Hope Against Hope (Romans 4:18-25)

Romans 4:18-25  “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  19 Without weakening in his faith, he 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. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
Romani 4:18-25 “Egli, sperando contro speranza, credette, per diventare padre di molte nazioni, secondo quello che gli era stato detto: «Così sarà la tua discendenza». 19 Senza venir meno nella fede, egli vide che il suo corpo era svigorito (aveva quasi cent’anni) e che Sara non era più in grado di essere madre; 20 però, davanti alla promessa di Dio non vacillò per incredulità, ma fu fortificato nella fede e diede gloria a Dio, 21 pienamente convinto che quanto egli ha promesso, è anche in grado di compierlo. 22 Perciò gli fu messo in conto come giustizia. 23 Or non per lui soltanto sta scritto che questo gli fu messo in conto come giustizia, 24 ma anche per noi, ai quali sarà pure messo in conto; per noi che crediamo in colui che ha risuscitato dai morti Gesù, nostro Signore, 25 il quale è stato dato a causa delle nostre offese ed è stato risuscitato per la nostra giustificazione.
          Paul continues his teaching on justification by faith. He employs a compelling illustration of Abraham and Sarah to demonstrate the impossibility of justification by one’s own strength. Why did God wait until Abraham was 99 and Sara 89 years old to fulfill His promise of an heir? Certainly one reason was to show that although their ability to have children was long past any possibility, Abraham lived by faith and not by his own strength. During his 25 years of waiting for the heir of promise, his hope faced some setbacks but he never lost his faith and trusted that somehow, God would make a way where there was clearly no way.
            As believers, we live by faith. Salvation comes to those who know they are unable to help themselves and cast themselves on God’s saving grace. When Abraham “faced the fact” that his body was dead, then God began to work in his body. The word faith or believe (the same word in the original Bible text) occurs in Romans over 50 times. Thank God we have a Bible to read that will teach us about faith! But Abraham had no Biblical text to follow. What he had was the promise of God as sure as if he was holding his baby in his arms. Notice the phrase “being fully persuaded”; it is written in a passive verb form and is a shipping term used when a ship with “full sail” would be seen in the distance and would make its way patiently to a sure harbor. Abraham learned over a life of trails and setbacks to never lose his faith. As Paul quotes Genesis 15:6, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness”, he reminds the Roman believers and us that the same faith that worked for Abram will also work for us.
Pray with me:  Lord, I am reminded again today that salvation is based on faith in You and Your promise to all who believe. I am amazed at how simple it is and yet difficult to grasp at the same time. Help me to remember that I can do nothing in my own ability to obtain God’s righteousness. Like Abram, you credit it to me as righteousness when I believe in your forgiveness and justification through Jesus Christ.

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