Righteousness and Redemption –

Righteousness is imputed to those who have faith

Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 73: Genesis 22:1-18,
    Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac, by Il Baciccio (Giovanni Battista Gaulli)

Genesis 15:1-21
Habakkuk 2:1-4
Galatians 3:6-11
Psalms 39:1-13
Romans 1:16-18, 3:21-31
Romans 4:1-25
Romans 5:1-21
Romans 9:25 – 10:13
Acts 13:16-17, 26-39
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

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Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac, by Il Baciccio.
"Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac," by Il Baciccio,
from the Gamble family Bible,
now in the private collection of Regina Hunter.

Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 73: Genesis 22:1-18, Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac, by Il Baciccio (Giovanni Battista Gaulli) (9/10/15)

Artists return again and again to the the “Sacrifice of Isaac,” here shown in a painting by Il Baciccio (the painting name of Giovanni Battista Gaulli). But in fact, this story isn’t about the sacrifice of Isaac, it’s about God preventing the sacrifice of Isaac! Child sacrifice, sadly, was the norm rather than the exception for religions in Canaan, so probably Abraham was sad but unsurprised when God suggested that he might consider sacrificing Isaac. God includes a word that almost means, “please,” or “pray”; it’s sort of indicator of politeness in a request that shows it’s not a demand. Once Abraham show that he’s willing to sacrifice everything for God, God in turn says, “Stop! I’ll provide everything you need for the sacrifice, and it won’t be a child.”

Previous Step. Next Step.

Genesis 15:1-21 (8/8/11)

Righteousness is required. I don’t have any. We saw last week that faith can lead to forgiveness, but we didn’t see how that works.

This week and next week we’ll see how it works. Abraham had faith in God, and God counted it as righteousness. This is called “imputed” righteousness, that is, righteousness that is attributed to someone for some other cause.

Habakkuk 2:1-4 (8/9/11)

Apparently it’s not only Abraham who can have faith counted as righteousness. According to the prophet Habakkuk, God says that the righteous person (translated by the Bible in Basic English as “the upright man”) will live through faith.

Galatians 3:6-11 (8/10/11)

Our Old Testament scholar, Paul, quotes Genesis in saying that Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness, and Habakkuk in saying that the righteous will live by faith.

Since God promised Abraham’s blessings to the nations, Paul concludes that God will give Gentiles righteousness through faith. Good news for Gentiles like me!

Psalms 39:1-13 (8/11/11)

David was a man of great faith, and for the most part he was a pretty upright guy. God often referred to him as “my servant David” and “a man after my own heart.” Even so, David is depressed about his inability to do anything right, and he knows that wealth and knowledge are useless. After deep thought, he concludes that his only chance for life is if God, in whom he hopes, will forgive his sins.

Romans 1:16-18, 3:21-31 (8/12/11)

Paul couldn’t put the position more clearly: “a man may get righteousness by faith without the works of the law.” (Of course, the Greek actually says, “a person,” not “a man,” so that’s good news for us gals.)

One thing I’m noticing about the Bible in Basic English is that it lacks nuance. Paul’s Greek is sophisticated, and remember that he was a lawyer, so his sentence structure tends to be incredibly complex. In contrast, BBE’s English in this passage is written at a grade-5 reading level (I checked). So in BBE English in vs. 28, I’m going to “get” – which I could read as “go out and acquire” – righteousness. In Greek, however, I’m going to have righteousness put to my account; the Greek uses the word “reckoned” or “imputed” – and it’s passive. The only thing I have to do is to have faith.

Paul does remind us – just in case we’ve forgotten – that the Law is important.

Romans 4:1-25 (8/15/11)

This week we are going to read extensively from the book of Romans; in particular, from the chapters in which Paul discusses “justification by faith.” This is a phrase that we’ve heard for all of our adult lives, primarily because it’s too complicated to explain to children.

We’ve seen in the past few weeks that righteousness and good works are required, but works righteousness is (a) just about impossible, and (b) doesn’t save us anyway. Then last week we started getting an inkling that although sin = death, there seems to be some mysterious way in which faith = life.

This week Paul is going to explain how this works. Hang in there – remember that Paul talks like a lawyer, and just read one sentence at a time.

Romans 5:1-21 (8/16/11)           
Hunter’s Food-Stamp Model of Righteousness and Redemption
What is
your status?

What do
you need?

How do you get
what you need?

What have
you got?

What counts
as what?

Food Stamps
Food stamps are
counted as money.
Salvation and
Faith is counted as

The whole process in the second row of the table is called “justification by faith.”

Romans 9:25 – 10:13 (8/17/11)

Paul, we remember, was not only a Jew, but a Pharisee, and not only a Pharisee, but a doctor of the Law. If anybody were going to write that the Jews had the inside track on obtaining God’s righteousness, it would have been Paul. If anybody were going to write that the Jews could obtain righteousness through works, it would have been Paul.

But Paul says, no one can obtain the righteousness of God except by faith – and this is true for both Jews and Greeks.

Acts 13:16-17, 26-39 (8/18/11)

Paul’s argument is that Jesus, through our faith in him, can make us free from sin, whereas the Law – while holy and important – can only make us aware of our sin.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (8/19/11)

Earlier this week I pointed out that it’s good news for gals that that scripture says righteousness is available through faith to any “person.” It’s also good news for Gentiles that the Jews and the Gentiles are on an equal footing before God.

But the great news is that we can be cleansed, be made holy, and be made righteous in the name of Jesus Christ! Praise be to God!

More on Righteousness and Redemption
Righteousness is required
Works righteousness is not effective for redemption
Faith, all by itself, can lead forgiveness
Another path to forgiveness: Repentance and Confession
Redemption = Being Ransomed by God from Sin and Death

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