Proper 14 • Genesis 15:1–6 • August 8, 2010
By Robert W. Weise
Inseparable Righteousness and Faith
When someone promises you a special gift, you have faith in them and in their promised word. You believe them, regardless of the nature of the promise. Your faith in that person holds to that person and to the promise. This is unconditional, for you know that the promise will be kept. The actuality of the promise becomes only a matter of anticipation and time until it comes about. God made a covenant with Abram and promised a son to him and his wife Sarai.
By God’s grace, this son coming from his body (including Sarai, as they are one flesh) tells Abram that all who belong to him (i.e. the great numbered stars before the eyes of Abram) are Abram’s offspring. This is a story that is about the righteousness that is by faith in the triune God. Righteousness and faith are inseparable.
I. God’s word brings peace and comfort
A. God is your shield
God is our king. He is your refuge and strength in a world that is ruled by Satan and the old Adam. “Be not dismayed!”
B. God is gives us a very great reward: God’s grace is your greatest treasure; not your worldly possessions that will pass away. In a world that seeks to build bigger and better barns through greed and self-glory, God’s grace remains your shield and greatest treasure.
II. God’s word gives promise and hope
A. God promises Abram (and Sarai) a son
God promises Abram that he will have a son through his body (which included Sarai through the one flesh union). A promise made and a promise kept. The old Adam (sinful flesh) would have you believe that God breaks promises, especially when you pray and the prayer isn’t answered the way that you would like it answered. God knows your needs.
B. God shows Abram that he will be the “father of all who believe in the Lord’s words and promises”
God promises Abram not only that he would have a son, but also, that as many as the stars are in the sky, so will be his descendants through the covenant of grace that God makes with Abram. From his descendants, the day star, the bright and morning star appears, God in the flesh, Jesus Christ.
III. God’s word declares you righteous by faith alone
A. God responds to your grace-given faith
Abram placed all of his trust in the promise of the Lord God. His faith held to the Lord God and his words and promises: Abram is declared righteous.
B. God responds to your grace-given faith by crediting his righteousness to you (Heb 11:7)
By this grace-faith of Abram, God declared him righteous in his sight. Only the righteousness of Christ is given by God’s grace to all believers (Rom 1:16–17)
Promises are made and broken on a daily basis. Promises have often become like Olympic sports’ records: they are made to be broken. Only when you have undying faith and trust in the one who makes a promise can you believe with absolute conviction that the promise will come about. The person who makes the promise must have a history of promises made and promises kept.
The Lord God promised Abram that he would bear a son, and he kept that promise. The Lord God promised Abram that his descendants would be as many as the stars that he could see (and, of course many, many more), and he kept that promise. The Lord God promised that from the seed of Abram would come one who would save his people from sin, death and the devil, and he kept that promise. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, Son of God, descendant of Abram, declares you righteous by faith alone. God said that “the righteous live by faith” (Hb 2:4). This is Abram’s story; this is your story.