God’s Promise of Grace is Greater than Your Doubts
Fears, doubt, and guilt often distract true believers from God’s great promise (or covenant) of saving grace. In Genesis, Abraham’s doubts led him into sin and sorrow and caused pain in his life and in the lives of others around him. God’s merciful help to Abraham came in the form of repeated promises of grace, which finally led Abraham into trust and covenant faithfulness to God’s good commands. Consider Abraham’s doubts and how God’s promise overcame them.
Abraham’s fear of man led him to doubt and sin. Even though God had promised to give Abraham a great name, a great nation, and a great land, Abraham still feared that Pharoah might kill him in order to take Sarah for himself (Gen 12:12). Abraham’s fear of Pharoah led him to remain silent about the fact that Sarah was his wife. But even though Abraham feared and sinned, God kept His gracious promise and protected both Abraham and Sarah by sending plagues into Pharoah’s house and rescuing both of them. In Genesis 15, God declared sinful Abraham righteous by faith alone, and God unconditionally reasserted His gracious promise (Gen 15:6-21).
Maybe you are tempted to fear others. You might fear what they think of you, what they will say about you, what they could do to you, or whether or not they will accept you. And your fear can give way to sins. But if you fear others, then remember how God dealt with Abraham. God’s promise of security and final salvation is certain. If God is for you, who can be against you? Believe His gracious promise. Let your security be in Christ. Believe His love for you. He is sufficient for your soul. Trust Him, honor Him, persevere in His way, and trust Him with the outcome of your faithfulness, no matter what others may think or do. There is no reason to fear men.
Abraham’s intellectual doubts led him to sin. Immediately after God reissued His promise, Abraham had intellectual doubts, which led him to commit adultery with Hagar (Gen 16:1-2). He couldn’t believe that Sarah could have a child in her old age. God’s promise made no sense to him. The promise of a child was contrary to science and reason. And, Abraham’s doubts led him into terrible sin. But even though he sinned, God powerfully kept His promise. Against all reasonable intellectual expectations, God gave Sarah the child of promise (Gen 21:3), and this child continued the linage of Christ.
You may have run into what seem like strong intellectual arguments against God’s promise in Christ. The gospel promise may not seem reasonable to you. Your doubts may lead you to sin in order to obtain personal security and happiness. But if you are plagued by intellectual doubts about the gospel, let me encourage you. God’s promise is certain, even if it seems unreasonable. His promise will always prove itself to be true. If you are tempted to doubt the truth of the gospel, remember that the promise only seems unreasonable because we can’t see all the ways in which God powerfully works. There is no reason that intellectual problems should lead you to doubt God’s good promise.
Abraham’s doubts led to terrible pain and sorrow in the lives of others. Abraham’s sin with Hagar caused horrible suffering in his own home. It produced strife between Sarah and Hagar and between Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael and Hagar had to leave his home (Gen 16). But God didn’t condemn Abraham or beat him with the guilt of his sins. Instead, in the very next chapter (Gen 17), God reissued His gracious promise once again.
Maybe you feel terrible guilt because of the pain your sins have caused in the lives of others. The guilt of your sins buffets you. You might think that God could never really forgive sins like yours. But remember that your worst sins can be forgiven, if you flee to Christ for refuge by faith. He will wash you completely in His blood and change you by His Spirit. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is no reason that the guilt of your sins should keep you from receiving Christ’s mercy.
God’s promise of grace finally led Abraham to believe and obey. In Genesis 22, God commanded Abraham to do the unthinkable: kill Isaac, the child of promise. But this time, instead of doubting or fearing, God’s promise moved Abraham to obedience. God had won his mind and heart to believe His promise and obey His command, even when obedience seemed unreasonable, fearful, and wrong. Because Abraham believed the promise, he concluded that God must be planning to raise Isaac from the dead (Heb 11:17-19).
You know the rest of the story. In His mercy, God did not require Isaac’s life. Instead, He provided a substitute offering, which foreshadowed Christ, who would one day come into the world atone for sins of selfish doubt and fear and fulfill God’s promise to save His people to the uttermost. Thanks be to God for His powerful promise of grace, which is our only hope. Hear the promise of God. Believe and do not doubt.