The promise of today's verses focuses on your answer to one question: Do you believe?
Do you believe that I AM the Father's Son and that the Father took My lifeless body and raised Me back to life as the conqueror over sin, death, and hell?
Believing that the Father can bring life out of death as well as beauty and order out of nothing is a fundamental aspect of Christian faith. This belief is the kind of faith Paul talks about in the verses you will read today from his letter to Roman Christians.
When you base your life on faith in My resurrection, everything changes. However, having faith in My resurrection in the face of life's most difficult challenges is not easy. Like the philosophers in Athens did with Paul, some in your day will laugh "in contempt"
at you because of your faith (Acts 17:32 NLT)
. You may find yourself doubting, like My apostle Thomas, who wanted physical proof of My resurrection (John 20:24-29)
. You may find yourself like some of My disciples who "disbelieved for joy" (Luke 24:41 ESV)
. After all, if something seems too good to be true, then you assume it can't be true. Some of My disciples doubted all the way up to My ascension (Matthew 28:16-17)
You may be like the father who had a son controlled by a demonic spirit (Mark 9:17-29)
. He wanted Me to help his son... if I could! I told that man, and I am telling you today, "Everything is possible for one who believes" (Mark 9:23 NIV)
. If you struggle with believing in My resurrection, that man's prayer can become your own: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24 NIV)
The kind of faith the Father calls you to have is not easy, but it is life-changing. This faith also comes with a blessing. When Thomas finally came to faith after I showed Myself to him, he confessed, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28 NLT)
. I told Thomas:
"You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me."
(John 20:29 NLT)
I know that believing in My resurrection will be hard for some of you. But please know that your commitment to believe comes with My promised blessing!
My closest disciples had been afraid and failed Me during My trials, crucifixion, and burial. However, they were made strong, bold, and fearless when they became convinced of My resurrection by spending time with me after My resurrection. Their testimony was spread across the Roman Empire as they gave their lives to tell the world that My resurrection was true and that they were witnesses of this truth (Acts 1:8; Acts 2:32-36)
. As Peter so eloquently said to disciples years after My resurrection as they were about to face bitter persecution for their faith:
You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:8-9 NLT)
Paul explained to the Christians in Rome that the Father counted them as righteous because of their faith. Today, I tell you that your righteousness, your "right standing before God,"
comes from the same place that Abraham's did: faith. For Abraham, the Father credited his faith as righteousness because he believed that the Father could take his old and impotent body and Sarah's lifeless womb and create a new nation through the gift of a son out of his seed and Sarah's womb. Like Abraham, your faith is credited as righteousness.
All who stand before the Father as His righteous children do so because they believe as Abraham believed. Like Abraham, you believe that your Father "creates out of nothing and holds the power to bring to life what is dead."
You believe that this is what the Father did to raise My dead and lifeless body and liberate Me from the tomb. As Paul wrote:
The story of how faith was credited to Abraham was not recorded for him and him alone, but was written for all of us who would one day be credited for having faith in God, the One Who raised Jesus our Lord from the realm of the dead. He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and raised so that we might be made right with God.
Your faith in Me is powerful, life-transforming, sin-forgiving, hope-restoring, and righteousness-giving.
Paul wrote in the verses below about Abraham's great faith in the Father Who is also the One Who did the humanly impossible and raised Me from the dead. Your faith in the Father's action means He receives you as His righteous child!
O Father, I believe, but help my unbelief. As I live trusting in Jesus' victory over sin, death, and hell, I ask that the Holy Spirit not only empower me to live for You but also increase and grow my faith. I want to not only hold this faith in my heart with conviction, but to also help others find their faith in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Give me courage, O God, so that I can be a living witness to Jesus and the grace that You have given me and all who have this faith. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.