Sermon – August 15, 2021
Romans 4:13-25 – A Lifetime of Faith
We are often sold the idea that lives are directed and fashioned by solitary moments in our lives, monumental events that happen to us that change fundamentally who we are and what we are about. Yet, for many of us, this is not our reality. Our lives are not changed by any solitary moment, but by many moments, strung together, slightly altering both us and our trajectory in life. Abraham’s life of faith is no different. Although the promise of Genesis 15 was a momentous occasion for him, his was not a momentary faith, but a lifelong walking with God. What kind of faith did Abraham have, and how should we imitate him?
1. The nature of the promise
Our promises come with hidden stipulations for no other reason than that we are finite creatures. There are millions of events or occurances that might keep our words from being fulfilled because we don’t control either time or space. Yet God has no such limitations. When he promsies, there is nothing that could possibly keep his word from coming true, even our sin. This is why Paul says that “where there is no law, there is no transgression.” If God has not put any stipulations, conditions, or commands with the promise, what could we possibly do to nullify it? Nothing! That is why it both rests on his grace and is guaranteed.
2. The nature of faith
a. A radical faith
Abraham’s faith was not based on working hard and hoping that God helps those who help themselves. Rather, he knew that he could do nothing to gain the promise of God. His faith was radically God centered.
b. A realistic faith
And it was radically God-centered because it was realistic. He was not optimistic, having a rosy outlook on his and Sarai’s ability to have a child. Rather, he considered that their bodies were dead, unable to produce life. We need no confidence in ourselves, but rather a realistic picture of what we cannot do. We cannot save ourselves, produce our own justification, or gain our salvation. Let us rest on the promise of God!
c. A particular faith
What’s more, his faith was particular. He wasn’t given an heir simply because he believed that God was kind and would give him what he really wanted. Rather, he believed in the very thing that a particular God had promised. It is not faith alone, in the abstract, that saves us. It is faith in God’s good promises, made sure in Jesus, that saves us.
d. A powerful faith
What’s more, his faith ironically grew stronger. We’d expect the opposite, I’d think. When a younger man, still virile, we might expect his faith to be stronger, thinking that the promise was closer because he could accomplish it. Yet, it was only when his faith was fully pointed at God that he grew strong in the faith. For God is a God who raises the dead and calls things that don’t exist as if they did. He knew God could do it, even with his weak body. Only when we reach the end of ourselves does our faith truly begin to be strong.
3. The nature of revelation
These things were not just written for Abraham, but for us. The Spirit kept these words to help us see the truth of what Jesus has done for us, here, today. He died for our sins, and God provided the proof of the complete payment of our sins by raising Jesus from the dead. Abraham’s faith was not a one time moment, but a moment that led to a lifetime of faith. May we walk in his footsteps!