Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
— Genesis 15:6
Wrapped into the story of Abraham is this foundational truth about eternal salvation. The apostle Paul picks up this truth and unpacks it for us in Romans 4 (see also Galatians 3). This helps us to see that there is only one way to be made right with God—and that is through faith.
In Romans 4, Paul speaks of two kinds of righteousness. The first kind has to do with keeping God’s law in order to be acceptable to God. In this scenario, hard work and self-sacrificing service earn the award of being righteous before God. Only Jesus could accomplish this, because he is the only human who never sinned or broke God’s law.
The other kind of righteousness is applied through faith in God and in his power to save us through Jesus, his Son. When we believe and trust in God, as Abraham did, we are credited with the righteousness that Jesus earned for us. This benefit comes to all who believe—from Abraham on down through the centuries to us today. When God looks at us, he doesn’t see all the good or bad things we have done. Instead, he sees us clothed in Jesus’ righteousness.
Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice is sufficient for our complete salvation. There is nothing we can add to it. The only thing left is to believe, receive eternal life, and demonstrate our gratitude through a life of humble service.
Lord Jesus, thank you for all you have done to save us, so that we can be credited with your righteousness. Guide us to trust and serve you always. Amen.