By Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.
Abram/Abraham demonstrated a series of actions in situations when things were humanly impossible.
Abram was born in Ur of the Chaldeans, a town in the southeastern part of Iraq or within the territory of Kuwait. See Genesis 11:27-32. Following are the events in Abraham’s life:
- He was called out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to a land more than 1300 kilometers away which land he had not previously seen. See Acts 7:2-3; Hebrews 11:8. He was motivated by FAITH and acted on it. He and his family moved to Haran of Syria and eventually to Canaan.
- He dwelt in Canaan as in a foreign country living in movable tents but was promised that his descendant would inherit the land much later. This he BELIEVED that God would do in His own time. See Heb. 11:9.
- He was promised at the age of 86 and his wife was at the age of 76 that he would have an heir that would issue out from his very own body.This he BELIEVED God would fulfill. See Hebrews 11:11; Genesis 17:19; 18:11-14; 21:1-7.
- He was promised descendants that will be as the number of stars in the heavens. This he BELIEVED that God would fulfilll. See Genesis 15:1-6.
- When he asked for a sign that this promise of a great number of descendants will be given, God told Abram to offer these sacrifices: a three year old heifer, a three year old she goat, a three year old ram, a dove, and a pigeon. He was moved by FAITH and obeyed as instructed. See Genesis 15:8-11.
- A covenant of blessings promised: Abram would be a father of many nations, of many descendants, of many nations, kings among them, inherit the land of Canaan, but sealed by circumcision; Abraham BELIEVED and he and Ishmael and all males in his household were all circumcised even if painful. See Genesis 17:1-27.
- At age 99, God promised Abraham that a son would be born to him through Sarah. In Genesis 17:17 Abraham laughed at this promised, but when repeated in Genesis 18:9, he no longer laughed but believed.It was Sarah who laughed. See Genesis 18:9-15.
- When Yahweh revealed to Abraham the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he haggled about sparing the cities if there were some righteous inhabitants God said He would not destroy the cities if there were some five righteous people. This Abraham BELIEVED and went home. See Genesis 18-19. The following day Abraham returned on top of the hills to view the destruction of the two cities.
- When Isaac was born and he had reached 8 days, Abraham circumcised the little boy even if it was painful and bloody. This act showed his FAITH and obedience to a covenant with God. See Genesis 21:1-7.
- When Isaac was about 13 years old, God told Abraham to get the boy and offer him as a burnt sacrifice on an altar at Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. We could imagine Abraham talking to himself: Isaac was promised as a seed to produce millions of descendant, but even if he offered this boy as a burnt sacrifice, he told himself that God would somehow raise him up from the ashes so that he could produce the promised descendants. See Hebrews 11:17-19. That attitude of obedience showed this faith.
These series of testings where Abraham displayed an attitude of trust and confidence in Yahweh made him “a friend of God forever.” See James 2:23. James’ conclusion is this: “Do you see that faith working together with his works and by works faith was made perfect?” (2:22).
It is clear that in the life of Abraham, it is not “faith only.” Not “works only.’ It was faith working together with activities in obedience to God’s commands or requirements.
Romans 4:3 refers to Genesis 15:6 and points to Series #4 which is the promise of many descendants as the stars in number issuing from Abraham’s body. Abraham had faith in God and that faith was accounted as righteousness. Yes, it was accounted, listed under the debit column. Any act of faith or belief is accounted, listed under the debit column. But was this faith in the millions of descendants the point when Abraham’s sins were initially forgiven? No! So Romans 4:3 should not be cited by Bible teachers as the point when alien sinners are initially forgiven.