Abraham The Justified

Abraham The Justified

[Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
–Genesis 15:6

The Academy Award-winning movie “The Last Emperor” tells the story of a young boy who is anointed as the last emperor of China. In one scene, the emperor’s younger brother asks him about the perks of his new role. The young emperor says, “If I am naughty, someone else is punished.” Then he breaks a jar, and he summons one of his servants to be beaten for it.

The Bible says that all of us have done wrong, and our sin demands that someone be punished. But Jesus Christ reversed that ancient pattern–when we do something wrong, the Emperor suffers. Philip Yancy said it best when he wrote, “Grace is free only because the giver himself has borne the cost.” All of us are saved in the same way: by the blood of Jesus Christ, who bore the cost for our wrongdoing. It is His death on the cross that secures our salvation.

But what about the Old Testament saints who lived hundreds or thousands of years before Jesus? How were they saved? The answer is found in Genesis 15:6. This single verse explains how Abraham was saved, how Noah was saved, how David was saved, and how you and I are saved today. It says, “[Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

What does it mean that Abraham “believed in the Lord”? It means more than he simply believed in the existence of God. Believing that God exists will not get you to heaven. The context here is God’s promise to Abraham back in Genesis 12, specifically the spiritual component of that promise: “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (v. 3). That was a reference to the Messiah. Through the lineage of Abraham, there was coming a Savior who would save the entire world from their sin–not because they deserved it, but because of God’s grace alone.

Paul wrote in Galatians 3:8-9, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”

Before Christ came, the Old Testament saints looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, who by God’s grace would save them from their sins. That is how Abraham was saved, and that is how we are saved today: by believing that salvation is based on God’s grace alone.


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

“The Last Emperor,” dir. Bernardo Bertolucci (Hemdale and Recorded Picture Company, 1987); Philip Yancey, “What’s So Amazing about Grace?” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 67.

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