“And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;” —Romans 4:19-20
“And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb” (Romans 4:19). “…being not weak in faith…” You may recall the apostle’s words in Romans 1:16, when he said that he was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” That was a figure of speech used for emphasis by denying its opposite. It’s called a “litotes;” yet, here it expresses, I believe, not merely Abraham’s strength of faith to move forward in response to God’s Word, but it also expresses his lack of hesitation. Abraham did not fluctuate or think twice upon hearing the promise from God.
Additionally, when we read that Abraham “considered not his own body now dead… neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb,” we realize from scripture that Abraham would live another 75 years after Sarah gave birth to their son, Isaac. The scripture gives us an interesting insight:
“Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.” —Genesis 18:11
Sarah had reached menopause. She was physically incapable of getting pregnant (in the natural realm). Yet, another insight we have here is that Abraham’s loins were also dead by this time, thirteen years after Ishmael’s birth. This required the miracle of God. For this promise to come to pass, it required the same resurrection power of God to raise the dead. Yet, because God said a son would be born, Abraham did not falter or slide.
“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20). Abraham “staggered not at the promise…” Abraham did not waiver or withdraw in unbelief “but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” More literally it says, “but was strengthened in faith…” or “but grew strong in faith.” In other words, Abraham grew stronger in his faith when he did not waiver in unbelief. Abraham was not “driven of the wind and tossed” in unbelief (James 1:6), and therefore, he grew stronger in faith; and as Abraham grew stronger in faith, each moment in faith glorified God.
“And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21). The decree of God in His promise is certain. God says,
“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” —Isaiah 46:9-10
Approximately 1,300 years before Isaiah proclaimed it, Abraham was “fully persuaded,” completely assured, and absolutely certain.
“And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:22). “…it was imputed to him for righteousness” are the same exact words in the original Greek text as Romans 4:3. There are three very important things that this text tells us as it relates to the preceding verses.
1. Justification is a one-time declaration of God, as we have already studied in the scriptures from Romans 3:26-31, and was reinforced from Romans 4:1-8; that justification comes by God’s grace through faith; and by that faith, God counts such a person righteous. Paul proved it through the scriptures when he used Abraham’s life prior to the covenant of circumcision, quoting Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3). Yet, Paul uses the circumstances surrounding the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17) to say the exact same thing about God imputing righteousness unto Abraham for his strong, unwavering faith with regard to the announcement of Isaac’s birth. So what is that saying? It tells us that when a man is truly saved by God, justified by grace through faith, that although justification happens once at conversion, it continues to be realized and manifested through faith as faith grows stronger.
2. Furthermore, this verse tells us that the imputed righteousness of justification is by God’s grace alone since, in this instance with Abraham and Sarah’s bodies both being “dead” requiring resurrection power to fulfill God’s promise, unless God made it to be so, nothing they could do would produce a child in Sarah’s womb and bring it to term. They could have persevered and applied themselves practically for the rest of their natural lives, but unless God brought it to pass, it wasn’t going to happen.
3. Finally, this verse tells us that what James says in his epistle concerning faith is true; that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). Because God declared that Sarah would bear a son, they did not sit still and do nothing. They were responsible to the revelation truth of God’s promise, and in faith, must act according to faith, despite the fact that it was physically impossible for Abraham to sire a seed at 99 years of age and for Sarah to conceive after menopause. Many Christians believe that faith means doing nothing but waiting for God to act. It is not. This is what strong faith is: it is stepping out appropriately based upon what God has said, what God has declared, and what God has promised in His holy Word.
LEAVE A COMMENT. Let us know your thoughts.
Read the previous article in this series, “Faith Alone – Part 2” (Romans 4:9-17).