In Romans chapters 2 and three, Paul argued that through the Gospel, it is faith that brings humans into harmony with God. In Romans 4, Paul considers Abraham as an example. Abraham was blessed because he believed, had faith, that he would be father of a nation and a source of blessing for everyone. Abraham received the promises of God through faith, and not through the law.
The basis of Abraham’s relationship with God was faith, and faith is the primary basis of our relationship with God. Abraham’s faith was confidence in a person-God. The object of faith matters more than anything else. Abraham’s faith was exemplary, because his faith was in God. Abraham’s faith was related to his knowledge of God, the object of his faith. He had faith in the God who could breathe life into deadness, especially since God breathed life into Abraham and Sarah so they could have a child.
Abraham’s faith was conversant with the problems he faced. His faith was consistent in its progress. When he was faced with delay and discouragement with God’s plan, his faith didn’t waver. It was strengthened. He was also convinced that God’s promises would be fulfilled. Abraham knew that God never promises anything He can’t deliver. Do we believe that? If we do, then it only makes sense to put our complete trust in Him, regardless of how dark our circumstances might appear. All believers become heirs with Abraham of the promise. Abraham’s faith is a good example of the faith we as Christians should have. It led to Abraham’s justification. He had faith in a God what could provide the divine answer to the human problem.
When God’s people look to the law for justification instead of to God, failure to keep the law makes them guilty and they face death instead of life. God’s promise of the law is uncertain. His promise of faith is certain. The promise given to Abraham has not expired nor become the private possession of any one race. It permeates the entire world.
Abraham’s faith conquered impossibility, improbability, inadequacy, inconsistency, insecurity and infidelity. Abraham believed in the God of creation, who “calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” This is the essence of faith. The same God of Genesis 1-2 who brought forth life and the earth and sky out of nothing also brought forth Isaac, the son of promise, from the deadness of Sarah’s womb. Later, at the altar, standing over that same son with a knife in obedience to the Lord, Abraham again believed that God could give life to the dead. Hope that is centered in God is contrary to the world’s hope.
Abraham did not waver in his faith at the time of testing. God’s ability to perform His promises was the foundation of Abraham’s faith’s stability. Faith looks past the gift to the Giver and past the promise to the One who promises. Abraham’s faith was linked to God’s power and faithfulness. Abraham didn’t have great cause to expect God to fulfill His promise because of the circumstances Abraham was in. In spite of this, he believed God’s Word and looked forward to the time when his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.
God can declare people who believe in Him to be righteous even though they aren’t. He can do this by giving His righteousness to them, just like He declared Jesus’ “Sin” and punished Him even though Jesus was not a sinner. If Abraham was justified by faith, then all of us are justified on the same basis. The proof is God’s acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice. God would be able to be just and yet justify the ungodly.
God considered Abraham a righteous man because Abraham looked beyond the limitations of his age. God considered Abraham to be someone who could accomplish His goals. Abraham accepted God by faith. Similarly, if we accept God by faith, God’s grace will be available to us. When we act in faith, we give God the glory for the outcome, like Abraham did. Abraham didn’t parade greatness or look for praise from others.
When his hope died, Abraham went on hoping in faith. Similarly, when we are at a dead end in our lives, we need faith, and we need to read and study the Bible. It gives us encouragement because even if something is out of our control, it isn’t out of God’s control. As we spend time reading and studying the Bible, God will show us how to live by faith. We do this by preparing well, speaking in a Christlike manner, sharing God’s love and understanding that God wants to change our lives.
Faith is something that is strengthened over time. Abraham and Sarah waited for years for God to fulfill His promise. Abraham considered and thought about God’s strength and ability. He thought about God’s faithfulness and gave praise and glory to God. Abraham’s faith allowed God to do mighty things in and through him.
God gives us great promises-the same promises made to Abraham-and invites us to come by faith and receive the grace of those promises and the fullness of life with God. God invites us to join Him in a bond of peace that nothing that can overthrow and that is richer, fuller and more durable than anything the world can offer.
Paul understands Jesus’ death as representative of all humanity. Jesus entered the death into which all humanity condemned by its sinfulness and then rose from the dead. His resurrection is representative of what can be true for all who accept what God has declared in the story of Jesus. There can be no discrimination based on race and religious tradition. All human beings need to enter a relationship of faith with God, and all human beings can enter that relationship. Paul argues that we shouldn’t think of Abraham in terms of being the patriarch of Israel, but rather as the model and mentor of all who believe.
So how do we lay hold of these promises so that we may enjoy the full and abundant life He plans for us?
- We need to make sure we understand the promises of God and that we see them as precious and great as they are.
- We must give glory to God for His promises-praising and thanking Him daily, taking the promises back to Him and exalting Him for such grace and mercy, rehearsing our plans and visions before Him with gratitude and praise.
- We must remember that we are called to be people of faith who are not misled by denominational traditions. The law has always been a means of pointing the way to God. It is an instrument that helps us know and do the divine will. As such the law is meant to free us, but when the law is mistaken for an end, the consequence can be a state of spiritual confusion in which all hope is obscured. The law can’t set us right with God and therefore give us access to God’s promised blessings. Any relationship with God that is grounded in and lives out of the law is not a right relationship.
When we praise God, we’re putting our faith in action. Just as putting our physical bodies into action so they will grow strong, putting our faith in action through prayer, worship and thanksgiving will make it grow strong too.
Faith is the determination to keep on walking with God no matter what happens, and that faith results in commitment. Faith demands dependence and we resist depending on God because of our stubborn independence. It’s hard for us to trust God more fully because of our willful pride and our sinful nature.
The world judges us by how much we can gather for ourselves, but there are no wages in heaven. In faith, God sets us free of needing to earn our way. We are freely showered with God’s mercy. When we see our lives from God’s viewpoint, we no longer have to worry about comparing ourselves to others. No one has to be worthy. God’s grace overturns all our economies. Abraham and Sarah trusted God, though His promise seemed to good to be true, and they received a son whom they nicknamed “Laughter.” We trust that the same God whose promise is good and true and receive abundant, eternal life in Jesus.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, p. 1291-1292)
- Briscoe, D.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 29: Romans (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 101-107)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Os Hillman, “Being Fully Persuaded.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pastor Rick Warren, “At Hope’s End? Rely on God’s Word.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- T.M. Moore, “Covenant Promises (6).” Retrieved from www.ailbe,org
- T.M. Moore, “Failing to Take the Next Step.” Retrieved from www.ailbe.org
- Bruce Pinter, “Bible Study: 2 Lent (A).” Retrieve from www.episcopaldigitalnetwork.com
- Joel Osteen, “Consider Your God.” Retrieved from www.joelosteen.com
- Joel Osteen, “Growing Strong through Praise.” Retrieved from www.joelosteen.com
- Joel Osteen, “Keep Faith Alive.” Retrieved from www.joelosteen.com
- Jessica Christy, “Romans 4:1-5,13-17.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dr. Harold Sala, “The Testing of Faith.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Arland J. Hultgren, “Commentary on Romans 4:13-25.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
- Daniel G. Deffenbaugh, “Commentary on Romans 4:13-25.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
- Richard Carlson, “Commentary on Romans 4:13-25.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
- Katherine Schifferdecker, “Romans 4:13-25.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org