The God Who Wants Us to Believe in Him
Paul continues to explain that God has been telling the same story all along.
Abraham didn’t earn right standing before God by following the law. God hadn’t given the law yet. Abraham simply trusted that God was able to declare him, an unrighteous man, as righteous. And God did. All God’s people—including Jews—become righteous in the same way: by trusting in God’s ability to make us so.
Paul explains that if God’s people were defined by their ability to follow the law, then God would have no people at all because no one can follow it exactly. The only way for God to have followers is for him to do what he does—to “[call] into being things that were not” (Romans 4:17), to count those who believe in him as righteous when they aren’t. We have our righteousness credited to us by God because by faith we believe in God and in what he says—just like Abraham did.
God loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us while we were his enemies. And he did it all to declare us right with him through his blood. Even though Adam ushered sin into the world, Jesus makes righteousness available for the entire world. And that is a cause for great celebration.
The King’s Heart
From the beginning, God has wanted his people to believe in him. “Trust me that I’ll take care of you here in the wilderness,” he was saying as he sent manna to his hungry people. “Trust me that I can defeat these enemies,” he said to his people as they stood outside the promised land with ten spies saying it couldn’t be done. God has always wanted people to believe in his good heart and his ability to save them.
Our belief in God is so important to him that it’s how he chooses to make us right with him. Our very salvation depends on heart-trust in him.
“Trust that I can do this,” he says. “Trust that I have the ability to call into being things that were not. Trust that I am good enough and powerful enough to deem you righteous even though you aren’t. And when you believe in me, I will do what you believe I will—I will make you righteous. Because I truly am that powerful and that good.”
God promised Abraham a certain plot of land—the promised land (see Genesis 12:1-7). But through this new covenant, Abraham’s family would inherit the world (see Romans 4:13). All land would be holy land.