Notes from Norman

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by Norman P. Grubb

(i) Not Weak in Faith.

Romans 4:19 says first of all that Abraham wasn’t weak in faith. “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” That was the first action he took in faith. To be weak in faith is to lie down passively. That doesn’t mean you have no faith. It just means it is passive. He was just waiting for God to do things. Now that is weak faith. You begin to get perfect faith, strong faith, when you begin to take action. The first action he took was when he deliberately refused to judge by appearances. Now that takes some doing. He says, “I will not accept you on appearances. On God’s Word, I will not accept you on appearances. Human appearances make it look ridiculous that I, a hundred years old, can have a child, and that Sarah who has never had a child at all at ninety years of age could have a child. It is fantastic. I will not be governed by appearances, will not judge by appearances.” “Judge righteous judgment.” “I won’t take it,” said Abraham. He’s taking action in his spirit. “I am not taking that.”

(ii) Believed Promises.

He goes one stage further then and grips the promises. Next stage says this. Romans 4:20, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.” In other words, he turned his attention now away from appearances which he wouldn’t consider any further; and he put his attention under the promises, and said, “Now I am going to take a hold of that. God has said that this hopeless and improbable thing would happen. I have God’s Word and am going to believe in the veracity of God and in His faithfulness to His Word. I am going to take hold of it.” Now that is the next stage—taking the promises of God.

(iii) Gave Glory to God.

The third stage is where he breaks through. At the end of Romans 4:20, it says that he was “strong in faith giving to God glory.” Now that is faith going right into action. Deliberately he said, “Praise the Lord, I am going to have a child. Praise the Lord it is a settled matter.” The glory was in his soul. Now that is the substance appearing. That is the inner substance. Faith has an inner substance and an outer substance. The inner substance is the glory in your souls, the certainty, the assurance. The outer substance is the thing that happens as a consequence. If it is a question of sanctification, the inner substance is the certainty that you are sanctified; the outer substance is the changed life, and so on. That is where he got through. That was faith in full action. He was led, and usually I think we are led, to take some actual human activity too. In his case he went out to circumcise the family, starting with himself. He had to take the covenant of circumcision in faith that the child of promise was going to come. So he made some outward act as well. But you see faith in action. Abraham did not lie down; he went right into the statements of God and refused appearances against them. He embraced them, confessed them, and praised the Lord. Then the glory came to his soul, and the facts came out. That is faith.

Karuizawa Japan Conference of 1954
Topic: “The Obedience of Faith”