We Have God’s Approval by Faith
What can we say that we have discovered about our ancestor Abraham? If Abraham had God’s approval because of something he did, he would have had a reason to brag. But he could not brag to God about it. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and that faith was regarded as the basis of Abraham’s approval by God.”
When people work, their pay is not regarded as a gift but something they have earned. However, when people don’t work but believe God, the one who approves ungodly people, their faith is regarded as the basis of God’s approval. David says the same thing about those who are blessed: God approves of people without their earning it. David said,
“Blessed are those whose disobedience is forgiven
and whose sins are pardoned.
Blessed is the person whom the Lord no longer considers sinful.”
Are only the circumcised people blessed, or are uncircumcised people blessed as well? We say, “Abraham’s faith was regarded as the basis of God’s approval.” 10 How was his faith regarded as the basis of God’s approval? Was he circumcised or was he uncircumcised at that time? He had not been circumcised. 11 Abraham’s faith was the basis of his approval by God while he was still uncircumcised. The mark of circumcision is the seal of that approval. Therefore, he is the father of every believer who is not circumcised, and their faith, too, is regarded as the basis of their approval by God. 12 He is also the father of those who not only are circumcised but also are following in the footsteps of his faith. Our father Abraham had that faith before he was circumcised.
13 So it was not by obeying the laws in Moses’ Teachings that Abraham or his descendants received the promise that he would inherit the world. Rather, he received this promise through God’s approval that comes by faith. 14 If those who obey Moses’ Teachings are the heirs, then faith is useless and the promise is worthless. 15 The laws in Moses’ Teachings bring about anger. But where those laws don’t exist, they can’t be broken. 16 Therefore, the promise is based on faith so that it can be a gift.* Consequently, the promise is guaranteed for every descendant, not only for those who are descendants by obeying Moses’ Teachings but also for those who are descendants by believing as Abraham did. He is the father of all of us, 17 as Scripture says: “I have made you a father of many nations.”
Abraham believed when he stood in the presence of the God who gives life to dead people and calls into existence things that don’t even exist. 18 When there was nothing left to hope for, Abraham still hoped and believed. As a result, he became a father of many nations, as he had been told: “That is how many descendants you will have.” 19 Abraham didn’t weaken. Through faith he regarded the facts: His body was already as good as dead now that he was about a hundred years old, and Sarah was unable to have children. 20 He didn’t doubt God’s promise out of a lack of faith. Instead, giving honor to God ⌞for the promise⌟, he became strong because of faith 21 and was absolutely confident that God would do what he promised. 22 That is why Abraham’s faith was regarded as the basis of his approval by God.
23 But the words “his faith was regarded as the basis of his approval by God” were written not only for him 24 but also for us. Our faith will be regarded as the basis of our approval by God—each of us who believe in the one who brought Jesus, our Lord, back to life. 25 Jesus, our Lord, was handed over to death because of our failures and was brought back to life so that we could receive God’s approval.
* 4:16 Or “grace.”