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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

February 26, 2016

Achievements and recognition

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

Some people who have great achievements to their credit seek fame. And sometimes their achievements are readily recognized by others. Images of famous people honored for what they have done have appeared on postage stamps. Some have monuments erected to honor them, others have streets, squares or schools named after them.

Perhaps those who have achieved a lot can seek fame from others, but not from God. That is even true of those who seek to lead a righteous life. With their "achievements" – their own righteousness – they cannot earn anything with God.

Take for example the life of the patriarch Abraham, whom the Bible calls "the father of us all" (Romans 4:16). What was the basis of his righteousness in God's sight? Paul's epistle to the Romans gives us a clear answer: "What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God" (Romans 4:1-2).

The book of Romans shows us that even a man as famous as Abraham could boast about his achievements – his works – before God. It wasn't Abraham's works that secured for him the promises of God. It was God's grace. Abraham's works were not what caused God to deem him a righteous man.

That might seem to be a contradiction, because God confirms Abraham's obedience: "Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws" (Genesis 26:5). Abraham had such "achievements", but they by themselves were not capable of imparting righteous to him.

So how was Abraham deemed righteous in God's sight? "For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Romans 4;3).

And it was this faith and the justification imparted via it that were the basis of the works that Abraham did in obedience to God. That is what the apostle James tells us: "Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?" (James 2:22).

Faith was the basis of Abraham's obedience toward God. His "achievements" were faith-based and a confirmation of that faith.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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