Paul uses the example of Abraham’s faith as evidence of his gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone. It was not Abraham’s “works” that made him righteous with God. If you study Abraham’s life, you find many examples of his many failures, yet God continued to bless Abraham because of his faith. In Galatians 3:6-8 Paul writes, “Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’” Paul’s point is that the blessings promised to Abraham came through faith not works. Those blessings are ours as well and we are sons or heirs of Abraham not by blood lineage but by God’s grace through faith.

In the story of Abraham, we see God’s grace given to a man who had only one thing going for him; he believed God. He came from a pagan religion and even carried the remnants of it everywhere he went. He often took matters into his own hands rather than rest in God’s promises, but God never deserted him. Notice there was nothing about Abraham that commended him to God. There was nothing about Paul that should have commended him to God either. Actually, he was a murderer and didn’t deserve grace at all. It was only God’s grace through faith that obtained God’s blessing on his life.

I like the way Max Lucado explains this in his little devotional, “Grace for the Moment.” He says, “Grace is created by God and given to man.… On the basis of this point alone, Christianity is set apart from any other religion in the world.… Every other approach to God is a bartering system; if I do this, God will do that. I am either saved by works (what I do), emotions (what I experience), or knowledge (what I know). By contrast, Christianity has no whiff of negotiation at all. Man is not the negotiator; indeed, man has no grounds from which to negotiate.” Max is so right! Neither Abraham nor Paul had anything to commend them to God. They had nothing that God wanted or needed to negotiate with. Neither do you or I. But in all our trials, tests, temptations and turmoil, God’s grace is sufficient for us as it was for Paul and Abraham.