Are we greater than Abraham?


Paul speaking of our father Abraham said he was imputed (credited) righteousness because he did not doubt the promises of God for him and his descendents.  Paul in teaching the doctrine of salvation says the record of Abraham being credited righteousness from God wasn’t for just him, but for us too.  Why, because we, as followers of Christ will be credited the same righteousness.  Paul’s doctrine of salvation states, we who hope in Christ have also been imputed the same righteousness as our father Abraham.

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;  But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;[1]

Abraham and his descendents were credited a righteous not their own.  The sign of the righteousness that God gave them was circumcision.  Paul’s doctrine of salvation teaches that Abraham is the father of all that believe.  This includes believers today.  He is the father of all circumcised and uncircumcised believers.  Paul’s doctrine of salvation teaches, those whose walk is the same faith of Abraham have been imputed this same righteousness as the people of Israel.

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:  And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.[2]

Our father Abraham had imputed righteousness, and we too, as followers of the faith of Abraham, have the same righteousness imputed to us.  We have nothing over our father Abraham. 

I have been advocating scripture teaches believers in Christ have a hope of salvation.  That we have not been saved at conversion, but will receive salvation when our salvation (Christ) returns.  That we have a promise of salvation and we need to hope in our promises just as our father Abraham.

The church teaches we have been saved and when we receive our salvation we are imputed righteousness.  Paul taught just the opposite.  He taught, just as our father Abraham was imputed righteousness, so we are imputed righteousness.  And what was his situation when he was imputed this righteousness?  Was it before Christ paid for his sins or after?  It wasn’t after but before Christ died for his sins.  Let’s say about 2,000 years before Christ paid for his sins.  How is it that Abraham is credit righteousness before salvation, but church doctrine teaches ours is after salvation? 

If Abraham is our father and we are to walk in the same footsteps of faith as Abraham, how can we claim to have the same faith as his, when we say we have received the promise of salvation?  And what was the circumstance of Abraham’s faith when he was credited this righteousness, was it before the promise was fulfilled or after?  It wasn’t after but before the promise was fulfilled.  Yet we say we are credited righteousness after the promise was fulfilled.  How can we walk in the same footsteps of faith as Abraham, when his was based on a promise and we say ours is based on fact.

So what do we see in Paul’s doctrine of salvation?  We see Abraham as our example who, before sin was atoned for, was credited a righteousness as our example and father in the faith.  We see Abraham as an example who, before the promise was fulfilled, believed in the promise and received the benefit of his belief in the promise.

So my presentation of salvation in The Gospel According to the Gospel is not contradictory to Paul’s doctrine of salvation, it is Paul’s doctrine of salvation.  It is the church that has missed the doctrine of salvation that Paul taught in the book of Romans.

How can the church insist on preaching we have our righteousness imputed to us because we have received the promise, we have been saved?  Are we greater than our father Abraham?


[1] Romans 4:20-24

[2] Romans 4:11-12

24 thoughts on “Are we greater than Abraham?

  1. The great question we must answer here, is what is St. Paul’s ‘justification by faith’? And what does it mean to be in a place of “imputed righteousness”? And it is the R. Catholic Church itself that says “salvation” is never held or known in this life, but only in the next or eternity. And can a Christian have the assurance of their salvation (present) in this life? The Reformation Churches say, yes indeed a Christian can have and know this assurance of salvation in this life. Luther taught this, certainly Calvin. And later too John Wesley. In fact this was one of the great blessings of the Evangelical revival, from the 18th to the 19th century, and on, the Evangelical doctrines of grace and glory, known and received. So I am at least myself baffled both historically, biblically and historically with your post and position Dave? I say this before I proceed on in the great subject of the Gospel and our Father Abraham, (Gal. 3: 6-9). Indeed, we must stand on the Biblical Texts, and exegete and interpret them. This is the essence of the Judeo-Christian revelation and theology…the covenants of grace, but also in the full sense of the progressive and unfolding revelation of God, OT to the New…Hebrews 1:1-4.

  2. My mother in law used to have a huge library of preaching tapes that she collected and catalogued by topic so they would be ready anytime she saw an opportunity to share Christ. I told her, nobody wants to listen to these, they want to here what you have to say. If it comes from you it will mean so much more when they hear it.
    In the spirit of that, I would like to continue or discussions, but I want to know what you believe. I have not quoted you anything but the text of scripture and tried to win you to my side, if this is possible. So let’s talk scripture and not the quotes of dead men. It means so much more from you.
    By the way, I knew I liked you, now I know why. Your background is most excellent. We just need to work on your theology.
    Dave

  3. Hello Dave,

    Good call… it is nice to see an articulation of what is in error today with the generally accepted (yet failing) doctrine that men hold dear.

    Hey irishanglican, That first post has a few questions in it but there is not much behind why you believe some of those things. I understand a comment section may not allow for such a discussion, but maybe you could just pick one question and scripturally support it. In other words, I cannot find what is wrong with Dave’s post given the scriptures he has used to support it. Hopefully, that makes sense…

    Michael

  4. Dave,
    Since I am theologian or at least a theolog myself, what I believe is very close to what I have said or pointed to in the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles. Also, yes, I am somewhat Reformed, but not so much to the Westminster Standards. I tend toward the modern (so-called) Dutch Reformed. Again, I don’t think one can understand the Scripture without “theology”, the study of the doctrine of God. But I can be somewhat eclectic also in my Bible study. And also I have a place for what I consider to be a mystical-spiritual truth in theology. One thing, I am very Trinitarian also. And I place the Incarnation center stage within the Triune Being of God. And as I mentioned, I am covenantal, but see the Jewish people and Nation will be (remnant) grafted back into their olive-tree, as the Gentile time comes to a close near and at the end of the age. But I am either Post-millennial, or historic Pre-mill. The last is an open question for me, but certainly the covenent doctrines of grace. And just a point, there are really no “dead” men or saints of God. They are “asleep” bodily, but present with the Lord in soul and spirit. (Phil. 1: 23) I have a high regard for the Mystical Body of Christ. And here I would regard Mary the Mother of Jesus as the “Theotokos” – God bearer. Indeed the Incarnation of Christ is still real! “We also, in our heart of hearts, tend to slur over the risen “manhood” of Jesus, to conceive Him, after death, simply returning into Deity, so that the Resurrection would be no more than a reversal or undoing of the Incarnation.” C. S. Lewis So to my understanding, the Church Catholic (universal) is in some real sense the continue of Christ’s Incarnation…The Body of Christ, regenerate!

  5. Michael,

    I am not sure of your question? I have said quite a bit about my own belief and theology here. Dave seems to imply that salvation can not be known, or have assurance here. This is just not biblical! And no man makes a mere human decision for God in Christ. Salvation is a the gift of God, but made within secondary causes, themselves part of the very work of God. I am much more Augustinian, than just Calvinist in the modern sense. Note the difference.

  6. irishanglican,

    I do not think I had a question as much as I was just trying to follow the many questions you listed. I was following your thought line, though admittedly, I had to sit and process each thought/sentence as a component… However, I just eventually got a bit confused in the bulk of your comment. I guess if there was a question I was asking it was something like…

    Could you please use a Barrett M82A1 Sniper rifle and pick one part of the topic to discuss and lay down the AA-12/Atchisson Auto shotgun? O.K. – just messing around with colorful metaphors that I think you will appreciate… :O

    • Michael,

      Well I have “spotted” a bit, so I will focus in (without the need of the .50 cal.) on this weak idea that we are somehow people of free-will. We have a measure of certain responsiblity, certainly, but free we are not. We only find the fulness of freedom “In Christ”. The Scripture is certain to express that we are literally “dead” mentally and spiritually because of sin! (Eph. 2:1; 2:5 / Col. 2:13). The scriptural element in the conception of death is a judical sentence on account of sin, and is therefore used of one given over to death even during “life”, and not merely of religious inactivity or so-called spiritual death. Also in scripture (from the Greek) it is to lull or hush to sleep, put to sleep, but already as persons spiritually dull, and even dead. The Scripture is very plain to show that without God’s grace and intervention we are all people “dead”, and only come to life by and in God’s grace and mercy, thru the Spirit in the message of the Gospel…in the face of Christ! (See 2 Cor. 4: 4-6).

  7. Irishanglican,

    While I am not confident of all the study you have committed yourself to over the years, it is quite apparent that you have learned the opinions of theologians through the ages. I wonder something as I hear your words however… It seems that you mean to communicate to others the authenticity of your relationship with the Father God by affirming certain regurgitations of thought learned through your studious dedication. What I wonder when I read your words is a single question below; here is the backdrop.

    Jesus, the only One who could perfectly interpret and understand scripture… Who was constantly clarifying for the most learned scholars of society what the words actually meant rather than the translation… Who was literally speaking the Words of life that carried the same power as forming the entire unknown universe… placed these Words of life in special vessels to be carried forward into time even to you and I and our grandchildren… these vessels being the heart of men which are known to be deceitfully wicked and who could know the heart after all… these hearts, rather than the quill and parchment… Jesus did not write ANY of His own words down for us to see…

    Why?

    • Michael,

      Jesus was and is the Word “Incarnate”! (John 1:14 ; 1:18) That means God -enfleshed. Is that awesome enough for you?

      A few questions for you, do you dislike “theology” i.e. the discipline and study of the doctrine of God? And are you anti-intellectual? Check your brains at the entrance to both the Church and the Bible.

  8. Piety’s double cleansing: justification and sanctification. According to Calvin, believers receive from Christ “by faith” the “double grace” of justification and sanctification, which together provide a twofold cleansing. Justification offers inputed purity while sanctification brings actual purity. And Calvin views justification as including the remission of sins and the right to eternal life. “God receives us into his favor as righteous men.” (Rom. 3: 25-26)

  9. Irishanglican,

    My apologies if my comments were interpreted as contrary in some way… this was not the intent. Rather, I was genuinely trying to know what it is that you think about Jesus not writing any words down of His own. You did not answer my question though…

    If theology is the study of God, then you bet! Anti-intellectual… my goodness… absolutely not! Jesus made us in His image and reason is something that not all of His creation shares… I am not sure what you really mean by checking your brains… I do not want to assume there so, I will let you expand that one there if you would…

    I would really like to know what you think the answer is to my question though. I ask not because I am trying to “out-knowledge” you… actually quite the opposite. We both already know you are more learned… this is why I ask you what you think? Hope that makes sense… I wish writing had inflection. :O

  10. Michael,

    By making the biblical statement about the Incarnation, I am answering your question. The presence of Christ is not only in the written words of HIS chosen Apostles, but in the lasting effect and reality of His Incarnation. Which by the way, is also continued by both Word & Sacrament in the Church! I always write as a “churchman” also Anglican, both Catholic & Reformed. And there is no Christianity without the Church – the living Body of Christ! We also need to note that Christ is even now, the Mediator…ever in “session” for us, at the Right Hand of God, on the Throne of God, (1 Tim. 2: 5-6/ Heb. 9:24). Christ died for us, Christ in us (His Spirit & our spirit), and Christ above or in heaven for us!

    “What shall then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against is? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, who will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” (Rom. 8: 31-34, etc.)

  11. I guess I am not sure what you are saying as to why He did not write any of His own words down? You are saying Who is was/is but why did He not write down what we would now call scripture?

  12. Michael,

    My point is that the Incarnation, God become Man, is in reality the highest form of Revelation! And Christ is Prophet, Priest & King, a threefold office. So Christ is much more than a “preacher”, though He was and is that. And the Holy Scripture is not a proof-text. But note, the Book of Revelation 1:1-2. Christ chooses this form of “genre”, as HE is Himself always the “image” of the invisible God, (Col. 1: 15). And again, God is a Triune being! The NT revelation is a God of divine majesty, a unity in and of tri-unity, three in one, and one in three: The Trinity of God, Father-Son-Holy Spirit. See, (Eph. 2:18 / 2 Cor. 13:14).

  13. Irishanglican,

    If I understand you correctly, Yes Jesus is incarnate in Heaven. I always tell my children that we will be in perfect bodies in heaven. Everyone except one. We will always be able to look at the scars that Jesus bore for us, even while we stand there looking with perfect bodies at Him. I too believe in the trinity.

    I am looking at your post to Michael, you are saying a man can not choose God or not choose God? What do you mean, “salvation is a gift of God but made with secondary causes?”
    Your response to Michael again: I agree we are spiritually dead and stand condemned without Christ’s work in our lives. But I do disagree that we are without free will.
    From another comment to you.
    Amen and Amen salvation is a gift from God. And yes again this desire is a gift of God. For no man may know God unless the spirit of God draw him, as scripture teaches. But We seem to nullify to what degree all men have been drawn by God. We seem to nullify to what degree God has revealed Himself to all men. It is like we do not want to understand that no man is without an excuse before God. All men have the choice to accept or reject God based on the very minimal revelation of God to man. I know you will not agree here and I know it smacks of free will. Well it is free will in action. That is why men our without excuse based on this basic revelation of God.
    (Rom 1:20 NIV) For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    • Dave,

      From what I gather, and with the limitations of a blog, you appear to be an Evangelical Arminian? This is not a bad thing fully, if it is closer to say, John Wesley. For Wesley believed in the reality of man’s total depravity in sin, and could not save himself, nor respond to God without God’s grace. But Wesley did teach the reality of the assurance of salvation present, in God’s gift of Justification and Faith. The only big difference with him, was that he thought salvation was conditional, and that a man that was saved in the present tense, could but lose his faith and fall away. Perhaps this is what you believe?

      I like Calvin, do not believe in the idea that someone truly saved in the present tense, can or will fall from grace and lose their salvation. As in fact the true “elect” believe and persevere unto the end. For the grace of God is never conditional for the elect Christian. I speak from God’s point here, and not man’s. But as the parable of the soils teaches, some can believe for awhile, but they are not really those that believe until the end, if they do not show forth the full assurance of hope until the end. (See Heb. 6: 11 & 12). So the whole idea of ‘once saved always saved’ must be conditioned by the aspect of a faith that believes until the end. (AS I mentioned however, the ‘once saved always saved’ that has come down, is a very poor and often false model. If in the center of that teaching the doctrine of perseverance is not maintained!)

      The fact that some believe for awhile, and then fall away, only proves, as the parable of the soils, that true grace and faith does give some measure of lasting fruit in obedience. But as the parable, the level is different in the measure of fruit. It is higher and lower in some, but there is always “fruit” in the true Christian. But, only God in the end can judge this measure.

  14. Irishanglican,

    If I understand what you are trying to say, it might summarize something like… The reason that Jesus did not write any of His words down for us is because He was the living Word walking the planet and thus we did not need for Him to do this? Is that what you are saying? If so, then why did we need what we call the New Testament?

    I agree with you that Jesus was The God made flesh embodiment on earth and that is actually the same point being made in the backdrop of my question. This being the case… why did He not settle man’s writing once and for all and write down the clear Word for us to read?

  15. Michael,

    Indeed, I have tried to avoid the question out right, and let the Scripture and theology speak for itself. And yes, the Incarnation was God’s greatest mystery and pinnacle, from here comes what Christ said and did, but in the “history” of humanity. See (Heb. 1:1-3). Also, note the best Christian witness is the very Body of Christ – Redemptive, 2 Cor. 3: 2-3!

    Indeed the “Incarnation” continues in the life of the Church Catholic (universal)! ‘One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church’. I also add the Church Body in “freedom”!

  16. Pingback: Changing the debate « The Gospel According to the Gospel

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