What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:1-5)
The Justification of man before the Holy God has never come by works of the Law, or by good works of any kind. If man is to be saved at all, it has to come from God, at God’s initiative, and only by faith in the grace of God.
From the beginning this was the case. How was Adam and Eve saved? By faith in the gospel! The gospel was preached from the very beginning, even in the garden.Savation for them consisted of believing in the promised “seed of the woman”, whose pain would reverse the claims of the serpent on them.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.(Genesis 3:15)
This is the meaning of the removal of the fig leaves(Works) covering Adam and Eve’s newly discovered nakedness. Blood was shed, of necessity, fig leaves would never do. Adam and Eve were no doubt appalled at their first exposure to physical death, looking with horror at the broken body of the lamb or whatever the beast was that God used to clothe them.
Abraham was an idolator (Joshua 24:2) , who lived in the land of the Chaldees and worshipped the moon God, when God came to him.God revealed himself to Abraham, and called him to play a major role in His Holy purpose to redeem the world.
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.(Genesis 12:1-3)
This is the same gospel as the” seed of the woman” gospel, and the same gospel that we christians believe because the “Seed of Abraham” who would bless all families in the earth, is none less than Jesus Christ.Abraham believed it and acted accordingly.
What was it that Go was calling Abraham to believe? That he and his barren wife would be the vessels through whom a Holy Nation of priests would come into the world, culminating in the Messiah, the Saviour of the world from the primal curse.
This former idolator believed…and the faith was imputed to Him for Righteousness sake.
And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.(Genesis 15:6)
What Abraham found, was that God will justify the one who in simple faith will believe in the promise of the gospel. He will ‘put it to their account’ that they are in righteous standing with Him, for salvation was on credit before Jesus came and died for us.
Abraham the idolator of the Babylonian moon-god, had an encounter with the real God, heard the gospel that God would send one to benefit the whole world, (and here is the difficult part to believe) through he and his barren wife!
Yet this Babylonian Believed God. And it was counted to him for Righteousness, God treated this sinner as His friend, and as though He had never sinned. There is no mention if Torah, Law, or striving to fulfill any commandments. Just faith in God’s gracious salvation. What good news!