“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter [of justification by faith]? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
~Romans 4:1-3 (NIV [context added]).
In one foul swoop the Law-only position is crushed, even before it stands. Paul points out as poignantly as anyone could—right here—how inherently flawed a works justification is, and ever was.
Recoiling the time right back to Genesis 15:6 we cannot possibly remain only there—we have to trek further back into time well before even Abraham. If, in fact, Abraham was called by such a grace as purported so truly here, it existed even before he was conceived.
We can only surmise that grace existed before, or at the initiation of, creation. It has to be backed by our understanding, now, of God’s unparalleled loving character—a concept we could only marvel at in attempting to comprehend it.
Abraham trusted. That’s as simple as it gets. He trusted God. He is the father of belief in God, even before the fact of his own circumcision and other external signs of justification (Romans 4:11).
Belief, alone, qualified Abraham entirely to meet and gain the prize of grace in God, with no correspondence to be entered into.
God Credited Abraham’s Belief
Yahweh, here, reckoned “Abraham’s faith in the promise as righteousness.”
Abraham’s trust assures God of his belief and God trusts directly back (if that can be conceived) by offering grace—the totality of righteousness, in our terms, the ‘keys to the city.’
By faith we also are “credited,” as we believe wholeheartedly that God placed his own Son on the cross to redeem us all from our sin and return us back into an inimitable covenant-strength partnership with God Almighty.
This concept of being “credited”—via trust—is resplendently captivating in both its simplicity and its absolute unconditional transactional value. Comprehension, again, is tremendously difficult in such polar terms of mutual simplicity with earth-bending power.
It Was Credited to Abraham AS Righteousness
Abraham was made right by virtue, alone, of his belief; his trust.
To think that the standard of God, unto an obedience set forever too high for us in actual terms—for instance, see Psalm 15—exists, yet via straight belief in the Jesus of the cross we’re forever saved from the condemnation of getting the smallest bit of the Law wrong. Of course, we hack away haphazardly large cavernous slices of actual righteousness, but it is not ever held over us; not a spot. Not a blemish remains.
This is us made right, when we could never get even close to it, of ourselves.
Trust in God >>> Justification by Faith >>> ‘Made’ Righteous
Even under the law, i.e. before Jesus came, there existed a way to God by faith.
Jesus’ obedience on the cross only propounded this truth, God making a cataclysmic statement of his unequivocal love for humankind—which we reckon as grace.
In Jesus, God overwhelms us in the bond-strength of his love for us.
Jesus on the cross, his life, resurrection and ascension are fantastically transactional in our understanding of the New Covenant—a theology founded and existent to the very dawn of creation.
Jesus, and the historical event of the cross, proves the grace of God as ushered in initially under Abraham.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
 Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary (