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Believing In The God Who Makes The Impossible Possible

4:18-25 In hope Abraham believed beyond hope that he would become the father of many nations, as the saying had it, "So will be your seed.?" He did not weaken in his faith, although he was well aware that by this time his body had lost its vitality (for he was a hundred years old), and that the womb of Sarah was without life. He did not in unfaith waver at the promise of God, but he was revitalized by his faith, and he gave glory to God, and he was firmly convinced that he who had made the promise was also able to perform it. So this faith was accounted to him as righteousness. It was not only for his sake this "it was accounted to him for righteousness" was written. It was written also for our sakes; for it will be so reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead, who was delivered up for our sin and raised to bring us into a right relationship with God.

The last passage ended by saying that Abraham believed in the God who calls the dead into life and who brings into being even things which have no existence at all. This passage turns Paul's thoughts to another outstanding example of Abraham's willingness to take God at his word. The promise that all families of the earth would be blessed in his descendants was given to Abraham when he was an old man. His wife, Sarah, had always been childless; and now, when he was one hundred years old and she was ninety ( Genesis 17:17 ), there came the promise that a son would be born to them. It seemed, on the face of it, beyond all belief and beyond all hope of fulfilment, for he was long past the age of begetting and she long past the age of bearing a son. Yet, once again, Abraham took God at his word and once again it was this faith that was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.

It was this willingness to take God at his word which put Abraham into a right relationship with him. Now the Jewish Rabbis had a saying to which Paul here refers. They said, "What is written of Abraham is written also of his children." They meant that any promise that God made to Abraham extends to his children also. Therefore, if Abraham's willingness to take God at his word brought him into a right relationship with God, so it will be with us. It is not works of the law, it is this trusting faith which establishes the relationship between God and a man which ought to exist.

The essence of Abraham's faith in this case was that he believed that God could make the impossible possible. So long as we believe that everything depends on our efforts, we are bound to be pessimists, for experience has taught the grim lesson that our own efforts can achieve very little. When we realize that it is not our effort but God's grace and power which matter, then we become optimists, because we are bound to believe that with God nothing is impossible.

It is told that once Saint Theresa set out to build a convent with a sum the equivalent of twelve pence as her complete resources. Someone said to her, "Not even Saint Theresa can accomplish much with twelve pence." "True," she answered, "but Saint Theresa and twelve pence and God can do anything." A man may well hesitate to attempt a great task by himself; there is nothing which he need hesitate to attempt with God. Ann Hunter Small, the great missionary teacher, tells how her father, himself a missionary, used to say: "Oh! the wickedness as well as the stupidity of the croakers!" And she herself had a favourite saying: "A church which is alive dares to do anything." That daring only becomes possible to a man and to a church who take God at his word.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

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