Genesis 15:1-6 - Trusting God
Abraham gives us a lesson on justification through faith alone.
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Read Genesis 15:1-6
After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward. ”
2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 60
Q. How are you right with God?
A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.
Even though my conscience accuses me
of having grievously sinned
against all God’s commandments
and of never having kept any of them,
and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,
without my deserving it at all,
out of sheer grace,
God grants and credits to me
the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,
as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,
as if I had been as perfectly obedient
as Christ was obedient for me.
All I need to do
is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.
God first revealed some of the most incredible promises of His saving grace to Abraham. In Genesis 15, God assures Abram (before he is known as Abraham) that his reward will be greater than he can imagine, including becoming a great nation and possessing a great land. Abram struggles to believe at first. He wonders, ‘How can this be? I have no children, no heirs to give this great reward. I don’t see how this will work.’
So the Lord turns Abram’s gaze to the night sky and the vast array of stars. The blessings to come would be beyond Abram’s ability to count them, which leaves Abram speechless. All he could do was believe God’s word for it. This leads to one of the most profound theological statements in the Bible: “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness (v6).”
Abram had not done anything for the Lord to deserve these promises. These covenant promises were given before Abram was circumcised and before he and Sarai miraculously bore a son. He would have his times of faltering, but he was credited with righteousness that was not his own through faith alone. In Romans 4:2, Paul drives home that it was faith, not works, that declares one legally right before God (justified), “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.”
If you were to ask someone you pass on the sidewalk, “How are you right with God?” they may give you a puzzled look. For many, this is not a question that keeps them up at night, and it likely doesn't seem relevant. They may respond, “Well, God knows I try my best, and I try to do more good to outweigh any of the bad in my life.”
This question becomes a concern only after realizing the devastating nature and condemnation of sin before a completely Holy God (see yesterday’s passage Eph. 2:1–10). There is no balancing of the scales between good and evil when perfection is required, which is why the good news is so surprising. God does not lower His standards or grade on a curve but grants and credits Christ’s perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness to those He saved. The only way to receive it is by faith, because you know it is not something you can achieve and claim for yourself.
Abram could not achieve the promises that God gave to him. They were too great and lofty. Generations as many as the stars of the sky when he was already old, and his wife was barren? All he could do was believe God’s Word and trust the Lord would come through on His promises. Yes, faith includes knowledge, but as we see in Genesis 15, it also takes wholehearted trust that God has given you all you need to appear before Him blameless by receiving Christ’s perfect record in faith.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God who keeps His promises made in His covenant of grace;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will believe the promise of forgiveness of sins and Christ’s righteousness is for you;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Ephesians 1