Romans 4: Abraham’s Calling, and Ours
God did not call us
just to forgive our sins;
He wants to bring us
into His purpose
Why did God call Abraham? Was it only because He had mercy upon him and desired to forgive his sins?
No; as we see from the record in Genesis, God called Abraham to Himself so that, through his descendants, He could bring His kingdom to the earth.
This is a picture of why God called us as well: not just to forgive our sins, but to bring us into His purpose.
And that is why Paul uses the example of Abraham in Romans 4 to illustrate our experience of justification; he wants to impress us with this same concept of the Christian life. That is, we were justified not only for our own sake, but so that through us God could bring His kingdom to the earth.
In Romans 3 Paul has already shown that the blood of Christ deals with our sins so that we may be forgiven; this meets our need. Romans 4, however, has nothing to do with sin; it is entirely on God’s purpose:
Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
— Romans 4:3b; cf. Genesis 15:6
The promise Abraham believed was that he would have a son, so that his descendants could inherit the Good Land. Later, Paul explains further:
The promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
— Romans 4:13
Does this promise have anything to do with sin? No. Instead, in Romans 4 Abraham’s justification, and ours, is not so that we may be forgiven, but rather, that we may inherit the world to the bring God’s kingdom to the earth.
Do we have such a concept about why God called us, and why were were justified? Do we really understand that God is calling us to follow Him so that He may fulfill His purpose through us, just as He did with Abraham?
So few Christians do. Instead, the overwhelming stress among Christians today is on our need for forgiveness. We were sinners, but now that we have believed in Jesus we are righteous before God, and so we will be with Him to enjoy the blessings of heaven for eternity.
Having such a limited view of salvation, few press on to enter into God’s purpose.
However, that is not why God saved Abraham, and that is not why He saved you, either. We surely treasure the forgiveness we have in Christ, but we need the Lord to open our eyes to show us why He forgave us. We must learn from what the Apostle Paul shows us in Romans 4, that God forgave us, just as He forgave Abraham, to call us into His purpose of bringing His kingdom to the earth.
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— 16 March 2022 —