The Faith of Abraham

Great discussion at church tonight about the nature of Abraham's faith. I'm not sure how successful I'm going to be in articulating my thoughts but here goes.

The key passage we looked at was from Romans 4:

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

Was his faith blind or without thought? No, it says he considered, the NIV says he "faced the fact", that his body was as good as dead. He didn't put blinders on to his circumstances nor ignore the facts of his surroundings, he faced them head on and chose to believe God instead.

Why?

A hint might be found in Genesis 18. God tells Abraham that the sin in Sodom is great and he's going to destroy it. Abraham stood before the Lord and basically said, "Hold on God. What if ..." 50 good folks? 40? 20? 10? He's interrogating the Lord - humbly - but he's grilling him. He wants to know what kind of God this is. Is he fair to the righteous when punishing the wicked?

Abraham had been hanging around God for a while, listening to him and following him. I think this is a turning point in their relationship. This is the first time that God let Abraham in on his plans. Sodom is wicked, and this is what I plan to do about it. This was a side of God Abraham hadn't yet seen. Up until then, it was God saying follow and promising to bless him and Abraham following.

But here, Abraham stands up to God saying what if? And God patiently listens and answers. I think that this added to Abraham's understanding of who God was.

So, when God promised him many descendants, Abraham looked at the facts. He was old, as good as dead. He was no longer equipped for fathering. But, there was another set of facts, perhaps more elusive or even subjective. That was the fact that God, who was powerful enough to rain fire down on Sodom, had never left him, had never let him down and had demonstrated his justice and fairness.

So, while the plain facts indicated that it was impossible, the facts of faith allowed him to proceed anyway. God had proven himself able to do the miraculous and had proven his trustworthiness. God was true, so his promises could be trusted even when tehy made no sense.

Faith isn't simply ignoring the facts and believing God, it's looking beyond the obvious to see the facts of faith. That God is with us, He sent Jesus to rescue us, that he is able to rescue and all those personal ways that we've felt his presence and that he has worked in us in ways that we cannot explain. And he has promised to never leave us, that all would work for good if we follow, that he would rescue us and that we would not be tempted beyond what we can bear.

So faith is looking squarely at the Earthly facts but seeing God who is over all, bigger than any circumstances and who already showed us how much He loves us in Jesus. In a way, faith is choosing to see the larger picture, or perhaps more accurately choosing to trust teh one that can see the larger picture that we cannot.

3 Comments

I often think about Abraham and how different his faith was.. maybe it was because he had angelic visitations.. God seemed to manifest Himself to Abraham.. probably a little unfair to compare him with most of us?

Good stuff.

Having recently gone through my only son being sick...I think the greatest act of faith for Abraham was when he took his only son to sacrifice him. Still. This is what is mentioned in Romans.



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  • Good stuff. Having recently gone through my only son being sick...I think the greatest act of faith for Abraham was when he took his only son to sacrifice him. Still. This is what is mentioned in Romans....

  • I often think about Abraham and how different his faith was.. maybe it was because he had angelic visitations.. God seemed to manifest Himself to Abraham.. probably a little unfair to compare him with most of us?...

  • Good words brother....

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