Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament, Part 78

“You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.” James 2:22-23 (NAS)

This Old Testament quote by James concerning Abraham is originally found in Genesis chapter fifteen, verse six: “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

This same Old Testament passage is also quoted two other times (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6) by the apostle Paul. Righteousness credited (reckoned) is always dependent on believing what the Lord has said, even if it seems impossible. Many times the faith of the Old Testament believer was predicated upon believing in something that was not yet seen. Another way to say it would be, ‘faith is not seeing yet believing.’ Abraham had no physical heir, while his body at a hundred years old is described “as good as dead.”  Sarah’s womb is expressed as dead and it’s into these conditions that the LORD promises them a child to come from Abraham’s loins. It’s going to take a miracle! Well, God is the God of the impossible, right? He can call “into being that which does not exist.” (Rom. 4:17) Notice though, that Abraham and Sarah had to believe that the LORD could perform that which He promised (Rom. 4:21). The Old Testament does not record that the Holy Spirit overshadowed Sarah and Isaac was conceived. We then draw the conclusion that because they believed what God said He would perform, they did their part and the LORD performed the miracle because they had faith. Check out Galatians 3:5-6 where this passage is cited by Paul. You’ll notice that Paul drives the point home that the Lord works miracles by hearing with faith. The Holy Spirit then is consistent when He moves James to quote Genesis 15:6 in reference to Abraham’s faith being perfected when he willingly offered up Isaac on the altar, intending to follow through as the LORD had commanded. Even if the LORD had allowed Abraham to slay Isaac as an offering, Abraham knew he would get him back by means of a miraculous resurrection (Heb. 11:17-19) because Abraham believed, he knew God was going to perform through Isaac that which He had promised. “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” (Gen. 21:12) Why so steady and sure in this test given him by God? Because Abraham had the LORD’s previous track record in how He had dealt with him personally. There was not a shred of doubt. You believe without any doubt in what the LORD has told you, knowing it is impossible for Him to lie, He will make it happen to His glory-and your benefit! This spiritual character trait is what led to Abraham being “called the friend of God.” As it has been well said, faith produces action. That being said, no one who would claim to be a believer would ever say that what Abraham and Sarah did, or what Abraham did with Isaac, would be categorized as justification through works, right? The scripture clearly states it was faith working in their acts. So why the big hubbub (offered by some) about immersion (baptism) being a work? The Lord, through his appointed apostle Peter, says if you believe the evidence from God’s word that Jesus is both Lord and Christ, you will believe that He is able to perform what He has said. You need to change your mind (repent) from worldly thinking to God’s way of thinking. Remember, the Spirit did move James to also record for our benefit that anyone who “wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) Trust what the Lord says, not the world. If Peter, the Lord’s inspired spokesman, said that in our immersion upon (in) the name of Jesus Christ our sins would be forgiven and we would receive the (indwelling) gift of the Holy Spirit, well then, that’s exactly what the Lord is going to be perform. He’s doing the work through our faith. “and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Col. 2:11, 12) It comes down to whether you believe what God has said. To those of you in Christ, remember the old man died, and God raised a new creation, never before seen, to walk in newness of life. It’s a miracle!! (If you believe)


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