16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,17 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. 18 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.” 19 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. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Abraham was given a promise by God, but the years had passed; he was getting older and Sarah was still barren. Would he trust God? Would he believe that God had the power and the will to fulfill the promise he made? Would Abraham place his faith in the God who is faithful?
John Stott, in his commentary on Romans, says:
For whether people keep their promises or not depends not only on their power, but also on their will, to do so. Put differently, behind all promises lies the character of the person who makes them. Abraham knew this. As he contemplated his own senility and Sarah’s barrenness, he neither turned a blind eye to these problems, nor underestimated them. But he reminded himself of God’s power and faithfulness. Faith always looks at the problems in the light of the promise.
In the same way that Abraham believed God for which God credited to him righteousness, we also are called to believe God. God has made promises to those who believe; promises of eternal life, promises of a resurrected body, promises of no more pain and suffering, promises of being free from the presence of sin, promises of being a child of God, promises that we will life for him forever, and promises that he will be our inheritance as we are his.
But there is a problem. Abraham’s problem was old age and Sarah’s barrenness. Our problem is our sin. How can God make all those promises come true when you and I are sinners and we sin much? Does not this make the promise void? No, because the promise is not based upon our ability or strength, but it is based upon the God who can save and his faithfulness to keep his promise to save us.
My friend, if you are feeling discouraged or are in doubt don’t look to yourself for your salvation, but look to Christ who suffered and died on your behalf so that the promises God could be fulfilled just like they were with Abraham. Trust God, believe he is able, and know that he is faithful to do all that he said he would do.