What Is Justifying Faith Like?
And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:19-25)
What is justifying faith like? To what can it be compared? How does one know that he or she has exercised saving faith? Again the answer is found as we look into the life of Abraham, the father of faith for us all.
An incident in this notable patriarch’s life demonstrates justifying faith for us … the incident of the conception and birth of the promised son, Isaac (Genesis 17:15-21; 18:9-15; 21:1-7). It would be a miraculous birth, given the fact that in their old age neither he nor Sarah possessed reproductive potential. God would have to do something!
So the promise of God came. Abraham believed God’s promise, without reservation. He didn’t look at himself and what he was capable of. Neither did he look at Sarah and what she was capable of. From a human perspective, there would be no child. From the perspective of God’s ability and God’s promise, a child was certain.
Abraham’s faith grew stronger and stronger as the days advanced. His growing faith brought glory to God, as it honors God when we believe that what He says is true. It shows confidence in who He is.
As Paul states it, Abraham’s faith is the kind of faith that trusts God’s promise in salvation. Like in Abraham’s case, justification is miraculous. As Abraham could not look at himself for hope of a future son, so we cannot look at ourselves for any hope of eternal life. We have nothing with which to save ourselves. We are empty, bankrupt, hopeless apart from the finished work of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead. Absolutely hopeless.
Why did Jesus die? For our offenses!
Why did He rise from the dead? As proof that Christ’s death for us was sufficient, that it worked! Without the resurrection, we’d still be in our sins.
For Further Review
1. Read the story of the birth of Isaac (Genesis 17:15-21; 18:9-15; 21:1-7). In your own words, how is Abraham’s faith a great example to us today?
2. Look within: why would be impossible for God to declare you righteous?
3. Look to Calvary and the empty tomb: upon what basis could God declare you to be righteous before Him—without fault, guilt, sin, blame?
4. Write out your thoughts about your own position with God. Where do you stand with Him? How does He view you? What is the basis for your answer?