Justified by Faith!
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:1-6)
The LORD had promised that Abram would have an heir … and that this heir would be his physical descendant (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14-16). Innumerable descendants would come through this promised heir, and they would be blessed by the possession of the land in every direction, as far as the eye could see. All of it would be theirs.
But there was a big problem: at this point in the narrative, Abram had no child. Very reasonably, therefore, he asked God how this promise was going to be fulfilled. The only one around was his chief household servant, Eliezar.
In response to Abram’s query, the LORD reiterated His promise, and took Abram outside to do some stargazing. He would have a family as large as the stars that could be counted.
Abram believed it. He believed God’s word to him, he embraced his promise. He received God’s gift. Therefore He accounted it to him for righteousness. In other words, the LORD gave Abram the gift of being totally right with Him, through his faith.
This is salvation truth. In Romans 3:21-31 the doctrine of justification by faith is laid out; in Romans 4 Paul shows how Abram’s (Abraham’s) experience in Genesis 15 is the same blessing, as the Old Testament version.
Justification by faith (definition):
Justification by faith is the act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner to be righteous through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross and His resurrection from the dead.
It is significant to note that Abram was justified before he had received the covenant of circumcision (which happened in Genesis 17). He was justified before the giving of the law hundreds of years later to Moses (Galatians 3:13-18). And he was justified before God prior to being justified before man in the matter of Isaac on the mount of Moriah Genesis 22; James 2:21-23).
In other words, Abram was justified before he was technically a Jew, before the law, and before the greatest work in his life. His justification, therefore, was just like New Testament justification. He was saved by grace, through faith, and that not of himself, it was God’s gift to him. Period.
For Further Review
1. What is the relationship between receiving a promise and faith? How do promise and faith relate to each other?
2. Have you received any promises from God? If so, how did you receive them?
3. Consider the definition of justification. Have you been justified by God? If so, how do you know? What is the basis of your confidence?