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#348 SUNDAY SCHOOL GENESIS 15:1-6
GOD, OUR SHIELD AND GREAT REWARD FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
# 348 GENESIS 15:1-6 "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
The verses we have cited begin with a connecting phrase. When a passage of Scripture has a connecting phrase, we must take the previous verses into consideration in order to properly understand the message.
In GEN 15:1 we read, "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Why was the Lord dealing with the element of fear in Abram's life at this point? Abram had just successfully defeated the kings that had overthrown Sodom and taken his nephew Lot as prisoner. With only 300 men, Abram defeated the kings, rescued Lot, and recovered the spoil. With only 300 men, Abram could not destroy all of the kings armies, so there was the possibility of them reorganizing. That caused Abram to fear.
In Psalm 3, David, the man after God's own heart speaks of this fear. PSA 3:1-6 says, "LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about." This is the same position in which Abram found himself. He had seen ten thousands of people that he knew could again beset him. It was at this time that the Lord came to Abram and said, "Fear not."
It was after the Lord had wrought such a wondrous victory with such a few men that " the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." A shield is something that is placed between the enemy and us. That shield was placed there by the Lord. The Lord Himself was the shield.
When we are afraid, our heart trembles at what flesh can do. Even in an election, many hearts tremble when they see a man of sin promoting homosexuality, abortion and other ungodly actions in a place of authority. It is a consolation to know the Lord our maker. Consider what we read in ISA 51:12-16: "I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people."
Do you see the precious consolation the people of God have? The blessed promise the Lord gave Abram is for His church. He is our shield. Sometimes we are confronted with a poor economy. Will we have enough groceries for our family? We have so many things that can cause the flesh to worry, but we have God's blessed consolation.
Do you want the consolation we just read from ISA 51:16? Remember, it says, "And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people." Do you want that type of consolation in your soul at a time when all the elements of nature are coming against you?
After Abram had pitched his tent "...in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD," he was in the way of obedience. What is that? It is the way of righteousness which is the King's highway to peace.
How did Abram come to this point? He had pitched his tent at Hebron. The word "Hebron" means the place of fellowship with his God. Abram came into obedience; he walked in the ways of the Lord. He returned to Hebron after victory over the kings of Sodom. He returned to the place of fellowship with his God. Then God came to him in a vision in GEN 15:1, "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Immediately after Abram's refreshing time with the King of Peace, Satan tried to snatch away God's blessings. This is a very important principle. We have many examples demonstrating that the most dangerous time for God's people is immediately after one of God's rich blessings. Why? We are off guard, and Satan is lurking, ready to snatch us.
Immediately after the King of Peace had brought bread and wine to refresh Abram following the battle, Satan tried to catch him in a weak moment. We see in GEN 14:21-23 the next events. "And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. [Satan was trying to catch Abram in a weak moment, at the time he was so refreshed from his visit with the King of Peace. While he was sitting there, Satan came with his snare, saying, "Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself."] And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich." Abram did not fall into the trap, but gave God the glory; Abram promised not to accept anything.
That is the background for GEN 15:1. Abram had stood the trial of obedience and the devices of Satan. The Lord had spared him from the snare. "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." After Abram came into total surrender to the will of God, the Lord came to Abram with a very special blessing.
What a contrast we see in Balaam and his response to the offer Balak made him! Balaam loved the wages of unrighteousness while Abram loved the wages of righteousness. What a difference we see in the two men. JUD 1:11 says, "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." Do you see the distinction between the rewards? The Lord will reward every person according to his doings.
There are certain principles that are taught throughout Scripture. The gospel principle of a reward for our actions that Jesus taught in MAT 16:27 is one that reveals itself throughout the Scriptures. "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." Jesus will come with all His kingly authority and glory, and then He shall reward everyone according to his works. He will reward Balaam as well as Abram. We must ask ourselves whose train were following. Are we running greedily after the reward of unrighteousness, or are we following the example of Abram? The Lord Jesus is the shield between Abram and all the powers of hell. Balak was the shield for Balaam? Balaam had his reward "and perished in the gainsaying of Core."
This same principle comes through in ROM 2:6-8, "Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life [That is their reward, but see the contrasting reward.]: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath." Abram's reward was from the Lord; Balaam's reward was also from the Lord. Why were they different rewards? Abram walked in the way that leads to peace, and Balaam walked in the way of gratification of the flesh. Those who are contentious are those who contend with the Word of God and His authority. They are gainsayers who obey unrighteousness instead of the truth. Each person will reap the reward they have sown. Every man will receive a reward.
By faith Moses, like Abram, understood that God rewards the righteous and the wicked. Moses was in a position to inherit the kingdom of Egypt, but he chose to give up all that. Why? He had respect unto the recompense of the reward. He understood what his reward would be if he pursued the glory, honor, and riches of this world. He also understood the recompense of the reward of those who suffer shame for Christ's name. He made his choice.
We are in the same position. It doesn't matter who we are or who we think we are. The Lord is looking at the choice of our hearts. Are we longing and yearning after the things that pertain to this life, things that bring glory to the flesh? If so, it is seen by the Lord. Our hearts' desires are as evident as our actions.
We see Moses choice in HEB 11:24 26: "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season [Why?]; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward."
If you and I understand that reward, and that every person will be rewarded according to his deeds, we know we will be judged on the basis of whom we have served. I have not found one place in Scripture where we will have a chance on the Judgment Day to give an account of our testimony. That is not the basis of judgment. It is not a matter of what we have experienced. However, throughout Scripture, we are told we will be judged on the basis of whom we have served. That is what this lesson teaches us so emphatically. It is God "Who will render to every man according to his deeds." We see Moses who forfeited everything, preferring to suffer affliction with the people of God, to attain even greater riches. Why are they greater? It is the recompense of the reward.
Now GEN 15:1 says, "After these things [after Abram had stood the trial of the obedience of his faith in rejecting the reward from the king of Sodom] the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." What a precious reward there is for those able to forsake the treasures of Sodom, Egypt, or any of the present day temptations and are able to look at the recompense of reward that the Lord has in store for those who fear Him.
That preparatory language, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield," is a great part of a believer's reward today. You and I today must understand what a tremendous privilege it is to claim the promise of "I am thy shield" in this lifetime. We are going to be assaulted and attacked by so many trials and temptations of Satan. Satan will hold out little bits of honor and rewards of the flesh. There will be offers of something to try to draw us away from the will of God.
Abram had not only refused the spoil of Sodom, but he had not hesitated to go to war against the Lord's enemies. We must understand that we, too, must be willing to war against the principalities and powers of Satan that we read of in EPH 6:12, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." It is a constant struggle to determine who will be on the throne of our hearts. Are we going to serve Christ, or will we let Satan sit upon that throne? We cannot divide the throne; it will be for one or the other.
JER 48:10 says, "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood." If you are a wimp in the army of Christ, you will end up with His curse against you. We must war against these temptations and evil desires. We must be willing to wield the Sword of the Spirit and fight in the armies of Christ.
Now after Abram had gone to war with the Lord's enemies, he received that blessed assurance of, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." We must by faith fight against the enemies of Christ, the enemies of our own souls, and the power of Satan. It was only after Abram went to war and succeeded that the Lord came with His blessed assurance. The Lord was Abram's shield during the war. It was the Lord who protected him and his 300 men against those thousands so they were not able to touch them. Abram need not fear now, for the Lord would continue to be his shield. Why was that such a great reward? It pertained to the salvation of his soul.
The Psalmist also spoke of this blessed assurance in PSA 118:5-8, "I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me."
When we walk in the ways of the Lord, the Lord becomes our shield; He is on our side. It is then that we can truly say we will not fear what man can do to us. Will they exclude us from their company? Sure. Is that a cause for fear? No. We can come home rejoicing and leaping for joy because we were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ, Cf. LUK 6:23. Our reward is great in heaven.
Abram's godliness in refusing the rewards of the King of Sodom was now more than compensated by this blessed revelation from God. Watch what happened.
Abram had followed the godly principle taught in PRO 25:21-22 with his nephew Lot who had been striving with him over property. Lot made his choice, and then he and his family and their possessions were taken captive. Abram came to his rescue with 300 men. Now Lot and all his family and possessions were in Abram's hands. What did he do? First, Abram had to put his own life at peril to redeem them. PRO 25:21-22 says, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee." Abram had done this; he heaped coals of fire upon Lot's head.
Abram's reward of love to his spiritual brother who separated because of strife proved that "...love is strong as death...the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it," SON 8:6-7. Abram's love for Lot was not quenched by their strife. Abram's desire to see Lot's welfare was not altered, and he was willing to put his own life in peril to spare his brother, Lot.
Abram heaped these coals of fire upon Lot's head, and the LORD did reward him with abundance of peace. It was "After these things...," that the words Fear not brought Abram great peace.
This principle is so important! How many of God's people forfeit their own peace by their acceptance of a little honor from the world? That acceptance can bring nothing but confusion in our own life. Confusion, contention, and discord occur because we are not able or willing to completely surrender everything of us to the will of God.
ISA 26:2-3 says, "Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Abram had a holy reverence for the will of God, and the Lord came with such a blessed revelation: "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Unto such, God promises to be their "shield," their defense and place of trust, They can truly say with PSA 16:5, "The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot."
The Lord maintains all of our needs and the peace in our souls if our hearts are in surrender to His will. We are reconciled to the Lord.
As Abram saw that blessed vision of the God of peace and heard those precious consolations, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward," the fact that he had no children became his greatest riddle. The Lord told Abram what a tremendous reward he would have, and his mind went back to God's promises in GEN 13:15-17. "For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. [Now Abram was 90 years old; he had no children. His wife was past the time of life.] And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee."
As Abram pondered these great promises, he puzzled over the fact that he had no children. The time had gone by and it was no longer possible for them to have children. Have you ever suffered such a riddle in which God's promise has not been fulfilled, and you feel the time in which it is possible to do it is past?
In GEN 15:2-4 Abram is reasoning with the Lord. "And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir." Abram recognized that heir-ship is based upon son-ship, and he had no sons.
ROM 8:16-17 says, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
It was a riddle. He could not understand how he could be given such rich promises for his seed when he had no children. He was past the time of life.
Then the Lord answered Abram's riddle in GEN 15:4-5, "And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be."
Now Abram started reasoning with human reasoning. Sarai said that ten years had gone by, and they still did not have any children. They reasoned that if Abram took Hagar, the child would still be coming from his own bowels. Abram pleaded before the Lord when the Lord came to tell Abram that Sarai should have a son. GEN 17:18 says, "And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!" Abram was using human reasoning.
You and I do that easily. We try to fill in where the Lord has not yet filled the promises He gave us. The Lord makes the promise, but He does not tell us how He will accomplish it. Such human reasoning usually brings much grief into our lives.
There is an important point we should not miss. The Lord is distinguishing between Abram's seed after the flesh and his spiritual seed. In GEN 13:16, God told Abram, "And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered," but now He says, "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be." This is talking about Abram's spiritual seed. Why does he refer to them as stars? Stars have light within themselves. There is no light in dust. The light within the stars is a comparison to Abram's spiritual seed for they have "Christ in you." Christ in you becomes a light in you. You can be compared to a star because a star has light within itself just as the sun does. That light within the saints is Christ formed in them. Jesus said in MAT 5:14," "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid." This light is Christ formed in you which is your hope of glory. Therefore, Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven," MAT 5:16.
In this spiritual seed of Abraham, we see the promised Messiah. GAL 3:16 says, Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." This is the Lord's message to Abram in the vision. Not only will you have children, but through your children, the Messiah will come. That is how sure it is that you will have children. That was the absolute confirmation that it could not fail. The Messiah would descend from that seed.
This multitude which the Lord compared to the stars are those who are found in Christ. We see this in GAL 3:29, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Abraham's seed after the flesh are the scribes and Pharisees, the Jews. Listen to the conversation in JOH 8:39, "They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." The Pharisees were the seed of Abraham after the flesh; they were not the seed of Abraham found in the promises. The promises are to Abraham and his seed who are in Christ. GAL 3:29 says, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Abram "...believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." It is only through the vehicle of faith that we become the heirs of the promises. Faith is the instrument that the Lord uses to bring you and me into possession of the inheritance of the promise. GAL 3:26-27 says, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
It is about this blessed revelation which Abram had of the Messiah that Jesus spoke in 8:56, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." Where did Abraham see that day? Look at GEN 15:6 which says, "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." He was speaking about the righteousness of faith. It is the time when Abraham saw and was glad.
It was this righteousness of faith, i.e., Abraham's receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ while he was yet uncircumcised, of which the apostle Paul spoke in ROM 4:9-10, "Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision." Abraham was yet uncircumcised in GEN 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." The apostle Paul is speaking about this righteousness of faith.
The covenant of circumcision was given later as the type of the righteousness of faith. ROM 4:11 says, "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 [the obedience of Christ] might be imputed unto them also." What does this teach us? We need to ask another question first.
What did Abraham see when he saw Christ's day and was glad? He saw that the righteousness of Christ, His perfect obedience, was going to be imputed to him. Christ became a debtor to do the whole law for His church by submitting to circumcision. Abraham saw this by faith. Read ROM 4:11 again. "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."
Abram received circumcision which was a sign of the righteousness of faith, the perfect obedience of Christ. That seal was Abraham's blessed assurance. A seal on a court document is notarized and stamped before it becomes a valid document. He received that circumcision as that seal, as a mark of genuineness. It was his guarantee that the Messiah would be circumcised and become a debtor to do the whole law for His church. In the circumcision of Christ, Abraham saw that he would have the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to him.
It was by faith that Christ's perfect satisfaction of the law was imputed and imparted to Abraham. Let's look at the difference between imputed and imparted righteousness. Imputed means that in the eyes of the law, as far as satisfying the debt, Christ's righteousness is ours. The perfect obedience of Christ becomes our obedience. That brings us to walk Christlike; Christ is formed in us. That was imputed to Abraham. Imparted means that God revealed it to Abraham. By faith, Abraham saw Christ's day and was glad.
GAL 3:29 says, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." We are complete in Christ when we receive His circumcision, baptism, and resurrection.
Some people claim that circumcision was replaced by baptism. Circumcision was Christ's pledge to satisfy the entire law, being made a debtor to do the whole law for the church. His baptism was when He was marked for death, to be placed under the wrath of the Father and take the penalty of sin. Use your reasoning and logic to explain how one can replace the other. We must have both. We need His circumcision, His baptism, and His resurrection. They are equally important.
Let me show you this in COL 2:10-12, "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." We are circumcised by the circumcision of Christ. Christ became a debtor to do the whole law. Christ bowed under the authority of the Father and with perfection, satisfied the law. Now His righteousness is imputed to you and me, by faith. So we need that circumcision of Christ.
Verse 12 continues, "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Notice that verse 12 does not say baptism replaced circumcision; it shows wherein we are complete. We are complete by being circumcised in Christ; we are buried with Him in baptism, and risen with Him through faith. We need all three. We must have the circumcision of Christ imputed to us; we must have that baptism of Christ, we are baptized with Him into death. We must have the resurrection of Christ, raised out of the things of this world unto a newness of life. How are we raised up from death? It is by faith.
This is why Paul so earnestly warns against those who yet want to preach circumcision. The preaching of circumcision is a horrible thing. In GAL 5:11 Paul says, "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased." What does he mean by that statement? In other words, if Paul preached the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision, then Christ's death on the cross means nothing. Why is that? If we yet preach circumcision, we nullify our circumcision which we have by the circumcision of Christ.
To confirm this conclusion, let's read GAL 5:2-5 which says, "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. [Why? Cultivate your logic. If I am circumcised in Christ, then become re-circumcised, it nullifies my circumcision in Christ.] For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." Am I stretching the truth to make my point, or am I just laying out what Scriptures say?
In other words, Paul wants us to come back to what Abraham received in circumcision. Don't forget that it was by faith that he saw Christ coming in our stead to satisfy the law with perfect obedience. What Abraham saw by faith, which was sealed by the covenant of circumcision, was that the righteousness of Christ, i.e., His perfect obedience, was being imputed to the Church of Christ. When you and I are baptized into the circumcision covenant, we become a debtor to do the whole law, and Christs obedience which He pledged in behalf of His church, avails us nothing. This is because we thereby nullify the circumscision of Christ on our behalf. COL 2:9-11 says, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised . . . by the circumcision of Christ." See how we become complete in Christ! His circumcision was His pledge to perfect obedience to the law on behalf of His church; and His baptism was His pledge to pay the penalty in behalf of His church, being immersed in the wrath of the Father against our sin, thereby becoming the propitiation for our sin.
Infant baptism becomes scary when you rightly understand that baptism could not replace circumcision. They were co-essential. When you want to sprinkle a child back into the covenant of circumcision, you place him back under the law as a debtor to keep the whole law. It is far more than a difference of opinion. It makes the perfect obedience and death of Christ of no effect.
I don't like to speak about various church doctrines, but in this case I'm breaking my rule. The Roman Catholics have no quarrel if someone says they are placing a baptized infant back under the law. It is their doctrine that infant baptism removes original sin. They still preach the Old Testament and the law. They are actually teaching that one is saved by works. If a person commits a sin, he goes to the priest, makes his atonement, and is back on his way to heaven. They preach Old Testament faith under the ceremonial law. They do not understand that by doing so, Christ's atonement avails them nothing. That is where infant baptism began.
If you ask a Roman Catholic priest where in Scripture you find authority for infant baptism, he will probably tell you they make no claim it is in the Scriptures. That came to a Pope by a revelation from Mary. That is the origin of infant baptism. By baptizing an infant, the parents are placing their child back under the law.
Faith is the channel or instrument whereby this obedience or righteousness of Christ is revealed to us. In ACT 13:38-39 we read, "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." It is through Him that forgiveness of sin is preached by His imparted righteousness. We cannot earn heaven by keeping the law in a Pharicsaical way. Our only path is through His perfect obedience being imputed to us.
The word "righteousness" in the original means acquittal by obedience. There are two forms of righteousness. One is to be justified through satisfying the law by paying the penalty. The other is by acquittal, being found innocent. By faith, Abraham saw that by the perfect obedience of Christ being imputed to us, we are acquitted.
The reward about which the Lord spoke to Abram cannot be separated from this righteousness or obedience of faith as we see in COL 3:23-25. "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons." Can we separate obedience from salvation? When the Lord has renewed your heart and soul, He brought you into His service. No person will ever be justified outside of the perfect righteousness of Christ.
The man after God's own heart tells us in PSA 19:8-11, "The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward."
First, to better understand those verses let us consider the meaning of the words, "The fear of the LORD." The definition is found in PRO 8:13, "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Then we must understand there is a difference between merit and reward. If you work an eight hour day, you have a right to go to your employer and ask for your wages. You have earned them. That is merit. However, if you have done nothing, but the employer is pleased with something you said or did that had no merit, any pay is a reward. A reward is something above what you have coming.
This is what the Lord is saying about those who keep His commandments. It is only in the merit of Christ that you and I have salvation. We can never receive salvation because of our works. However, it is not a contradiction to say we will not receive salvation without works. JAM 2:18 says, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." Faith without works is dead, as dead as a body without breath. JAM 2:26 says, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." Works we do out of love for the Lord as we keep His commandments are the works of faith; our service to Him pleases the Lord.
"Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." The Lord will reward and honor those who honor Him. How do you and I honor the Lord? It is by having a holy reverence for His will. Amen.
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