The story of Abraham’s life is very interesting. At the end of Genesis 11, we are suddenly introduced to Abram. We are told who his family is and that’s about it. Then chapter 12 begins with God’s call and promise to Abram.
Abraham (or Abram before God changed his name) was an incredibly devout man of faith in God. He believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. His faith saved him.
I mentioned in an earlier post that a young man had asked me about justification. His primary concern was when we believed justification happened.
Salvation is by faith, in Christ, not by works of the Law (the Old Covenant Law of Moses). Read Romans, especially chapters 3-6. What is involved in faith? Well there is belief in Jesus the Son of God who has been raised from the dead and there is turning as Martin Luther described it; repentance. Turning from sin, changing our way of life from sin to righteous living. And there is confession; confessing Jesus and next comes immersion and of course a faithful life. These are the elements of salvation.
So when does justification take place? When I explained to the young man that it is through faith and faith is the process of belief-repentance-confession-immersion-and faithfulness he asked about these verses in Romans 4:
1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:1-3, NIV
- God can do anything he wants. So if he chooses to save Abraham or Jesus chooses to forgive the paralytic’s sins or promises the thief on the cross next to him that he would share paradise with him, that’s OK. He can do whatever he wants however he wants.
- Abraham lived before Jesus lived especially before his death and resurrection. A different dispensation of time. That matters a lot.
- And faith is the complete activity of faith, obedience, and faithfulness which after the cross and tomb of Jesus involves belief, repentance, confession, baptism and faithfulness from now on.
We are justified when our faith if complete. I don’t mean finalized, but complete. We have done and have accepted and God has done and given all that he calls for and promises.
Am I justified by faith? Yes. When? When faith is completed. Like Abraham’s.