Romans is one of my favorite books in the Bible. It is so rich in theology as Paul explains salvation as a gift of God by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus. You might think theology isn’t very practical, but it is. It affects our worldview, and when we are biblically sound in our theology, the world makes a lot more sense.
Theology also gives us great hope when the world is falling apart.
Take Romans 4:18-21 for example.
In hope against hope he [Abraham] believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 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; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able to perform.
Paul is explaining the deep theological truth of justification by faith. He is proving his point by showing us that God declared Abraham righteous before he was circumcised and that Abraham obtained salvation and the favor of God not by his works, but by his faith. The portion of scripture just quoted reveals Abraham’s amazing faith.
God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son from whom nations and kings would come. According to the promise, they would have multitudes of descendants. But for a very long time, it didn’t happen. And the longer Abraham waited, the more his logical, human understanding told him that it wouldn’t.
Abraham’s body was “as good as dead.”
Sarah’s womb was “dead.”
Their human bodies were no longer capable of producing an heir. No babies were coming. They were long past the stage of even the possibility of a “surprise” pregnancy. It looked hopeless.
What was Abraham’s response? Did he turn his back on his faith in God, throw up his hands and give in to despair?
No…his faith grew ever stronger. The more dismal the outlook, the more unlikely it appeared that a baby would arrive, the greater and deeper and stronger Abraham’s faith grew. His faith in God was directly proportional to the supernatural power it would take to fulfill His promise.
What a lesson for us! The more hopeless our circumstances – when we see no way out of this mess – when we are fully convinced by what we see and observe in the natural world that there’s no opportunity for things to change for the better, but only get worse – that is when we can expect God’s sovereign power to shine the brightest!
I don’t know about you, but when I look around at what’s going on, I could fall into deep depression, were it not for my faith in God and the knowledge of the final outcome as graciously revealed in scripture. The headlines tell us that we are going to suffer food and supply shortages, higher and higher energy prices, more and more tyrannical mandates (if we don’t comply), more crime, diminishing healthcare and less protection from emergency personnel. People are losing their jobs. Those who could work won’t. Businesses are closing. Borders are overrun with illegal immigrants. Homelessness is rampant. Our cities are growing dirtier and more dangerous.
Whew! It looks pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? It looks like the world is dying.
That’s when we need faith like Abraham – faith in the God who conquered death.
God brought life into Sarah’s womb!
God brought life into Jesus’ tomb!
God brought life into my heart and yours – hearts that were dead in their trespasses and sins.
In hope against hope, let us believe.
Without becoming weak in faith, let us not waver in unbelief.
Let us grow strong in faith, giving glory to God.
Let us be fully assured that what God has promised, He is able to perform.
What are some of the promises to those who put their faith in Jesus?
He’s promised to protect us.
He’s promised to provide for us.
He’s promised to render judgment on the wicked.
He’s promised that He rules over kings and authorities.
He’s promised that He will be present with us in our suffering.
He’s promised that He will restore all things.
He’s promised that these things (we are seeing) will occur, and then the end will come!
He’s promised to return for His bride, the church, the believers.
He’s promised to take us home to live with Him eternally.
Dead is not dead when you’re dealing with the God who created life. Put your faith in God. What He has promised, He will perform.