THE CHARACTER OF TRUE FAITH: Romans Part 20

Justified by Faith (f) The Character of True Faith
Romans 4:18-22
In this chapter where Justification by Faith is taught from the ancient example of Abraham, Paul now addresses the subject of faith. While he has examined the primacy of grace and the exclusive nature of faith he now examines and defines the character of true faith.
1:Faith in God’s Person v18-19
Abraham’s faith did not look inward to himself, outward to society but upward to God. He was confronted with an impossible situation. Both he and and his wife were elderly
people yet God had said that they would have a son. On the human plane there was no hope for this couple yet Abraham had hope because he believed God.  While Paul here teaches that Abraham “considered not…the deadness of Sarah’s womb” the Old Testament record plainly states that he did think about this matter, Genesis 17:17.  When Paul explains that Abraham “considered not” he means that Abraham’s faith rose above all the logical and natural arguments which hindered the fulfilling of God’s promise. He was a realistic practical man who looked beyond his circumstances to God.
Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote on this very point, “If you want to have strong faith, read your Bible; go through it from beginning to end. Concentrate on the revelation that God has
given of himself and of his character. Keep your eye especially also on prophecy, and then watch his promises being fulfilled. That is the way to develop strong faith – be grounded in all this.”
2: Faith for God’s Praise v20
Abraham’s faith was strong because he gave glory to God.  Just as he was no longer dependent upon self he saw his future as being bound up with God’s honour. This was exactly why he was so obedient in taking Isaac to Mount Moriah to be offered, he was now consumed with the will of Jehovah. This is of practical relevance for us in terms of how we pray. We must understand the will of God and his sovereign purposes. We can offer petitions that are not agreeable to his will, therefore they will go unanswered. It is then we need a faith that is grounded on the glory of God. We are told that Abraham “staggered not”. While this was true of the patriarch at 100 years of age it was was not always
the case. He struggled to understand the divine purpose which led him into fathering Ishmael by Hagar. Nevertheless he learned as a consequence of his own failings and it was God who came to him and strengthened his faith bringing him to the place where did not stagger.
3: Faith through God’s Promise v21
Faith both understands and rests upon the promises that God offers. Abraham was promised what to humans was a total impossibility. This man appreciated the promise that he was presented with. We must pray that God will reveal promises that we can understand and lean upon. As this is a chapter upon Justification let us be clear that our salvation stands upon the promises that relate to grace and our standing with God.
Abraham was “fully persuaded”. Faith is not a mere intellectual knowledge or public confession of doctrinal beliefs.  Faith grants assurance to the heart and soul. Faith creates joy in the heart.

Abraham was fully persuaded.  Faith is not a mere intellectual knowledge or public confession of doctrinal beliefs.  Faith grants assurance to the heart and soul. Faith creates joy in the heart.

Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had said was about to happen. The only true evidence we have that God is, that the Bible is true and that heaven awaits us is the faith
that has been given to us, Hebrews 11:3. It is faith in the promises that gives the Christian a concrete basis to persevere.

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