The Hope Part IV
Promise of (the) Hope
It is worthwhile to look at the relationship between believing and hope.
We have seen, very briefly, that someone may either be strong in believing or weak in believing, and that being strong in believing brings promised results. One can read record after record in the Gospels and Acts where the person needing and wanting deliverance would need to "step up" and believe. When they believed they received the results.
Not every time you or I believe will the results immediately follow. This may be one of the chief problems that God's people have -- they think or believe that they are believing, but get tired of waiting for the results and therefore lose heart and give up. Because they give up they are no longer believing and of course they do not receive the promised results.
A farmer knows that he must prepare the soil, plant the seed, and tend that seed (such as by watering). He may go weeks without seeing any results and if he gives up and lets the seed dry out he will not see any crop that year.
However, if he tends the seed he will see seedlings, and his job then is to tend them as they grow and eventually reap the harvest. He puts much time and effort between planting the seed and reaping the harvest many months later.
We read in Matthew 6 that our Heavenly Father knows our needs. Our job is to put Him first, believing His Word throughout each day, every day. At times our prayers are answered immediately, at times the same day, at times later. However, we are not to get discouraged but rather continue in believing.
Abraham is referred to in the Word of God as the "father of all them that believe", "a father of many nations", and "the friend of God". Certainly these qualifications should cause us to sit up and take notice!
A few points about Abraham:
We will pick up in Romans 4, and study "the process" of Abraham's believing, the results, and how his believing ties into hope.
With the coming of the Mosaic Law, the forgiveness of sins, like many other things, was tied to keeping and doing the commandments contained in the law. This was never God's primary will. Romans 4:3 echos Genesis 15: "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for rightesousness." God wanted believers, those who would trust Him and rely on Him to be their Father.
Romans 4:6-8 shows that King David knew of God imputing, or reckoning, righteousness without works, but due to believing alone. Abraham believed God (and received righteousness) before circumcision was instituted. Circumcision was a sign, a "seal of the righteousness of [due to] the faith [believing]" that Abraham had.
Having iniquities forgiven and sins covered due to believing and not by works is called "blessedness."
The promise to Abraham, that is, the Word of God given to him to believe, was not "of the law." The Mosaic Law had not yet been given. It was through the righteousness that was reckoned due to believing. Romans 3:24 says we were "justified freely by his grace."
Let us look back at Romans 4:4, 5:
Payment for work is not grace, it is earned compensation, or "debt". That is, if I work for you, until you pay me you are in my debt. Grace may be thought of as "something given by God in love without earning or deserving it".
These two verses tell us that when God imputes/counts/reckons righteousness simply because one believes His promises, it is "of grace". That we are given a promise to believe in the first place is grace; that we obtain righeousness and justification freely certainly is of grace as well!
We see here some very revealing truths: God quickens (makes alive) the dead, and calls those things which are not as if they are. We will be taking a close look at Genesis to understand more about this.
And, verse 18 says that Abraham believed in the hope of becoming the father of many nations, according to what was written in Genesis 15:5, "so shall thy seed be". This is an alarming revelation! What was it about the promise to Abraham that put it into the category of "hope"?
We will need to go to Genesis and study the nature of the promise made to Abraham to see what marks it out as being a promise of hope.
Part III | Part V