Counted as Righteous (Genesis 15)

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Service Notes

First Sunday after Trinity + June 3, 2018
  • Order of Service: Divine Service 1
  • Hymns: LSB #700, 768, 728, 669, 744

Theme Verse

And [Abram] believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)

Sermon Text

In the person of Abram, you have one of the greatest religious figures in all of human history. He is one of the premier figures in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. He is considered a father of the faith in all three.[1] All three hold him with great reverence and awe. All because God counted his faith as righteousness.

Abram believed the LORD.[2] This is the basis for Abram's high standing in the major religions of the world. But what did Abram believe? He believed God's Word. He had believed Him from the very beginning of His revelations to him.

This morning, God appears to Abram and says, "I am your shield."[3] God had been Abram's shield "through many dangers, toils, and snares" ever since he had left Haran.[4] God had always been good to him. God had ensured that everything and everyone Abram loved was taken care of. He had come into some great rewards for his faithfulness.[5]

But one thing troubled him. His faith wasn't foolproof and unwavering. Doubt still plagued his mind. As God appeared to him, Abram replied, "I continue childless."[6] He had been given great promises, but he had no one to share it with. He had his wife Sarai, but she would die soon after him. One of his servants, Eliezer of Damascus, would inherit everything.[7] It didn't seem fair. He had gathered together great riches, but there was no heir to pass them onto.

But Abram didn't trust in his riches. He knew that God could easily take them away. He knew the great lines from this morning's Psalm. "The king is not saved by his great army."[8] "A warrior is not delivered by his strength."[9] "The war horse is a false hope for salvation."[10] Putting faith in anything in this world is fruitless. Nothing in this world can save you. Nothing in this world is worthy of your faith.

Your faith must be in God's Word. The Word that doesn't change. Jesus called for His disciples to believe in Moses and the Prophets.[11] For His disciples, the Old Testament were the Holy Scriptures to be believed. God laid down a firm foundation in Moses and the Prophets so that all might believe in Him.[12] This firm foundation is why He commands us to study and hear it. Only through God's Word can you find salvation.

The rich man in Jesus' parable found this out too late. He wanted Lazarus to be resurrected and sent to his brothers so that they might hear and believe. But Abraham must tell him, "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."[13] Only through the Word can you know Jesus Christ rightly.[14] Many people think they know Jesus, but their Jesus is only a product of their own imagination and reasoning. They make Jesus into what they want Him to be. Not what He reveals Himself to be. Therefore He encourages you to "Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God."[15]

Fahmi, you know this idea firsthand. Getting ready to graduate from high school this week, you've had plenty of opportunities to show the teachers at Spring Lake Park that you have studied. You have learned what they want you to know before you graduate high school. The Christian life, upon which you have embarked this morning, is the same way. You have been brought into the Church through Baptism, but it is only the first step. There is still much to learn about Christ and the faith and how both affect your life. This is why the Church continues to teach the same message. The message that the rich man and his brothers ignored as outdated and irrelevant. But Abram believed the message.

Fahmi, I encourage you to continue your study. Not just post high school. But here. In this place. Studying earnestly to show yourself approved. That you might be able to examine yourself properly so that you might receive all the great blessings God has for His children. The blessings where God physically shows you that He counts you as righteous.

The LORD counted Abram as righteous by faith.[16] Because Abram still clung to God's promises, even when they seemed ridiculous, God continued to give him promise after promise. "Your very own son shall be your heir."[17] "Number the stars, if you are able … so shall your offspring be."[18] Abram would become "the father of a multitude of nations."[19] Therefore, the rich man can plead to Father Abraham.[20] But Father Abraham couldn't save him. The rich man was in torment in Hades because God counted him as unrighteous. Unrighteous because he didn't show love to Lazarus, the neighbor literally at his door.

Through your Baptism, the LORD counts you as righteous. He has given you the gift of the Holy Spirit so that you might believe in Him. The Holy Spirit will prompt you to continue to study. To continue to grow in your faith. Understanding that "God is love."[21] God's love for you will set your heart on fire to love Him and everyone else in this world.[22] Seeking to spread His love through Christ. The perfect love shown on the cross that casts out all fear.[23] Therefore the Apostles could go out into all the world and boldly proclaim the Gospel that God only counts people as righteous because of Jesus. "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved."[24] Jesus is the only name that makes righteous. He is the very core of our being and faith.

Therefore you have "confidence for the day of judgment."[25] Being in Christ, God the Father counts you as righteous. So we pray today and every day, "Let us all in Thee inherit; let us find Thy promised rest."[26] Whether it is you, Fahmi, who was baptized today, or if it is someone who was baptized nearly a century ago, the prayer is the same. We all seek the same inheritance: everlasting life. This "very great" reward that is far beyond anyone's wildest imagination.[27] The fact that you have it now through Christ is where you find the confidence to stand for what you believe. Confidence that you cannot find anywhere else than in Christ.

Fahmi, this is the greatest day of your life so far. You have been baptized into Christ. You have been brought in as a child of the heavenly Father. You are righteous in His eyes. "He is our help and our shield."[28] You are able to say this now and not wonder if it is true. It is true. As true as it was for Abram, it is just as true for you. "I am your shield; your reward shall be very great."[29] Your reward is Him and His righteousness. Counted as yours for the salvation of your soul. Amen.


  1. Luke 16:24; Romans 4:12; Sura 22.78
  2. Genesis 15:6
  3. Genesis 15:1
  4. LSB #744.3; Genesis 12:1-4
  5. Genesis 15:1
  6. Genesis 15:2
  7. Genesis 15:2
  8. Psalm 33:16
  9. Psalm 33:16
  10. Psalm 33:16
  11. Luke 16:29
  12. LSB #728.1
  13. Luke 16:31
  14. LSB #768.4
  15. 2 Timothy 2:15 MKJV
  16. Genesis 15:6
  17. Genesis 15:4
  18. Genesis 15:5
  19. Genesis 17:5
  20. Luke 16:24
  21. 1 John 4:16
  22. LSB #768.2
  23. 1 John 4:18
  24. Acts 4:12
  25. 1 John 4:17
  26. LSB #700.2
  27. Genesis 15:1
  28. Psalm 33:20
  29. Genesis 15:1