"Faith in a Faithful God"

Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. We are told that Abraham not only believed, but grew strong in faith glorifying God while awaiting the promised son. What exactly did Abraham believe about God? What must we believe in order to grow strong in faith while we await the return of our Lord? As we follow the life of Abraham, the friend of God, we discover some precious insights into the life of faith that every Christian is called to. 

Before sin entered the universe the very concept of faith was foreign. Once God's love was questioned, however, faith became a way of life for all created beings. The fallen angels chose to believe without concrete evidence that God was self-seeking. The rest of the angelic host chose to believe, without conclusive evidence, God's word to be true and faithful. This is faith in its most basic form, it all comes down to what we choose to believe about the heart of God.

Genesis chapter 15 shares a wonderful dialogue between Abraham and God regarding faith. God initiates the conversation by repeating his promise to Abraham. After affirming his belief in God's promise, Abraham in verse 8 asks the million dollar question. He asks God how the promise was to be fulfilled. Abraham stood in the same position as you or I. We are all called by God to  accomplish a completely impossible task. Just as Abraham and Sara were wholly incapable of conceiving a son, you and I are helpless to live a God honoring life. Abraham was forced to abandon all confidence in his aging flesh. Acknowledging his inability, he turned to God to do what he could not.

The experience the Lord led Abraham through following his inquiry is one through which we all must pass. In response to his question God asked Abraham to prepare animals for a covenant ceremony. The dividing of animals was a familiar symbol to Abraham. To ratify a contract, deal, or promise, it was customary for two individuals to pass through the blood of slain animals. This solemn pact communicated that if either party failed to keep their promise they would share the fate of the victims whose blood now stained their clothing. After passing through the blood of the divided animals Abraham witnesses God himself do the same. As the presence of God in a fiery pillar passed through the blood. Abraham caught a glimpse of Jesus. Our savior in the likeness of sinful flesh came and perfectly upheld the covenant in Abraham's place. Christ also bore the penalty of the broken covenant on man's behalf. Abraham's inability to provide an heir was illustrative of how helpless he was to be faithful apart from the grace of God. Abraham received the answer to his question through this experience which symbolized God's promise to personally uphold both ends of the covenant. 

The experience God granted Abraham in Genesis chapter 15 was both revealing and deeply meaningful. It was revealing because it opened to Abraham God's infinite sacrifice, and it was meaningful because Abraham believed it to be an honest reflection of the God he was discovering. Abraham grew strong in faith while awaiting the promise because he discovered the heart of God. Abraham's faithfulness grew out of an intimate knowledge of God's character. The more deeply we understand the goodness of God the more sure we grow in our confidence that He will do far above what we can ask or imagine. Our great hope is not that God will choose to be merciful to us, but rather in the fact that He IS merciful. For if He has truly given us His son, why would he withhold any other good thing?

We have all been given a measure of faith to begin the journey of discovering the complete sufficiency and faithfulness of our God. Why then do we doubt his faithfulness? Because this is our default setting. We are born on a rebellious planet which believes the lie behind all lies, the lie that God isn't truly good. This is why the cross of Christ is so powerful. It liberates us from this lie. It reveals a God more wonderful and loving than we have dared hope for. It reveals a love more powerful than death, a love able to save to the uttermost all who will embrace it.

To accept such a God exists leads us to complete surrender. It forces us to relinquish any claim to personal goodness or merit. Our faith grows as we discover how faithful God is, not as we demonstrate how faithful we are. In the light of our sin we see we must rest completely in His faithfulness alone for we have none to offer. To believe He is faithful is to accept His word as faithful. It is to accept that His grace is indeed sufficient and that He will supply all our needs.

Faith leaves no room for complaint, and no excuse for sin. Because sin came into existence through the doubting of the heart of God, it is faith in God's goodness that deals the death blow to sin in the cosmos as well as in our lives. The more deeply we become gripped by the conviction that God is only good and that there is no darkness in Him at all, the more accurately we can identify the roots of sin and selfishness in our lives.

All of our bitterness, discontentment, and frustration in life ultimately reflects upon what we believe about the character of God. To choose to exercise our God given measure of faith and accept He is as His word reveals Him to be is wonderfully tempting, but it is also intimidating. If God is only good and loving then who is to blame for all of our pain? Satan? Yes, but who else? To accept that God is righteous is to acknowledge that we are not. We must accept that we are accurately described by The Word as having sinned and fallen short. More than this we have to humbly accept that apart from God we are incapable of anything but sin and selfishness. We have to realize that Jesus has not come to get us back on our feet so that we might obtain a righteousness of our own, but rather that we are dependent on Him for every right action. We must realize that his beauty of character is only experienced by the indwelling of His spirit. Thankfully, once we come to terms with all of this we find sweet release from our incredible burden of pride and self-righteousness.  Understanding that it is He who invites us, forgives us, and works in us to accomplish His good will simplifies our responsibilities. As Abraham beheld God upholding both ends of the covenant we also must see that God is to be our all-in-all. What then are we left with? What is our part? We believe. We trust that God will do all that He has promised, moreover we trust that God is all He has promised. 

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