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EXEGESIS > Old Testament > Pentateuch > Genesis > Gen. 15:6

The Salvation of Abraham
Gen. 15:6


Significant verse: speaks of God and man, of faith and belief, of righteousness, and of imputation and justification; the verse speaks of salvation.

Verse is repeated in the New Testament: Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; and Jas. 2:23.

The crucial issue is the question of “because” or “when”; there are only two possibilities.

Occasion: God had promised Abram a seed, but he had no seed; therefore, Abram suggested Eliezer; God immediately told Abram that he was not the one, and that “one who will come from your own body shall be your heir” (15:4).

The Text says of Abram: “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (15:6).

Consider these thoughts.

Belief, or Faith, is always the proper response to God’s Word!

“The word of the Lord came” in v. 4, and in v. 6 it states that Abram “believed”; at issue in every person’s life is “the word of the Lord”; two option: acceptance or rejection, belief or unbelief, submission or rebellion; the response to God’s Word is the person’s response to God; God and His Word cannot be separated.

This is the first instance of this word in the Bible; Abram believed and trusted God’s Word to him regarding a seed; his belief in God’s Word was belief in God.

The Text says that he believed “in the Lord”; Abram did not just believe something, he believed in Someone; to believe in the Someone is to believe what He said; this communicates to us that the Christian Faith cannot simply be equated with intellectual assent to teaching, but is submission to the One giving the teaching.

Belief is crucial: Jo. 3:18, 36; 5:24; Acts 16:31; Rom. 11:20; Heb. 11:6; belief or faith indicates salvation, while unbelief indicates damnation.

The Heb. word in 15:6 means “to say ‘Amen’”; Abram said, “Amen” to what God had said; to believe is to say “Amen” to God.

Belief, or Faith, is a gift from God!

Emphatically the Scriptures teach that man is saved through faith, and also that this faith is not of the man, but is the gift of God; faith is not of ourselves; see Eph. 2:8-9.

To each believer, the one who exercises faith, God “has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).

It is the Lord who is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2; the originator and the One who completes the faith).

Related to this is the larger truth that the initiation in salvation is from the Lord; see: Sovereignty in Salvation.

Belief, or Faith, is necessary but it is not meritorious!

If meritorious, then faith is the ground or basis of salvation—salvation is because of faith; from this perspective man’s act is magnified; when man believes, there is salvation; this leads to the conclusion that man contributes to his salvation.

If necessary, then faith is the channel or instrument of salvation—salvation is because of God’s gracious act; where there is faith, there is salvation; this leads to the conclusion that salvation is of the Lord.

According to Rom. 3:28, man is “justified by faith”; “by” is dia, and can be either “because of” or “through”; as a preposition with the dative case it is “because,” and as a preposition with the genitive case it is “through”; when used with faith dia is always with the genitive case in the NT, so man is saved by or through not because of.

Man is not saved because of his faith, but is saved through his faith.

Belief, or Faith, is not a one-time event but is a continuous way of life!

In Rom. 4:3 is the statement from the OT which affirms that “Abraham believed God”; this verb is an imperfect tense which does not denote a single action but requires continuous action; hence the translation could be “Abraham was believing God”—not a single one-time event but a way of life; Abraham believed and kept on believing.

Crediting righteousness is something only God can do!

Gen. 15:6 states that “He accounted it to him for righteousness”; to account is to credit; it is to place on one’s account; this was done by God and done for Abraham; God was active and Abram was passive; see: Imputation.

Righteousness is uniquely associated with God!

Righteousness is of God; it is from God; it is a God-kind of righteousness that only God can provide; there is no righteousness apart from God; see: Righteousness.

Teaching of Scripture:

“the righteousness of God is revealed” (Rom. 1:17);
“the righteousness of God” (Rom. 3:21);
“ignorant of God’s righteousness” (Rom. 10:3);
“the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3).

What is this righteousness, or Who is this righteousness?

Christ is the righteousness God provides!

The Person of Christ, the perfection of Christ, the obedience of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ—this is the righteousness that God provides.

Teaching of Scripture:

“by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19;
“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4);
“but of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us . . . righteousness” (I Cor. 1:30);
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21);
“Jesus Christ the righteous” (I Jo. 2:1).

The righteousness—Jesus Christ—who is from God comes to the believer through faith!

In Romans Paul speaks of “the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (3:22); and the writer of Hebrews speaks of “the righteousness which is according to faith” (11:7).

It is not faith which is initiated by man and is the achievement of man, but it the upturned face toward the Father waiting to be accepted by the Father and to receive what the Father has to give; and it is the Father who causes the face to be turned toward Him.

It was by the means of faith—the channel of faith—that Abram came to be accepted and declared righteous; it was not that he originated and exercised faith and, therefore, because of his faith he was considered righteousness.

See: Faith

Justification is God applying the righteousness of Jesus to the believer resulting in the believer being declared just!

Justification is a legal term; it means to declare righteous; in Biblical concepts it is when God declares the unrighteous person to be righteous because of Christ.

The Roman view is that the individual is made righteous, becoming righteous; the key word is made.

The Protestant view is that the individual is declared righteous; the key word is declared.

In justification the righteousness of Christ is imputed, applied, credited, accounted, or reckoned to the believer; justification and Christ cannot be separated; to be justified is to have Christ, and to have Christ is to be justified; He is our righteousness; to have His righteousness is to be justified; see: Justification

Justification has been called “the crux of theology,” “the basic and chief article of faith,” and “the article of faith that decides whether the church is standing or falling.”

Calvin said that justification is “the main hinge on which religion turns.”

Statement of Luther:

When the article of justification has fallen, everything has fallen . . . This is the chief article from which all other doctrines have flowed . . . It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour. It is the master and prince, the lord, the ruler, and the judge over all kinds of doctrine . . . [if this doctrine is lost] all is lost and the Pope, the Devil, and all our adversaries will gain the victory.

See: Gen. 18:1-15 - Laughter of Unbelief

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