Read Romans 4:13-22
The word "promise" appears 4 times (verses 13,14,16 and 20) and also appears as a verb "promised" in verse 21. This section is focused on the promise - God's promise and who can receive it. We continue on through the example presented here in scripture, Abraham. Beginning with the truth that Abraham was made righteous because he believed God. This was then followed by the response to a challenge that Paul expected to this truth, that it was instead because of the covenant of circumcision. This is then unpacked by studying the timeline between Genesis 15:6 and Genesis 17 where 14 years sit between Abraham being recognised as righteous by God and the giving of the covenant. Abraham is therefore not only the forefather of the Jews, but in fact, all Christians follow in Abraham's footsteps of faith!
This, therefore, means that we can stand on God's promise that Abraham is the "heir of the world". That Abraham is the blessing to all the nations (through his faith and through our faith), not the promised land, but rather all the world - to all who believe! This is remarkable.
Those who think it is linked to works, linked to obedience to the law are therefore mistaken. There are in fact, 430 years between the promise given to Abraham and therefore to all the nations, and God giving the law to Moses. This all reiterates that righteousness comes from faith!
If the promise does depend on obedience to the law, we can be sure that it will never happen. Thank God that we don't have to rely on ourselves for this promise. People can never obey the law adequately enough. The law is there to show us our need for a saviour.
The reverse is therefore true - the law brings wrath (verse 15). How can this be? Well, think of a child being told that they can't do something. The line has been drawn. The rule has been made. When they break that rule, they transgress - they cross over the line that has been drawn. Without the line being drawn in the first place, there could be no transgression, no disobedience. This is not to say there would be no sin. Not all sins are transgressions, but all transgressions are sins.
Instead, we are shown God's promise - that is, God, who gives life. The idea of offspring, of descendants. God is the creator and the one who gives life. Drawing on the story of Abraham and Sarah having Issac at a very old age. God has transformed and made something out of nothing. He has performed a miracle. God spoke and made the promise of many nations. We incorrectly inferred physical, but God has shown as the spiritual blessings completed through Christ.
Abraham and Sarah are remembered in chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews - the Hall of Faith. Abraham believed that Sarah would bare him a son, a descendant. This faith in the hope of God to His promise is still the promise we are to receive today, that we receive through faith. Even when they tried to take matters into their own hands, they did not waiver from their belief regarding the promise of God. God has done all this for His glory - so that He would be glorified! The age of Sarah and Abraham when they conceived Isaac, only showed us more that it could only have been done through a miracle, the hand of God. A miracle for all the world to hear and know!
So, how do we think about faith?
Are there things that we believe? Doctrinal statements, e.g. Jesus is the son of God?
Is faith our open hands and heart to receive God's gift of grace?
Our faith is a response to God, not a task (work) that puts God in our debt. We are always so tempted to work for our salvation. Believe that we must do something to earn God's love and His saving power.
Think about the power of faith. Do we think of our faith as strong? We should rather be thinking of the one that we have faith in! God! Abraham and Sarah didn't believe in the miracle, but rather the one who completed the miracle - the one who continues to do miracles and amazing things in your life!