“… and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” Romans 4:21
The way some people view God’s word would seem very strange to the apostle Paul quoted above and to many of the people to whom God has spoken. The above verse is a reference to Abraham and is key to what faith in God and Jesus Christ is. Abraham took God at His word and took it in its normal literal context. He was convinced that God had said what He meant and meant what He said. He wasn’t speaking mystically or in riddles that Abraham had to try and solve in order to know what was required of him. As a result of being convinced he then acted upon what God had actually said, not on a mystical interpretation of what God had said. Confusion in understanding of God’s word comes about because we don’t follow Abraham’s example.
In a storm on the sea Paul said to those with him, “I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:25). Believing what God has said has a very practical application in life.
Noah was also convinced that God had spoken plainly to him and built an ark as it was told to him. Had he decided that God meant something smaller because such an ark was too hard to build the outcome would have been different. What if he did as some do today and decided that God only meant a local flood? He would have built a smaller ark and only taken local creatures on board. Now that error in understanding would give the environmentalists something to complain about!
Jonah certainly believed that God meant what He said even though he was unwilling to do as asked. Hebrews chapter 11 records the names of many others who did exactly the same as Abraham. Such names as Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David and the prophets are mentioned as men and women who were convinced that God had spoken what He meant and they acted on it without disappointment.
Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, endured nine months being dumb because at first he didn’t believe what God had said. Mary believed God’s messenger when told she would conceive outside of marriage by the Holy Spirit. What if Joseph had not believed the angelic messenger and believed instead that Mary had been unfaithful? How different the Christmas story might have been! Both Mary and Joseph were convinced that God had spoken through the angel and that they should take what they were told in its normal literal meaning even though they knew it would open them up to criticism from their religious leaders. They were fully convinced that what God had said He was also able to perform.
This week we have a day set aside to reflect on God’s faithfulness not only to His word to Mary and Joseph but to all of the men and women to whom He has spoken throughout history. Christmas, as well as Easter, is a time that we can especially reflect on God’s word and our attitude to it. Instead of trying to make it say what we want to hear let us follow the example of so many others and take God at His word. That is the message that Paul was conveying when he wrote this verse to the Christians in Rome. It is just as valid now.