Rom 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Seems straightforward enough, but very simplistic. In reality I suppose it is. Stretch this out there a couple more years perhaps, to a time after the snatching away has taken place. All those people that the church has deemed evil have had to take a stand, refusing to take the beasts mark, or worship the beast. For their stand they will be beheaded (this, by the way, is a fundamental Islamic teaching and methodology.) Because they have refused to take the mark, then we have to assume that in some bizarre or sincere way they have accepted that Jehovah is God. Here is the absolutely amazing part, God calls them saints. After a period of time, which is God prescribed, he raptures them to heaven.
Now did anyone see the FAITH in this, for it was certainly counted unto them as righteousness. That should sound familiar seeing as it is the same phrase that was used on Abram.
Consider that word “it”, we will come back to that.
Now for a brief interlude:
Warning!!! I am going to leave this in because this is a great example of why we should read our bibles for ourselves, and not allow someone’s fairy tale to allow us to form an image or opinion of who God is.
Abram, apparently an old man, has set up camp in the desert. Let’s call it that for the sake of the story. Flat, somewhat desolate, and relatively open; anyone could see for miles if a camel was approaching. The tent where Sarai is getting ready to cook dinner is about a hundred yards away, and Abram has bent over gathering some sticks. Totally aware of what is around him because there are some dangers around these parts due to snakes and such.
When Abram stands himself up and turns to go back to the tent there is a man standing there. Abram leaps a few feet backward, drops all firewood he has gathered and grabs his chest in shock. Where did you come from?
This was a man standing before him. Alright let’s think this through. When Jesus’ disciples said show us the Father, what was Jesus response? Possibly a little dissapointment then a revelation unveiled to them. If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. That should not be so odd to us then to make the connection. This was Jesus, himself, standing before Abram.
What other possibilities are there? An angel, someone might say. Ok, lets ponder that a moment. Daniel saw an angel and he fell on his face as if dead at the presence of the angel.
Here is the passage that I am referring to.
Daniel 10:4-9 KJV And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; (5) Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: (6) His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. (7) And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. (8) Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. (9) Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.
Abram experienced nothing like this, and did not describe the person he saw in this manner. Someone so remarkable would surely evoke some kind of comment. Just to stretch the imagination a bit I will use the imagery of Tom Selleck. Tall, handsome, a sturdy frame, and I suppose you could say he is dimpled, but there is that signature moustache. I can picture him in my mind just that quickly. And yet Abram does not yet speak of anything remarkable. How odd.
What does scripture describe Jesus as? “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. ” Isa 53:2
But here is the rub, what did he say?
Suppose some stranger startles you, and before you can take a breath begins his spill about the latest super sponge that will absorb 1000 times its own weight in liquid simply by dropping it lightly upon your carpet. Say what!
I think my response might be something along this line. I do not know who you are or why you have just sneaked up on me, now get out before I help you out.
In a way that was pathetic. Pathetic because I used it as an analogy of what an amazing story Abram’s faith is.
But here is the practical truth. No less amazing, but God was showing himself to Abram over the course of time in dreams and visions. Why is that so remarkable? Because God is doing this with the Muslim peoples, and many are coming to Christ. It is said that they go in pursuit of the Jesus of their dreams, wishing to speak out to someone who will understand, that they have chosen to follow the true God and king.
God had spoken to Abram on several occasions, and in a sense had become a familiar acquaintance with Abram. After rescuing Lot, blessing Melchizedek, refusing the king of Sodom’s attempts at gifting, Abram has another vision. In it he asks God “what will you give me, seeing I go childless,?” Continue to read the 15th chapter of Genesis and you find a man that seems to have become well acquainted with the most high.
So God tells him that his seed will be as the stars in the heavens. Abram has seen a lot, and God has spoken to him on several occasions at this point. God has shown himself strong on Abram’s behalf and is very believable by this time. When God says you are going to have children, when after many years of trying, and apparently quiting that idea. What do you do? You try again. That may not be the keenest idea that Sarai has heard lately, but she goes along with it.
Did it work immediately? No. Sarai even suggests that he try it with Hagar. Bad idea, but it proves a point, the problem is not with Abram.
Is this the point at which we can definitively say that Abram showed tremendous faith and that was what demonstrated to God that Abram should be counted as righteous?
Doesn’t answering this question tend to evoke ramifications that we are trying to tell God what should and should not be deemed faith?
I told you to consider “it” earlier. Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. I do not see any way you can see this as anything other than belief. Belief in what though?
If I used the poor example of a someone big and scary suprising me, then telling me what was expected of me, my motivation might be more fear motivated, and that is certainly not faith. The simple kids song that goes like this, “faith is just believing what God said he would do” might be the simplistic explanation.
Paul’s letter to the Romans, where this sort of started for me, has one of the simplest recipes for belief, therefore our being counted as righteous is as simple as:
Romans 4:21-25 Moffatt NT (21) Abram was .. convinced that He was able to do what He had promised. (22) Hence his faith was counted to him as righteousness. (23) And these words counted to him have not been written for him alone (24) but for our sakes as well; faith will be counted to us as we believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, (25) Jesus who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised that we might be justified.
– The “Him” – is of course God.
– Jesus our Lord implies that you choose to belong to him.
– Jesus died. There is no two ways about that, and the responsibility falls solely on God, for scripture tells us that God put him on that cross. The fact that he was delivered up was explicitly for the purpose of covering our trespasses, once for all time. Any attempt at diminishing that is to say that God’s payment of his son was not enough.
– That same Jesus who died, rose again. He was raised that we might be justified. The ISBE defines the term “to justify” as: in a legal sense, the declaring just or righteous.
Pastor Greg Laurie of Calvary Chapel defines justified this way. It is just as if I had not sinned.
Well I have blabbed on long enough. I hope you find that God is particularly pleased with you, as you have chosen to walk with him. I will thrown in one last example that I threw at the bible study the other night. If in the process of making a cake you decide to make it blue. You get the food coloring and drop in several drops. As you begin stirring the batter it eventually becomes entirely blue with no trace of other color seen. The day we accepted Him that raised Jesus from the dead God dropped some of his color in us. It is impossible to get that color out from that point on, and over the course of our life here on earth we get stirred, so gradually, until on that day we meet him face to face, that color is permeating every aspect of who we are until we are completely overtaken by his color and none of our own shows anymore. Now there is little hope for you.
God bless and love ya.