Blood Relative

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about – but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” … Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. – Romans 4:1-3,16-17

God picked Abraham, who was born hundreds of years after the Flood, for a special purpose.  God said, “… all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).  God had planned from the beginning to send this world a Savior who would be born to Abraham’s family line. Of course, Abraham didn’t know the when or the where, but God worked a beautiful thing in his heart: “Abraham believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” He believed God’s promise and God gave him the promised Savior’s perfect holiness and heaven.

From then on, every Jewish person knew they had Abraham’s blood in them. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, they made his blood more important than his faith. The writer of the book of Romans, the apostle Paul, was such a man during his early years. Proud of his bloodline, he also believed that he was earning more favor with God because he did Jewish things, such as following the Old Testament laws regarding what to eat and wear and how to worship, etc.

That is, until he met Jesus, the only perfect person to ever live on this earth. Suddenly he could see how blinded he had been by the traditions and false teachings that had been handed down to him. He could see that God’s Law convicts every one of us – we are all crooks in God’s perfect sight. The Holy Spirit brought Paul to believe in Jesus as his own Savior. He once said of all the traditions and his superficial obedience to rules, “I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:8-9). It makes no difference if you’re Jew or Gentile. Faith in Jesus Christ … alone … is what brings us God’s gracious gift of heaven. No one else died and rose again for our sins.

Heritages can be a good thing. If you’ve traced your family history back to Europe in the 1300’s and have found some royalty among your forebears, it connects you, and gives you a better sense of who you are (horse thieves notwithstanding). But it can become a false hope, if, for instance, your mother was a faithful, devoted Christian or your grandfather was a pastor and you are expecting that your connection with them puts you in God’s favor. The same is true for those who swallow the popular “traditional” belief that if we “try to live a good life” we will all end up in heaven some day.

It’s not Abraham’s nor anyone else’s blood in our bodies that saves us, nor the flawed lives we live. Only the blood of Jesus ON us by grace through faith can do that. Such faith makes Abraham our father. His faith looked ahead, ours looks back. Our family line meets at Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for bringing me to believe in Jesus as my Savior through your holy Word and sacraments. Please help me to appreciate always the rich faith heritage I have together with father Abraham. Amen.

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