By Faith, Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-16)
Hebrews 11 is not just a catalog of Old Testament saints and their works, but an essay on the nature of faith presented through the examples of their lives. In these verses, we don’t just get still shots, but we see them in action as if we were watching video clips of their lives. Those in chapter 11 have one primary thing in common: they put their confidence in God. They took God at His word and arranged their lives accordingly. That is, they lived by faith. Faith is adhering to the promises of God, depending on the word of God, and remaining faithful to the son of God. It’s not a basic nod to a set of biblical truths, but rather a regulating principle of life.
I. The Foundation of Abraham’s Faith
The foundation of Abraham’s faith is simply this: the revelation of God, i.e. the Word(s) of God. Over and over again in Genesis, we read that the Lord spoke to Abraham. It was what God had spoken that served as the only foundation for Abraham’s faith. We often think wrongly in terms of the ‘amount’ of faith (which doesn’t matter), or about the ‘quality’ of faith (which is irrelevant). The only influencing issue with regard to faith, whether it’s Abraham’s or ours, is it’s being founded upon the truth that God has revealed. Faith is simply responding to the revealed Word of God—His revelation of Himself, His revelation of us as sinners, and His revelation of the gospel and salvation. After Abraham’s encounter with God, he left everything and followed God, never turning back, simply because God said, “Do this.”
- What are you basing your life on? What drives your choices? What affects the decisions you make? How often can you definitively say that you are living by faith, that faith in God and His revealed will is the foundation of all that you do?
II. The Application of Abraham’s Faith
The evidence of faith in Abraham’s life is obedience. Faith always yields obedience. Faith is not making plans and preparations, living in the land of good intentions, but it is hearing and responding to what God has said. By faith, Abraham left everything, lived as a sojourner and stranger, and looked for that lasting city. Abraham spent one hundred years wandering, never seeing the fullness of the promise, but always believing. How did he wait so long? He wasn’t perfect, but he persevered by faith. He clung to the trustworthiness of God all the way to the very end.
- How about you? In the midst of a couple of hard months, or 3 or 4 difficult days are you persevering by faith? Does faith in God produces steadfastness and a clinging to Him? To you trust Him and His Word, not perfectly, but really and consistently?
III. The Motivation of Abraham’s Faith
Abraham was gripped with the awareness that what was laid before him in the promises of God was far better than what he had left behind. It is extremely twisted thinking and warped rationale that gives up the best for something that doesn’t measure up! God revealed Himself to Abraham, calling him to leave Ur for something better, and Abraham obeyed, leaving everything. In the same way, God has revealed Himself to us in Christ and has given us promises. These promises are even better (more complete) than Abraham’s. You must leave everything to follow Him. You must put Christ above everything as you follow. And the great promise for us is that we can be children of Abraham, thus children of God. The children of Abraham are those who are of like faith like Abraham’s (John 8:39-44, Romans 4).
- Are you gripped with the same awareness Abraham had that what God has promised you is better than what you have left behind or will leave behind? Do you obey like Abraham? Have you turned back on the old way of life? Are you living as a stranger and alien in this culture? Are you a child of Abraham? If the faith of Abraham is present in your life, the activity and obedience of Abraham will be present as well.