The Jews of those days revered Abraham as the Father of Faith. Therefore Paul used Abraham in his writing to clarify to the Romans his thoughts on faith and works. He brings up Abraham in the first verse of this chapter.
“What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” (Romans 4:1-2 ESV)
In other words, he is telling them think about Abraham. If you know of anyone who can be justified with God because of his works it would be Abraham. He worked for God, he did what God said to do. So he can boast to God about what he did for God, right? Wrong! No one can boast to God about their works.
“For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’”(Romans 4:3)
Abraham is the father of the faith because Abraham believed God. Plain and simple. Not because of his works but simply because he believed God.
Paul also goes on in this chapter to explain to the christians in Rome that Abraham is the father of faith to all, not just to the Jewish people.
He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:11-12)
Circumcision was a seal for the Jewish people. It signified that they were a Jew that they were one of God’s chosen people. What Paul is pointing out here is that Abraham was given the seal of his circumcision because of his faith, not so that he would have faith. Therefore he became the father of faith before the circumcision even occurred. Therefore he is a father of all who have faith in God.
“as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’-in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Romans 4:17-18)
This phrase jumped out at me today “In hope he believed against hope”. What do you have today that you are hoping for, believing for, against hope. When Abraham was told that he would be the father of many nations, he and Sarah were childless, and because of their age it was not likely that they would conceive and/or that Sarah would be able to carry a child. Yet when God told Abraham he would be the father of many nations, he believed him. Do you have something that you are believing God for? That you are hoping for against all hope. Friends you can hope in God. You can believe God. Place your hope in him against any and all hope that you may have otherwise. Abraham grew stronger in his faith as he gave glory to God.
“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness’”. (Romans 20-21)
Abraham chose to believe God when he told him he would be the father of many nations. He may not have known exactly how it would come about, because in his mind, he and Sarah were too old to have children. However, he was fully convinced that God could do what he promised. Grab hold of that, choose to believe God for your circumstances, lay it at the foot of the cross whatever is on your heart today. I can’t promise how God will work it out. But I can tell you that the things in my life that I have laid at his cross and begged him to work out for me, he has done it. It may not always work out like I thought it would before but it works out better than I could have ever thought or imagined. We get to have this faith, that Abraham had also.
“But the words, ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Romans 4:23-25
Lord help us as we hope against hope to believe in your promises. Help us Lord to know that you have our best interests at heart and that when we lay those things at your feet that we may have lost hope for that we have this hope in Jesus because of what He did for us on the cross. Lord work those things out for us for your glory and for your good. Amen