Why Did Paul Use the Example of Abraham to Exhibit Grace?

It’s no wonder that the apostle Paul, when reaching for an Old Testament example of grace, went straight for Abraham.  After writing three chapters about God’s unconditional love through Jesus (Romans 1:18-3:30), Paul summed up his argument in one short phrase: “[God] justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5).  How do we know this?  Just look at Abraham (Romans 4:3-5)

– Sprinkle, Preston; Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us; David C. Cook Publishing; Colorado Springs, CO; Kindle version; copyright 2014; page 54

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If Left to Him, We Would All Be in Hell

But Abraham’s life is also littered with doubt, fear, unfaithfulness, and lying.  For instance, immediately after God promises to give him the land of Canaan and make him a mighty nation (Genesis 12:1-3), Abraham flees to the land of Egypt and nearly loses his wife by lying to another man, telling him she is his sister (Genesis 12:10-20).  If God’s promises rested upon Abraham’s behavior, then we would all be in hell.

– Sprinkle, Preston; Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us; David C. Cook Publishing; Colorado Springs, CO; Kindle version; copyright 2014; page 53

This Promise Forms the Backbone of the Entire Bible

Then, before Abraham has the chance to do anything good, God promises to give him the land of Canaan, make him a mighty nation, and bless people of other nations through him (Genesis 12:1-3).  This promise is an unconditional promise; there’s nothing Abraham does to earn it, no conditions he needs to fulfill in order to ensure its fulfillment.  And this promise forms the backbone for the entire Bible.

– Sprinkle, Preston; Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us; David C. Cook Publishing; Colorado Springs, CO; Kindle version; copyright 2014; page 52