“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;” —Romans 4:20
As a quick reminder, being strong faith means this: stepping out appropriately based upon what God has said, what God has declared, and what God has promised in His holy Word. Yet the term here, if I’ve read it correctly in Greek, also conveys that Abraham not only was strong in faith and staggered not at the promises of God, but the term also expresses that it was God’s Word and promise that enabled Abraham and empowered him to respond; in other words, Abraham was strengthened in faith.
How we are strengthened in faith is not the general answer to how strong faith is defined. To be strengthened in faith provides some more specific principles, especially since the fullness of time has revealed the New Testament promises; and those specifics are addressed in these last verses of Romans 4.
“Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him” (Romans 4:23). Scripture is clear here that the imputation of righteousness for Abraham’s faith was not an instance that would fall upon Abraham alone; his was the divine model that God had given to men through this prophet God called out from Ur of the Chaldees. Through Abraham, God had established a precedent in faith that far exceeded the life and faith of Abraham. It was not only for him…
“But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). It was for everyone who would be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead following His penal substitutionary sacrifice for the sins.
Abraham believed that God would raise his dead loins and Sarah’s dead womb to manifest God’s declared promise by bringing forth a son. How much more will God impute righteousness unto those who believe on Jesus Christ in trusting faith; standing in faithful allegiance to Christ Jesus, as the one and only, very Son of God, who was turned over to be crucified for our offenses; who received the punishment of God’s wrath in holy justice as the sufficient and satisfying Substitute;whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins; and who was raised from the dead in power and glory? How much more will God impute righteousness unto the soul who believes the crucifixion of Christ as the most infinitely holy and eternally glorious manifestation and demonstration of God’s grace that the universe has ever seen or ever will witness? God has promised LIFE to those who believe this truth.
Strong Christian faith is stepping out appropriately based upon what God has said, what God has declared, and what God has promised in the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and return of Jesus Christ according to Scripture.
Because it is a gift, when it is received by the person God is saving, that faith becomes his; it becomes hers. (Remember, Adam’s sin of disobedience, at its base, was faithlessness and its origin, covetousness; he failed to step out appropriately upon what God has said, what God has declared, and what God had promised.) Therefore, just because we have received this gift, we should not think that every decision we make is full of faith. We have not been made righteous, we have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us; we are counted as having Christ’s righteousness.
“Then said they unto [Jesus], What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” —John 6:28-29
Faith is also the fruit of God:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love: joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,” —Galatians 5:22
Many of us are all too familiar with these scripture references, yet what does it mean that faith is strengthened as God’s work and flourishes (or grows) as the fruit of God?
First, as our divine Sovereign, God places every circumstance in order He wisely wills so that we may be conformed to the image of Christ:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” —Romans 8:28-29
Yet, one of the things that it means when it says that “all things work together for good” is that God is providentially providing for His children every opportunity for faith to work through love:
“For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” —Galatians 5:5-6, NASB
Since the crucifixion of Christ is the most infinitely holy manifestation of God’s grace, and that it is the most eternally glorious demonstration of God’s love the universe has ever seen, or will see, then faith is strengthened by seeing the Cross of Christ through spiritual eyes from the hearing of God’s Word. As a result, we step out appropriately by faith in God’s truth of Calvary’s Cross, by faith in God’s declarations by the atoning death of Christ, and by faith in God’s promises in His Son’s atoning death, because God has sealed it with the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
If it is true Biblical saving faith, then our actions, by faith, must be based upon our minds being renewed by the truth of God’s Word, and most specifically, the truth of the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and return of Christ; else it is not faith at all…
“…without faith it is impossible to please God.“
“…whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
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Read the previous article in this series, “Strong in Faith” (Romans 4:19-22).