“Wrestling With Romans”
The Good Habit of Faith (Chapter 4 Verses 1-25)
The out working of Abraham’s faith is a tremendous encouragement to us (vv18-25). “who against hope believed in hope” (v18), “being not weak in faith” (v19), “he staggered not” (v20, “being fully persuaded that (God) was able also to perform” (v21), and the result? He is credited with righteousness (v22), which stands written as a promise for us too (vv23-24), who believe, that is, in the one who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, because he died for our sins (Isaiah 53.5-6; Galatians 1.4; Hebrews 9.28; 1Peter 2.24; 1Peter 3.18) and rose again (1Corinthians.15.3-4) that we might be justified freely from all things (Romans 3.26; v25). The out working of Abraham’s faith is the proof that our faith is not in vain. The fulfilment of Jesus’ saving work is proof that God’s promise is to be wholly trusted. For if Jesus had remained in the grave our faith would be useless (1Corinthians 15.12-14). God, the life-giving, life-sustaining God, who calls things which are nonexistent, into existence (v17), raised Jesus from the grave, thus defeating not only sin, but death and Hell too (1Corinthians 15.20; 54-57).
So the need for a personal faith to be personally justified is imperative. It is the only way to peace with God (Romans 5.1). They are our sins (v25), so it is we individually who need to be justified, declared righteous before God, and that is accomplished only through faith. From chapter three and verse twenty-two Paul has driven this home repeatedly, faith, faith, faith! It was to a life of faith God called Abraham, and he calls us to the same, to live by faith (Romans 1.17). A faith that is that lays hold of the righteousness of Christ and lives by the assurances of God’s promise rather than how we feel (Hebrews 11.1). A faith that honours, respects and pleases God at every turn (Hebrews 11.6). A faith that sees our troubles and trials as the loving discipline of God our heavenly Father (Hebrews 12.5-11), that takes encouragement from the great examples given to us in the Bible such as Abraham here (vv18-25). A faith that does not stagger (v20) but battles on against unbelief and temptation, a faith which resurrects the soul, brings it to life, life in God that is. A faith which warmly embraces the Lord Jesus, fetches him into our hearts to make his home with us by his Divine Spirit (John 14.23). A faith which believes the promises of God, trusts them, resulting in a deep and remaining confidence, such a faith as banishes fear (1John 4.18), and gives boldness in the presence of God. It is not a singular act of faith, but the habit, a lifelong habit of faith.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)