Ignorant Abraham and His Righteousness

By Justin Johnson

In Genesis 15:6 God declared a man righteous without any evidence, proof, law, work, obedience, or sign that he would indeed be righteous.

“[Abraham] believed in the LORD; and [God] counted it to him for righteousness.” – Genesis 15:6

Abraham was ignorant about how God would do this. There was no law to obey, no work to perform, nothing for him to glory in. God intentionally left him ignorant about it (1 Cor 2:8-9).

Yet, it was clear that God’s statement was pregnant with gracious provision. How could God remain holy while declaring sinners like Abraham righteous? Something must be done.

Unknown to Abraham, Christ had to die to validate God’s statement. Christ could impute to faithful Abraham his righteousness, but he would not die for hundreds of years. Abraham was ignorant to all of this yet to be revealed mystery.

Until the time was fulfilled, God’s justification of Abraham was just a statement of promise, with its confirmation wrapped up in a hidden purpose to send Christ to die and resurrect.

Abraham could only trust God, and God never fails to keep a promise.

Abraham’s Blessing Today

God’s promised statement of righteousness by faith was confirmed when Christ died and resurrected for Abraham’s sins. God could declare Abraham righteous by faith on the merits of the future blood of Christ.

Abraham was ignorant of the still future work of Christ which we would call the gospel, but the cross work of Christ is not hidden from us today.

Our faith rests in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We look at His work in the past as described in scripture and choose whether to respond in faith or not.

What Abraham was ignorant about is what allows us to receive his blessing of righteousness by faith.

By faith Christ’s death is our death, and his resurrection is a declaration of His righteousness imputed unto us (2 Cor 5:21).

It is no longer a secret how God justifies sinful humanity by faith without works. Paul reveals that we can be declared righteous freely by faith through Jesus Christ.

“That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” – Gal 3:14

Righteousness and the Cross

Every law abiding Jew knows of faithful Abraham, the father of Israel. Not one would place themselves above Abraham in greatness of faith towards God.

“Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead?” – John 8:53

Yet, if Christ had not died then the promise of righteousness made to Abraham was vain. If Christ had not resurrected then God’s statement of counting Abraham righteous without works was hollow.

For, on what basis was it then made? Then, how could a holy God say such a thing?

Abraham needed the death and resurrection of Jesus to be declared righteous by faith, and so do we who are saved by grace alone through faith alone.

If Christ had not died and resurrected then the promise of righteousness imputed to us is also vain.

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” – 1 Cor 15:17

Without the death, burial, and resurrection, every man would be forever condemned in his sins along with Abraham.

The preaching of the cross declares how every man could be justified by his faith only.

That no one knew this mystery until it was first revealed to Paul explains why in the past righteousness by faith without works was unacceptable.

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Published: June 2, 2012
Last Modified: June 13, 2017
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