September 24 2011, 8:55 am | Bill Elliff
Only God could design it this way. God, in perfect wisdom, created a world order than can only operate properly through the irony of faith. He has chosen to be physically unseen to the human eye (except for the brief, stunning revelation of Himself through His Son). This does not mean, however, that He has not made Himself fully known (Romans 1 teaches us the opposite) for He has revealed Himself through Creation, conscience, and Christ. In fact, He gives every single man and woman, boy and girl, enough vision of Himself that demands faith and makes us all accountable before Him.
But look at His operation as He discloses the intimate details of His world system in Abraham, the Father of our faith.
...as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:17-22)
He gave Abraham a promise. Just a promise, but a powerfully revealed and abundantly clear word. "I am going to give you a child and all the world will be blessed through you." This is what God always does. If we're looking (and sometimes when we're not) God reveals His plan and will to us. This demands a response and creates a dilemma—do we believe God although it does not make sense to our human senses? Do we tell others? Do we “act like a thing is so, when it is not so, in order for it to be so” (as my mentor, Manley Beasley would say)?
God rarely fulfills the promise immediately. In fact, He often delays its fulfillment until any reasonable human time frame has expired. So it was with Abraham. The promise came and then Abraham waited...and waited...and waited. Sarah, his wife who was also intimately involved in this faith journey, passed the time of childbearing. It COULD NOT happen humanistically.
But here is where God's fantastic faith dimension explodes. Abraham "did not weaken in faith...no unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised" (vs. 19-21). Faith is most powerful when it is against all odds. When it believes in a God who "calls into existence things that do not exist" (vs. 17). In fact, that is the real definition of faith. It is believing something we cannot see based upon the faithfulness of the One who promised.
God has created a system that makes us trust Him. The only way we can function properly in this world (or the next) is through faith. We must believe in Him. And, to insure this posture, God is constantly asking us to hope against hope, to believe in the impossible, to trust that He can and will do what is not seen and is contrary to human reasoning.
The reason for this is simple: "For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace" Paul says (vs. 16). In God’s plan, all the blessings, answers, provisions, and results that come from this faith exchange are an act of God's grace. We cannot claim any credit for their arrival. We could have produced none of this if we had tried. Our part has been simply to believe—with our head and heart in complete conviction, with our body in instant obedience (even Abraham's continued relations with his wife was an act of faith), with our mouth in continued confession that God is going to be faithful to His promises. With every fiber of our being, every single day, we are to walk and talk as if what God says is completely true.
And, when God fulfills His promises at the midnight hour (and He ALWAYS fulfills His promises because He cannot deny Himself) only One is glorified, but all those who believed are blessed. What an amazing God.
Order Bill's books here including "The Child of 10,000 Names" and "WhiteWater".