Walking in the Footsteps of Abraham’s Faith
The Faith of Abraham in Romans 4:18-21
RO 4:18 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.
“Abraham believed God.” Genesis 15:6
Two Kinds of Hope (vs.
os par elpida ep elpidi episteusen
/“Against hope, upon hope he believed...”/
Notice that the word “hope” is used two times at the beginning of verse 18. “Against hope…upon hope…” How can one be against and for something at the same time?
This scenario would certainly be abnormal and that is why I conclude that the apostle is using hope /with two contrasting definitions/ here.
!!! What kind of hope are you governed by?
There are essentially two classes of people that exist in the world and both are governed by hope.
The *first class* follows the classic Greek sense of the word where hope means /“uncertainty of the future.”/
It refers to what man can only hope for as /humanly/ possible.
This kind of hope is /rooted entirely in the realm of only what is naturally possible/.
This natural hope excludes the supernatural working power of God and that all things are possible for those who believe from one’s consideration of present conditions and perception of what is future.
This definition of hope is characterized then by “hoping that things just work out”./
/This is the kind of hope that Paul says Abraham was set against or believed contrary to.
It is a spirit in the world that we must firmly stand against as we walk by faith.
When things ”don’t just work out” then people become hopeless which makes them helpless.
People like this can never change their environment or condition.
They think things could never change.
Instead of dictating to their surroundings, their surroundings dictate to them.
Instead of reigning, they are governed by the very atmosphere of their past experiences, the present living conditions around them, and their bleak future perceptions.
That is a person that speaks forth from the negative.
Another word for this kind of hope is /unbelief/.
Uncertain hope is rooted in the natural can only produce fear and fear is to the spirit what unbelief is to the mind.
Fear is faith working in the negative.
Resigning to and expecting the bad is the definition of unbelief.
The *second class* is the biblical definition and follows the Jewish traditional interpretation of hope as “/the expectation of good, trust, trustful hope, hope as confidence in God/./”/
Abraham’s faith was characterized by a hope that was determined solely by the promise and character of God.
There was no ground of hope in himself or in his human condition.
His faith was a firm confidence in God as the one who determines the future according to what he has promised.
Hope is an overflowing, abundant fountain of faith.
Faith is to your spirit what belief is to your mind.
~*You must understand that when you step out to believe God /for/ something, you are at the same time believing /against/ spirits and attitudes that are not of faith.
These spirits may be manifested in your own thinking as well as in other people.
People that operate by the spirit of unbelief or a religious spirit will oppose you.
(Look at the example of Jesus and at how he dealt with the servants that came from Jairus’ household.)
Paul here is highlighting /the battle that raged in the mind /of Abraham.
“Against hope...upon hope…”
In your journey of faith, this is the battle that you will face first.
It is important that you win because the kind of hope that underlies your faith will determine the direction and course of your life!
Other verses with elpidis (hope) in Romans
*5:2* 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
*5:3-5* 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
*8:20, 21* For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
*8:24**, 25* 24 For in this hope we were saved.
But hope that is seen is no hope at all.
Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
*12:12* 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
*15:4* 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
*15:13* RO 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
! 2. Abraham in Hope Believed (vs.
ep elpidi episteusen...
/“…upon hope he believed…”/
Many times in the New Testament Paul uses the triad of faith, hope, and love.
(In Colossians, Paul says that “faith and love spring up from hope…”) One cannot exist without the other two.
Therefore, we find the close relationship here as well as elsewhere between faith and hope.
Hebrews 11:1 reads,
HEB 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we /hope/ for and certain of what we do not see.”
In this verse we see a direct relationship between faith and hope.
What is hope?
Hope can mean a lot of things – it is what we are believing God for, it is what he has promised us, it is the answer to our prayers, the fulfillment of his word.
Hope is the very promise of God.
Hope was the dreams of Joseph.
Hope was the promise to Moses and then to Joshua that the promised land was theirs.
Hope was the desire for sight to Bartimaeus. /Hope is the sure expectancy of the fulfillment of the unfolding of future events that will bring to pass God’s promises in his appointed time./
What is faith?
Faith, then, is the reality in the present of what we are sure God will do in the future regarding his promise, our hope.
(In Hebrews 11:1, “being sure” is parallel to “certain”, and “hope” is parallel to “what we do not see”.)
If you can see it, smell it, taste it or touch it in the natural, you have no need for faith because faith is the reality of something that does not exist yet.
It is hope that fuels faith.
Faith springs from hope.
Faith is a present response, most often against circumstances and events which directly oppose the fulfillment of the promise.
Faith celebrates now the reality of future blessings regardless of natural conditions that say otherwise.
In Romans 4, /hope is that which God spoke and promised to Abraham/.
Do you have a hope from God? In Romans 15:13, he is called “the God of hope”.
The apostle Paul continues to pray the believer “may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
/God wills that you overflow with hope!/
When you have hope, you have purpose.
Christianity is forward-looking.
This is hope and this is future.
The apostle Paul refers to this as the “blessed hope” which is “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
Remember that hope is “/the expectation of good, confidence in God/./”/
If hope is future, how do I live today?
Faith is how I live my life today based upon the certainty of a future hope, an expectation of good, the unfolding of events that will lead to the Parousia or “appearing” of Jesus again in the earth.
This walk by faith includes living/ “self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”/ (Titus 2:13-14).
This kind of hope releases the power of faith that enables one to /exhibit stability in the presence of hostility./
! 3. What You Believe, You Become (vs.
eis to genesqai auton...kata to eiphmenon
/“…in order that he might become… according to the thing having been said…”/
Abraham believed and so became the father of many nations just as it had been said to him, “so shall your offspring be.”
God acted as he did precisely with a view to determining the way in which Abraham’s fatherhood of many nations would come about – by faith.
This was the content of Abraham’s hope –that he might become the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “so shall your offspring be.”
This was his promise from God.
You have to hear from God so clearly.