Key verse: Genesis 15:6
Big idea: In the beginning, God counted Abram's faith as righteousness.
We have already seen Abram demonstrate some marvelous faith: he left everything he has ever known to come to a land he had never seen. God's word had led this man far beyond where his eyes could see. But it is not until today's reading that we come to the famous line, quoted in Romans 4:3, 4:18, Galatians 3:6, and James 2:23, that Abram "believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness." The point is not that faith is righteousness, as if having faith is some kind of super-work so good that it cancels out our bad works. Rather God looks at our faith and treats it as if we have been righteous as if a certain transaction notified the bank to move $50 million into your account. It is not your money, and nothing you have done properly entitles you to it, but nevertheless, you receive it.
What is this faith that brings about salvation? It is not abstract faith in God. It is faith in a very particular promise of God: the promise of the coming Seed. Abram did not know the name of Jesus and had never heard of a cross, but when God promised these descendants, he responded to the light he was given and trusted. It reminds me of Genesis 3, where Adam was clothed by God when his own fig leaf coverings still left him naked. It was not immediately, but after the promise of a Son in Genesis 3:15 and after Adam responded in faith by naming his wife "Eve," declaring in faith that she was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). Adam did not know that the promised Son would be many generations in the future, but he believed that He was coming!
We have a lot more information. We know that Jesus already came, born of a virgin, born as a descendant of Abraham under the Law (Galatians 4:4-5), and born to be the Last Adam - the beginning of a new humanity (1 Corinthians 15:45). We know that He attained salvation for us by death on a cross, bearing the shame and suffering we deserve. We know that the third day He rose again victorious once and for all. But our faith is in the same Jesus. You and I look back on something Abram looked forward to, but Acts 4:12 rings true: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Discussion idea: What would it mean if Abraham had been saved a different way than us? What does it mean for global evangelism that he wasn't?
Prayer focus: Lord, help me to remember that my salvation was no afterthought. You brought Your Son into the world at the perfect time but have always offered salvation in Him and through Him alone. Even when You made the world and mankind in it, You knew the terrible cost of a relationship with us and chose it anyway. Thank you.