from our ministry
A life-of-Faith Exemplified in Abraham!
(Part 3 — Hebrews 11:8-10)
As we continue to move through the Faith Hall of Fame, it’s time to stop and reflect on what we have seen and learned. First, we charted our course by examining what faith is. We learned that
“Faith is a DEEP IMMOVABLE TRUST in God that He WILL FULFILL what HE HAS PROMISED, and responds in OBEDIENCE to what He commands.”
This definition encapsulates the faith-life that God has called every believer into. Certainly we are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), but we are called into a life of faith (Romans 1:17). Faith is not simply a definition to be memorized, it is a life to be lived! In fact, it is impossible to please God apart from living by faith! (Hebrews 11:6) The apostle Paul understood this truth well and made it abundantly clear when he wrote to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20). We are now well into our journey through the Faith Hall of Fame and we have learned several things about a life of faith— we are calling them FAITH FACTS! The first four are:
Faith Fact #1 – Faith Believes what God says and does not try to change it! – Creation – (Hebrews 11:3)
Faith Fact #2 – Faith demonstrates a righteous life that God approves of! – Abel – (Hebrews 11:4)
Faith Fact #3 – Faith desires to please God in all of life! — Enoch – (Hebrews 11:5-6)
Faith Fact #4 – Faith seeks to live in obedience to God out of reverence For God! – Noah – (Hebrews 11:7)
Before we move on deeper into the Faith Hall of Fame, let’s stop and ask ourselves if these Faith Facts are being exemplified in our lives? If not, why? What needs to be adjusted so we can say with the apostle Paul, “ ... the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God!” Paul was referring to daily life, not just his salvation moment. Every moment of his daily life, every decision he made in his daily activities, every anticipated activity was by faith! I am confident that these Faith Facts were evidenced in his life. They must be in us, too!
Let’s move on —
The next exhibit provides us with a close look into the life of a man who is referred to more than any other when the focus is upon a life of faith — Abraham! In Hebrews 11, alone, there are twelve verses devoted to him (and his wife)! The apostle Paul references Abraham’s faith nineteen times in Romans and Galatians (for example: Romans 4:2-3; 4:16; Galatians 3:7, 9, 14). His life, like Paul’s, was lived by faith! Let’s take a closer look.
The writer of Hebrews records this about Abraham:
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)
Exhibit E — ABRAHAM — (Hebrews 11:8-10)
Faith Fact #5 — Faith walks in obedience to God even in times of uncertainty! (11:8-10)
Abraham’s life of faith began when he was “called” by God to go to a place that he would receive for an inheritance.
Genesis chapter 12 records Abraham’s call (12:1). He was in Haran with his father, Terah and his wife, Sarah (Genesis 11:29-31) when the Lord said, “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you . . . So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him. . . Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan . . .” (Genesis 12:1-5). He went out “not knowing where he was going!” (Hebrews 11:8). All he had was a promise of a piece of real-estate from the Lord, that’s all! He did not know exactly where it was (someplace called Canann), how large it was, or what he would find when he arrived. The command was GO, and he obeyed in FAITH!
If ever there was an uncertain time in Abraham’s life, it was then. He had a wife and family, plus the large number of workers (probably slaves) he had acquired in Haran who’s well-being was in his hands. Can you imagine how Sarah, his wife, felt when her husband said one day, “Honey, start packing because we are moving.” “Where are we going, dear?” I don’t know, but the Lord said, ‘Go!,’ so we are going. The Lord will let us know when we have arrive at our destination. He has a “city which He designed and laid the foundations of” and has promised to give it to us ‘for an inheritance’” “Oh”, replies Sarah and they left, walking “by faith”!
This is a good time for us to remember our definition of FAITH: “Faith is a DEEP IMMOVABLE TRUST in God that He WILL FULFILL what HE HAS PROMISED, and responds in OBEDIENCE to what He commands.” A perfect description of Abraham’s life, and the reason for our fifth Faith Fact — Faith walks in obedience to God even in times of uncertainty!
Several times in our married life, Gwen and I have lived this principal in our life of faith. Two illustrations stand out: One was when we moved from California to Colorado for me to finish my Seminary education. Gwen and I both knew that God was leading me to finish my theological studies and I had been accepted at a seminary in Denver, Co. Both of us quit our good jobs, packed all that we had in a U-haul, gathered up our daughter, Renee, carried a small Cashier’s Check of our financial possessions in our pocket, and headed out. Honestly, we had no place to stay or jobs to go when we arrived, but we knew that God would be faithful to provide our needs when we arrived! Yes, it was an uncertain time, but we knew that God was directing and He would provide as He had promised (Philippians 4:19)!
A second illustration comes out of our move to the desert to start a new church. I was enjoying pastoring a small church in a small Northern California town near San Jose. Gwen and I loved the people and they loved us (at least they said they did), and we had no reason to leave. But, God had other plans and specifically “called” me to start a church in Indio, CA. Yes, it was a specific “call”. Twice during a time of prayer God impressed upon my heart (no, I did not hear an audible voice, perish that thought!) that He wanted us to move to the desert to begin a new church. When it happened the first time, I did not respond positively, but when it happened the second time, I sat up and took notice. Gwen thought I had lost my mind, and there were many other people who shared her sentiments when I shared it with them! But, firmly believing that it was God’s leading in our lives, we repeated what we did when we moved to Colorado (yes, U-Haul, Cashier’s Check, etc.). When we arrived in Indio, we did not have jobs, nor a church family to go to, BUT we knew that God “called” us and we trusted Him. Once again, walking by faith in unwavering trust in God, we stepped out in obedience! Yes, they were uncertain times, but we trusted a faithful God who we knew would never fail us! And, believe me, He did not fail us!
In some ways for Gwen and me, our walking “by faith” in these situations was different from Abraham’s — no, we did not “reside as aliens in the land of promise,” nor did we “dwell in tents,” nor did we “look for a city which has foundations” designed by God (even though we do await the New Jerusalem!,) and we did know where we were going — but, like Abraham, we did live in uncertain times, and we did “obey” God’s “call”, and we did believe that God would be faithful to meet our every need, and we did walk (live) by faith!
In reality, beloved, this is the essence of the Christian life! We are followers of Christ. That means that we allow Him to have full control over the affairs of our lives, and, beloved, that includes uncertainty! When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him it was to a life of obedience and uncertainty! Where was He going to take them, what was He going to ask of them, what was going to be required of them? They did not know, but He said “follow Me!” Trust Me, i.e., Walk by faith! They did and we must do the same, just like Abraham!
The old hymn said it so well, “Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.” That’s what Abraham did and we are to do the same! Beloved, remember, “God will never lead you where His grace will not keep and protect you.” To believe this and trust God is taking a huge step in a life of FAITH which pleases God!
For the LOVE of God’s people, Pastor Ron (retired)