One of the definitions Webster provides for father is… “One that originates or institutes; a source, a prototype.” So, when Romans chapter four refers to Abraham as the father of all who believe, perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul was referring to.
As Christians we celebrate that we are not under the law but under Grace. We are not justified through the deeds of the flesh but through faith, but where is the origin of our faith? Certainly Jesus Christ purchased our salvation with His blood and He is the author and finisher of our faith, plus he is our forerunner in the Resurrection. Abraham, however, was our forerunner in faith in that his faith demonstrated the path to imputed righteousness.
Imputation is an accounting term that means to place in ones account. When it comes to the imputation of righteousness Abraham is our father. In Genesis chapter fifteen, God made a promise to Abraham and in his response it says, “…he believed the Lord and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” In this, Abraham became the one that originated or instituted our Faith. He is our example and a promise to us that our righteousness is a gift through faith not a reward for works.
When God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations in Gen 17:5, Abraham naturally assumed God was referring to his progeny after the flesh, and in part He was. Abraham’s greater parentage, however, was a legacy of faith for all who would believe. This promise affirms that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same. All He has ever wanted from his children was that they would put their faith in Him, lean on Him and place their lives wholly in His hands. Abraham was not a perfect man. He lied to protect himself and at times did not trust the plan of God, but the underlying current of his life was that he was in God’s hands.
As we age we often find ourselves resembling our parents both in manner and appearance. For me, having lost my earthly father some years ago, I find joy in noticing the resemblance. As we grow in the lord, do we notice an increasing resemblance to our father, Abraham, who “…went out, not knowing where he was going… sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country…” and “…when he was tested, offered up Isaac… accounting that God was able to raise him from the dead…” (Heb. 11:8-9,17-19)