The Covenant Promise Realized Through Faith
At the beginning of this passage, Paul tells us, “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:13). As seen through an earthly lens, there were certainly no encouraging visible signs that this promise to Abraham would be fulfilled. The fertility of Abraham and Sarah was seemingly “dead.” Yet, the Creator God provided assurance to Abraham by giving him a heavenly lens to see one of the most majestic and panoramic “object lessons” in all of Scripture: “And 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.’ And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15.5-6). How effective was the object lesson? Let’s see: “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4.20, 21).
Paul reviews the faith of Abraham to illustrate this fact: The Law can’t provide righteousness. Only God can bestow upon us the very nature of Christ. Righteousness comes by faith and grace, which the Law can’t bestow. Paul assures us that both Jews and Gentiles inherit the Covenant Promise, as they share the faith of Abraham.
Stepping Out in Lent – Do you trust in the faithfulness of the Covenant-Keeping God? In life’s challenges and changes, which lens do you employ: an “earthly” one or a “heavenly” one? In discouragement and despair, do you focus upon “visible signs” or upon the “invisible God”? During difficult seasons, I often turn to this glorious hymn: “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise.” During Lent, listen to, sing, meditate upon, and memorize this hymn.
Author – Margot Payne appreciates all things classical, ancient, and sacred: spaces, gardens, architecture, music, books, art, and liturgy. She and her husband, Stephen, married 43 years, have two adult children and three grandchildren.