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Abraham; Faith and Trust In all of monotheism, there is one figure that transcends the lines and branches of the many different sub groups. Second only to God in his importance and impact of monotheism; Abraham is an essential component of faith from Rome, to Israel, to Mecca and Medina. Paul explains the importance of Abraham in his Letters to the Romans.
For Paul, faith and trust are synonymous and the epitome of that faith being trust is the patriarch Abraham.
Paul’s thesis in Romans Chapter 4 is a simple yet complex one. His main point in this chapter is that salvation is a gift of faith, and that faith is attained by trust in God. Paul uses scripture to help prove his thesis, and more specifically Abraham. I think that the reason Paul uses Abraham to form his thesis is because he is one of the best examples of putting trust in God. In his letters Paul writes “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:4).
Abraham’s trust is evident throughout Genesis, but the preeminent example of this trust is the sacrifice of his son Isaac. In Genesis, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac by killing him upon a mountainside. Abraham brings Isaac up to the mountain and proceeds with the sacrifice without hesitation. Seconds before Abraham kills his son, God intervenes and tells Abraham “Because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly” ( Genesis 21:16-18).
This unwavering trust that Abraham puts in God despite the hellish task in front of him is why Paul choses to use him as his example. No where else in the Bible is someone faced with such a horrific task, killing their first born and only son, and carries through with that task unwaveringly. This reflects back to Paul’s thesis in a perfect way. Abraham shows trust and faith in God thus he is rewarded with a great gift; which strongly echoes Paul’s thesis on the importance on faith and trust in relation to each other as well as salvation. Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter 4 is packed with a lot of pertinent themes. First and foremost is the theme of circumcisions.
Circumcision was a major aspect of the Abrahamic covenant and was seen as a major aspect of the faith. As a result, most people who lived during this time believed that it was impossible to receive salvation without circumcision. Paul asks the question, “Dose this blessing apply only to the circumcised, or to the uncircumcised as well?” (Romans 4:10). Paul stresses in his letter that circumcision is not essential to receive God’s blessing. He again goes to his example of Abraham to prove this point. Paul points out “Abraham walked while still uncircumcised” (Romans 4:12).
The point Paul is trying to make by that comment is that despite circumcision, Abraham was able to achieve his salvation. Additionally, if Abraham, the epitome of trust in God, was able to achieve salvation without circumcisions than every person should be able to. Another major theme in Paul’s letter is the role of the law in faith. Paul states, “It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants” (Romans 4:14). Here Paul is challenging the idea that law is what leads to salvation. For Paul, it is faith and not law that is the means to salvation.
Paul mentions that one of the main problems with law is that it if there is now law then there is no crime (Romans 4:16). If it is illegal to kill a man, then murder is illegal. But if no law against killing a man exists then murder cannot be a crime. Because of this flaw, law cannon be the means to salvation. Instead Paul points to faith. “So that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants” (Romans 4:17). This is why Paul believes that faith and trust are the sole means to salvation. Following the law is extremely passive and requires little effort from the participant. But truly trusting in God and having faith is an active path. Through that unwavering faith and trust in God believers can attain the same salvation Abraham did.
Paul’s argument for faith and truth based salvation revolves around Abraham; he is the cornerstone of Paul’s argument and without him, the thesis crumbles. Abraham is used as the example several times through out Romans chapter four because of his unsurpassed ability to personify salvation through faith and trust. Through out Genesis, Abraham shows complete trust and devotion to God. Even when faced with a complex or difficult issue he is still steadfast in his faith and trust. As a result he is abundantly rewarded with blessings and salvation from God. Paul wants the people he is writing to in Romans to follow this model. The laws and precise practices will not lead one to salvation as thoroughly as trust and faith will.
Only through Abraham’s example can one hope to achieve this everlasting, profound, and life giving salvation. The understanding of the role of faith and good works in relation to Christian life as described by Paul is spot on. One of the main points that Paul makes is that faith, unlike law, is done out of love, free will, and compassion. People only follow the law out of fear for the repercussions of not doing so. But choosing to have faith and trust in God is done without such factors, as are good works. Freely choosing to do these things reaps great rewards for people who practice them.
Human kind was made in the image and likeness of God yet we have free will. This free will allows us to choose the path to salvation. By taking the path that is just and in the likeness of Abraham humanity will attain that true salvation he experienced. Trust in God is paramount to faith and those who practice that trust will be rewarded as Abraham was.
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