TAKING THE PROMISES SERIOUSLY Romans 4:20   (Tim H)

 

As the father of the bride, I have just perfected the pathetic cry of my species. When our daughter and her mother come home with the ominous phrase “We have found something nice,” A few seconds later the strangled howl goes up, “How much?”

 

At weddings it is great to have a good do, the works. However almost any couple will tell you that on the day what really matters is taking the promises seriously. Otherwise the whole thing would be pretty meaningless. It is what happens over the next few decades as a result of keeping those promises that really counts, the do itself will be soon forgotten. Same with

Baptism. Before the service I always go round and talk at some length with the parents about taking the promises seriously. Otherwise once again is it not pretty meaningless?

 

Trusting God’s promise is the essence of faith. In Romans 4:20, speaking of Abraham, St Paul writes, “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God… being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

 

Abraham was ‘justified’ by faith. What this means is that even though he was 99 years old and his wife not much younger, when God promised him that a son would be born to the elderly couple he did not fall about with laughter (as did Sarah) but took God at his word, trusting his promise. God kept his promise and Isaac (which means ‘laughter’ in Hebrew) was duly born. His complete faith in God made Abraham acceptable, even though his life was not up to scratch,

 

Nothing has changed. Faith is not just thinking xyz is true. It is grasping God’s promise for myself. St Paul discourses about this at great length in Romans, and the doctrine of Justification by Faith has been a cornerstone of Christian belief ever since. Quite simply St Paul would have us believe that trusting God’s promise is the essence of faith.

 

It was certainly true for me. On 5 Feb 1975, while reading St John I came across these words. Cutting to the chase, Jesus said to his hearers, what God requires of you is “..to trust in the one he has sent.” John 6:29. Even I was able to grasp that trusting God’s promise is the essence of faith.

 

As any bride or groom will tell you taking the promises seriously really matters. It is the key to everything in any long-term relationship. Same with God. Be like Abraham who had the courage to trust God’s promise and thereby received spiritual enlightenment and salvation. It is the true way!