Battling Unbelief Pt 2

Abraham got the promise of God that he would have a son when he was 100 years old and Sarah was old and barren. His response, Paul says, glorified God.

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust [or: unbelief] made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

I hope you agree that one thing this text teaches is that we glorify God by believing his promises. Listen to Martin Luther, who got a hold on this truth so firmly.

Faith . . . honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard since it considers him truthful and trustworthy. There is no other honor equal to the estimate of truthfulness and righteousness with which we honor him whom we trust . . . On the other hand, there is no way in which we can show greater contempt for a man than to regard him as false and wicked and to be suspicious of him, as we do when we do not trust him. (Selections, p. 59)

Trusting God’s promises is the most fundamental way that you can consciously glorify God. When you believe a promise of God, you honor God’s ability to do what he promised and his willingness to do what he promised and his wisdom to know how to do it.

Therefore if the goal of our church is to glorify God in all that we do, we must make it our aim in all that we do to battle unbelief. Because nothing dishonors God more than not to believe what he says. Or to put it positively, if our goal is to glorify God in all that we do, then we must make it our aim in all that we do to believe the promises of God. Because it was when Abraham believed the promise of God that God was glorified.

The first thing I want to say about this belief is this: Belief that honors God means banking our hope for happiness on the promises of God.

In other words belief is future oriented. It trusts God for something in the future, whether in eight hours or in 8,000 years. The function of past events (for example, the death and resurrection of Christ for our sins) is to support faith in the promises, which have to do with our future. Believing that Christ died for our sins once for all in the past and that he rose again is utterly crucial for salvation. But the reason it’s crucial is because the death and resurrection of Christ are the guarantee of God’s promises. People who say, “I believe that Christ died for my sins, and that he rose again from the dead,” but then don’t bank their hope on his promises day by day—those people don’t have faith that honors the God who justifies sinners.

John Piper

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