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Hope Against All Hope (Romans 4)

Faith. That's what the Apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 4. He mentioned Abraham's faith and how Abraham’s faith was "credited to him as righteousness" because he believed God at his word (Romans 4:3). The Old Testament reference for this text is found in Genesis 15.


In Genesis 15, Abraham was called Abram, as God had yet to give him his new name. Abram voiced his concerns to God. Genesis 15:2-3 NIV reads: But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”


"What can you give me?" Abram asked. This question reveals Abrams’ innermost thoughts. It seems to reveal that Abram believed that he would never father a child. Yet, when we go a few chapters back, God promised Abram that he would make him into a great nation. Perhaps Abram wasn’t sure how God was going to make him into a father. And considering that he was elderly and still childless by Chapter 15, I suppose Abram needed some reassurance from God.


So, God reassured Abram. God confirmed that he could do what Abram thought was outside of the realm of possibilities. In Genesis 15:4 God said to Abram, “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”


To Abram’s question “What can you give me?”, God essentially answered that he could and would give him the very thing that he thought he could not have. And although God’s promise seemed far-fetched, when God told Abram that he would have his own son and that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, Abram believed him. Abraham believed that God would do what was unreasonable.


Romans 4:18 reads, "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed ...". To hope against all hope means Abram was in a hopeless situation and yet he maintained hope in God. This means Abram's faith went against all that was logical. But when God promised the illogical to Abram, he believed God.


And this belief was counted to Abram as righteousness—the same righteousness that can be credited to us today if we believe in God against our own feelings or thoughts of hopelessness. It is worth acknowledging that Abram's hope in God, was indeed nothing but hope. He had no supporting assurance outside of God’s word.


Abram did not have the luxury that we have today. He did not have the Bible or the testimonies of others to support his hope in God. He did not have a preacher or a circle of fellow believers to draw confidence from. He did not have Christian literature to solidify his hope. All Abram had was God’s word. And God’s word did not seem to be grounded in reality.  Yet, he believed God. 


This is imperative for believers today to understand. Many of us add to our faith with the assurance of literature, research, or evidence outside of God’s word. There are artifacts, archaeological evidence, and some of the world’s most intellectual minds who support the belief of God. Our preachers, teachers, and Christian circles support and confirm our beliefs. And this support has helped many believers in their walk. This extra support is something that we can and should thank God for.


But ultimately, our faith must be in God and God alone. Despite all the extra support that we have today, at the end of the day, it is only God and his word alone that we must stand on. Abram’s faith in God—not his confidence in the testimonies or support of others—is what was counted to him as righteousness. Much like Abraham, our faith must be in God and His word. Our faith cannot be grounded in the faith of others. It cannot be grounded in the assurance of literature and research. 


This faith—the Christian faith is so much like Abraham’s faith because Abraham believed that God could bring life from two “good as dead” bodies. Romans 4:19-20 states, “he [Abraham] faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet, he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God…”  


Abraham believed that God would bring forth life from two virtually dead bodies, just as we believe that God brought forth eternal life for us by raising Christ’s body from the dead. The Christian faith can be viewed as being just as far-fetched to us as having a child was to Abraham. Yet, Abraham believed in the impossible. His faith went against all hope. He believed even when it was reasonable for him not to believe. 


Is your faith like Abraham’s? Does it go against all hope? Because to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead for your sins is to have a hope that goes against all hope. The Christian belief goes against reason. The Christian believer must believe even when they have every reason not to believe. 


And yet if like Abraham you believe the impossibility of life coming from the dead, then your faith will be credited to you as righteousness. And if you believe that God brought forth life from the dead for you by Christ, then you must also believe that there is nothing that God cannot do—for the Christian belief is a belief that believes in the impossible. And to have that type of belief is to have the faith of Abraham. 


Yes, there may be moments where despite our belief, we will go outside of God’s divine plan. Abraham certainly did this when he took his wife’s advice to impregnate Hagar so that Abraham might have an heir. It was not God’s intention for Abraham’s heirs to come through another woman. It was God’s intention for Abraham’s lineage to come through Abraham and his wife, Sarah.


But Abraham’s error does not mean he lacked faith. Despite his mistake, his faith was still counted to him as righteousness. Both Abraham and Sarah made it to the Faith Hall of Fame found in Hebrews 11. So, be encouraged.


We will not always get it right. We will sometimes, step outside of God’s divine plan, but if we are rooted in our faith in God, it will be credited to us as righteousness. I pray that you believe in the impossibility that God raised Christ from the dead, just as Abraham believed God would bring life from two deaden bodies. 


I pray that just like Abraham, your hope—both in God and what he is able to do—will be a hope that goes against all that seems reasonable. I pray that regardless of how impossible your faith may seem, you will remain steadfast in your convictions. No matter what comes your way, may you maintain a hope that goes against all hope.

 

Quin Arrington is a wife, mother, and author with books available on Amazon at www.amazon.com/author/quinarrington


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