What Must I Do?
1What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
4Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
5And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
6just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
9Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.
10How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.
11He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,
12and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
One of the most difficult faith concepts for us to grasp is grace. As humans we just can’t seem to get our minds around the idea of receiving something for absolutely nothing. And to receive something as valuable as eternal life in the presence of God – well certainly we must have to offer over something in order to receive that, right? It only makes sense to us. God must expect something from me in order to grant me such a blessing.
When one looks at the life of Abraham we find a regular guy, living in what today is Iraq. He was probably a polytheist, worshiping many gods as was the custom of the people around him. One day God calls him into service and chooses Abraham as the father of the Jewish nation from whence we received Jesus. Abraham did absolutely nothing to receive this calling. God made the choice to call him and Abraham followed. We have to go back into Genesis to examine the story and the path of faith upon which God places Abraham.
God promises Abraham that he will father a great nation. Abraham points out that this might be difficult because he has been given no children of his own. But God tells him that his descendants with be as numerous as the stars in the sky. And Abraham believes. This God counts to him as righteousness.
1After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
3And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
4And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”
5And He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.
Paul then goes on to say that Abraham’s circumcision happens after this declaration of his righteous state. Abraham was righteous because God said so and that was enough. God worked the faith in Abraham’s heart, not the act of circumcision. My mind wanders to yet another time when God did not need our help to accomplish His will. When God created the universe, the earth, and us as well, He did so in a specific order. We were the last of His creative actions. We were not there to help Him out at all. We were simply the beneficiaries of His great power.
God needs my help a great deal less than I think He does. In fact, my life is far better when I just let Him move me in His directions. Sometimes that is confusing and I will grant you – frustrating. But God alone works faith and He doesn’t need my help to accomplish that goal at all.