Faith and hope of the kind Abraham had that was counted to him as righteousness isn’t real unless it changes us and our outlook on the world and becomes the driving force of our lives.
Abraham believed God, and God “reckoned” that faith to Abraham as righteousness. When God told Abraham to look at the stars and said to Abraham that he would bear offspring and have descendants like the stars in the sky, Abraham believed God. What does that really mean?
We get a bit of a clue by looking at the Hebrew word translated “believe”: āman. It means to confirm (support), as when putting confidence in something that is supported (trustworthy). The Hebrew suggests that Abraham confirmed, affirmed, supported, or had confidence in what God was telling him.
But there is more to it than that. The word, āman, as used in this passage, is in the hiphil form. The hiphil form suggests an act of intentional interaction with a subject.
This suggests Abraham didn’t just stare at the stars, daydreaming. He consciously and intentionally engaged with God and what God was saying to him. He affirmatively confirmed, supported and put his confidence in what God was saying to him in some interactive way.
Faith/belief is a key concept and critical characteristic of the follower of Christ. Abraham is held up as the prime example of faith. Abraham is the father of faith.
Paul says that Abraham was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” This active faith, trust and confidence in God that Abraham demonstrated is what God “counted to him as righteousness”. Faith is interactive trust.
This same faith, Paul says, will also be counted to those of us as righteousness who “believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
In one sense, Abraham didn’t do anything to earn God’s favor but believe God, and God attributed righteousness to him in return. Such a simple thing! On the other hand, Abraham’s faith was not just intellectual ascent; he lived his life in the light of that faith.
And that is what we must do to be counted as righteous in God’s sight today – to believe in the one God sent to us, Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and was buried for us, and who has risen from the dead establishing the promise of God to us that we will be risen to in newness of life. If we truly believe this is true, it will become the pivotal point, the centerpiece and the hope of our lives.
This seems so very simple that we are tempted to think we need to do more. We are tempted to think we must do more to be counted as righteous. It isn’t quite so simple as we suspect, but we have to keep our eyes on what is important.
Continue reading “Righteousness By Faith”