Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age…
That which is elsewhere made characteristic of Abraham is in this one place ascribed to Sarah. It may have been in the mind of the apostle to suggest to his readers, at this point of his appeal, the thought that "in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female." Woman, no less than man, needs, and is capable of, the grace of faith. The soul's life of woman, redeemed and glorified by the gospel, is a life of faith, in every submission, and in every effort, and in every heroism, of the soul's life of man. "Through faith Sarah also herself" — Sarah in her proper sphere, as Abraham in his — became the inheritor of that privilege of blessing, from which sprang a vast nation, to be the trustee of God's oracles, and the country, on earth, of Christ Himself. This is that example of faith — and it is instructive to remember it — to which the explicit testimony is attached, "He believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness." It was not that first exercise of faith, which triumphed over the attractions of home, and reconciled the patriarch Abraham to a life of exile and wandering. It was not that third exercise of faith, which triumphed over the love of offspring, and enabled the father to give back by his own act the precious life of his child into the hand of Him whose very promise that obedience seemed to be defeating. Neither of these self-devotions is connected in the sacred records with the faith that "justifies." It is the mental act — it is the looking up into that clear night-sky, and responding, in heart, to the Voice which says, "Count those stars — so shall thy seed be" — it is this, the most elementary and the most entirely secret "taking God at His word" — it is that particular state of the mind, which has no action at all in it — which is altogether, and from first to last, mental — just the standing instead of sinking under God's disclosure and God's promise — it is this which God looks at. All else is consequence, natural consequence: the obedience which leaves the home — the obedience which sacrifices the son — all this is but the expression in action of the mind's mind and the soul's soul.
1. What Abraham believed was a physical impossibility. Over that difficulty his faith triumphed. The impossibility presented to our faith is not physical but spiritual. We have to believe, not in the suspension of what we call " laws of nature" — in other words, of God's ordinary methods of procedure in regard to suns and stars, to water and earth, to disease and infection, to life and death — but in certain other things, which, to eyes spiritually enlightened, are at least as difficult. We have to believe in the actual forgiveness of things actually done. We have to believe that that black hateful thing done or said yesterday — even though it had fever in its breath and corruption in its influence — can be, shall be, obliterated in the blood of Jesus Christ, God's own Son, shed, outpoured, for that very purpose. We have to believe in the power of sanctification through the Eternal Spirit. We have to believe that that bad habit, formed in boyhood, weakly yielded to in manhood, still predominant, can by the grace of God — shall by the grace of God — be vanquished in us, burnt out of us, so that we shall be more than conquerors through Him that loved us. These are the improbabilities, the impossibilities- not physical perhaps, but worse than physical — worse, because invisible, worse, because entering into a nature more intricate, more sensitive, more suffering, than any most thrilling fibre, most throbbing nerve, of this body — which we Christians, not by guess-work, but by proof — not by wishing or willing, but by receiving and embracing on the authority of God the Creator, God the Redeemer, God the Sanctifier — have to apprehend, to realise, and to live by. This, this is faith.
2. There is one peculiarity in the instance before us, and that is the connection which it indicates between spiritual faith and physical consequence. Other Scriptures tell of the rewards and recompenses of faith in a world out of sight. But this passage says, Because of a faith in Him who had promised, "therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable." You may say, The promise was of a supernatural birth. The promise was physical. It looked not beyond earth, and the consequences were "in the like material." God makes not these sharp distinctions between the life that is and the life that shall be. "Godliness," St. Paul tells us, "hath promise" of both. And though we would not so read that text as though it offered riches and pleasures and honours to the righteous, whose very faith counts all these gifts not only precarious but perilous; still it certainly says that God's gifts to His own are not all future: there is a reward for His people here; there is a supernatural offspring, there is a birth, not of accident, not of circumstance, not of the self-will, but all of grace, which turns the thing that is into a foretaste and promise of the thing that shall be: there is a love, and there is a happiness, and there is a home, which derives all its lustre from the ideal and antitype of these out of sight: by faith man and woman, born again of water and of the Spirit, receive back, the second time, out of God's fulness, that which before had been grasped eagerly out of the hand of Nature and of the Fall — and, so receiving, find in each thing a grace and a beauty unseen, unfelt before — find in Faith itself, not the opposite, but the complement, of sight, and enjoy twice over the thing that God created, and the thing that God redeemed and that God sanctifies.
Parallel VersesKJV: Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.