Title: A Righteousness that Comes by Faith
Text: Gen 15.1-6
Introduction: We begin by reading the 1st three words of v 1: After these things… what things? He’s just been in battle! Review:
– Abram is called to go and he goes solely on God’s Word (12.1-9)
– Abram runs into problems with a famine and takes matters into his own hands (12.10-20)
– Abram & Lot part ways in 13; they’re just too blessed; Lot chooses; God chooses for Abram
– The fallout of Lot’s choices now impact Abram in 14;
- We met the kings of the east and their dominant enemies
- We saw their defense and defeat at the hands of these dominant kings
- Further we read about these dominant kings who took Lot, his family and all of his possession as spoils of war.
- Enter Abram, who trusts in God, to save his family from his foes.
- Finally, Abram returns triumphant and is greated by two kings with two very different attitudes:
- The King of Salem – Melchizedek
- The King of Sodom – Bera
Transition: So, Abram has returned from battle, victorious! Those things is what this is referring to in v 1; Now, what we find in the next few verses is that Abram must have been struggling with all of this;
I’ve divided this study into 5 parts:
- Ø God Speaks
- Ø Abram Struggles
- Ø God Responds
- Ø Abram’s Righteousness
- Ø That NT Appropriation
Let’s begin with God Speaks.
1. God Speaks (15.1)
exp.: After these things Abram receives a Word from the LORD in a Vision; I think this is fairly common in OT times: God speaks to his people in and through visions. It appears some 93x’s in the O.T. Although, I did not confirm every usage, I glanced through it and found it to be very common. I did not find any verses where vision was used differently. So what is this “word”?
- God’s Proclamation: Fear not! – What does he have to be afraid of? I wonder if Abram has fallen into a depression? ill.: Elijah; Maybe David and Bathsheba; I think we’re all vulnerable to Satan’s attack, to depression and fear when we’ve been through something incredible with God. God says: Fear not…I am your shield.
- God’s Protection: I am your shield; doubt, fear, depression settle in and God tells him that he doesn’t have anything to worry about, because God is his Shield – his protection. He probably already knew that and had experienced that, but oh, how quickly we forget! And, like Elijah, we feel sorry for ourselves: I alone am the only one left… But look at what God tells him; rd v 1c;
- God’s Provision: Your reward shall be very great!
Transition: You would think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? Do you ever find that God’s encouragement to you to not be afraid because He protects and provides for you just isn’t enough? Be honest! Look what happens to Abram; rd v 2;
2. Abram Struggles (15.2-3)
exp.: in this passage he says, you say that, but…rd v 2;
- O, Lord God: lit.: Adonai Yahweh (lit.: Lord, LORD) as opposed to Yahweh Elohim; this shows his great respect, fear, toward God. He knows his place and he know His place. Look at his struggle; rd 2b
- b. What will you give me for I continue childless. Great question! Ok…I understand I’ll be a nation someday, but so far it’s not working out like you said! He may at times picture himself seated at a family reunion with his children, grand-children and great-grand-children surrounding his rocking chair. That’s a fair assessment of God’s promise. Let me ask you: Will that be the case for him? Check it out: This is the real situation; rd v 2c;
- My heir is my servant; Eliezer of Damascus; furthermore, rd v 3a;
- You’ve given me no offspring. Isn’t that a good question? What does one usually have to have to have a lineage? Children!
App.: sometimes, we have God’s Word, but we don’t understand his timing. He promises us heaven, but not here. He promises us his presence, but not that we won’t have trouble. Jn 16.33; Abram has got troubles and it’s getting to him. So, God, in his goodness, responds. Rd v 4
3. God Responds (15.4-5)
- God’s Promise (4)
- This man will not be your heir; That’s the way you work, but that’s not the way I work. ,
- Your very own son shall be your heir; We’re going to see Abram and Sarai get ahead of themselves and try to make things work out. They try to answer God’s promise. And then, God gives him a picture to wrap his mind around.
- God’s Picture (5)
- Look at the stars! Who else can put the stars in the sky?!?
- Count them! A picture of the promise; something he could see and return to repeatedly to remember and hope.
ill.: Sometimes by Step: Rich Mullins, Beaker
Transition: To close out, let’s look at 15.6 – Abram’s Righteousness
4. Abram’s Righteousness (15.6)
exp.: Abram believed Yahweh and it was imputed, credited or counted to him as righteousness; Because of his belief in what God had said…again, God declared him righteous – he credited it to his account, so to speak. So, what does that mean for us?
Transition: that is the final part of our study. I’d like to focus on the three areas where this verse is quoted: once by James, the Lord’s brother and twice by Paul. I’m calling this section…
5. The New Testament Appropriation
- Romans 4
- Galatians 3
- James 2
Romans 4 – This verse (Gen. 15.6) is quoted 3x’s in Romans 4 (3, 9, 22); the word λογίζομαι appears 11x’s in chapter 4 (3-6, 8-11, 22-24).
app.: Righteous – we are justified or made righteous…
- Not by works (Abram; David); v2, 5-8
- Not by circumcision (Gentiles); v9-12
- Not by the Law; v13-15
- Only by faith in God’s Grace! v16
- God says: I love you, I gave my son to die for you, your sin is placed upon him; if by faith you trust him in that, you’re saved! Wha-who!
- You are still justified by faith!
Galatians 3.6-9 – justify – the word righteous in verb form! God was pointing to Christ in Genesis!
James 2.20-24 –
James, the Lord’s brother, here argues that faith is not faith ifn it ain’t exercised! He doesn’t confuse faith and works here, but rather clarifies that the one who has faith, exercises that faith, just like Abram did.
Ill.: Cain and Abel. Both offered sacrifice, but in Heb. 11.4, we read that Abel offered his sacrifice in faith. He worked out his faith by offering his sacrifice to God, which was accepted!
App.: Brothers and Sisters, we are not saved by our works, not by circumcision, not by the Law, but rather, we are saved when we begin to live our lives in reflection of our faith – when we do what we say we believe!
Observations & Implications:
- You have God’s proclamation (His Word); Do you believe it?
- You have God’s protection (Shield); Your soul is his! This doesn’t mean you won’t die, but it does mean you won’t die again!
- You have God’s provision (Great is your reward in heaven!); after making purification for sins…
- You have God’s promise (his very own son);
- To never leave us; Mt 28.20
- To glorify himself through us;
- That he’ll come again.
- That no one can snatch us from his hand.
- You have God’s picture (Eden restored; Revelation; lion laying down with the lamb)