Summary: Abraham believed and followed God's promises and God credited him with righteousness. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we, like Abraham, can be accounted as righteous through faith also.
ROMANS 4: 19-25
Salvation is not something earned. It is a free gift. It is not something deserved, it is from God's grace to all who will actively take God at His Word.
In this passage there is another example which illustrates Abraham's justification by faith. God gave Abraham an impossible promise by human estimations. Abraham chose to place his faith in God and take Him at His Word instead of limiting Himself to physical possibilities. Abraham believed and followed God's promises and God credited him with righteousness. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we, like Abraham, can be accounted as righteous through faith also (CIT).
I. The Analysis of Abraham's Faith, 19-21.
II. The Answer To Abraham's Faith, 22.
III. The Application of Abraham's Faith, 23-25.
Despite all the impossible obstacles Abraham faced verse 19 informs us of his growth in faith. "Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb;"
One of the things that made the promise seem impossible was Abraham's age of 100 years old. Another was his wife Sarah's sterility. During normal child bearing years she had been unable to conceive and give birth to a child. Now she was ninety years old. Their reproductive capacity was as good as dead. Under circumstances as adverse as these Abraham demonstrated his faith in God's promises. He was aware, as intelligent faith always is, that every human factor stood in the way of God's promise and yet he still did not doubt God's promise. Therefore out of that double death God brought about the promised life.
When what God promises you is an impossibility in the natural working of things, and you are confronted with its impossibility day after day, year after year, decade after decade, it takes deep conviction in the certainty of God's Word to continue strong in faith. Let me remind you that faith is not burying our heads in the sand or making ourselves believe what we know is not true, or even whistling in the dark to keep our spirits up. Faith is reasoning trust. It is facing the problems and realizing their reality. It is reflecting on the promises of God in light of His character or who He is and then being persuaded by Him to believe His Word, even should in seem impossible in the natural world. For God cannot lie and His word can not fail.
Verse 20 informs us that Abraham chose to grow in faith toward God's Word instead of growing in doubt. "Yet, with respect to the promises of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,"
But what did Abraham do when God's promises were directly contrasted with what was humanly possible? Having considered all the factors, he concluded that the certainty of the divine promise outweighed natural impossibility. Though Abraham's faith did not waver, it does not mean that he did not struggle with it. He did, but he continued to trust God and find strength to keep believing (Gen. 17:18f). He chose to trust God's promise instead of his physical condition.
Waver is from diakrin - judge, decide between, to be divided in one's own mind (Mt. 21:22; Mk. 11:23; Rom. 14:23; Jas. 1:6). To waver is to be at odds within oneself. Instead of wavering, he strengthened himself by his faith in God and His promises.
[Setting the Sails] When the now famous missionary HUDSON TAYLOR first went to China, it was in a sailing vessel. Very close to the shore of cannibal islands the ship was staled [becalmed], and was slowly drifting shoreward unable do anything about it. Seeing their drift toward shore the savages were eagerly anticipating a feast.
The captain came to Mr. Taylor and sought him to pray for the help of God. "I will," said Taylor, "provided you set your sails to catch the breeze." The captain declined to make himself a laughing stock by unfurling in a dead calm. Taylor said, "I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails." And it was done.
While engaged in prayer, there was a knock at the door of his stateroom. "Who is there?" The captain's voice responded, "Are you still praying for wind? "Yes." "Well, stop praying, for we have more wind than we can manage."
Abraham's strength of faith was demonstrated in his giving glory to God. To give glory to God is to take Him to be what He really is; almighty and faithful. It is to show by our conduct that we believe that He will do what He says.
Verse 21 proclaims Abraham's assurance that God would do what He say He will do when He is ready to do it. "And being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform."