Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Calling Those Things Which Do Not Exist

God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. (Romans 4:17)
In this verse, we see how God operates: He calls those things that do not exist as though the did. It is His action that is in view in this passage. Abram's job was simply to believe.

Oops! Did I say Abram? I mean Abraham, for that is what God changed Abram's name to. God called him “Abraham,” which means “Father of Many Nations.” In renaming him “Abraham,” God was calling something that did not yet exist as though it already were.

Now what do you suppose Abram and Sarai began to call him when God renamed him “Father of Many Nations.” They, of course, began to call him Abraham, “Father of Many Nations.” That took an act of faith on their part, and it was also an act of calling. They saw that Abraham was old, and as good as dead, in the child-fathering department, and yet they called, in agreement with the Word of God, for the “Father of Many Nations” to manifest.

God's way is to call things that do not exist as though they already were. We see this reinforced in Hebrews 11:3. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

All that is seen was not made of that which is visible, but that which is invisible — the Word of God. The natural world which we experience by our senses actually has its origin in and is dependent upon the spiritual realm. For God, Who created the heavens and the earth, is Spirit.

Now, in the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, He did it by His words. “Let there be light ...,” etc. God called for things that did not yet exist as though the already did.

That is how God operates. But how are God's people intended to operate.

Look again at Genesis 1. In verses 26-27 we see that God created man, male and female, in His image. That was a sign of God's authority being delegated to them. That was important because of the mandate God placed on them in the very next verses:

“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing tat moves on the earth.” (v. 28).

In Psalm 8:6, we see that they were given dominion over the works of God's hand and all things were put under his feet (this was restored to fallen humanity in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God who is Man who perfectly fulfills this dominion).

What was Adam to multiply upon the earth? That which he was and possessed: the image of God.

What was Adam to do with the earth as he multiplied: Subdue it and have dominion over it.

How was Adam to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it?

Look in Genesis 2, a close-up account of how God made Adam:

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (v. 7)

Notice that God breathed into Adam’s nostrils — from God’s mouth into Adam’s body. The breathe of a person is that by which one actually utters words. We breathe them out. In 2 Timothy 2:17, Paul says that all Scripture is given “by inspiration of God.” The Greek word for “inspiration” is theoneustos, and literally means “God-breathed.” God breathes out His Word.

So God breathed, with His word-speaking capacity, into man’s nostrils, and man became a “living being.”

There are ancient versions of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Targums. These were translations from Hebrew into its cousin language Aramaic, for there were many Jews who lost the mother tongue in Babylonian captivity. Many Jews in the time of Christ, including Jesus Himself, spoke in Aramaic, and parts of the Hebrew Scriptures were actually written in Aramaic.

There is one such translation, known as the Targum Onkelos, which deals with the events of Genesis 2. And it renders “man became a living being” this way: “And man became a speaking spirit.”

God, who is Spirit and who speaks things into being, breathed His speaking faculty into the nostrils of man, and man became a speaking spirit.

Now, notice a few verse down in Genesis 2, where God gives Adam his first assignment:

“Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” (v. 19)

God, who breathed into Adam’s nostrils, brought them to Adam, who was created in the image of God, given the mandate to subdue and have dominion over the earth, and then watched to see what Adam would call them.

Notice that God did not tell Adam what to call them. He simply let Adam work within the divine mandate and merely observed what Adam called them. Whatever Adam called them, that was its name.

What was Adam doing? He was subduing the earth and having dominion. How was he exercising that dominion? By the words of his mouth. He called the animals something, and whatever he called them, that is what they were. That is, he called things that did not exist (the nature and character of the animals) as though they did. And so they were.

In the Bible, names are significant. They are powerful words that have meaning. They call forth destiny. They establish things in the one being named. God called Abram Abraham, “Father of Many Nations,” and that was Abraham’s destiny. Adam called the animals by certain names, and that is what they were.

Adam and Eve, of course, plunged mankind into sin. But the Lord Jesus Christ came to deliver us from that fallen condition. We can see from how He taught His disciples what some of the ramifications of that redemption are. For example, in Mark 11, when Peter noticed that the fig tree Jesus cursed the day before had now withered, Jesus said,

“Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” (Mark 11:22-23)

What was Jesus teaching them? How to exercise dominion with their words.

Now, it is very important to understand that this authority and dominion are only properly exercised within the will and purpose of God, as established by His Word. We are to pray, act and think in Jesus’ name, that is, according to how Jesus Himself would pray, act and think.

We are to call things that are in accordance with the plan and will of God, believing what God has said in His Word and confessing it (that is, agreeing with it).

Having the image of God, the Spirit of God, the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the parameters of the will of God as expressed in the Word of God, we can call things that are not as though they were and expect to see them come to pass.


  1. Hi Jeff. I believe the opening scripture reference shouold be Romans 4:17 (not 14:17).

    See also Dan 10:12, where the angel seemd to draw strength for the battle from Daniel's prayers (words). Our words have an effect into the spiritual realm--we must be careful what we let slip out of our mouths in a casual way.

    John (Waco, TX)

  2. Thanks for the correction, and the comment.

  3. Anonymous9:17 AM

    As it is written, I have made thee a father—That Abraham’s being a father of many nations (not yet happened) has relation to the covenant of God made with him, may be seen, Genesis 17:4, 5: Behold my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations: neither shall thy name any more be called Abram; but thy name shall be Abraham, for a father of many nations have I made thee (it has been done, by God, but not yet happened) , i.e. he was constituted the head of many nations, the Gentile world, by virtue of the covenant, which God made then with him.

    God, who quickeneth the dead, etc.—God is the most proper object of trust and dependence; for being almighty, eternal, and unchangeable, he can even raise the dead to life, and call those things which be not as though they were. He is the Creator, he gave being when there was none (speaking of the covenant); he can as infallibly assure the existence of those things which are not, as if they were already actually in being (the covenant). And, on this account, he can never fail of accomplishing whatsoever he has promised. (all promises God has made that have not happened yet). It is clearly God who has that ability. Abe's progenery will carry the promise out, but God has already made it happen.

    Gen 15:5 says "I have made you a father of many nations". It goes on to say, "God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did". Speaking of the covenant in this case. Would U agree? Do U really believe that U could put your name, Jeff in that scripture and it would then say , Jeff made U a father, or how about, "Jeff has the power to call those things that are not as though they were?

    Jeff M

  4. It would be wrong for any of us to equate ourselves with Almighty God. But God has delegated to us authority over His creation, to speak to mountains according to His Word, and to call realities into existence. Just as I outlined from Scripture in the original post above.

    Jeff has no power in himself to do anything apart from God. But under God's creation mandate (Genesis 1:26-18), the authority Jesus has assigned to all believers, and the power of the Holy Spirit, I freely place my name, by faith. But always, always, and only in a position that is subsidiary to God.

  5. Anonymous10:56 AM

    I found this blog sometime ago. Thank you very much for posting this blog entry. You don't know how much this has helped me. Recently, I've fallen into a not so godly relationship with an unsaved woman and it has affected my spiritual walk with God through disobedience to His word. I know better than to have done the things I've done with her recently but, God is the God of the second chance. I'll get my life together and start living according to His word. Before this I've been living in unbelief and disobedience but, I'm getting out of those detrimental things. I'm calling those things that be not exist as though they do. Again, thank you. God is turning my circumstances around even now.

  6. Jeff, I just found your blog here. I would like to know if you have ever read a book called "Christianity in Crisis" By Hank Hanegraaf and if so what are your thoughts and comments about how he has painstakingly proved the "Faith Movement" is just the same as the Mind of Science movement?

    How sir would you respond?

    Please know I too am a Preacher of the Word of God and not some Atheist nut case. I am truly interested in your thoughts. Now if you have not read this book yet, I HIGHLY recommend doing so as you will have to face these questions sooner or later.

    Since I am not a follower of your blog and only found it be accident please feel free to email me if you like.

  7. Thanks for your comments, RC. I have only browsed through Hanagraaf’s book, but I have heard him speak to this issue quite a bit on his broadcasts. I understand the charges he makes but, frankly, I do not think he has come anywhere near to making his case. The “Faith Movement” (a.k.a., Word of Faith, or Word-Faith) is not and does not come from the Mind Science movement. Though there may be some superficial similarities, there are many more profound differences between the two. A large gray balloon may look similar to the back end of elephant, but stick a pin in both and you will discover that one is very different from the other. The teaching of the Word of Faith movement is rooted, not in Mind Science, but in Pentecostalism and its precursors.

    More importantly, I do not believe what I believe and teach what I teach because of what I see in Word of Faith but because of what I see in Scripture. So if you wish to engage a discussion with me on what I teach, that would be the basis on which to do it, not on supposed comparisons with other belief systems.

    The LORD bless you.