NT Connect: Romans 4:1-25
Weekly Reading: Genesis 11-15
Abraham and the Righteousness of Faith
The five chapters we read this week form the foundation of so much of the rest of the Bible.
Genesis 11 recounts the story of human pride in the story of the Tower of Babel. God scattered the people and confused their language, but restored his people on the day of Pentecost when the good news of Christ was heard and understood in each language (Acts 2).
In Genesis 13 God promised Abram, “All the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” This promise of God to Abram was the beginning of Stephen’s speech about Christ that enraged the crowds and lead to his martyrdom in Acts 7.
In Genesis 14, Melchizedek, who was the “king of righteousness” and “king of peace,” brought out bread and wine to Abram. Melchizedek foreshadowed Jesus Christ who is the true King of righteousness and peace, “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. . . the guarantor of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:17, 22).
In Genesis 12, God called Abram to leave his home, and promised him, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. . . in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” The fulfillment of this promise is captured in Revelation 5:9, where the blood of Christ is the ransom for the people of God “from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
This brings us to Genesis 15, which explains how we can receive the promised blessing of God from Genesis 12. Sin, which is our own rebellion against God, has separated us from a relationship with God and from everlasting life with him. We can only receive the great blessing of God when we are counted righteous in his eyes. By our own standards, humans want to earn the favor of God by how we live (again, think Tower of Babel). However, Paul shows in Romans 4 that God does not count human works as the grounds for righteousness. Rather, “We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteous” (4:9). Did you see that? Faith was counted as righteousness. Not works, faith. Marvelously, God’s word explains, “But the words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his [Abram’s] sake alone, but for ours also” (4:23–24). To be clear, the faith that leads to righteousness is faith in Jesus Christ.
Read these words from Romans 4:24–25 slowly and carefully, “Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Through our faith in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, God frees us from slavery to sin and establishes our right standing with him. This is our hope and peace with God—not our own work, but our faith in the work of Jesus Christ, counted to us by the grace of God.
We receive the blessing of God by our faith in Jesus Christ, not our own works. And this gift compels us more, not less, to live lives that honor God and make much of Jesus Christ.