Romans 4- 5

What Ever Happened to “ In God We Trust”?

The motto on our money seems to an empty one doesn’t it?  The Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag where we cite: I pledge allegiance to our flag and the republic for which is stands, one nation under God..’ is no longer applicable to us as nation. Our president recognized this and stated truthfully and factually – ‘we are no longer just a Christian nation’. Demographically this is true and scripturally it is what was prophesized as occurring in the last days.

Now before you think what’s the use and I don’t like the way this lesson is starting- consider that when the New Testament was being written, the fledgling church was under the Roman government, where immorality was as wide spread as their borders, sexual sin, including homosexuality was rampant and Christians were being fed to the lions. And yet against this dark background, God, who has all wisdom, decided this was the perfect time to send His Son to earth.  And yes there are lions who are feeding upon Christians today. For we were forewarned, the enemy would go about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.( And remember lions like to attack the young, the weak and those separated from the herd, the stragglers. We see many of our young people separated from the herd today.)

Now then shake your head in wonder when you realize it was in these conditions of great adversity the church prospered and grew to the point, their enemies said of these men: ‘they have turned the world upside down.’

This lesson is about a man who ‘against all hope , in hope believed.’ Never has there been a time when we needed to believe in hope. As we will later read, we are to glory in tribulation also; knowing that tribulation produces perseverance or patience, and patience – experience and experience – hope.’ Romans 5 *KEY: Hard times/adversity has a purpose to develop endurance and patience that we might learn from experience God is able and have hope and fear not.

No, this is not a lesson to depress us about our circumstances, but a lesson about hope built on experience that comes from steps of faith that teach the lesson we must learn most of all: to trust in God with all our heart, and lean not to our own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct our paths. ( Proverbs 3)

Let’s return to this letter of Paul’s to the Romans in chapter 4: 13 where the story of Abraham continues as an example for us. “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his Seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”  (KJV) Now in Galatians 3, we read :” If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.:  And Paul makes it clear in Galatians 3:16, Paul makes it clear- the seed referred to Christ Jesus.    We are one in Christ.

What that promise was- that he should be the heir of the world. Abraham would be the heir of the world, because he was in Christ, just as we are in Christ and joint heirs with Him.

How was this promise made to Abraham and thus to us?  Not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. It was made upon trusting God. When Abram first left Mesopotamia and Haran  when God commanded him to, he was taking the first steps of faith. He was 75 years old. He had decided to follow the Lord. Believing He could do what he promised to do. And remember, Abram did not have the Bible, He had only the spoken word of God, a promise from Him.

Why was the promise made to him  by faith? There are three reasons:

  1. That it might be grace through faith and not by the law, or debt, or merit.
  2. That the promise might be sure. For if it was by keeping the law, the promise would have never been realized.
  3. That is might be to all the seed.  Not just for Jews, but for the Gentiles, for bond as well as free and male as well as female. God is not respecter of persons. And Abraham was to be the father of many nations. Today, the Muslims, Jews, and Christians revered Abraham and he is important to all three religions. The father figure of many.

Abram began his walk of faith headed out to Canaan, the land the Lord would show him. He went out we are told not knowing where he was going.  A first step of faith. We follow in those same footsteps of faith. He was 75 years of when he began this journey and next we read at 85, 10 years later, with still no child, Abraham decides with Sarah they will help God with their own ‘do-it-yourself plan’.  Seeing a possible loophole in the promise of God, when God told him, he would have an heir from his own body, Abraham and Sarah decided this meant they could use Hagar as a birth mother to give them the promised heir. Their logic and reasoning told them Abraham was not getting any younger and Sarah had always been barren. Her womb was if it was dead.

A close reading of this part of their story in Genesis 16 will reveal to you, they discussed this situation  with each other, but never discussed it with God.  In fact, Sarah’s only mention of God was to blame Him for her problem.  She was angry with God. They had grown impatient. They made a major decision without consulting God.   Davy Crocket had a pretty good philosophy didn’t he- ‘be sure you’re right- then go ahead.’

We know the story of Ishmael and the trouble he caused and problems that still arise from that situation between the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac.

So to learn the lesson, Abraham and Sarah live another 13 years of very dysfunctional family life.

And here is where the story turns into a story of hope- right in the middle of this miserable situation.  Their tears are about to be turned to laughter. In Genesis 17, when Abram was 99 years old and Sarai was 90, the Lord appeared to Abram. He reaffirms His covenant with Abram to greatly increase his descendants and establish an everlasting covenant with Abram which also includes the whole of Canaan.  As a seal of the covenant , the rite of circumcision is given to every male. Then God tells Abram He will give him a son, by his wife Sarai, now to be called Sarah and Abram to be called Abraham. You will name your son- Isaac.

Abraham falls on the ground laughing and said to himself, ‘ will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? And will Sarah bear a child at the age of 90?”

In Chapter 18, Abraham entertains the Lord and two angels. The Lord tells Abraham they will have a son by this time next year. Sarah overheard and laughed to herself also at the ridiculous thought of having a baby of her own at age 90.  Do you know what the name Isaac mean? It is a pun on the word- laughter.

Guess what? Sarah and Abraham had a baby. Do you know what Abraham believed about God? He believed He was the God who gives life to the dead and calls thing that are not as though they were.

Do you believe this?  Did God breathe life into a statute He fashioned with His own hands out of dust? Yes I believe this is the way Adam became a living being. Did God breathe life into dry bones? Yes I believe He did, for He is the creator of all life. Did God bring life into the body that Abraham had that was described as ‘ being as good as dead’? Did God also bring life into the dead womb of Sarah? Yes HE did.

And do you believe He brought Jesus to life after He died on a cross and was in a tomb for 3 days? Yes He did. *KEY: It is absolutely essential that we believe God gives life to the dead!

And listen to this, for now it gets personal: “ As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air. But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.”(Ephesians 2) You and I were as Lazarus, dead and entombed in our sins, and like Lazarus when we came forth, we were still in the grave clothes. That is why we needed help of others to rid ourselves of those graveclothes and begin to walk in newness of life.

Now do you see the steps of obedience that Abraham had been taking by faith. He didn’t always get it right, did he?  Neither have we, nor will we not make some missteps. And though we stumble, we will not be utterly cast down for He upholds us with His right hand.

After 25 years of walking with the Lord, Abraham had learned through tribulations- patience- and through patience- experience and through experience- hope. There it is: HOPE. That intangible something that makes life bearable. That gets us through the storms and to the other side. And as we look back over the years of our walk, we must realize as Abraham, did that God is faithful.

What hope was against Abraham and Sarah?  Natural hope, human hope that comes from logic, reasoning, science, medicine and technology. If Abraham and Sarah went by natural hope their common sense would tell them to have a child at their age, with their reproductive systems as good as dead to have a child was impossible. But…with God all things are possible.

Do you know what enabled them to conceive? It was Gods’ grace that enabled them to believe against all odds and natural reasoning and science.  And this Grace comes through faith that is strengthened in experience through trials and adversity.  (Hebrews 11:11)

After 25 years of experiencing God, Abraham, whose faith had wobbled on occasions did not waver or stagger in unbelief.   “ he staggered not in unbelief.” Unbelief is always the culprit that causes wavering, staggering faith. Abraham’s faith was grounded in 25 years of experiencing God. It was the willful exercise of faith in God’s promise that grounded it.

Notice what faith that does not stagger in unbelief looks like- it is fully persuaded that an all knowing, all powerful God who loves you is able to do what He says He will do.

I remember reading in the Big Book of AA, that seldom had they seen it fail, when someone worked the 12 steps with their whole heart, whole being. I became fully persuaded, through my Higher Power who I had found was the Lord Jesus was able to keep me through the storm and deliver me to the other side. Half-hearted efforts never work.

It is all of Grace. Grace. Infinite Grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanses within; Grace, Marvelous Grace, God’s Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Abraham believed God had the power to do what He promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness. And Paul tells us the good news:  “The words ‘ it was credited to him’ were written not of him alone, but for us who believe in Him, who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4: 22-26)  That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Do you believe this?

Many believe religion in America is on its way out, Christianity is dying and many are not embracing the faith of the previous generations. And certainly the numbers and statistics we read are proving that to be the trend. Yet Jesus told us ‘ few enter the narrow way, the strait gate that leads to eternal life, but many enter by the wide gate and the broad way that leads to destruction.

What ever happened to ‘In God We Trust?”

I believe what we are witnessing is what Paul wrote about when he said in the last days, many would depart from the faith.

What ever happened to ‘in God we Trust?’ We could blame television, entertainment, pornography, drugs, alcohol, the internet, divorce rates, and  failing public schools. They are easy targets- but really they are the camouflage from what I believe is the scriptural reason.

We have staggered in unbelief in an all powerful God who is able to do what He says He can do. We don’t have a “Big God.”

We have staggered in unbelief in the power of prayer.

We have staggered   in unbelief in the necessity of daily devoitionals and that man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

WE have staggered in our obedience to God’s Word because somehow we have come to believe God is not that concerned with sin, especially what we deem lesser sins.

We have to do what Abraham did:  “ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the facts:..” ( Romans 4:19)

Did you get that- he faced the facts, did not sugar coat them, did not act as if they did not exist- He faced the facts. And that is what we must do- face the facts, hard though they may be, even discouraging.  But remember what Jesus often said to those who came to him with discouraging circumstances, hard cold facts: Go! It will be done just as you believed.

Let’s look at the story of the centurion whose faith was commended as great in Matthew 8:8-13: The Soldiers Faith.

The Centurion was the backbone of the Roman Army.  These professional military men had 100 men under their control. The first thing we notice is the humility of this officer and how approachable the Lord Jesus is. How willing and eager the Lord is to help. The more humility the greater the faith…less of me- more of Him

Notice these characteristics:  it was-an unselfish faith; an understanding faith, he understood authority; (speak the word only) risking faith; we have a Big God for whom nothing is impossible, but we believe Him for so little; and last but not least it proved to  be an effective faith.


After 25 years walking with the Lord by faith, Abraham’s faith had been strengthened by the experiences.  So it is with us.

Face the facts, hard as they may be.

Confess your sins and turn from them

Search the Word for His promises.

Obey what He tells you to do.

Get on your knees and pray and ask others to pray with you.  And for heavens’ sake quit acting like nothing is wrong.

Is ‘ in God we trust- your motto?