About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Calling Things That Are Not As Though They Were  


Over the decades I have heard that I can call things that are not as though they were.  This is meant to be a positive confession of faith that results in answered prayer.  If I want my legally blind eyes to see, I confess that I have 20/20 vision, despite the fact that I scrape my nose across my monitor to see what I am typing.  I am to call my blindness sightedness.  I believe this positive confession technique is based on a misunderstanding of Romans 4:17 and 18, which reads: 


"As it is written: 'I [God] have made you [Abraham] a father of many nations.'  He [Abraham] is our father in the sight of God, in whom he [Abraham] believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. He [Abraham] believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be."


Romans 4:17 is a quote from Genesis 17:5.  There, we read that God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations or ethnic peoples, and that despite his wife Sarah was too old to conceive a child.  The idea that this elderly infertile couple of the same ethnicity could give birth to descendents of a variety of ethnicities defies logic.  Nevertheless, God did promise Abraham that he would be the father of many ethnic peoples, and Paul explained the process in Romans 4.        


Paul taught that any person, despite his ethnicity, who trusts his life with the God of Abraham is now a child of Abraham, and thus, a child of God.  In this way the promise of Genesis 17:5 is realized.  Abraham is now the father of many ethnicities. 


When we look closely at Romans 4:17 and 18, we learn that God's participation in fulfilling the promise was threefold while Abraham's participation was onefold.  It was God who spoke the promise.  It is God who gives life to the dead, as in Sarah's dead womb.  It is God who calls things that are not as though they were, which was, Gentiles being called children of Abraham.  It was Abraham who believed that God would fulfill His promise.  Beyond this, we should not formulate any secondary meaning to these verses that suggests we can do as God does.  That was not Paul's intention.     


Bringing Romans 4:17 and 18 into our day, it is God, not us, who makes promises.  It is God, not us, who miraculously fulfills His promise.  It is God, not us, who calls things that are not as though they were.  It is us, like Abraham, who trusts God to do as He promises.  Any attempt on our part to copy God's role in the process of fulfilling His promises differs little from New Age philosophy that states we are little gods, and thus, can visualize our desires into existence.  Our attempt at such things is more a matter of metaphysical philosophy than Biblical doctrine.  As Christians, our role in the process of fulfilled promises is to rest in a confident assurance that our God will do as He promises.  This is Paul's intent in Romans 4:17 and 18.        


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