For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
There are two things Paul told us in Romans 4 about Abraham’s salvation, or justification.
First, Abraham’s salvation was received through faith. I think Abraham’s faith was in something more than just being the father of a lot of people one day. In that promise of descendants was the promise of a Deliverer–someone who would deliver humanity from sin. Abraham believed that one of his descendants would be the Deliverer who would forever end the curse of mankind. It was the same Deliverer Adam and Eve were looking forward to. It was the same Deliverer Jacob talked about on his deathbed while he was in Egypt. It was the same Deliverer Daniel talked about when he described the Anointed One. It was the same Deliverer John the Baptist announced when he saw Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Abraham believed one of his descendants would be that Deliverer.
In Galatians 3:6-8, Paul wrote, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’” Abraham believed in a Deliverer who would nullify the curse of sin. Abraham’s salvation was received through faith.
Second, Abraham’s salvation was based on the death of Christ. Have you ever wondered, “How were people in the Old Testament saved?” They were saved the same way you and I are saved: by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How could people in the Old Testament be saved by the blood of Christ if it had not been offered yet? Were they saved through offering animal sacrifices? No. In the Old Testament, offering animal sacrifices demonstrated faith through which salvation was secured. But salvation was always on the basis of the death of Christ. The people who wanted salvation would offer an animal sacrifice, which represented a promise to pay, like a credit card. Hundreds of years later when the bill came due, they did not pay the price. Jesus Christ paid the price for them, and for us. That is why as He hung on that cross, some of His final words were, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Literally, that phrase means “paid in full.”
How are we saved today? We are saved the same way the Old Testament saints were saved: on the basis of Christ’s death. In the Old Testament, they looked forward to it. Today, we look back on that event. But salvation has always been secured the same way: through the death of Jesus Christ. Abraham was saved through faith, but it was based on the death of Jesus Christ.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good News That Is Good but Not New” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.