Roger's Postings

Friday, February 23, 2018

Romans 4:13-25.                               Trusting the promises of God!                    25/2/18

(13)  It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. {14} For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, {15} because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. {16} Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. {17} As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. {18} Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” {19} Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. {20} Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, {21} being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. {22} This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” {23} The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, {24} but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. {25} He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

As we continue on our Lenten journey our Lord Jesus says, “Follow me,” and promises that he will be with us always. He says, “Live as children of the light,” and promised to give us the strength and power to do so. He says, “Love as I have loved you,” and has also promised and given us the love that we need in order to do so.

These are among the many commands and promises that have been given to us. But how often are we not like Jonah, and turn and run the other way. Where is our effort today to live as Christians who have been given these commands and promises? Where is our love - Christ’s love that is concerned about the welfare; and especially the spiritual welfare of our fellow human beings? Where is this Christian living that is in accord with God’s will?

Instead it is here today that we are in danger of going through the motions of being a Christian without our hearts being really in it. We are looking too much to ourselves and the world around us for our life, rather than looking to and trusting our Lord. We do what we want to do, instead of listen and following what our Lord has to say.

Once again, this lack of real Christian living in our lives is evidence of a life that has little trust in our great God; but instead, of self-centredness and self-righteousness. Again then, we are reminded that faith and belief in Christ is verified by a changed life: a life that is directed away from self, to our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is evidenced by a life that is prepared to take God and His Word seriously: to step out and do what God is calling us to do. Now that is where we struggle, don’t we: to trust God and take him at his word? As we look at ourselves we just feel as though we can’t do it, and we therefore don’t seem to think that it is possible, even for God; if we even think of him.

For us to live as God expects, is like Abraham and Sarah having a baby when they were a 100 years old: it is like being called to go off and start a new life in a foreign and hostile country when they are at that age, in anticipation of having a family, when the wife’s womb would long be considered dead and useless. For us this is all crazy: it is an impossibility, even in our day and age.

Now in reality, this is exactly the way it so often is  for us, when it comes to our living as God expects: when it comes to living, loving and making disciples in God’s kingdom. At the moment we are living in a heathen society that has only one interest: self and the almighty dollar. And when it comes to love and living, all we seem to think of today, is sex and pleasure.

When it comes to making disciples, well that is out because we have to be tolerant and respect other people’s rights and all the rest. When it comes to other ‘Christians’ and denominations; and even religions; well, we are all on track to the same God, so how can we say they are wrong, or need to change, or need something more. Not to mention the fact that we are no longer sure whether we ourselves are right.

Yes, we just can’t achieve the perfection that is being asking for; and so, we either do nothing, or as little as we possibly can. Of course, we still expect God to accept us never-the-less. Or else we are like Jonah, and turn and run the other way. We look here, to ourselves, and in reality, only see failure.

But it is here that we are reminded that Abraham stepped out and did what God was calling him to do; trusting Him, despite the impossibility of it all. ‘He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God.” He was not like us in saying, ‘Yes I believe in you God, but look I will just stay here for now and wait for something to happen. You know, it might look a bit foolish if I head off now and die in nowhere land, without any family at all. After all, I am way too old for this kind of thing. I am sure you understand God. I’m close to the end of my life. And because I have basically been a good fella - even if nothing happens the way you want - you’ll take care me - won’t you? You know that I am only human, with all my faults and failings, so you understand if I don’t head off now.’

No; Abraham didn’t act the way we so often do. Instead he listened to God and trusted him despite everything. So, he went off, knowing that God was with him. Knowing that God had the power to do what he said he would do. At the direction of God, he went off to a far country and the Lord blessed him with a family.

 As a result, we are told here that this faith was credited to him as righteousness. He was considered to be in a right relationship with God: not by society or himself - but by God himself. His trust in God; that was evidenced by his stepping out in faith, is what put him in a right relationship with God.

That, we are reminded, is the way it is for us also. Despite the difficulties and impossibilities that lay before us in living out the Christian life: despite our weaknesses and failures; we are called to trust that God will carry through on what he has promised, if only we would give him a chance. Here let us remember that if we look at every other stage in human history, God has not failed to bring his promises to fruition. If we take a look at guys like Peter, Paul and Matthew, Luther, and many others, God turned their lives around and produced great things through them.

If his Son can die on the cross and come to life again three days later for us, we can be sure that he can do as he has promised for us as well. So, when God promised to make us his children and give salvation and eternal life to us in our baptisms, we can be sure it is possible - even if it is impossible to us. As we believe in God who raised Jesus from dead; and as we believe that Jesus was delivered to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification, then we are assured that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.

When he promised to be with us as we go and make disciples of all nations through baptism and teaching, we are assured he will assist us in every way possible. As we go out and live and love as the people of God - as true Christians – we know his Spirit will be with us guiding and helping us to make Jesus Christ known to those we come into contact with. And so, we today are also assured that God does have the power to do all that he has promised to do in our lives here and now.

Even when we are facing changes and challenges for you here in this parish, and myself and Julie as we go into retirement, we still have God’s promise that he is with us and that he will use us to extend his kingdom. Remember Abraham was a hundred years old and God still worked through him. We too can continue to trust the he is with us always and will bring blessing through us.

So, let us step out in faith, knowing that our God is faithful and true to his Word and promises. Let us trust that he will do all that he said he would do for us. So, when we are feeling uncertain about salvation and as to whether God really does loves us, wondering even if we really are Christians, let us stop and trust again that Jesus’ death and resurrection has done it all for us, and that he has connected us to himself through baptism.

And when we are tempted to doubt that his Word is clear and that we need something more and different, let us trust him when he says that he has given us all that we need to know in the Bible. Where our life needs to be changed so that we become more Christlike in our living and loving, let us look to his Spirit to help and direct us, instead of trying to do it on our own. When we are called to speak up for God, let us trust that God will give us the words to speak, instead of thinking of our insecurities and weaknesses.

Then as we trust that he is true to all his Word and promises, we also along with Abraham and Paul have that assurance that our faith will be credited to us as righteousness: that we also can be sure that we are right with our Lord. So, let us go forward every day, seeking to live and be true Christians; trusting that he is with us always. And may our gracious and trustworthy God give you that trust and the help that you need in order to achieve great things for him.

To him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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