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Thursday, 8 September 2016

Abraham - the father of the faithful!

Paul's words, in Gal 3:7 - "... it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham." - are among those that have given rise to Abraham being described as in the heading to this post.  But, having recently completed reading about Abraham in my personal devotions, I found myself thinking on Abraham's own faith.  What kind of example has he left to disciples of Jesus today?

Well, the first thing we may note about Abraham is that he was saved through faith.  Paul, this time writing to the believers in Rome, makes the point: "What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.' Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness." (Rom 4:1-5).  Abraham could not have been saved by the keeping of the Law - because that Law had not yet been given.  He could not have been saved by the ritual of circumcision, because God declared him to be righteous before he was circumcised (see Rom.4:9-12).  He was, like everyone else who is saved, saved through faith - faith in the Living God. (see also Heb.11).

But he was not only saved through faith, he also lived by faith.  Wherever he went, we read, he pitched his tent and built an altar to El Shaddai.  He let people know that he was a pilgrim and a stranger - even in the land that God had covenanted to give to his descendants.  His willingness to sacrifice Isaac, the son of promise, proved his trust in God - "He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him [Isaac] back." (Heb 11:19).  His works did not save him, but they proved that his faith was genuine.

Saved through faith; living by faith; and Abraham walked in faith.  Of course, he had lapses - some of them serious - but his general manner of life was one of faith.  "Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. ... So Abram went, as the LORD had told him;" (Gen.12:1,4).  That great eleventh chapter of Hebrews has more to say about Abraham than about any other of the individuals who are named there!

So what has all of that to do with you and me, so many millennia later?  Well, if we have no interest in the things of God - absolutely nothing!  However if, like me, you claim to be a disciple of the Lord, Jesus the Christ, descended, after the flesh, from this same Abraham, then his life must be a challenge to you, as it is to me. 

I must remember that my salvation is only by the grace of Almighty God to which I, too, must respond through faith.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9).  I am not saved by my "good works" - and any service that I do render is only because I am "... His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works , which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10). I must learn to walk by faith - and that means walking in obedience. It means, as the hymn-writer put it, "Standing on the promises".  A friend of many years ago would often state that "God said it; I believe it; that's it; period!"  That's not a bad way in which to live!

I've been challenged, afresh, by the life of Abraham.  Perhaps you will be, as well!

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