Genesis 25 “Are You Satisfied with Your Life?”
“Abraham breathed his last and he died at a good old age, an old man who had lived a full life.” How is it that Moses could say this about the patriarch? He could because Abraham “believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” He had obeyed God and “went out without understanding and by faith, he lived as he looked forward to the city with firm foundations whose architect and builder is God.” [Heb 11] By faith, when tested, he offered up Isaac as his one and only son. And so when the end came Abraham knew that he had done as God had said and God now would let him join his ancestors. And centuries later, Dietrich Bonhoeffer would say “This is the end—for me the beginning of life.” We who believe God know that our preference is to “be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” for this is just a step on our journey into life with our Lord forever.
When your end comes will you be satisfied that you have been faithful to God? Today you are one step closer to eternity. Are you ready?
Paul has laid to rest the concept of working for one’s salvation but now another question must be addressed. For whom is this justification and when did it first occur. These are critical questions that must be addressed for the Jew to understand God’s plan.
In chapter 3 Paul essentially said justification is for any who believe. Yet the Jew clings to his circumcision as proof that justification is for he alone. Paul seeks to help them over this impasse and thus refers to Abraham. Yesterday we said that Abraham believed God, not in a God but he believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness. But, when did it happen; before he was circumcised or after? Circumcision was a physical sign between man and God as a sign of the covenant. Yet, as Paul reminds his Jewish listeners, Abraham believed God in Genesis 12 but it was not until Genesis 17 that God commanded him and his household to be circumcised. Therefore, his circumcision carried no weight regarding his justification. Again as we said yesterday, you cannot take credit for what God has done. Justification is a gift from God alone lest anyone choose to boast. Circumcision is but a wonderful sign but faith alone brings you to God:.
In the same way baptism will not save you, the exchange of rings in a marriage ceremony does not make you married and circumcision does not justify anyone. These are signs, to affirm but are not the gift itself. The blessing is that if we believe like Abraham we too have the promise of justification.
What are you clinging to for your justification?
In chapter 3 Paul reminded the Jew that no one is saved apart from the grace and mercy of God. Yet they and the world would have it otherwise and heap rewards and boastings upon those who seek to earn God’s favor through works. The prophet Isaiah said our works are as filthy rags; later Paul would say they are dung. Their foundation lies in the life of Abraham and therefore they conclude as his children they are justified by works. Paul, as a righteous Jew, sought to put this argument to rest.
Workers of the Law can boast having done not only what was expected but what is required. But if you don’t work the works of the Law but believe in what merely God says you receive grace and eternal life. You cannot take credit for a gift that is of God alone. That is what salvation is all about; a free gift undeserved. The key is this: Abraham did not believe “IN” God but he believed God. The world says I believe in a God, but Paul says you must not just believe “IN” but believe God.
So now the world asks, what about the works as James says. Both Paul and James affirm that works reveal the grace that we have received. They demonstrate our gratitude for the gift of God’s blessed forgiveness of our lawless deeds.
Are you depending upon your works heritage to get into heaven? If so, turn around and go the other way for you are on the wrong path.
Photo: Unsplash/Jordan Whitefield
Family reunions are both a blessing but sometimes an embarrassment such as when “Uncle Judah” shows up. Memories flash through our minds of his two wives and his unrighteous sons. We feign welcome but our minds reel at his latest episode of impregnating his daughter in law unsuspectingly. And here he is in the line of Christ along with that daughter in law Tamar. How did he get here? The sovereign hand of God shows us that He will make us part of His family when we seek His face and His forgiveness. He used people who were righteous such as Abraham but also those rascals such as Judah. And how did that happen? “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”[ 1Co 6:11]
It was not until 14 generations had passed that God sent His Son to be born of a virgin and join this genealogical lineage and he would do it through the Holy Spirit. And then God would provide a righteous earthly father to shelter the virgin. God’s plan in eternity past came to fruition that we might behold His glory, Emmanuel, God with us and the very radiance of God himself.
God had a master plan for Judah and He has one for you. He sent His Son to save you from your sins so that you could be included in his family reunion. Have you had your name written in His book?
Photo Credit: Unsplash.com (Joao Silas) + Author’s Caption
This past Sunday, being Father’s Day, there were scores of FB posts with pictures of many who have “gone on before us.” It was notable that few if any noted the words we hear in Hebrews 11 “his faith he still speaks, though he is dead.” Many remarked how sweet the father had been, how he spent time with them etc. But, where was the affirmation of their faith? Note that Abel had no descendants and no one to recall his works and deeds but it was his faith alone that spoke for him and speaks for him now because vs 6 ‘God rewards those who seek him.” This was Abel’s legacy as he sought the favor and blessing from God recognizing that he was a sinner in need of cleansing.
Moving on we read that Enoch pleased God; Abraham was obedient and submitted to God. Even in her barrenness Sarah is commended for her trust in God. The Hebrews author did not mention her use of Hagar but only her trust in God. This one trait of trusting God alone is echoed in the life of Moses’ parents. Again it is Rahab’s faith in a God whom she had not seen but yet believed as Peter said centuries later.
Stop and ponder what people will say about you after you are gone and your image has faded from their memories. Will it be your works or your faith?