Skip to content

The Doubting Believer

A great post from Michael Jensen today about Abraham, Sarah, doubt and faith (I’m presuming it was originally a Moore College chapel sermon):

The Doubting Believer I – Abram & Sarai

An excerpt:

The story of Abram illustrates for us that faith is not heroic. It might seem strange that the New Testament presents doubting Abraham as an exemplar of faith. In Romans 4, his faith is offered as the great outflanking manoeuvre in the historic pattern of God’s justification of his people – he believed, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. In Hebrews 11, he is listed in the roll call of the faithful forerunners of those who now believe.

But in being an example of faith, Abraham is not a hero of faith. Faith is not some virtue like courage which deserves credit by being righteousness. Biblical faith is a hearing of the word of God as the word of God. Now this word of God is always spoken to us in the midst of a life in which it is contested and disputed, and even flatly denied. It is a word about ninety-year old women having babies, or bedraggled slaves becoming great nations, or about the dead coming back to life. There is always with this word of God that we receive another way of looking at it. As word about the future, as a promise, it never comes to us as a completely fulfilled word. There is always a gap. And so we should not be shocked or dismayed when our questions start to fill that gap: how is God going to bring his word to pass? What is God’s plan in this bleak circumstance? Why are so few people responding to the gospel at the moment? What proof can I have of God’s commitment to his promises? This side of the end of all things, Christian faith will always be attended by these questions.

So why believe? In his shambolic way, against all hope, Abraham believed, though the evidence of his body ‘as good as dead’ contradicted the promise he heard. Why?

Because the character of God has its own inner logic. The word of God rings true to who God is as he reveals himself to us in the history of salvation. It is the evidence of what God actually does that compels us to believe. The truth that we receive when we belief is not deducible in the ordinary sense, or calculable, or even possible as we recognise it. It does not follow natural laws. But it is consistent with the miracle that there is something rather than nothing. Abraham was ‘fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised’.

Published inFaithGenesisHebrewsJustificationRomans

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

Recent blog posts

  • Elf on the Shelf Balloon. Photo by Kim on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/thegirlsny/8208193899God: Beyond us—and with us (Ephesians 3:20–21)
    God is nothing like the Elf on the Shelf. God’s power is far beyond us. Yet God’s power is at work in us. So God’s glory is our joyful goal.
  • EducationWhen education is not the answer (Romans 2:17–27)
    When education is not the answer (Romans 2:17–27). Amongst all the pragmatics & demands & struggles of ministry, you first need to know the why of ministry. You need deep and strong theology, and to apply that theology to your life & ministry.
  • Colosseum with skyThis is huge (Ephesians 3:18–19)
    God’s plans for his world, and his love for us in Christ, are vast and awe-inspiring. They change everything. That’s why need prayer to grasp them.
  • Inscription behind table in St Stephens Anglican Church NewtownWhere does God live? (Ephesians 3:16–17)
    Can God’s presence be with us? If so, how? In bread and wine? In a tangible experience of worship? In Ephesians, Paul speaks about how Christ dwells among us.
  • Photo by Greg Rakozy on UnsplashWho are you praying to? (Ephesians 3:14–15)
    Most people pray. But not everyone prays in the same way. Your view of God will have a profound effect on your prayer life. Who are you praying to?
  • Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on UnsplashWith Israel Folau (repost)
    Given the current controversy surrounding Israel Folau's social media post, a piece I wrote for the ABC News website has again become highly topical.
  • My afflictions, your glory (Ephesians 3:12–13)
    We can react to suffering by avoiding or escaping or denying or rationalising it. For Paul, the gospel of Christ leads to a profoundly different reaction.
  • Ceiling Pattern, Christ Church College Staircase, OxfordGod’s multidimensional wisdom (Ephesians 3:9–11)
    Do you think being a Christian is boring? If so, maybe your view of God is one-dimensional. But Paul sees God and his purposes in vivid multidimensional glory.
  • People and the Post, Postal History from the Smithsonian's National Postal MuseumThe meaning of ministry (Ephesians 3:7–8)
    Christian ministry is hard. So why be involved at all? Pragmatics and techniques alone can’t answer that question. We need to know the meaning of ministry.
  • Photo by Sai de Silva on UnsplashThe open secret (Ephesians 3:4–6)
    How can we know God’s will? Some try to see God’s will in the progress of history. But this is disastrous. God’s will is something we can’t work out by ourselves.

On this site

All content copyright Lionel Windsor