Tuesday: Reckoned as Righteous
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Why do you think Paul first appeals to Abraham as he looks to the Scriptures to validate his gospel message? (Gal. 3:6).”



Abraham was a central figure in Judaism. Not only was he the father of the Jewish race, but Jews in Paul’s time also looked to him as the prototype of what a true Jew should be like. Many not only believed that his defining characteristic was his obedience but that God had declared Abraham righteous because of that obedience. After all, Abraham forsook his homeland and family, he accepted circumcision, and he was even willing to sacrifice his son at God’s command. That’s obedience! With their insistence on circumcision, Paul’s opponents certainly argued along these same lines.

Paul, however, turns the tables by appealing to Abraham—nine times in Galatians—as an example of faith instead of law-keeping.

Consider Paul’s quotation of Genesis 15:6. What does it mean when it says that Abraham’s faith was “counted . . . to him for righteousness”? (See also Rom. 4:3–6, 8–11, 22–24.) 



Whereas justification was a metaphor taken from the legal world, the word counted or reckoned is a metaphor drawn from the domain of business. It can mean “to credit” or “to place something to one’s account.” Not only is it used of Abraham in Galatians 3:6, but it occurs another 11 times in connection with the patriarch. Some Bible versions translate it as counted, reckoned, or imputed.

According to Paul’s metaphor, what is placed to our accounts is righteousness. The question is, however, On what basis does God count us as righteous? It surely cannot be on the basis of obedience—despite what Paul’s opponents claimed. No matter what they said about Abraham’s obedience, Scripture says that it was because of Abraham’s faith that God counted him as righteous.

The Bible is clear: Abraham’s obedience was not the ground of his justification; it was, instead, the result. He didn’t do the things he did in order to be justified; he did them because he, already, was justified. Justification leads to obedience, not vice versa.

Dwell on what this means—that you are justified not by anything you do but only by what Christ has done for you. Why is that such good news? How can you learn to make that truth your own; that is, to believe it applies to you, personally, no matter your struggles, past and even present?

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Tuesday: Reckoned as Righteous — 3 Comments

  1. Paul makes the argument that Abraham, a figure to whom all could appeal for validation, "believed God". This is the gospel of faith...."Believe in the Lord Jesus", is the same as having faith in the Lord Jesus, which assures the sinner of salvation. it was Abraham's "belief in God" that assured as well, Abraham's salvation...or his "belief in God" accounted him righteous before God....just as the sinner's "belief in Jesus" assures the sinner of salvation....and accounts the sinner righteous before God as well. Abraham then was saved totally on his "belief in God"...which "belief" stands alone, needing no further clarification...nor help from any source, including the law; at least, according to Paul.

    "Have faith in God"...says Jesus in Mark 11:22 This was the faith that Abraham had in God, and that was accounted unto him as righteousness. This is the similar faith to which Paul referred in his..." I live by the faith of the Son of God"...Gal.2:20 And is the same faith that Jesus says we sinners must have in God.... Not try to keep his commandments...just have faith in him..."and all these things will be added unto you".... and "these things" will be added as a gift from God...."not of works less any man should boast".

    A life of faith is therefore patterned by both the examples of Abraham and Paul. And these are lives that are exemplified by the love and concern for the spiritual and temporal wellbeing of others to the total exclusion of any desire for self agrandizement. Both Paul and Abraham could have "boasted" re their special privilege on being God's champions of faith... Abraham in the old testament and Paul in the new. But both are the beautiful symbol of humility, despite their special privilege. Small wonder that Abraham was God called "God's friend". James 2:23...And Paul.."a chosen vessel unto me".Acts 9:15

    "No matter what they said about Abraham’s obedience, Scripture says that it was because of Abraham’s faith that God counted him as righteous." The Author

    And I say Amen!

    Courtney

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  2. (Dwell on what this means—that you are justified not by anything you do but only by what Christ has done for you. Why is that such good news?)

    It is not only “good” news it’s the best thing I as a sinner will ever believe to have happened for me. If I didn’t believe that Jesus is my Savior, and I had to “earn” my way to him, I would have given up long ago. Satan is so cunning in his ability to make me feel guilty for my lack of strength to resist temptations, without the belief that Jesus accepts me for who I am. I would have fallen to guilt long ago.

    (How can you learn to make that truth your own; that is, to believe it applies to you, personally, no matter your struggles, past and even present?)

    Reading the Bible with guidance and understanding through the Holy Spirit would seem to me to be the answer. I would think that having the unwavering faith in Jesus; for someone new to His grace would have to come through this type of understanding.

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  3. Why would Paul appeal to Abraham as proof of his thesis of justification by faith? Was it solely because Abraham was one of the great Jewish Icons? I think there was a deeper theological reason why Paul used Abraham.

    First of all Abraham was involved in a covenant that promised him an inheritance. Of some land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea? No, Abraham was looking far beyond that!

    “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:8-10 NKJV).

    To Abraham the covenant God made with him wasn’t just about so much land in his time; it was a promise of a place in the New Jerusalem. The land was promised to him in much the same way that the Holy Spirit is given to us as a down payment of the real blessings to follow (2 Cor 1:21-22).

    What made the use of Abraham so powerful was the fact that the covenant given to Abraham was essentially the everlasting covenant and that it was given on the basis of belief. That is why Paul said, “And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect” (Gal 3:17 NKJV).

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