The author of Hebrews wrote, “And without faith it is impossible to please God….” By faith Abram left his country, his people and all that was familiar in obedience to the word of the Lord. One of the most interesting things you’ll notice when you read the story of Abram is that he was never given any details. The Lord said, “I’m going to give you a land” and when Abram asked where the Lord simply said, “I’ll show you when you get there.” The Lord said, “I’m going to make you into a great nation” and when Abram asked when the Lord said, “I’ll let you know.” Thirteen or fourteen years into the journey Abram is beginning to wonder if it was all for naught. There was no evidence of him being made into a great nation because he and Sarai are still childless. Every act of faith will be put to the test and Abram came to His.
In the midst of his confusion and uncertainty the Lord gives him a vision. In Gen. 15 the Lord says to Abram, “You don’t need to be afraid because I am all you need.” To which Abram responds, “Yes Lord, but there’s that thing you said about my becoming a great nation? I’ve been trying to do my part, but still no child and if something doesn’t happen soon I’ll have to give everything to one of my servants.” The Lord takes Abram outside and says, “See if you can count the stars. That’s about the number of offspring we’re looking at.” Then in v. 6 we’re told, “Abram believed the Lord and He credited to him as righteousness.”
In those eleven words we find a major key to understanding the New Testament and message of the Gospel. Abram believed the Lord, which means he took the Lord at His word and ordered his life around the promise that was made. In response to Abram’s belief, his faith, the Lord gave him credit as or counted him to be righteous. Abram was given the gift of a righteous, blameless, perfect life even though the full account of his life shows he was far from perfect. This is the verse that Paul uses as inspiration for the foundational statement in his letter to the Romans. In 1:17 Paul writes, “For in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous shall live by faith.” The rest of the letter explains why this is necessary, how it is made possible through the person and work of Jesus and the implications for how we are to then live our lives. Gen. 15:6 is also the verse behind Jesus’ statement in John 6:29, “The work of God is this; to believe in the One He has sent.”
Abram was looking ahead to the fulfillment of the Gen. 3:15 promise so he took the Lord at His word and believed that the Lord had brought him into the process of bringing that promise to fruition. Thus the righteous record that Jesus would one day obtain was credited to Abram by faith. In a similar way, when we look back to the work that Jesus has done in satisfying the righteous requirements of the law, dying for our sin and being raised from the dead, we too are given His righteous record, cleansed of sin and welcomed into a new life. This is what Paul means when he says we have now become children of Abraham (Rom. 4:16-25). We have been welcomed into the promise by faith and thus called to live by that same faith. So when the Lord says “Let’s go” we have all the motivation we need to join Him.