In Romans 4:1-5, Paul asks, “How was Abraham saved? Was it by faith or by the works of the Law?” In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul has shown the utter depravity of man, and his complete inability to save himself by his own works, or by trying to keep the Law. How was Abraham saved? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” In modern language that would mean, “Abraham believed God absolutely and God canceled his sins and declared him fit for heaven.” Abraham was saved by faith, four hundred years before the Law was given. This was the principle of salvation in the O.T., and it is the same today. [Discuss briefly here some people’s attitude, trying to work for salvation] Notice also the difference between believing God and believing in God. Most people believe in God, but hardly believe a word He says.
Genesis 15 is the great faith chapter of the Old Testament. In it God reveals His one and only way of salvation. Here for the first time God unveils His plan of salvation in all its fullness. Consider Genesis 15:1. “Fear not, Abraham: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” Genesis 14 reveals Abraham returning from his great victory over the four kings of the north. He has released Lot and his family. With his three hundred and eighteen servants he had surprised the enemy by attacking at night. But in thinking of all this he becomes afraid, knowing that these kings will come back for revenge. Right at that point the Lord comes and encourages him saying “Fear not, Abraham: I am thy shield. Don’t be afraid, Abraham, for I will be your protector and also your exceeding great reward.” This is the first thing that Abraham believed.
In verses 2-3 Abraham reminds God of a promise He had made thirty years prior. See Genesis 12:2, “I will make of thee a great nation.” In verses 4-6 God reassures Abraham that he will have a son whose offspring will be as numerous as the stars of heaven. Now God asked Abraham to believe that He would give him a son who was long-promised, long delayed, miraculously born, and supernaturally given. In other words God asked Abraham to believe what was humanly impossible and naturally unreasonable. Genesis 17 tells us that Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah was ninety. Paul in Romans 4 tells us that Abraham’s body was dead as far as pro-creation was concerned. Sara was long past the time of life for childbearing, so she was maternally dead. Genesis 18:11 informs us that they were “old and well stricken in years.” This means that they looked and felt their age. To have children at their time of life was impossible. Paul says that Abraham did not even consider this; instead “He believed God.” “Somehow,” Abraham said, “God will bring it to pass.”
Faith is believing the unbelievable – the impossible. See Romans 4:18-22. Faith is confidence in another’s word. God said unto Abraham, “I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life.” In other words God said, “I am going to set back the clock of time. I am going to make Sarah young again. I will put the clock back 50 or 60 years. She will become a beautiful, virile, healthy young woman again. He also would do the same for Abraham. Sara laughed at the very idea and brought forth the classic phrase “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” In verse 14, the Lord confirms His promise to Abraham and Sarah, saying, “At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” For the second time God says I will restore to Sarah the time of childbearing and He kept His promise. He brought about a transformation in Sarah, which was wonderful. Do you believe this? Or do you think it is far fetched?
Genesis 21 tells us of the birth of Isaac, God’s promise fulfilled. Genesis 20 tells us of Abraham and Sarah’s visit to Gerar. In verse 2 Abraham says, “She is my sister.” Abimelech the king took one look at her and escorted her to his palace. Would this be the ninety-year-old woman, well stricken in years, of Genesis 18? The king had the choice of any beautiful maiden in the land, would he have chosen a decrepit old woman?
What God did for Sarah, He also did for Abraham. Abraham’s youth was renewed. God made him a young man again. Isaac is born and grows up into manhood. Some 40 years pass by during which Sarah dies. Then comes the amazing record of Abraham at the age of 140 years. See Genesis 25:1-2. Abraham remarried; his wife’s name was Kenturah. He was the father of at least six sons and probably a host of other children. God’s promises were all fulfilled. Abraham believed God concerning the promise and his son.