Credit cards have become an integral part of our modern economy. Every day, millions of Americans purchase groceries, furniture, and cars on credit. That purchase becomes a debt with a promise to pay back the lender. Maybe it should be called a “debt card”! In contrast, when you receive a credit to your account, it adds a positive amount to your balance. When you receive a credit, you are gaining something owed to you.
In today’s passage the apostle Paul uses financial language to describe a spiritual transaction. God has credited righteousness to us through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. But unlike credits on our card statements, the key difference here is that we are not owed this righteousness. Christ’s righteousness, a “gift of God,” pays our debt. His righteousness is credited on our account, freeing us from the penalty of death.
Paul examines the example of Abraham, who God had promised would become the father of many nations. But both Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were far too old to start a family. To birth a child at this advanced age would be a miraculous and unexpected gift of God, but note Abraham’s response to this amazing promise: “He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God (v. 20). He was “fully persuaded” that God would do what was promised (v. 21). Abraham’s faith in God’s promise was “credited to him as righteousness” (v. 23).
This “credit” of righteousness also applies to us. We are to believe in God who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead (v. 24). His death and resurrection were credited to our account, freeing us and forgiving us eternally from sin.
God’s promises to Abraham looked impossible—and they were, humanly speaking. You might be tempted to think that His promises to you are not possible either. But the same God who kept every promise to Abraham will keep every promise to you, too—promises to forgive, redeem, protect, indwell, and love you.