The Expository Files


 The Confidence of Faith
 “...what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”

Romans 4:16-25

Abraham is called "the friend of God" (James 2:23). One can certainly have no better privilege than to be counted as God's friend. But this wonderful blessing is not nearly so elusive as one might imagine. I may never be a close personal friend of governor, president, prime minister or king, but being a friend of the Almighty Creator of the universe, now that I can do.

Abraham is God's friend because of his faith and trust in God. We know of a few events in Abraham's life which demonstrate the extent of his faith and illustrate what genuine faith really is, and while we may not face the same events, we can measure our faith by comparing our own response to God with Abraham's. We all have the same decision to make in this regard: God had spoken; do I listen, trust and obey, or do I waver in unbelief?

Reading the promise of God to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and also considering for a moment Paul's discussion of Abraham's faith (Romans 4:16-25), several conclusions may be drawn. God intended to bless the whole world through a descendant of Abraham. This promise would be fulfilled in those that would have faith in God, whether Jew or Gentile. No obstacle or problem would be allowed to interfere with the promise being kept. Abraham believed God in spite of tremendous obstacles that would seem to make keeping the promise impossible; the Bible says that Abraham "hoped against hope". Abraham believed in God so much that he simply did not accept that anything would make a promise God has made to fail. This kind of faith was credited to Abraham by God as righteousness. We are to have faith like this today.

Faith Like Abraham's Faith
Sometimes having faith in God means believing in the difficult and even the impossible. Both Abraham and Sarah would be very, very advanced in age and still childless when God would again promise that Abraham would have many descendants (Genesis 15:5). Abraham continued to obey God as he walked by faith. When God had commanded something of Abraham, Abraham's faith was active. He obeyed God. A faith that obeys is a justifying faith. Our faith needs to be like Abraham's faith in this way (Hebrews 11:8-10; James 2:23-24).

The text says "yet he did not waver in unbelief" (Romans 4:20). This “wavering” might well describe a person who would say that they believe in God, but possess a reluctance to fully trust God. This would become apparent in the general spiritual reluctance and apathy. It would result in a lack of commitment, involvement and growth. Even when the commandment of God was most difficult, given without explanation and seemingly contrary to everything Abraham knew about God, he was willing to obey (James 2:21; Hebrews 11:17-19).

My Faith-My Life
There are things that I have been commanded by God which I find to be difficult. Not all commandments-I can make sense of and see easily the reason many commands are given. But others certainly take more work to understand why, and some I may just never really get.

Retaliation - everything in us yearns for cold justice against our enemies; against the evil doers; the vile; the pitiless. But we are told to love them (Romans 12:19-21; Matthew 5:43-44). Sometimes responding to our enemies this way causes them to reflect and perhaps become ashamed. But other times they will be unfazed. I do not always understand why some of the evil men in this world should get this special treatment. They certainly do not deserve it.

Marriage - When it isn't working as it should. It is old and stale. It is without passion. The fire has gone out. Responsibilities are neglected. There is no joy in it. The common solution in our society (and one utterly without faith) is to discard the marriage. That makes a lot of sense on one level. But God's commandment is much more challenging than that. He says "Do not tear apart what I have joined together". It is an act of doubt and rebellion to tear a marriage apart. Instead, He says to bring love into the relationship, and it needs to be done like never before - it begins to sacrifice and drive the bitterness out. We must not say "I doubt it will work" or "I do not understand what good it will do." The faith of Abraham obeys the Lord even when it does not understand.

What if God told you to leave home and everything you know and move your family to an absolutely unknown place. Why would someone do something that they do not want to do? If God commanded it, it would be because they believe God (Hebrews 11:8).

"Where you going Abraham?"
"I don't know."
“Why are you going?”
“Because God told me to.”

Abraham was fine with where he was, but moved when God said to. It was not "Where do I want to live?" but rather "Where does God want me to live?" that was the determining factor. It should be with us as well.

God-The Giver of Life
“...even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.” (Romans 4:17). Do you have the same faith in Abraham's God that he had? Do You see how all this relates to our life and our redemption and our hope? What God did for Abraham physically He does for us spiritually. He gives life to those spiritually dead in their sins. He gives life to all the redeemed. He lifts up from the grave. This is a part of our confession of faith unto the salvation of our souls (Romans 10:9-10).

Listen, if you truly believe this, and evidence abounds that it is true, then you will believe that with God all things are possible… and that will be the power that will help you live faithfully each day. You will believe God and it will be reckoned to you as righteousness! God grants these things when our faith is like Abraham's. Let our faith be as his was, and not some poor substitute.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 18.8; August 2011