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(Part 31)


March 19, 2013
Today’s reading: Romans 4:13-24

Faith works wonders. Abraham is the man of faith. He is our father and we look to him and his example. “He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not exist.” (Rom 4:17b). What could be more wondrous and miraculous than giving life to the dead and creating out of nothing? These God is able to do. And these we can experience as we put our faith in God.

But we need a steadfast, persevering, persistent, insistent, unwavering faith. Just like that of Abraham. “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body as already dead (for he was almost a hundred years old) and the dead womb of Sarah.” (Rom 4:19). It was an impossible situation. But nothing is impossible with God.

Now such faith is a free gift, available to us during our time and in our situation. “For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us” (Rom 4:16). God has already shown us what He can do. Abraham has shown us the way by which we can tap on to God’s mighty works. We just need to have faith.

How can we have such faith?

First, do not doubt. Abraham “did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief” (Rom 4:20a). This is precisely what faith means. It is believing, trusting and hoping in God. It is knowing that God works powerfully in our lives. It is looking not to ourselves and all our shortcomings, but to God in His awesome majesty and power. It is taking God on His word, knowing that He does not lie, and knowing that He is able to accomplish whatever He says He will do.

Second, it is “hoping against hope” (Rom 4:18a). It is looking at a desperate and hopeless situation, and knowing that God is still in control. It is realizing that from the human perspective, something cannot be done, but precisely knowing that it is God who acts in and through us, and He certainly can accomplish what is impossible for us.

Third, it is standing on and trusting in the promises of God. Abraham “was fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do.” (Rom 4:21). It is not about us, it is about God. We know who God is, we know what God can do, and we simply stand on that. God makes many promises in the Bible, and while we might not readily see how most of these promises can come to pass in our lives, we must be convinced that God will do what He says He will do.

Fourth, we must look to such wonders as giving glory only to God. Abraham “was empowered by faith and gave glory to God” (Rom 4:20b). When we look at our human situation and what God promises He will do, our focus is not on reaping the benefit of God’s action (though that is a given), but on the glory that accrues to God whenever He performs signs and wonders. We do not look to God only to alleviate our miserable human condition or to achieve the wondrous blessings He has in store for us, but we look to being the occasion by which God can manifest His greatness.

Such faith then has tremendous consequences.

One, faith leads to righteousness. God points us to “the righteousness that comes from faith.” (Rom 4:13b). Abraham’s faith “was credited to him as righteousness.” (Rom 4:22). We are supposed to live righteous lives, to be holy as God is holy. It is faith that enables us to walk along the path of righteousness. It is a difficult and challenging path, and we can only persevere by faith.

Two, faith leads to empowerment. Abraham “was empowered by faith” (Rom 4:20b). It is the power of God that is at work in our lives. We can stifle that power when we have the wrong focus, that is, on ourselves and our humanity rather than on God. God intends to work in and through us. He intends to work in power. We enable God to work in power when we turn our lives over to Him and know our place as His instruments.

Three, faith glorifies God. Abraham “gave glory to God” (Rom 4:20c). Since it is God who acts, the glory belongs to Him. We are instruments God uses to proclaim His majesty. When signs and wonders are accomplished through us, then people look to God and give Him the glory that is His due. Our work of evangelization stands on such manifestations of power, and consequently on our faith.

Faith indeed does work wonders. Just look to Abraham, the man of faith.

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