Faith for Today and Tomorrow
What is accounted to you as righteousness? Your good deeds toward others, or your faith in God? In Romans 4.9b-10, you read Paul’s answer to these questions in the life of Abraham, the father of all who believe John 14.6. Paul explain his rationale further in verses 11-12. Further, Paul explains in verses 21-22 why your faith is accounted as your righteousness. In this study, you should explore your faith by comparing your history and future to Abraham’s. The goal is to strengthen your faith to meet satan’s challenges in coming days.
Faith That Overcomes the Obstacles to Being ‘Fully Convinced’
- Why did God wait to birth Isaac until Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90?
- Romans 4.19 expresses two truths: ‘his own body, which was as good as dead’ and ‘the barrenness of Sarah’s womb’. Obstacle: no physiological means for conception and nurture of a baby!
- Verse 19, also, prompts an important question: how did Abraham ‘not weaken in faith’ for the approximately 25 years after God gave the promise of a son from his body?
- Genesis 12.1-4 reveals that God called to Abram in the Ur of the Chaldeans when he was 75 years old and childless by his 65 year old wife, Sarai. He said yes to God.
- Genesis 15.1-20 is God’s reminder of the promise when Abram questions the lack of fulfillment. Do your quick expectations discourage your faith? Notice God’s foretelling of the descendants’ affliction in Egypt and outlining the boundaries of the territories they will occupy and the nations they will displace. Notice, too, the ceremony of commitment of God to His promise. Learn that God’s promises are serious commitments by Him to the recipient/receiver of the promise.
- Genesis 17.1-27 reveals God changing Abram’s name to Abraham (exalted father, father of a multitude) and Sarai to Sarah (princess) when, perhaps in a moment of doubt, Abram wishes that Ishmael might ‘live before You’, fulfilling the promise. Why did God change his name and her name? Abraham is 99 years old at that time; verse 24. In verse 19, God even names their baby Isaac.
- In Genesis 18.10-14, God returns to announce that Isaac will be born within a year. Note God’s question in verse 14: ‘is anything too hard for the Lord?’ How do you answer this question? Say your answer as a declarative sentence. Repeat it. Again!
- Sometime between Sarah’s 90th year, when Isaac was born, and her death at 127 (Genesis 23.1), God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as an act of worship.
- Genesis 22.1-19 reveals Abraham’s confident faith in the God he has learned to trust, even when asked to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Two things to note here. First, in Hebrews 11.17-18, Paul writes that Abraham’s faith was, even, in God’s abilities to recompose Isaac’s body from ashes, if necessary, to fulfill God’s promised ‘multitude’. Second, God did not intend Isaac as a burnt offering, as He stated in Jeremiah 7.32, 19.5, 32.35 as contrast to the pagan worship practices that had invaded Israel. Abortion is abhorrent to God Who knits them together! See Psalm 139.13-16 and Jeremiah 1.5.
- Notice Abraham’s instruction to his servants in Genesis 22.5. Notice, too, God’s greater detail of His covenant in verses 15-18; remember Jesus’ words about the gates of hell not withstanding you, in Matthew 16.18. Could this have been what God meant?
- So, what obstacles keep you from developing a faith in God’s promises like that of Abraham? With what promise of God are you not ‘fully convinced’? Make a list to discuss. Assignment, below, will give you further instructions.
Faith Looks to the Giver of the Promise
- ‘Faith gives substance to hope’ is the New English Bible (1961) translation of Hebrews 11.1. What is the function of faith? Think about Abraham’s faith journey as an illustration. Every juncture from Ur to Mt. Moriah with Isaac was like filling in more of the outline of his hope for Isaac’s birth, from the first mark to the last. In verses 8-12, Paul expresses this progression with an emphasis on the further vision of Abraham of a permanent home with God; a new hope that also became substantial (Luke 16.19-31)! And will for you, too!
- Such hope and the faith for fulfillment depend solely upon God. There is nothing you can contribute, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2.8-9.
- Romans 4.21-22 says that Abraham was ‘fully convinced’ that God was able to fulfill His promise. Being ‘fully convinced’ was accounted to him as righteousness. How is this similar to 2 Chronicles 16.9?
- In Romans 4.23-24, Paul extends this to you. What is your righteousness? Are you ‘fully convinced’ about all of the promises of God? How can you become so?
- Romans 1.17 states that ‘the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for [to] faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”’ (Habakkuk 2.4) ‘Faith to faith’ means from beginning to end, like Abraham. It is also commonly interpreted as growing from the beginning of faith in Jesus for forgiveness of sin and for eternal life with Him to receiving the temporal benefits of faith illustrated by Matthew 9.20-22 and growing to that of Matthew 8.5-10. These describe Hebrews 12.2 (‘founder and perfecter of our faith’) and Ephesians 4.13 (Jesus’ complete knowledge of God and resulting faith in all He said and did).
- Did God intend all of His promises to be enjoyed by you? Consider Galatians 3.29. What does it mean to be an ‘heir’? See Galatians 4.1, 7 and Luke 18.29-30.
Jesus’ Invitation to Your Deeper Faith
- In Matthew 11.28-30, Jesus invites you to deepen your faith and tells you how.
- Why do you ‘labor and are heavy laden’? Could Matthew 13.18-22 and John 5.44 reveal your obstacles?
- How does your attitude compare to Jesus’ ‘gentle and lowly’? Compare against Philippians 2.5-8, Isaiah 66.2, and Isaiah 64.4.
- Take Jesus’ ‘yoke’ and ‘learn from [Him]’ by studying John 12.49, John 5.19-20, Philippians 2.7-8, and Matthew 16.24. He says your burdens will be ‘light’ and ‘easy’.
- And, you will find rest for your soul (mind, will, emotions), resulting from the instructions of John 16.33, 1 John 5.4, Jeremiah 6.16, and Isaiah 26.12.
- That is Jesus’ offer, but you control it’s power by receiving it (John 1.12).
- What will you do? Consider Israel’s problem in Hebrews 3.16-19.
- Find three promises from God’ word that you have or could accept.
- Prepare to discuss these and the obstacles you face in believing them, including Proverbs 18.20-21 and Isaiah 45.22.
- Consider Matthew 21.21-22 and Mark 11.22-26.
Conclusion. What our world needs now is Christians with bold and great faith; faith that changes circumstances and overcomes evil with what God calls good. So, live up to what you read in Acts 4.23-31, Matthew 8.5-10, and Matthew 15.21-28. Fully convinced!
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2014. www.sozoclass.com