Saturday, September 27, 2008

Examining Faith #2

In the conversation below I asked about the meaning and significance of Abram being credited with righteousness by God for his belief.

God had been speaking to Abram for some time. Abram had consistently believed, obeyed and been rewarded throughout that time. This was not the first promise Abram had put faith in.

Now I am curious to know if it significant only that Abram believed what God said in general, or that he believed specifically what God said directly before being credit with this righteousness?

"After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,

'Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.'

Abram said, 'O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?'

And Abram said, 'Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.'

Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 'This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.'

And He took him outside and said, 'Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'

Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness."

Genesis 15:1-6

What do you think?


As I was studying this, I noticed that it really seemed like an "introduction" with the phrase, "Do not fear" in verse 1. But we know Abram had conversations with God prior to this. Then I noticed the phrase, "the word of God" was used to describe who Abram was hearing. I've now emphazised that phrase above in red. This is the first time in scripture that this is used.

Do you think that is significant?


Kansas Bob said...

The sense I get is that he believed in God and as a result found what God said to be reliable.

I think that is why faith in God has to precede praying in faith for the things He promised.

Going back to the relational aspect.. I think that it is easier to believe something someone says if you have a relationship built on trust.

Another Voice said...

But Bob, why is believing at this particular point counted as righteousness? Am I reading this wrong or over-analyzing it?

Kansas Bob said...

I think that I am missing the point of your question Missy.

I do wonder though, is believing in God ever not reckoned to the believer as righteousness?

Another Voice said...

Bob, did you see the updated info I added to the bottom of the original post? That might explain what I am thinking a little better.

Another Voice said...

Oh, and answering your question - my opinion has always been, yes, believing in God is reckoned as righteousness.

But I am seeing something in the scripture that is making some things I've wondered about seem a bit clearer - IF I am truly seeing it. Although I am concerned that my own philosophies have clouded my perception. :)

Kansas Bob said...

Maybe I'll take a shot at your questions :)

"Now I am curious to know if it significant only that Abram believed what God said in general, or that he believed specifically what God said directly before being credit with this righteousness?"

The significance may be that it is the first time it is recorded but I don't think that it was a new thought for God. This might have been the first time "God said it" but I would think that this "word" also applied to Abraham's predecessors like Noah and Enoch.

And about "the word of God": "Do you think that is significant?"

No too much.. God had been speaking for years.. whatever you call it, the point was that God was communicating with Abraham and he was responding with belief.

Joe said...

"The Word of God" is a phrase used throughout Scripture.

Sometimes it refers to God speaking, but often it is used to refer to HIS WORD, which is not a reference to audible speaking, but to Jesus, the Christ.

The only way to eternal life is through Christ. In the OT, in a coming Christ, in the NT the incarnate Christ, today in a resurrected Christ.

In my opinion, and what I teach, is that this is a Christophany, an OT appearance of Christ to Abram.

Whether Abram recognized Christ, or not, I have no idea. But he recognized that he was receiving a promise from God.

God made a promise to Abram. Jesus is God's promise, and is of the lineage of Abram.

Ultimately, God's promise was kept, both in terms of numbers of offspring and in His provision for salvation.

This thread continues later on when Abraham starts to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.

When Isaac asks the whereabouts of the lamb, Abraham utters the most significan statement in the entire Old Testament: "God will provide HIMSELF a lamb."

Jesus, God incarnate, is that Lamb.

Kc said...

I agree with whatever Joe says. ;-)

Lynne said...

ok, just musing aloud here ..

Our saving faith in God has to do with putting our faith in the revelation of His character, and what He will do as a consistent expression of that character. For us of course, the full revelation of God is in Jesus, and Jesus'death for us as an atoning sacrifice, and all the layers of meaning that go with that. Now I don't for one moment believe that Abram and his ilk had a complete understanding of the NT revelation, but in a sense they knew enough of God to have some sense of the trajectory He was taking. Therefore they posited their trust in His character, and, i think, prophetically glimpsed a little of what His promises were about. The promise of Isaac was ultimately the promise of Christ, at the very least Abram had been told that from his descent would come the One through whom all the nations would be blessed.

What have i missed?

Another Voice said...

Thank you so much for the interaction, KB! I can always count on you to look for the heart of the matter - and I agree in this scripture it is truly faith. I'm sorry I took so long in returning.

Everytime I read "word of God" in this I couldn't stop thinking about the beginning of the Gospel of John...

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world."

But I know I can often overthink scripture and look for "hidden wisdom" patting myself on the back for the discovery - so I am proceeding with caution. :)

Another Voice said...

Thank you, Joe! This is what I think I was seeing, too. Is this a common teaching? Is there something I can read further on this?

Another Voice said...

Thanks, KC! So I'm not off my rocker? ;)

Another Voice said...

Lynne! You sound just like that voice {the original one in my head} that's been keeping me up late thinking about this. You haven't missed anything I've been thinking about.