doubt more can be identified. 
(1) He did not let his physical impossibilities prevent him believing the promises of God about descendants. 
(2) He did not let the passing of time prevent him believing that the promises of God would be fulfilled. 
(3) He believed in the ability of God to perform extraordinary things that require resurrection power in order to happen. 
(4) He believed that what was then currently invisible would become visible through God’s power – this could refer to his own son Isaac and their descendants, or to the coming of the Messiah when Jesus was born, or to the appearing of the promised inheritance in the eternal world. 
(5) His faith became stronger the more he praised God for his promises. 
Paul mentions physical weakness, patience, power, the invisible world and praise. How do we regard each of those aspects of faith?

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