Our “Speak Faith” project is creating a lot of interest across the Internet, and around the world! I get questions, folks ask for advice, it has been a great “magnet” for interest in faith, and God’s Power applied to everyday life! This is a question off our “Speak Faith” website, from a minister:
“With regard to Romans 4:17, As I read this passage it is describing two attributes (or, if you will, proofs) of GOD, when it says “…God…who quickeneth the dead; and calleth those things that are not, as those that are… Most “Word of Faith” evangelists use this verse as though it is meant to describe something that WE are being told to do – or being told that we CAN do.
My question is: How do you arrive at such an interpretation from verse 17? I am NOT being sarcastic or confrontational – I sincerely seek to understand this way of looking at Romans 4:17.”
Here’s the answer I sent to him:
Well, Romans 4, begins by saying: “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
The subject, it seems to me, is Abraham, and the fact of his believing God. His belief, and the fact that he believed God’s Word to him (His promise to Abraham) rather than his natural circumstance is the subject of the chapter, to my way of thinking.
Then, in verse 16: “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham…”
Again, note, “the faith of Abraham” I point out not to “elevate” Abraham, but to note that the subject again returns to the faith used by Abraham. It was God’s faith that Abraham was using. One rendering of Mark 11:22 where Jesus said to “Have faith in God” is, “have God’s kind of faith,” or “use the faith of God.” then Jesus went on to explain how to use God’s faith… by “saying.”
Back to Romans 4… “…who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.”
Abraham is “the father of us all” in that he was justified by his faith in God. Verse 11 says, “he might be the father of all them that believe.” I am a believer, so Abraham is “my father in faith.” The promise was to “the Seed” that is, Jesus, through Abraham. Gal. 3:16 says, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” So, our “heritage of faith” through Jesus is to use the faith of God as Abraham did, and notice how Abraham used this faith:
“And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”
He was not “feeble” (GK: “astheneo“) in the use of faith, but was “strong” (GK: “endunamo“) meaning “empowered.” He gave glory to God, because the faith came from God, “faith comes by more than the mere sense of hearing, but by hearing and receiving the Word of God.” (Transliteration of the Greek in Romans 10:17.) Abraham believed that what God had promised him in his Word spoken to him, God was able also to perform for him. Abraham was not moved by natural circumstances, which he did see, and recognize, around him, but he was moved only by God’s Word to him and his situation.
Verse 22: “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Notice, it was his obedience to God and his faith that God recognized and said that “it was imputed” to him for righteousness. The meaning of “imputed” here in Greek is to “take an inventory, or estimate” based on that inventory. God saw his use of faith, and imputed it to Abraham as right standing before him. BUT, it was not just for him, “but for us also” to whom it shall be accounted IF WE BELIEVE on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. If we believe, as Abraham did, in God’s ability to perform His promises.
So, bottom line, I see this chapter as indicative of “acting like” Abraham, who acted like God, in that he used God’s kind of faith. Again, Jesus said, in Mark 11:22, “Have the God kind of faith” (Greek rendering.) He went on to say that like God, we should “say.” God said, “Light be” and light was, in Genesis. He used the creative power of His words. Jesus said to use God’s kind of faith, and “say” to the mountain. Abraham, like God, “called those things that be not, as though they were.” As light was “not yet” until God spoke it into existence, so Sarah’s womb was not fruitful until Abraham got his mouth in line with God’s Word to him. Calling himself “Abraham,”or “father of a multitude” brought his mouth in line with God’s Word. He “called things that be not (yet) as though they were.” Now, it is important to note that he did not have the power to bring words to pass inherently in himself… only GOD has the power to bring his words to pass… but, we have been “given power of attorney” so to speak, to say God’s Words and and God will back up His own Word!
In this sense, he was “imitating God” … which is in line with Ephesians 5:1, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children…” The term “follower” is the word “mimitace” or, “imitator” in the Greek. As a child imitates his parents, we imitate God. I realize that in this verse, he is speaking specifically of the Love of God, but my point is that he expects us to imitate God. And, faith does WORK by love! (Gal. 5:6) Now, we can’t expect ANYTHING we say to simply come to pass, we have to say what God says, as Abraham did. We speak what God’s Word says about a situation, and we bring God’s ability to bear against the situation. It is not “our faith” or “our power” it is God’s Words and God’s power that gets the job done. As with Abraham, we are “fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” What God says, He is able to perform in our lives. All we need do is, as an imitator of God, speak what He would have us speak, do what He would have us do… and leave the rest to Him!