Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Romans 4: Father Abraham had many sons; I am one of them, and so are you

Romans 4: Father Abraham had many sons

I remember a ridiculous Christian camp song, "Father Abraham had many sons/ many sons had Father Abraham/ I am one of them, and so are you/ so let's just praise the Lord" and then we would wiggle our right arm, then our left arm, etc.....

The song is silly but the words are true. I am a son of Abraham. Abraham is Guy Page's forefather. Paul, a son of Abraham according to the flesh, says so in Romans 4, in stirring language that goes more than flesh deep, right down into my heart and soul.

In Chapter 3, Paul introduced a New Thing: Universal Peace With God, for Jew and Gentile alike. The Romulan lion shall lie down with the Vulcan lamb.

"But hold on just one blasted minute, there, Paul,” the Judaizers respond. "What about Abraham? What about David? According to the family Torah scroll, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grand-father was David’s court dogcatcher and second cousin once removed! And that makes us kin to Abraham, too! Are you absurdly suggested that I am related to some gentile [dog] just because he says he believes in Messiah?"

In Chapter 4, Paul responds:

Our Father Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God. Before he was circumcized. Just like your gentile brother. In the eyes of God, that makes him a Son of Abraham.

Abraham received and believed his promise that his offspring would inherit the earth. Before the law was given. The Law did not, could not, justify Abraham. Just like it does not and cannot justify your gentile brother. In the eyes of God, that makes him a Son of Abraham.

Abraham believed God that he would become "the father of many nations." Not just Israel. Many nations. Including the nation of your gentile brother. In the eyes of God, that makes him a Son of Abraham.

Against all hope, Abraham believed that life could be brought forth from the dead. Both he and Sarah were old and effectively "dead" as potential parents. But God, but God......

“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why ’it was credited to him as righteousness.’ The words ’it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."

“Our” includes our Gentile brother who displays the faith of Abraham regarding the resurrection of Christ from the dead. In the eyes of God, that makes him a Son of Abraham.

The hero of the 19th century British adventure novel "She" by H. Rider Haggard, the creator of Allan Quartermain, has just encountered the title character, a beautiful woman who is 2,300 years old. A rational scientist and historian, he grapples to understand: "the thing was quite adverse to the experience of humanity, and absolutely and unutterably impossible." In the same way did Greek and Roman skeptics struggle in vain to filter the truth of the Risen Christ through their worldviews. Yet showing that faith that at least twice "amazed" Jesus, by God's grace they believed. They became true sons of Abraham. "I am one of them." I, Guy Page, a skeptic and Unitarian born and raised, am a Son of Abraham. The real-life application of that truth (beyond justification through faith) would be a worthy meditation.

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