Genesis 15; Romans 4:1-5
Paul is asking in Romans, “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 helplessness to save himself by his own works, or by trying to keep the law.
How was Abraham saved? Quote v. 3—“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 OT, and it is the same today.
Discuss briefly her some people’s attitude, trying to work for salvation, etc.
Notice also the difference between believing God and believing in God.
Most people believe in God, but hardly believe a word He says.
Paul, in Romans 4, quotes from Genesis 15 when he says, “Abraham believed God.”
What did Abraham believe? (1) The word of the Lord, (2) Believed, (3) Fear not, (4) Reward.
Genesis 15 is the great faith chapter of the OT. In it God unveils His plan of salvation is all its fullness.
Consider verse 1—“Fear not, Abraham. I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”
Chapter 14 reveals Abraham returning from his great victory over the four kings of the north. He has released Lot and his family, and the five other kings taken prisoner. 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 vs. 2-3 Abraham reminds God of a promise He had made thirty years before. 12:2—“I will make of thee a great nation.”
In vs. 4-6 God reassures Abraham that he will have a son whose offspring would be as numerous as the stars of heaven. Now God asked Abraham to believe that He would give a long promised, long delayed, miraculously born, supernaturally given son.
In other words, God asked Abraham to believe what was humanly impossible and naturally unreasonable.
Chapter 17 tells us that Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90.
Paul, in Romans 4, tells us that Abraham’s body was dead so far as pro-creation was concerned.
Sara was long past the time of life for childbearing, she was maternally dead.
18:11 informs us that they were “old and well stricken in years.”
That means that they looked and felt their age. Describe.
To have children at their time of life was impossible.
Paul sys that Abraham did not even consider this, “He believed God.” “Somehow,” Abraham said, “God will bring it to pass.”
Faith is believing the unbelievable/impossible. 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?”—v. 14.
Also in v. 14 the Lord confirms His promise to Abraham and Sarah. “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 God kept His promise. He brought about a transformation in Sarah which was wonderful. Describe this.
Do you believe this? Or do you think it is far-fetched?
Chapter 21 tells us of the birth of Isaac, God’s promise fulfilled.
Chapter 20 tells us of Abraham and Sarah’s visit to Gerar.
Verse 2, Abraham said, “She is my sister.”
Abimelech the king took one look at her and escorted her to his palace.
Would this be the old woman 90 years of age and well stricken in years of chapter 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.
Genesis 25:1-2—Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Kenturah.
He was the father of 6 sons at least and probably a host of other children.
God’s promises were all fulfilled.
Abraham believed God concerning the son.
v. 6—“Abraham believed God and he was justified.”
Paul writing to the Romans declares that Abraham was saved by faith and not by works.
There is no salvation apart from Christ, “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.”
“For there is no other name given among men, under heaven, hereby we must be saved.”
Soon after Abraham’s conversion, doubts began to arise in his mind. H wondered as to the absolute certainty of the promises God had made, and that he had accepted:
1. God had promised to give him a son.
2. God had promised to make his seed as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the sand of the seashore.
3. God had promised to give them a land to dwell in.
Abraham had God’s word for all this, but being human required a sign. “Lord if I just had some evidence, external evidence, something in addition to your word, I would feel better.”
“Lord God,” he prayed, “whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?”
Abraham wanted a sign.
Many of God’s servants have been like this. Take Gideon, for example. Despite the fact that God miraculously consumed the sacrifice on the rock, Gideon, when told to deliver Israel, asked to put the fleece out, and it was only when God soaked the fleece with dew in the first instance, and then kept it dry the second time, that Gideon was assured that God would be with Him.
We are not different from Gideon or Abraham—we want to se evidence also.
Back to Abraham—God says, “Your seed shall be like the stars for number.” “I will give you this land to inherit.” “But how shall I know for sure?”
God answers him in one of the most profound and marvelous pictures in all the Bible.
Read vs. 9-10 and 17-18.
This was how God chose to establish Abraham’s faith, and also to make a covenant with him.
God told him to take a heifer, a goat and a ram all three years old, also a turtle dove and a young pigeon. He took those animals, killed them, and split them in two, then laid the pieces opposite each other with a space in between. The birds he laid opposite each other.
The stage is now set for the sealing of His promise and making of a covenant. There was nothing strange in this, the ancient orientals, when they came together to make an agreement, had different ways of confirming it. For instance:
1. The covenant of salt.
2. The striking of the hand.
3. The contracting parties would exchange a shoe.
4. For the more important and solemn transactions they would kill a calf, cut it in two, lay the pieces opposite each other, then the two parties would stand between the bleeding carcass, and joining hands would say, “Let it be done unto him who breaketh this covenant; as was done to this animal. Let him die the death.”
It was a serious thing to break a covenant. Jeremiah 34:18-20—“And I will give the men who have transgressed my covenant who have not performed the words of my covenant which they made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof.” God then pronounces judgment.
So here in Genesis 15 God is making a covenant with Abraham to assure him. Abraham wanted a sign that God would implement His word. In effect God says:
1. I will give you a son.
2. His seed will be as numerous as the stars.
3. I will give you this land to live in.
If there was any doubt in Abraham’s mind, it was removed now.
Now this picture is typical and topical and has a special application for us today. Some of us are like Abraham, wanting extra assurance of our salvation. How can I know? We believe God’s word when it says:
1. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, etc.
2. That whosoever believeth, etc.
3. He that heareth my word, etc.
Quote from John 3—the importance of believing.
v. 15—That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, etc.
v. 16—A repetition of the above.
v. 18—He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the Son of God.
Give me a little more proof, someone cries.
We must return to Calvary and view again the slaying of the sacrifice.
We must witness God cleaving asunder His own Son.
We must hear the words of the savior.
“This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many of the forgiveness of sins.”—Matthew 26:28.
The vision given to Abraham which ratified the covenant describes eloquently the cross-work of Christ:
The heifer—strength of manhood, perfection
The goat—sin offering
The birds—one from Heaven
Death passed upon them all, for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. The death of the sacrifice.
“Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
On the basis of this wonderful sacrifice, God can forgive sins and give eternal life to them that believe.
What greater proof do you need of your salvation? Further more, He is in the glory bearing the wounds of Calvary—irrefutable evidence. John 10:28-29.
I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.