A Heavenly Transaction

A Heavenly Transaction

To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.
–Romans 4:5

Years ago, I received a letter in the mail from the Internal Revenue Service. To my surprise, it contained good news. The letter said, “We are happy to inform you that you have a tax refund coming.” And they sent me a check signifying that I had a tax refund of $40.09. Now, that money did not automatically go into my account. First, I had to show a little bit of faith. I had to believe that the government had at least $40.09, and I had to be willing to demonstrate my faith by taking that check to the bank. Then, at the bank, a transaction took place. The tellers took that check and exchanged it for $40.09. They subtracted it from the government’s account, they put it into my account. That is magical, isn’t it?

That is a picture of how you and I are saved and how Abraham was saved: through faith. God promised Abraham that through his lineage would come a Savior, who by God’s grace would save the world from their sin. And Genesis 15:6 says, “He believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

The word for “reckoned” is an accounting term. It described a transaction in which one person’s ledger was debited and another person’s ledger was credited. When Abraham believed that it was only God’s grace that could save him, his faith, as little as it might have been, was enough to be exchanged for the righteousness of God. Abraham knew that his salvation was apart from his works; it was by God’s grace alone, through faith.

Now, if anybody could be saved by good works, surely it would have been Abraham. After all, Abraham left his homeland to go to a foreign land he had never seen, simply because God told him to. Later on, he was willing to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Truly, if any man could be saved by good works, it would have been Abraham.

But even Abraham’s good works were not good enough before a holy God. Romans 4 says, “If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ . . . To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (vv. 2-3, 5).

Justification, or right standing with God, is based on grace and received through faith.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Abraham the Justified” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org