"Abram believed God and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness?" But -WHEN did He believe? There are TWO different passages, one says "and Abram believed God', the other says "and Abraham believed God." One in Genesis 15 when God made His promise to Abram. The other passage is in James - when Abraham offered up Isaac, "the promise", on the altar. Abram and Abraham believed God - yes, I know - the same person - but one name at "the first" and the other name at "the last."
This is what James wrote - "You see that the faith was working together with his works and from the works the faith was perfected, and the scripture WAS FULFILLED. Abram's faith was not "perfected" until Abraham offered up Isaac on the altar; only "then" was the scripture "fulfilled" - that he "BELIEVED!" James even transposes the name Abraham (the latter) into the actual "Abram" (the former) into the reference in Genesis.
What's the point? - I hope you are wondering why? There is a "treasure" hidden here- "Believed" in both cases in Genesis and James is an "aorist", a special tense that transcends time so that a writer can focus our attention "AWAY FROM" the "WHEN" and fix it upon the "WAY" something comes about. The righteousness reckoned to Abram and Abraham was given to him not for a simple "act" of faith - but because of the dynamic relationship of "the righteousness of his faith - from Abram the FIRST to Abraham the LAST!"
This is the DYNAMIC faith revealed in the gospel - not a simple act in time, but a time transcending - eternal relationship between God's word and men's hearts. This dynamic faith that pleases God is never "finished" until the work it inspires is fully realized in our obedient response. God's word is never fulfilled until it BECOMES a reality in our response. Thus, "the righteousness of faith" is only "fulfilled" when we HEAR, BELIEVE, and DO - the will of God - from first to last! No "one time "hearing", "believing" and "doing" is ever what God is after, He is after an "eternal" relationship of hearing, believing, and doing - this is the "eternal life" of "knowing God."
The "initial" act of faith is but a "infant spiritual life" born in us, weak and in great need of nourishment. This "spiritual life" produced by the dynamic union of God's promise and our response of faith must be maintained by the same faith that it was born out of . May the Lord who is the Author of such a dynamic life of faith - become its Finisher so that our faith might be "PERFECTED" through the work of obedience that "FULFILLS" - the scripture.
The righteous are those who believe from first to last, culminating in God's word becoming our obedience - such as these have the ETERNAL LIFE! Their faith is the dynamic "aorist" - "the faith from first to last!" The righteous shall LIVE by his faith! Never an "act" done once and for all, NO - a WAY of faith from first to last! This is the faith of eternal life. This is the faith "of God."
Alan and Dina Martin