I love semantics. As a writer, verbal sparring often leaves me gasping for breath, but, give me a paper and a pen (and a dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopedia) and I’ll bury you in etymology.
Recently, I was sidetracked from an entire morning of Bible study by the tiny little word, “in”, and more accurately, its absence.
Genesis 15:6 says, “ And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”
Principally, when we’re discussing imputed righteousness with other Christians or the tenants of the Christian faith with an unbeliever, we say, “You must believe in Jesus Christ.” That’s not entirely wrong, but I wonder if it doesn’t leave out an integral aspect of the Gospel.
In His time on earth, Jesus didn’t just talk about eternal life, but abundant life and complete joy. (John 10:10, John 15:11) And which one of us hasn’t envied Abraham or Moses, even a little bit, for the face-to-face, by name, friendship they had with God? But, by and large, the modern Christian pins their hope on a futuristic heaven, even “pie in the sky” imagery that really doesn’t translate well into daily life. In fact, those behind the pulpit spend more time reminding their flock that, “The best is yet to come,” and “In this life you will have suffering,” and “The world is going to hell in a hand-basket,” imposing a “grin and bear it” attitude.
But, on this side of the cross, shouldn’t our experience and awareness of the God who is our Father and Savior be even more palpable than that of Moses and Abraham? Now that, as Jesus told us, He lives inside of each believer, shouldn’t we feel His friendship—at least as well as Abraham and Moses did? He has walked side-by-side with men since the Garden of Eden! I mean, this God, our God, has the dust of our streets on His feet!
Jesus made this planet His home. God came down and dwelt among us in human flesh and He did not leave. Though the physical body of Jesus Christ ascended to the right hand of God the Father, we delude ourselves if we think and act as if He does not dwell among us now with as much reality as He did in the New Testament.
So what does this have to do with the two-letter word I mentioned in the beginning of this article? Glance back with me to the story unfolding just before Genesis 15:6.
In these verses, God promised Abraham, a very old and childless man, a son from his own loins and a nation of descendants—as many as the stars: “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5)
The very next line: “Abraham believed God and He credited it to him as righteousness.”
What did Abraham believe? Abraham believed that God would indeed give him a male heir, and that God would indeed make him a mighty nation, and that God would indeed be his shield and very great reward.
In the New Testament, we learn the repercussion of Abraham believing God. James 2:23:
“ … and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God.”
To bring this closer to home, think of your current, human relationships. Do you merely believe that your spouse, friend or child exists? Of course not! If that were the case, they might be no more real than Santa Claus whom many children believe “in” and learn later was only their imagination.
To establish relationship and friendship, there must be trust. When you believe someone, when you place stock in their word, you express confidence not only in their validity but in their character. If I merely believe “in” my husband, there’s not much to build a marriage upon.
But, when I believe him—the things he says and promises—I am investing in the relationship. I can believe “in” someone based on someone else’s word, but I can only believe someone by trusting them—in and of themselves.
And this is where we find the key to Abraham’s friendship with God—the frequently missing element in the modern Christian’s life. It’s almost easy, anymore, to believe in God, and particularly easy to believe in “a” god. That leads to difficulty in defining the Christian from other god-followers. Many believe in “a” god, but only those who follow Jesus Christ believe God Himself and can be called His friend.Genre: Bible Study, Christian Non-fiction ISBN-10: 1632131145 ISBN-13: 978-1632131140