What we see in chapter 4 is the nature of Faith and how it has played a role in the salvation of those who walked thousands of years before us and how it still operates the same.
Abraham and David
In my walk as a Christian sometimes I have wondered how the people of the Old Testament were saved even though Christ had not yet come. Paul answers that question by saying that the people of the Old Testament were saved in the very same way we get saved, by faith. Paul makes his case by bringing up two of the big figures of the Old Testament, Abraham and David. Paul brings up Abraham because he wants to show us something interesting about how Abraham was saved. Verses 9-11 specifically shows that Abraham was saved way before he was circumcised, that was to show that circumcision in reality is not what saves. Abraham was saved because he put his FAITH in God and his promises. First Abraham was saved and then Abraham was circumcised. Circumcision was merely an Old Testament sign of God’s seal of righteousness. This is very important because that means that all people circumcised or not would be able to become part of God’s people, which is why we are Abraham’s spiritual offspring. When God told Abraham he would have offspring, I believe that he did not just mean the people of Israel would be his offspring, but all those who would be saved by faith, becoming his spiritual offspring. God’s plan was always to save everyone (the world), meaning all kinds of people, all kinds of nations, people from every tribe, not just Israel. Paul also mentioned David, he quotes David from Psalm 32 is verse 7 & 8. Paul shows us through David that David was saved because by faith he believed he was saved because his sins were forgiven. By FAITH David was saved because he believed that God forgave him of all of his sins. Both of these two giants were lowly people who put their faith in God for salvation.
The Nature of Faith
Paul uses these two people as an example to show that faith is still what saves us. There are several things to see here about the nature of faith.
- Faith counts righteousness toward us verses 16 & 24 - Many times we may feel like we know the gospel, we have heard it time and time again, but in reality, having the gospel preached to us should be refreshing every time we hear it. We were all walking on a path of sin and God’s wrath but because of the death of Jesus we can have faith in him and repent of our sins and be saved by grace. When we have faith in Christ it counts Christ righteousness toward us, we no longer are viewed as enemies of God but beloved children who have God’s grace and favor. Because of faith we are considered the spiritual offspring of Abraham and believe the same God that David believed in for forgiveness of sins.
- Faith provides life verse 17 - We were all once dead in our trespasses and sins. Some people might think that we were about to drown until God tossed us the life preserver. That is not what the bible says, we were already dead at the bottom of the ocean, our lungs filled with water, dead people can’t swim up to the top of the ocean to get some air, but God reached down and grabbed our corpse from the bottom of the ocean and breathed life into us. We who used to be dead are now alive to God because of faith.
- Faith allows us to glorify God verse 20 - When Paul speaks about Abraham, he says that he was as good as dead, but Abraham still did not waver in his faith and was fully convinced that God would do as he promised him, to give him the promised offspring. That was because Abraham had faith in God and his faith grew stronger and stronger. As people who have faith in God, we should note that that faith should grow stronger and stronger as we mature as Christians. As our faith grows stronger that will allow us to glorify God all the more when we stop wavering and be fully convinced that God is faithful, God is steadfast, and God loves us deeply and will do as he has promised.
- Faith is directly linked to the resurrection verse 25 - Jesus died on a cross for our sins, he bore the full wrath of God for our sins, but in order to prove that this was done he needed to be raised. The resurrection proves that Jesus was not just some ordinary man who died, it proves that he was and is the actual Son of God (the Messiah) because he conquered death. The resurrection is the ultimate proof that Jesus was able to take our sins and bring them to the grave and rise again so that we can also have new life. If Jesus did not rise from the grave our faith would be in vain. Our justification is linked to the resurrection. Praise God for faith in Jesus Christ!!