Monday 11 April 2016

Bible Book:

“For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us).” (v. 16)

Romans 4:13-18 Monday 11 April 2016

Psalm: Psalm 69:1-21


As we read Paul's letter to the Romans we are aware of the storyof its author: Saul, the zealous, pharisaic Jew who was met andtransformed by the risen Christ (Acts9:1-9). In Romans, Paul writes to a congregation which includesboth Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. So we can hear inthe discussion that Paul works through in this section of Romanstwo potential conflicts. One is between those Christians in Romewho were Gentiles and for whom the (Mosaic) Law has no value, andthose who were Jews and who seem to have expected that the Gentilesadopt some of their practices. The other is between Paul'sChristian faith and his understanding pre-transformation. That hehas been baptized does not mean that all he believed before is nottrue. On the contrary, Paul has to hold together three greattruths:

  • God is utterly faithful and will not go back on God's word
  • (therefore) what God promised to Abraham and his descendantsstands
  • (but) in Christ God has offered salvation to all people.

The way that Paul reconciles these truths is to argue that whenGod promised Abraham that he would be the ancestor of many peoplethis was not a reference to the physical descendants (of childrenAbraham and Sarah were yet to have), but to all those who were partof a family of faith. That Abraham trusted that God would give himdescendants was remarkable: the key text for Paul was Genesis 15:6 - "he believed the Lord and theLord reckoned it to him as righteousness". Abraham's faith, as anelderly childless man, was what Paul had come to understand asbeing the vital element in the story. Therefore, he argues, God'scommendation of Abraham's faith indicates that his family willinclude all who trust in God to keep God's promises.

To Ponder

  • Muslims as well as Jews claim to be the children of Abraham.How does our understanding of 'the family of Abraham' shape ourapproach to people of other faiths?
  • Can you remember a time when God proved faithful, even thoughthe problems you faced seemed insurmountable? What happened?
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