Text – Romans 4:13-25:
13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
16 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, 17 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. 18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”
19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23 Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
The anchor of Paul’s argument in Romans 4 is found in Genesis 17, and it serves us well during Lent to think about the faithfulness of God’s promises to us. Genesis says that God spoke to, then, Abram and said, “I am God almighty. Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”
Abram’s response to God’s promise was to prostrate himself before God and thereafter keep the covenant that God made with him. Paul says in Romans 4 that the basis of Abraham’s keeping the covenant with God was his faith (a biblical word for trust). Abraham was fully convinced that God would keep his promise. Furthermore, Paul said that Abraham was the spiritual father of everyone who followed him who has faith.
Three Lenten ideas may come from this text. The first is that the penitence of Lent depends on the faithfulness of God and being fully convinced that God will forgive our shortcomings. The second is that the grace of God is the bright beacon of promise and hope that shines in spite of mankind’s failing and the approaching crucifixion of Jesus. And third, the steadfast character of God coupled with the outcome of trusting God is a common gift to all of us. No one has monopoly on this.
Our Faithful and Gracious God. We thank you for the way in which you have stayed faithful to mankind in spite of our rebellion, autonomy, and mistrust. We thank you for renewing your promise with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Israel, then Judah, and now to us. We thank you that in this season of Lent we can trustingly lean on the hope you have given us through your steadfastness. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.