Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.Hebrews 11:1
Here, Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the willingness to believe in things we cannot see and the prospects and promises that have not yet occurred. The beginning point of faith is believing in God’s character [He is who He says]; and the end point is believing in God’s promises [He will do what He says]. When we believe that God will fulfil His promises even though we don’t see those promises materialising yet, we demonstrate true faith.
Recently, I’ve been studying the book of Genesis, focusing on the story of Abraham—known as ‘the father of faith’ and honoured for his obedience. His life is the best example of faith in action—leaving home as he stepped out in faith to the land of Canaan [see Genesis 12:1-6], begetting a son [named Isaac] at 100 years old [see Genesis 21:1-5] and nearly sacrificing Isaac as a burnt offering [see Genesis 22:1-11]. Throughout his life, Abraham was faced with obstacles and challenges and with this grew his faith. While faith is intangible and we cannot see it unless it’s illustrated—Abraham didn’t just say he had faith, he proved it by the most impressive means. We too must step out in faith, make our leap and bear fruit for God, and even sacrifice what we love most in life for God’s will.
Lessons from Abraham about the life of faith:
- God promises a nation to Abram
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.“ I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing—Genesis 12:1-2
Abram obeyed, walking away from his home for God’s promise of even greater blessings in the future. The call wasn’t an easy one. God called him away from everything he knew without telling him where he would end up. It was the kind of call that caused Abram to rely wholly upon God. When we step over the line from unbelief to belief, we’re stepping into a hope that extends beyond this world. We’re stepping into an eternal hope. Abram realised this early on and so he trusted God’s promises even if he didn’t live to see them come to pass entirely.
- God promises a son to Abram
Hebrews records “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand of the seashore”—Hebrews 11:11-12
Abram by faith believed that God would supernaturally give him a son [see Genesis 15:6]. Although Abram had been demonstrating his faith through his actions, it was his belief in the Lord that made him right with God. We too can have a right relationship with God by trusting Him. Our outward actions [ie. church attendance, prayer and good deeds] will not by themselves make us right with God. We must seek to have a right relationship based on faith—the heartfelt inner confidence that God is who He says he is and does what He says He will do.
- Abraham’s faith tested
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love [Isaac] and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”—Genesis 22:2
Abraham’s faith in God did not waver. In spite of the seemingly impossible request, he got up the next morning, saddled his donkey, chopped wood for a burnt offering and set for the place God had told him about. Of course, God did keep His promise. At the last second, God stopped Abraham from carrying out his sacrifice and Isaac was spared. This was the testing of Abraham’s faith—God did not want Isaac to die, but he wanted Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in his heart so it would be clear that Abraham loved God more than he loved his promised and long-awaited son. Through this difficult experience, Abraham strengthened his commitment to God while simultaneously learning about God’s ability to provide. If you are afraid to trust God with the possession, dream, or person you treasure most, pay attention to Abraham’s example.