What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Now when a man
works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an
obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who
justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David
says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to
whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
My wife and I are good friends with a couple who spent years trying to get pregnant without success. When it eventually grew clear it wasn’t going to happen, their desire for a family with children motivated them to choose adoption. They took in a natural brother and sister and raised them as their own. Wouldn’t you know it, a few years later—isn’t God a hoot?—they finally got pregnant on their own. In situations like this it’s not uncommon for the previously adopted children to experience a sense of anxiety concerning their new “status” in the family, an unnecessary—but entirely natural—fear that as children born to other parents, they’ll somehow be seen with less favor than the children born to their new parents.