February 3 (Reading for January 30-February 5: Romans 4) We have seen in the first three chapters of Romans that the righteous will live by faith. Their righteousness “is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Rom. 3:22). Chapter 4 provides an illustration in the person of Abraham, so that we can “follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham” (v. 12).
Abraham’s faith proved that he had confidence in God. He had no grounds for boasting, but “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (v. 3). We experienced a very cold winter on our first furlough in Lubbock in 1976. It had already snowed by Halloween. We lived close to Clapp Park, and the small lake was iced over. I was walking in the park with Jonathan and Timothy and our border collie Coco. Coco ran out onto the ice, but when I carefully put my weight onto it, the ice submerged, and the water came up. The ice was not thick enough to have confidence, or faith, that it would support us. Faith is only as strong as its object. Walking on thin ice is not faith, it is foolish. No one in their right mind would ever place their confidence in Satan! Abraham believed in God and had confidence (faith) that God would keep His promises. When he was told to leave his home, he obeyed. When he was told he would have a son, he believed. When time went by and his confidence wavered, he ultimately waited on God. He believed that God could “call into being that which does not exist” (v. 17). When God’s promise was fulfilled, and Isaac was born, Abraham was ready to sacrifice him because God asked him to. He had confidence that God “gives life unto the dead” (v. 17). Hebrews 11:19 says that Abraham “considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead.” This confidence in God gave him hope, “against all hope” (v. 18, NIV).
Abraham’s faith allowed him to face the problems that existed. “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” (v. 19). The problems were real, but Abraham was “fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (v. 21). We all know Randy Gallaway’s story, how the doctors considered him as good as dead after the electric shock he received. But through the prayers of his pastor and others, God gave “life unto the dead!”
Abraham’s faith inspires us. We read: “without becoming weak in faith” (v. 19); “he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (v. 20); he was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (v. 21, NIV). Our testimony is the same as Paul’s: “God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (v. 24).
– Al Gary