People want to know how they can gain right standing before God, how they can have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Paul answers this question in Galatians 2:16:
We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
So how do we gain right standing before God? How are we justified and declared not guilty, but instead righteous, before God? Paul’s answer is not by engaging in good works, but by believing in Jesus Christ. It’s by faith.
Abraham is a stellar example of this. He was a pagan from Ur. He was called by God to leave his land and go to the promised land, and Abraham obeyed. God promised Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation.
Abraham helps us understand that justification is not by good works.
We fast forward to Genesis 15:1–6, where we find Abraham complaining before God because he only has Eliezer, a servant in his house, to be his heir. Abraham, the patriarch and father of a great nation, doesn’t have any children. But God says Eliezer will not be your heir, but a son from your own offspring will be your heir.
We find Abraham about to take matters into his own hands and trust that God will fulfill his promise through Eliezer. But in the moment that he’s about to take matters into his own hands, he believes the promise of God by faith and God credits Abraham’s faith to him as righteousness.
Abraham helps us understand that justification is not by good works, it’s not by following the law, it’s not by anything that we can do, but simply by trusting in Jesus Christ, the promise of God for our salvation.
- Why Pursuing Sanctification Is More Than Just Remembering Justification (David Powlison)
- What Does "Raised for Our Justification" Mean? (Adrian Warnock)
- What Is Theology? (K. Erik Thoennes)