The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Romans 4:13-25 Paul argues that there is a difference between law and promise. Lutherans will often make that a difference between law and gospel. God’s promise to Abraham was just that, a promise. If it were a matter of law it would somehow depend on Abraham’s obedience. Yet God made the promise and he fully intended to keep it. To prove his intent, God prevented Abraham from having the child of promise until he and his wife were much too old to have children. He further promised Abraham and his descendants a great land, but Abraham himself never obtained that land.
The heart and center of the promise is that it’s God’s promise. Abraham received it by faith. There was nothing else he could do. There was no way he could earn a promise. There was no good deed he could do which would make him inherit the land. There was nothing he could do to generate countless offspring. It was not a matter of law.
Paul argues that the salvation of Christians is also a matter of promise. Just as he made promises to Abraham, God makes promises to all who would believe on him through Jesus. Those promises are things that we could never earn or obtain by our works - eternal life, forgiveness, grace, peace with God, etc. The Christian life is one of receiving God’s promises, not of earning a wage. In this way, Christianity is truly different from every other world religion.
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