About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Calling Things Into Existence


As a child I envisioned driving a car as soon as I past my driver's test at the age of 16.  A career at Ford designing a new Mustang was my dream job.  Ford introduced the Mustang to the world in 1965, after which my brother proudly parked his brand new red 1965 Mustang in our driveway.    


My parents never dampened my dreams to drive, but they knew my dreams would die if Jesus did not heal my legally blind eyes.  I just knew Jesus would heal my blindness.  He had cured me of Juvenile Diabetes at the age of 6, so I was sure He would fix my eyes so I could drive.  On my 16th birthday I began to realize that passing a driver's test and driving a car was looking very questionable.



When I used to ride my bicycle I followed the lead of my wife, that is, except for the time I didn't.  As the rain began to fall, I darted off ahead of her.  "Let's go before it pours," I shouted.  Right then my face smashed head long into an aluminum ladder that I did not see protruding from the back of a truck.  I was left with a bloody face and a broken tooth.


One man told me that if I would put my faith into action I would be healed.  "Just exercise your faith," he said.  I should have asked him for his car keys.  As an act of faith I could have driven him home from church.  We would soon see how much faith he had.    


Where do people get these ideas?  Why do people smash their glasses as an act of faith?   Why did my friend exercise his faith by throwing away his bipolar disorder medication, after which he barely survived jumping off the tallest bridge in town?  Why do we make the Bible say things it does not say?  Why is Romans 4:17 misapplied in an attempt to justify the practice of claiming something to exist when it doesn't?  The last half of the verse reads:


"... the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not."


When we use this verse to say that we can call things that are not as though they are, or, say we can speak things into existence that do not presently exist, we misread this verse by ignoring its context.     


If you read all of Romans 4 you will learn this.  Abraham, despite being old and unable to impregnate his wife, trusted God who promised him a son.  God, therefore, called Abraham a righteous man and the father of many nations, even though he was not righteous and had no biological son that could make him a father of one nation let alone many nations.  With this in mind Paul then said that if Gentiles have faith like Abraham, then they, like Abraham, can be called righteous by God even though they are not righteous.  In other words, God called Abraham something he was not.  He also called Gentiles something they were not.  God spoke a new reality into the lives of Abraham and Gentiles.              


We now can know the meaning to "the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not."  That which was dead is clarified in Romans 4:19 to be Abraham and Sarah's bodies that could no longer produce children.  The verse says:


"... he [Abraham] faced the fact that his body was as good as dead — since he was about a hundred years old — and that Sarah’s womb was also dead."


The context of Romans 4:17 tells us that which God called into being that was not was Abraham's son, Abraham's new state of righteousness, and what the chapter is all about, the Gentiles newly called state of righteousness.  This is the primary meaning of Romans 4:17.  It is a mistake to take this verse out of its context and apply a secondary meaning that says we can speak things into existence or call things that are not as though they are.  The text does not say that I can speak perfect vision into existence as if I am God.  I am not God.  The text says that it is God who called Abraham righteous when he was not righteous.  It is God who can call Gentiles righteous when they are not righteous.  It is God who can speak things into being and can call things that are not as though they are.  It is I who can fully trust God with my life.  It is I who can rest in an assurance that He can and will do as He wishes with me, and really, with all of His creation that He spoke into being.        


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