In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Abram believed God and God charged it to his account as justification. (Gen. 15:6) Which means God legally credited Abram with justification or legally declared guilty-as-sin Abram not guilty. God wrote it down in His heavenly ledger, in the Lamb’s book of life: Abram is righteous. Not because he was by his own works. After all, remember Abram’s history...
These promises were the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For these promises pledged God’s saving of humanity through Abram’s offspring. The Holy Spirit used these promises to call Abram to faith. Through God’s gifts the Holy Spirit enlightened Abram with saving faith so that by faith he left house, home, and family to become a wondering Aramean, (Deut. 26:5) dwelling in tents with no place to lay his head (Matt. 8:19-20), journeying to the land promised him and his descendants by God. (Heb. 11:8-10)
But the evidence that this is all God’s work and not Abram’s is in Abram’s actions. The Holy Spirit calls him to faith so he leaves his family in Haran and goes where God leads. But he gets there and a crisis hits. A famine. He goes down to Egypt. The land where his own descendants would become slaves. And Abram acts not from faith but from his own reason. For the logic is hard to argue with: “My wife is beautiful,” he says to himself. “These foreigners have no reason to be kind to me. They’re as likely as not to take my wife and murder me so she can belong to their king.” He doubts God’s promise to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him. (Gen 12:3) But the Lord is true to His word. For the Lord is faithful even when we are faithless. (2 Tim. 2:13) He acts according to His nature, according to His promises. He does not give you what you deserve, but what He has said He will do for you. And He has said that He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Exod. 34:6) He gives His grace and mercy to thousands of generations of those who love Him! (Exod. 20:6)
For God works to do His promises whether you are faithful to Him or not. Whether you believe or not yet He works according to His promises for you. Abram acted in unbelief and yet God blessed him. Not for Abram’s sake. For God’s own sake. For God is true to Himself. True to His promise. And God’s desire is to save mankind from their sin. (1 Tim. 2:4) So He acts. He gives. He takes away. (Job 1:21) Through it all He saves. And so by Holy Spirit given faith we believe the promises of God. We believe He acts to bring people to salvation through Jesus.
Abram was faithless. But God is faithful. And what does God do? He reassures Abram of His faithfulness. He appears to him again in a vision, reassuring him that He will do what He promised. (Gen. 15:1, 4-5)
So what does the Lord do? He repeats His promises. He clarifies His promises. “No. Not this man. Your own son. Your flesh and blood will inherit all you have. Haven’t I promised to make you a great nation? Go out and look at the stars. How many are there? Can you count them all? No. Well, your descendants will be as numerous as that.” (Gen 15:3-5) Abram believed. Not by His own reason. The Holy Spirit called him to faith by the Gospel.
That means we are free to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness all the days of your life! For the Lord God remembers His mercy promised to Abram and his offspring and He has made good on His promises in the flesh of His Son, saving you from your yesterdays, redeeming today, and securing your forever. (Luke 1:72-75)
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON