The previous article studied the fact that we’re not good enough to demand that God give us access to Himself through perfect righteousness through good works, nor do we want the wages of the sin that we have done. However, there is good news: there is another way to receive benefits that we don’t deserve, as a gift from God.
Before digging into how to receive that grace that God offers us through faith, trust, and belief, let’s take a quick look at those terms, to make sure that we understand them:
- For Faith, we might look to Hebrews 11:1, which gives us examples of those who had faith. “Oxford languages” has a couple of definitions of faith, but the one that fits best here is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”. Faith is knowing that something we can’t directly observe is real or true.
- Trust is defined as “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something” [Ibid.]. Trust is confidence that someone or something will do what we expect them (or it) to do. I like to say that trust is only as good as the person or object of our trust. If I trust an old camp chair with a rotten seat to hold me up, it might betray my trust and I might find myself sitting on the ground. On the other hand, when I trust God to keep His promises, I don’t have to worry about being let down, there.
- Belief is a little harder to define, since I think that we sometimes use that word to define other things. The dictionary says, “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.” [Ibid.], and that seems fitting: accepting that something is true or that something – or someone – exists.
The opposite of faith is sometimes a lack of faith (i.e., not believing something), but another opposite of faith might be “sight” (see 2 Corinthians 5:7), once we have already observed the results. After all, if someone who owed you money has paid you back, and you’ve literally got the cash in your hands, you don’t really need faith (or trust in their character) to believe that they will fulfill their promise.
As described in Romans 4:18-19, though, Abraham – an example of someone with faith – was in a completely different situation.
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.” 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.
Romans 4:18-19 NIV
It wasn’t like Abraham and Sarah were having lots of children already. If so, Abraham wouldn’t really have needed a lot of faith to believe that God would give him many descendants. However, Abraham and Sarah – as a couple – were not physically in a situation to be able to have children, and so Abraham’s belief in God’s promise was significant.
More than that, Abraham lived out his faith, in the choices that he made and the actions that he took. When the choice came between acting as if God would be faithful, and acting as if God was either unable or unwilling to keep HIs promises, Abraham generally chose the former.
And, what was the result? Abraham became the father of many nations, just like God said He would. Not only did Abraham’s biological descendants grow in number, but even more people became his children in righteousness through faith.
God promised significant blessings to Abraham and his descendants. I hope that you are the recipient of many of these great promises to Abraham’s descendants, through the righteousness that comes through faith, whether or not you are also one of his biological descendants.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for January 16, 2022
- The Lookout, January 16, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.