“…but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that Abraham had before he was circumcised” (Romans 4:12)
Paul uses chapter four of Romans to teach that our right standing before God comes through faith. The Jewish people struggled with faith alone being the measure of their right standing or justification before God. Many struggle with that today, as our natural tendency is to think and act as if we have to do something in order to be made right with God. That thought or action would be salvation by works, which is not the gospel. There are some important lessons from Romans 4. First, salvation by faith alone and not works was not something new that Paul was teaching. He used God’s own words concerning Abraham’s righteousness to prove that point (Genesis 15:6). Abraham was declared righteous prior to both the covenant of circumcision and the Mosaic Law. Second, Paul’s reference to the Old Testament of how Abraham, the most revered Jewish patriarch, was made right before God testifies to the unity of all of Scripture regarding salvation. A more subtle, but no less important point and lesson for each of us appears in verse twelve. What might we learn?
“…but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that Abraham had before he was circumcised” Many Christians can point to the day they made a “decision for Christ”, the day they were “born again” and in that moment they were made right with God. But there is danger when we think of our conversion only as a past decision made at a fixed point in time. We should remember that moment was only the first step of a lifelong Christian walk. As we trace the footsteps of Abraham, though not always perfect, his were characterized by obedience. They were also always in response to what God had initiated. Salvation is always initiated by God and comes not through our works, but only through faith. We would do well to think of our salvation not just as a fixed decision “for Jesus”, but as a continual walk of obedience to His prompting, knowing that He is walking with us.
Lord, thank You for Abraham and the testimony of Scripture that salvation comes through faith alone. Too often, we act as if it results from our own works and righteousness. Help us realize that though we are made right with God in a moment, our Christian life is a walk that should be marked by obedience. Obedience always follows true faith. Thank You for Jesus, our righteousness and for the Holy Spirit to help us do Your will each day. Amen.