from our ministry
Faith And The Miraculous
“Faith is a DEEP IMMOVABLE TRUST in God that He WILL FULFILL what
HE HAS PROMISED, and responds in OBEDIENCE to what He commands.”
Abraham and his wife, Sarah are focused upon more than any others in the Faith Hall of Fame. God zeroed in on their walk-by-faith and elevated them to a special place among those who lived by faith, not because their faith was any greater than the others, or that they were more special than the others, but because their faith rested in God’s omnipotent power to perform miracles for His promises to be fulfilled. This is seen in the birth and sacrifice of their promised son Isaac.
In the opening article of this series, I observed from Hebrews 11:1 that faith has great benefits. These benefits are first, “assurance,” hypostasis, a support, foundation, or guarantee, of things hoped for; second, “conviction,” elenchos, evidence that makes someone fully agree, understand and realize the truth or validity of something, and third, it brings “approval,” martyreo, a testimony, or a witness that God is pleased with our lives.
All of these benefits stand out in this section on the life of Abraham and Sarah. Their faith gave them the “assurance” that God would perform a miracle, if necessary, to fulfill His promise to them. Their faith, also, provided the “conviction,” or the validity that God was able to perform a miracle, and their faith certainly gave them “approval” that God was pleased with their lives.
Before we continue our journey through the Faith Hall of Fame, lets take a minute to review the first five F aith Facts that we have learned:
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
Faith Fact #5 – Faith Walks in Obedience to God even in times of uncertainty! – Abraham – (Hebrews 11:8-10)
As we move forward, we come to Exhibit F andFaith Fact #6: Faith Trusts God to do the Miraculous, ifnecessary, to fulfill His Promises! (Hebrews 11:11-16 and 17-19). Let me make it clear, that even though a life of faith believes that God can do the miraculous, it does not, nor can it, demand that God perform a miracle to fulfill His promises. A life of Faith leaves that decision up to God alone!
This Faith Fact is learned from Abraham and Sarah’s life of faith. We have seen Abraham’s faith evidenced when he obeyed God’s command to leave Haran (Genesis 12:1) and go where God was leading him even though he did not know where that was (Hebrews 11:8). But, what about Sarah, his wife? Was she a woman who walked by faith, or did she just follow Abraham and enjoy the benefits of his faith? The answer is found in Hebrews 11:11, “by faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.”
The writer of Hebrews takes us back to Genesis 18:9-15; to the account of the three men (one of them being the Lord) who told Abraham (with Sarah listening) that his wife would bear a child even though she was “past childbearing” (Genesis 18:11). Sarah knew that it was not physically possible for her to bear a child at her age (approximately 90) and she “laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have become old shall I have pleasure, my lord [Abraham] being old also.” (Genesis 18:12). For her to bear a child would require a miracle! That is exactly what God did. He opened her womb, brought life into it and in her old age she “conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac” (Genesis 21:2-3)!
The writer of Hebrews recorded that Sarah “received ‘ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, because she considered Him faithful who had promised!” (Hebrews 11:11). Her faith was in a faithful God! She trusted God that He would fulfill His promise to her even if a miracle was necessary! And not just a miracle upon her, but upon her husband as well because he “was a good as dead,” meaning he no longer was able to impregnate his wife! (Hebrews 11:12). For God to fulfill the promise that He made to Abraham, saying “indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed . . .,” (Genesis 15:5; 22:17-18) two miracles were needed! That is exactly what God did!
There was a second time that Abraham believed that God would perform a miracle to fulfill His promise. The Hebrew’s writer records these words, “ By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, ‘I n I saac your descendants shall be called .’ He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead , from which he also received him back as a type.” (10:17-18). The writer of Hebrews takes us back to Genesis 22 and the account of God telling Abraham to, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” (vs. 2). How could this be? Why would God ask him to do such a thing? Abraham knew that Isaac was the only son through whom God specifically said His promise would be fulfilled. Humanly speaking, God’s request to kill the one through whom the promise would be fulfilled did not make sense! How would such a sacrifice fulfill His promise?
Yet, without delay or questioning, “Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” (Genesis 22:3). Of course, we know that God did not require Isaac to be offered and provided a ram for the sacrifice! The writer of Hebrews tells us the part of the story that Moses did not tell us in Genesis, namely, that Abraham responded in faith because“he considered God was ableto raise men even from the dead ...” (Hebrews 11:19). Even though Abraham’s faith that God would raise Isaac from the dead is not recorded in Genesis, it certainly is implied in his words, “I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you.” (Genesis 22:5). Abraham, by faith, knew that God would be faithful to what He had promised, even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead!
The apostle Paul echoed the same thing when he wrote about Abraham, “ yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:20-21).
Beloved, in light of this, how are we doing in our “walking by faith?” Do we believe that God can and will perform a miracle to fulfill His promises to us? We want to be sure that we distinguish between His “promises” to us and our whims-and-wishes! There is a big difference! For example, God has promised to provide for our needs (Philippians 4:19), not our wants and wishes, and, if necessary, He will perform a miracle for our needs to be met! Such a miracle will not rise to the level of raising the dead, but none-the-less a miracle is something out side of the natural. To be honest, miracles are not necessary to fulfill His promise of meeting our needs, but the question still remains, does our life of faith trust Him that He can and will, if necessary? My wife and I have never had God perform a miracle to fulfill His promises to us, but we have experienced Him move in the hearts of people to meet our needs. He has done it several times and we never cease to be amazed.
Before we move to another exhibit, there is one final point that needs to be made from Hebrews 11:17: God WILL “TEST” OUR FAITH to see how genuine it is! The writer of Hebrews wrote,“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac.” The word for “test” is peirazo which means to “put to the test in order to ascertain the nature of someone or something.” Abraham had already shown that he was walking by faith, but God wanted to see how genuine his faith was. So, He “tested” his faith by asking him to do a very, very difficult thing — sacrifice his only son!
Beloved, God WILL do the same to us. Both James and Paul make this abundantly clear (see James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:3-4). God’s question to us is, “You say that you trust Me, but will you keep trusting Me when times get tough and difficult. Let’s see – here is a “test” to find out!” It’s important that we remember, God DOES NOT “TEST” us to destroy us, but to strengthen and mature us. Let us never forget that truth! Faith is like a muscle; it grows strong through “tests” that God brings into our lives. Abraham “grew strong in faith, giving glory to God!” (Romans 4:20) through the “test” that God brought into his life. The more his faith grew, the more God was glorified! He did it to Abraham, and He will, no He MUST, do it to us. Take a moment to read the definition of faith at the beginning of this article, and live it!
For the love of God’s people,
Pastor Ron (retired)