Romans 4:17- “(As it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” NKJV
Paul continues his argument, defending the truth that Abraham was a man of faith, and did not operate or receive from God based on the Law. As a matter of truth, Paul reminds us that Abraham believed God, long before the Law was given, 430 years before the Law was given. Therefore, his righteousness wasn’t base on the Law, but on faith!
Paul, Abraham continues, is the true father of all, who like him, believe in God and take Him at His word. As such, Paul wants it understood that faith, for the circumcised and the uncircumcised, is the principle upon which God extends His grace. Grace, God’s unmerited favor, therefore, was extended to Abraham, not because of his ability to perform the Law, but because of his faith!
Paul then tells us the quality of Abraham’s faith. He refers to the promise of God to Abraham when he states, “as it is written,” I have made you the father of many nations”
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.”Genesis 17:5 NKJV
One commentary I read stated that the phrase, “as it is written”, held a special meaning to the Jews, and Paul uses it to draw them in. The Jewish saying, “What is written of Abraham is written also of his children,” was the reason Paul said “as it is written”. That meant, to the Jews, that every promise that God made to Abraham was also made to his descendants.
Paul continues to describe Abraham’s faith by stating that Abraham believed in God who gives life to the dead and calls those things that be not, as though they were.
Abraham’s very name means “father of many nations”, so every time Abram told people his new name, he was agreeing with God that he was the father of many nations. Calling those things that be not, as though they were! Can you imagine the looks he must have received when he told people that his name was changed and they understood what that meant? Their respect may have kept them from saying anything to him, but they had to think he was expecting a lot with only one son. Also, in reference to our chapter, which is really dealing with faith and righteousness, God demonstrated His ability to call Abraham righteous, as if he was.
When teaching on divine healing, we often tell people that they should call themselves healed, instead of saying that they are sick. Some will say, that’s lying! But using the principle of faith, that God Himself initiated, calling those things that be not as though they are, we can call ourselves healed, when our physical symptoms says differently. In doing so, many have experienced divine healing in their physical bodies. I am a living witness that this actually works!
When God made this promise to Abraham, he had Ishmael, so he could see his nation had begun, and believed God! But God called his faith up to a higher level when he said that Sarai’s name was changing to Sarah, and she would bear a son. Abraham laughed in his heart. He had already produced a son with Hagar, so obviously Sarah had been the problem all along. Not to mention that Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was 90 years. Seriously? But again, Abraham placed his faith in God’s word to him!
Giving life to the dead! At this point in Genesis, I don’t recall an individual being raised from the dead, but Paul refers to Abraham as believing in God who gives life to the dead! Paul explains to us that Abraham’s body was already dead, and so was Sarah’s womb! Even by biblical years, where man’s lifespan was approximately 120 years, they were both pretty old. They weren’t able to bear children in their youth, and so now they were going to raise nations? That took faith! Abraham and Sarah had to come together, physically, in faith, and believe that they would produce Isaac, as God had said. This was not an immaculate conception, but a giving of life to their physically aged bodies, to produce a son.
Spiritually speaking, if there are some dead situations in your life, know that He can still raise the dead! Dead relationships, dead finances, dead careers, and dead people! I can’t help but think of Ezekiel, when God asked him if the dry bones could live again? Read it in chapter 37, in relationship to anything that is dead in you life, and call those dead situations alive, just like God does! Glory!!
Paul said that Abraham’s faith was a faith that believed against hope. Again, he couldn’t hope in their flesh because it had already failed them. He couldn’t hope in another Ishmael, or even in Ishmael, because God had put that idea to rest. So he had to hope against hope that he and Sarah would have a son. After all, God told him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the skies and the sand on the seashore, and not because of Ishmael!
We all know Ishmael, wasn’t an act of faith in God. Yet, Paul said that Abraham wasn’t weak in faith. He did not waver at the promises of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving God glory! He believed that God could do the impossible! And hearing that God would do so with him and Sarah may have been what strengthened his faith! Whatever it was, his faith was strengthened! Even now as you read this blog, I trust your faith is both stirred and strengthened!
Paul gives us a definition of faith:
And being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”Romans 4:21 NKJV
I used to think that Hebrews 11:1 was the only explanation of faith; but I have come across others scriptures that describe faith, and this is a favorite. Paul said that Abraham was fully convinced that what God had promised to him, God was able to perform it! Fully convinced! That’s faith! When we are fully convinced that we will see what God said that we would see, then we will see it! Fully convinced! When we believe that God will do what He said He would do! Fully convinced! When we believe that we will have what God said we will have! And Paul repeats that this type of faith was what caused God to credit Abraham with righteousness!
Not name it and claim it! Not blab it and grab it! But fully convinced that God is well able to do what He said He would do, and not only that He is able, but that He will do it! Especially when it seems impossible!
When I was in undergrad, I had to leave school because I couldn’t afford it, and the school counselor said that I would never get financial aid. I was really torn by this, and in prayer, God spoke to me and said that I would have many degrees. I didn’t see how, and I was a little turned off, but I secretly hoped to someday see that come to pass. I now have several degrees and I am working on another one! He just keeps making a way for me to get these degrees! The devil tried to destroy my dream of a college education, and it looked like he had succeeded, but God resurrects dreams all the time!
Now Paul brings it home. He says that the truth, it was accounted to him for righteousness sake, was not just written for Abraham descendants, but also for us! And the very same God that was able to raise Abraham’s dead body, and Sarah’s dead womb, also raised Jesus our Lord from the dead! This same Jesus who was delivered up because of our sins, and was raised from the dead for our justification!
I have to quit! But suffice it to say, faith in God will cause the impossible to become possible! This recollection of Abraham’s faith in operation, is as vital a lesson today, as it was when it was written! Wonderful Jesus!