Saul2Paul Blog: October 12, 2017

A BLOG POST FROM THE APOSTLE PAUL TO THE CHURCH IN THE USA

So here’s the question then: If it’s One God for all people (Jew and Gentile alike), what’s the big deal about Abraham? Sure, he’s the “father of many,” but he’s still just a guy. We get he had a faith, a trust in God. He didn’t look for proof, didn’t need reasoning – he believed. Period. God instructed Abraham in circumcision as a sign, and Abraham obeyed. He didn’t brag about it, he just did it and gave God the honor.

So I ask – is it Abraham’s circumcision that saves us? If he is our ancestor (our father of many) because of what he did, then wouldn’t he just be the big-deal ancestor of the Jews? How can all Christians, including Gentiles, claim the fathership of Abraham and the promises of God? Well, let’s think about it:

Didn’t Abraham get circumcised AFTER he was found righteous by God because of his faith? So doesn’t that mean the “works” of circumcision was a seal (a physical expression between God and Abraham’s people) of his faithfulness he had toward God before he was circumcised?

He is the father of our faith, not our works; he is the common ancestor of all of us who put our trust in God’s Covenant Promises. How special is that? Way special. Most people need proof, signs and reasoning.  So, in this case Abraham is the man! Go Abe! He trusted God, and in his trusting, Abe’s story helps us understand a really important principle: God is faithful, His faithfulness bring forth human faithfulness.  So cool. Great story.

Even today, folks still tend to separate those who, by nature, have the law (the Jews) and those who by nature do not (the Gentiles), so I want you to be clear: There is NO distinction between all of our situations. We are unified under God’s Law.

How are we unified? Unified in deserving condemnation, unified because we are all under the power of sin, and unified because “God is One” – for the Jews and Gentiles. The One who gives life, the One who loves.

When God promised Abe he’d be the “father of many nations,” he meant nations! Not just the nation of Israel.

Sidebar: Did-you-know, the Hebrew and Greek words for “nations”, is also the SAME word for Gentiles? Goy (Hebrew) means Gentiles, nations, herds (think sheep – as in “oh we like sheep,” no coincidence there :)!), and Ethnos (Greek) means Gentiles, nations, heathen (huh? Heathen sheep – we’re all about sin, aren’t we).

Ok, back to Abe. So if God said he was to be the father of many nations under the Law, then the Law doesn’t mean zip-diddly to all those who do not have the Law. Right? For that reason alone, we stand with God’s Grace; our “circumcision” depends on our faith and trust in God’s promises!

Bringing it home: Abe is cool because he gave God the glory, giving us a life lesson in what is most important: The Church (unified) lives by grace, like trusting Abraham and obedient Jesus. You’re probably thinking “I don’t have that kind of faith! God isn’t going to get much glory from me (sad face here)…” Got news for you:

Faithfulness is a gift from God and it is a skill that becomes stronger with use. (Remember Abe’s faith grew more powerful.) Even if we have very little faith, by living into the faith we do have, we can watch God increase our faith and find ourselves growing stronger in faith (Use it or lose it). We can all be like Abe!

Abe’s story wasn’t written just for Abe, nor just for the sake of the early Church, but for us as well. We see our own story in his story. We are the fruit of the seed planted by Abe millennia ago…

Big point: God promises “Abraham and to his seed,” (BibRef: Gen17:8): Think of the word “seed” as a reference to Jesus Christ, the rightful seed of Abraham – so you, yes you, who are baptized by faith (Jew or Gentile), are part of Abe’s seed and inheritors of the covenant blessing!  Go Abe!

I’ll leave you with the two verses in the Bible where Faith and Righteousness appear in the same sentence:

“And he believed [had faith] in the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6

“Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.” Habakkuk 2:4