Meditations in Romans : 5: Fully Persuaded
Rom 4:20,21 “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in hisfaith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
We concluded the previous meditation mentioning these verses but now we need to focus on this question of Abraham being “fully persuaded”. There are indications in scripture that faith cannot be half-hearted, you have to be ‘fully persuaded’. In other words, there is no question of the “Well, I’ll give it a try,” type of approach being acceptable.
Listen to how James explains it in respect of needing wisdom from God: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;” (Jas 1:5-7) Various people have written trying to legitimize ‘doubt’ but the best one can say is that it might be a pathway towards belief. James is adamant, if you want something from God you need to believe without doubt, i.e. you need to be ‘fully persuaded’ that this is for you, because otherwise God is not going to give it to you.
When the apostle Peter stepped out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee, at that moment, he was convinced that he could walk on water at Jesus’ calling – and he did – but the moment he doubted he started to sink (see Mt 14:28-32).
Without wanting to go into details, for Abraham to be ‘fully persuaded’ meant that he and Sarah would have had to keep trying until she fell pregnant. If God has said He will do something, faith says I will keep on trying until He turns up and enables it to be. Being ‘fully persuaded’ means you keep on at it until you get it, even if the thing you are waiting for is humanly impossible – as it was in Abraham and Sarah’s case.
Perhaps this principle of being ‘fully persuaded’ operates no more clearly than in the case of each of us coming to Christ and being born again. As we noted earlier, there is no point coming with a, “Well I might as well give it a try” mentality. Now the truth is that only God knows if our belief at that point is genuine, and that we have been ‘fully persuaded’. When we have heard the Gospel and have come under conviction, our ‘surrender’ has to be genuine and only the Lord knows that. If He sees that it is, then He imparts His Holy Spirit and we are born again and a whole new life starts. If he sees that we are not genuinely ‘fully persuaded’ then that will not happen.
For Abraham, God had spoken and Abraham had fully believed what He said, and just as we noted above, speaking about receiving our salvation, we find in respect of Abraham, “This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” (v.22) God declared him righteous because God saw that his belief was genuine. From that second on, he was righteous!
Now this is not mere ‘theology’, mere ideas on the pages of the Bible. No, the Bible always wants these things to be applied in our lives, which is why Paul then goes on to say, “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe.” (v.23,24). Yes, this was recorded about Abraham so that we would see it and realise with Paul, that if it applied to Abraham it also applies to us today. In the same way as Abraham was declared righteous by God for believing, so the same thing will apply in respect of us when we believe. Paul continues it, “for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (v.24,25) Yes, our focus of belief is not that we will have a baby in old age but that Jesus died for our sins, and then validated it by being raised from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection confirmed that he was who he said he was and had done what he said he had done.
So as these facts of history are presented to us, and we believe them and are ‘fully persuaded’, so we are justified, we are put right with God in God’s eyes. It’s all about what God says is right. In the divine plan Jesus would fulfil justice so that all sins were punished. That punishment is taken either by the individual or by Jesus Christ. If we allow Jesus to take our sins and our punishment, then we are justified or put right as far as God is concerned. Abraham is the example of it, and so now we experience it.