Grace tidings: Calling things that are not as though they were

Romans 4:17

When you study the Bible, you will notice God never does anything until He says it.

God has done nothing in the earth without first speaking it. (Genesis 1).

God speaks the end result as we see in Romans 4:17 “God who gives life to the dead and calls things which do not exist as though they did.”

This is a powerful lesson to every believer that we should not focus on the challenge but put your faith in the results that you are believing God to deliver for you.

If you are sick, don’t focus on your sickness, focus on the healing power of Jesus. That name is greater than any other disease or challenge you may face. So, we need to take authority and declare things that are not as though they were.

When we look at the story of Lazarus of Bethany in John 11: 3-4 we are told “Therefore the sisters sent to Him saying, Lord behold, he whom you love is sick. When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto to death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God might be glorified thereby”.

We all know what happened after Jesus had declared that “This sickness is not to death”. Lazarus died. Jesus called the dead living.

I am sure if you and I were there during that time we would easily have had our faith shaken on hearing about the death of Lazarus after Jesus had said the sickness was not to death.

Jesus said that this sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Some say, “Jesus said that Lazarus was sick and died so God would be glorified.” I know some believers who misinterpret this scripture and whenever someone is sick they say it is because God wants to be glorified. It is never God’s will for you to be sick.

Similarly, it wasn’t God’s will for Lazarus to be sick. Neither was it God’s will for Lazarus to die.

Let me show you why you cannot interpret this scripture to mean the sickness or death was for God’s glory. One of the rules of interpretation is to always take a scripture literally if you can. But you cannot take verse four literally. If you do, you make Jesus a liar. But there is a difference between a lie and a confession, or calling things that are not. If you interpret this verse literally, then you would have to say Jesus lied. But a lie is sin, and the Bible says there was no sin in Him. Therefore, we have to look at it from a different angle.

 Jesus was calling the end results of the matter. He said that the end result would not be death; but that the end results of this whole matter would bring glory to God. The glory that God received came when Lazarus was raised from the dead, not when he was sick, nor when he died. Neither the sickness nor the death glorified God. The resurrection glorified God. God raised him from the dead. If it was God’s will for Lazarus to die, then Jesus destroyed the work of His Father when He raised him from the dead. However, Jesus came “that he might destroy the works of the devil. (l John 3:8).

Jesus destroyed the works of the devil when He raised Lazarus from the dead. If you follow Jesus, you will learn something, as He starts toward Bethany.

“These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” Then said his disciples, “Lord, if he sleeps, he shall do well. However, Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.” (John 11:11-13).

Jesus realised they had misunderstood Him when the disciples said, “If Lazarus is asleep, he is doing well.” Jesus was calling the thing that was not. Lazarus wasn’t asleep, he was dead, and Jesus knew he was dead. It took the runner about a day to get down there with the bad news. Then Jesus stayed there two more days, and then walked to Bethany, which took about one day. On the way to Bethany, Jesus said, “Lazarus sleeps.”

One cay say Jesus was calling the thing that was not.

 What was He doing? He was guarding His conversation so He wouldn’t undo what He had already declared in the beginning (“The end results will not be death.’’) But His disciples misunderstood Him.

 Jesus stopped and gave His followers an explanation, Lazarus is dead. (v. 14) That’s the way the King James Version states it. But if you read the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, the word translated dead in the King James Version is translated died. One is present tense; the other is past tense. Jesus said, “Lazarus died.” There is a difference between someone who died and someone who is dead. If you don’t understand that, look at Jesus. He died, but He is not dead.

 Jesus called the thing that was not manifest. Lazarus was not asleep. He was dead. But Jesus called him “asleep.” Jesus would not admit death. That didn’t mean that He denied it. He just would not establish anything but what He declared when He heard the bad news.

This is one of the principles I have learnt in my life. I always want to declare the result I want not what I am feeling. Whenever anyone asks me how I am I always confess positively that I am blessed and highly favoured even though I may be going through a big challenge at that time. Words are very powerful. You will have what you say.

When Jesus came to Bethany, He said, “...Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinks: for he hath been dead four days.” (John 11:39).

This fact that he had been dead for four days proves that he was either dead when the messenger got to Jesus, or died immediately after. For when Jesus arrived, they said that Lazarus had been dead four days. Jesus knew Lazarus was dead.

 Jesus finally talked them into rolling away the stone. “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” (John 11:41)

Notice at this point, Jesus hasn’t said anything yet, but He is thanking God that He has heard Him. Jesus is referring to what He said four days ago. In effect, He was saying, “Father, I thank You that You heard what I decreed by faith four days ago; that the end results will not end in death but bring glory to You.”

At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus said to the Father, “...I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” He has established something.

“And I knew that you hear me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:42)

 He said, “I knew You would hear Me. That’s the reason I said it. I wanted to establish this on earth.”  Psalm 119:89 says, “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.”

God’s Word is already established in heaven; but on earth is where it needs to be established now.

“And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” (John 11:43)

I can just imagine if I was there in my mind, I would have been so scared for Jesus that what if he doesn’t come back to life! Lazarus was raised from the dead. That is why I love this God. He is so faithful.

In His ministry, Jesus spoke to trees. He spoke to the wind. He spoke to the sea. He spoke to dead people. And they all obeyed Him. In every instance, He was calling for things that were not to manifest.

n Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: [email protected] or Twitter @dougmamvura

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