How Faith Lives on a Promise

Sustaining Faith Does with Life What Saving Faith Does with Jesus

“But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:23-25)

We begin with saving faith, for surely that is Paul’s focus here. He reemphasizes that when Genesis 15 tells us that when God credited Abraham righteousness by faith, it was written down for our instruction. If even Abraham was saved by faith, then who are we to think our righteousness or moral awesomeness can save us? If Abraham was saved by faith, then so must we. Here is the promise. It will be counted to us [same words as Abraham] who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord. Abraham believed God and was justified. Paul urges us to Abraham-like faith.

By the way, who has it easier? You or Abraham? What if rather than the entire New Testament and the ongoing story of the gospel for the 2,000 years of the church, all you had was what Abraham had? Your descendants will be like the stars and through you all nations will be blessed. (Genesis 15:5; 17:16) That’s it. All you got. All you know to trust in. Now you see how we are in such a privileged and blessed place in history as we have so much more revelation and evidence of God’s trustworthiness. How? God fulfilled his Abrahamic promise. Jesus has come. The New Testament bears witness. History bears witness. The church bears witness. God’s people bear witness. We have so much more than Abraham! If Abraham could trust God’s promise with the little he had and be saved, might you today place your trust in what God’s promise fulfilled with Jesus dying for your sins? That’s where Paul goes.

“It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.(Romans 4:24-25)

The essential gospel. Jesus was delivered over by the Father to mankind for mankind’s sin. He was raised back to life for our justification authenticating that God’s promise of salvation is true. God will declare us righteous forever if our hope, faith, and trust are in Jesus and what he did for us on the cross and in his resurrection. That is saving faith. But notice that for Abraham there is a lot of living after God makes his promise in Genesis 15. Abraham would wait 25 years for God to fulfill his promise of a son.

This is so helpful as we sometimes think there is one kind of faith that saves us and one kind of faith that sustains us. No. Not at all. It is the same kind of faith. Abraham believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness and Abraham continued to believe and it sustained him as he waited a quarter century for God to fulfill his promise.

Faith’s role in the Christian life is the same. The same faith that I expressed in trusting my eternal destiny to Jesus, I continue to apply to the ongoing issues in my life. If I can trust God for the big things by faith, shouldn’t I trust him for the daily things by faith?

Scripture urges us to see that God’s promises include the big and the small. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) Do you see the argument from the greater to the lesser? Friends, what are we so afraid of? What are we worrying about? God’s promises are true even when life seems to call his reliability into question. That’s the power of Abraham’s example as there are probably no more unlikely circumstances in which God could come through then 100-year-old Abraham bearing a son by 90-year-old Sarah.

“Let us also remember, that the condition of us all is the same with that of Abraham. All things around us are in opposition to the promises of God: He promises immortality; we are surrounded with mortality and corruption: He declares that he counts us just; we are covered with sins: He testifies that he is propitious and kind to us; outward judgments threaten his wrath. What then is to be done? We must with closed eyes pass by ourselves and all things connected with us, that nothing may hinder or prevent us from believing that God is true.” (John Calvin) [1]

Imagine it’s the dead of winter and you, for whatever reason, must cross a frozen river. You must get from one side to the other side. But you hear the ice cracking and making noises and you wonder, will this hold me? So, you take your first step and you hear, crack! You take your next step and you hear a louder crack! You think you feel the ice giving way and so you quickly lay down on the ice spread eagle. You slowly inch your way across, each movement terrifying you that it will be your last. You are halfway across the river and are sure you are about to die when you look over and here comes across the frozen river a concrete truck. It passes by you. The driver grins and waves and you watch it get to the other bank and go up on to the road.

What do you do? Do you remain spread eagle and crawling? No. You think, if this ice can take the concrete truck than it certainly can handle my weight. You stand up and walk with confidence to the other side.

What is Romans 4 teaching? The ice is the power and promises of God. The cracking is the fearful sounds and terrors of life all around us. The concrete truck is Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. If God’s promise can hold up the weight of our eternal salvation, then should I be able to trust him in the cracking trials of life, in the scary health moments, in the parenting trials, the job loss, the relational pains, the cracking sounds of the uncertainties of life?

Faith sees God’s faithfulness to his promise in Scripture and in his Son and applies the same promise-trusting faith to the daily struggle of life. This fights our fears and allows us to stand up, brush off the snow and ice, and to walk forward in life confident that while I may tremble on the ice, the ice will never tremble under me.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2018 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address ( on the copied resource.

[1] John Calvin as quoted by Douglas J. Moo, Romans: New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, p. 1132.

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