Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:18-25)
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed
Faith requires us to position ourselves antithetical to our immediate context. It is the statement that what is now is not what could be – no, more than that. It is the statement that what is now is not what will be.
and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Faith expands the impact of those who have it. One man becomes many nations because of faith, not because of his abilities. So many people in the world – even in the church – are anxious about their impact, their legacy, their results – really just their performance and perceived significance, merely couched in less obvious terms or just more religious ones. But if our genuine desire is the expanse of God’s promise from us we must grow the faith within us.
Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.
The facts did not disturb the faith. Faith isn’t about powering over the obvious but discovering Christ has more power than our context, our character, our circumstances and our challenges. Denial cannot produce faith because it imagines God insufficient to overcome the world. People never make progress in their life by denying their way into the kingdom. Abraham clearly could have weakened – I would argue from the world’s perspective should have weakened – in his faith. He didn’t scream at the sky or rage against reality in some falsely religious act of bravado – he “faced the fact…his body was as good as dead.” A lasting legacy of righteousness emanated from a temporary confrontation with limitation. The problem is often that people deny reality and claim it is faith, or deny faith because they don’t understand reality (that God is all-powerful). In other words, they don’t actually believe there’s something to have victory over (denial) or they believe victory isn’t possible (defeat). Defeat and denial cannot propel promises into existence. Not only was Abraham utterly unable to enact God’s promises to him, Abraham’s family was just as ineffective and insufficient. But the limitations freely acknowledged by Abraham became the power openly offered by God.
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Our trust in God’s power to overcome the apparently impossible yields authentic worship and the maturation of personal faith. The revelation of our inadequacies is the soil of trust from which the promises of God bloom into lived reality. When we are weak, then we are strong.
This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:18-25)
What is “this?” Non-wavering trust in the power of the Father to fulfill His good promises without the contribution of our strength is the foundation of righteous living. Abraham was incapable of contributing to God’s outcomes and he freely acknowledged it. God was trustworthy and all-powerful and Abraham held onto that. Abraham leaned into his personal faith and public worship all the way into receiving God’s prophetic blessing over his life and legacy, to the degree that God Himself called it righteousness.
The magnitude of the Father’s Abrahamic affirmation awaits everyone who trusts His Son. The cost of your behavior (and mine) was the life of Jesus. That’s how badly your thought life, heart issues and behavior is. And mine. Literally, it’s deadly. Because of Jesus we are now justified – established, forgiven, right with and before God, “blameless and unaccused in His presence” (Col. 1:22).
The promise of God released by faith has become for us the presence of God forgiven in love.
Facing the facts of the apparently impossible should move us to deepen our personal faith and public worship in expectation of discovering God’s promises and presence, which will ultimately result in receiving from Him intimate affirmation of our trust and eternal freedom from shame in His arms.
Satan wants us to overly fixate on earthly facts and feel accused, incapable and despondent, or otherwise chase sinful means of avoiding reality through chemicals, ego, victimhood or sundry other means of medicating and narrating away the very things God wants to most clearly grab for His glory. The wounds that Satan wants us to run into and die (removing the work of Jesus for us) or run away from and create (destroying others through us) are the very wounds God wants to stake as ground for His prophetic promises of good things and future revelation of shameless love in His house.
So we must with Abraham believe that God has promised good, is powerful enough to deliver it and is unhindered and unabated by the obstacles which could otherwise rob us of hope.
James, thank you for sharing this. Just about everything I do is done in the reality of my total inadequacy. The only way I ever succeed in anything is when I trust in the One who promised that when I am weak, He is strong and He will do it. I find a real peace in realizing it’s not up to me, I just need to be open and allow Him to speak through me – it’s beautiful when I actually do that. I pray I could learn to do that better and better everyday.