The Faith of Abraham
How to exercise faith? If we want to experience the infinite power of God, and if we want to experience the unlimited strength of God, the only way for us do so is to exercise our faith.
But what is faith?
Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"
Note: Faith is to be sure of things hoped for and to be certain of things not seen.
Is faith a gift of God?
Romans 12:3 “God hath dealt [given] to every man the measure [amount] of faith”
Yes, it is a gift of God but how do we experience it? How does faith cometh? Let see what the bible says:
Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”
Many times our simplified version reads, “so then faith cometh from the word of God”. But please don’t forget that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. You have to know whenever God emphasizes a word more than once, twice or more, we better believe that that word is important.
When the bible says when faith cometh by hearing, what is that talking about?
In Revelation, the Bible says, "He that hath an ear let me hear" (Revelation 13:9) and Jesus said, ‘‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:9). Back in Jesus’s day all of them had two ears. Why did he say he that hath an ear let him hear? What does that mean? What is hear mean? Hear means to understand (Matthew 13:15; Isaiah 6:10).
Thus, Romans 10:17 is telling us that faith cometh by understanding something. So, in order for us to exercise faith we have to understand something and that understanding comes from the word of God. Thus we have to understand something about God in the word of God to exercise faith.
What does the word of God say about faith? Who do we usually quote when we talk about faith? It’s Abraham. Let’s read Romans 4:3:
Romans 4:3 Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness
When we read that text, it seems so easy, isn’t it? It seems so simple. It seems that it doesn’t take that much of effort to believe; it doesn’t require much of our strength to believe, because the bible simply says Abraham believed and God counted him for righteousness. That’s not too hard, I can do that too, right? Ok then, I believe, I am righteous. Is it?
When the bible says Abraham believed, you better believe that he fought to believe what he believed. It was not simply ‘I believe’.
In other words, I want to know how Abraham exercised his faith. I know by my works and by my strength I cannot go to heaven, can you? Therefore I have to have faith, but I want to have faith according to the bible. Not wishy washy, not counterfeit, which many people claim to have today.
I want to know what made Abraham to say I believe, because if you go back to the story of Abraham, he was doubting, he was hesitating, he was wavering, yet something caused him to say, “I believe”. It’s as if he understood something and he says I believe.
Let see Genesis 15:1 onwards:
Genesis 15:1,2 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
Do you know when this chapter 15 took place? It was when Abraham was around 100 yrs old. But God called Abraham in Genesis chapter 12, when he was 75 years old. God gave Abraham the promise in chapter 12. But God has not yet fulfilled his promise to Abraham, not even until he is close to 100 years. Can you wait for 25 years without a promise being fulfilled? That’s a very long time. Isn’t it? Do you think he had to have some patience? He did.
So here God came to Abraham and Abraham is doing his complaining. We can understand why he is complaining. Abraham said, “I go childless and the steward of my house is this Eliezer”. What is Abraham saying here? He is saying, the children of one of my servants can be my heir. Let continue from verse 3:
Genesis 15:3-6 “And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
So according to the bible, what made Abraham to believe? Just before Abraham said he believed, he looked at the stars and what was he doing? Counting the stars? So if we count the stars we can have faith? What was going in Abraham’s mind, when God said, as many as the stars are, you sons will be. Why did God ask to look up? Did God want him to count? There is no way one can count the stars, right?
What was God trying to remind Abraham by showing the starry heavens? How did those stars get there in the first place? When Abraham looked at the stars what did that make him think about in respect to God?
When Abraham looked at the stars he was reminded that God is the creator of all things. He was reminded of Genesis 1 which repeatedly says, “God said and it was so.....God said and it was”. Abraham was saying how am I going to have a child at this age? God said, look at the stars. Then Abraham understood God is the creator. If God says my dead body will bear fruit, I don’t see it how, but I believe God will make it happen because God, you are the creator.
And so God looked at Abraham and said you understand saving faith, you understand that I can take the old body of death and make a new life out of it. The spiritual illustration is Abraham and Sarah, their bodies were dead. They could not make new life. The only way was through the creative power of God’s word. But Abraham believed in the creative power of God’s word and because Abraham had that kind of faith, God said you are a righteous man (Genesis 15:6).
So notice, if faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of God, then we must listen to the word of God as though it is coming from the creator. You have to settle this one thing clearly. Every time you want to exercise faith, you must remember that God is the creator and you are a puny human being.
One reason why God made the Sabbath for man was to do remind us that he is the creator. People who believe in the creator God should not have any problem in exercising their faith.
Having seen that, in order to exercise faith, we must believe in the creative power of God, let us see what the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write about the faith of Abraham:
Romans 4:17(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God [the creator], who quickeneth [bring to life] the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
Abraham believed in God, but what kind of a God? The only God who can give life to the dead. Why is it that God can give life to the dead? Because he is the creator. He can create something out of nothing; He calleth those things which be not as though they were. So we now understand that faith comes by understanding that God is the creator (His creative power) and resurrecter (resurrective power).
It is also clear that faith cannot depend of what you can see; faith depends of what God sees which you can only see if you believe God has the creative ability to bring things to pass.
Romans 4:18 Who (Abramam) against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
Was Abraham against hope? In what way was he against hope? Because he taught it was impossible for him and his wife to create life based on the scientific evidence, based on biology, based on history and based on human philosophy; it was impossible to have a child at that age. So when it says “Abraham against hope believed in hope”, that means Abraham believed in hope when there was no hope. This leads us to another important truth about faith:
Faith comes from understanding Gods creative and resurrective power. But when you exercise faith, do you think you have to fight against something? What is that? Unbelief. Let’s put it directly. Faith has to fight against you. You, me, natural human beings; many times we don’t have powerful faith because we don’t fight against our self. Abraham “against hope believed in hope” also means in order to exercise faith he went against him. Many times we don’t have faith because many times we are winning, not Jesus. But God says I am the creator, nothing is impossible.
Romans 4:19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:
The word “weak in faith” means Abraham is naturally weak in faith because he was a human being. But the bible says Abraham was not weak in faith. Again the bible is telling us if we want to exercise faith, we cannot consider who we are. Notice:
Romans 4:19 “And being not weak in faith he considered not his own body now [practically] dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:
So if Abraham is to give us a good reason why he is weak in faith, his body is old, practically dead as he was 100 yrs old. Not only he is dead, his wife’s womb was dead.
Here’s a vital spiritual truth. Many people did many things by exercising faith; but why does God gives us this example of the faith of Abraham? What did God challenge Abraham to exercise his faith in? It was to bring life, birth, to have new birth. God led Abraham to exercise his faith to believe that God can give new birth. Today, people use faith for all kinds of things. To pay the bills, to find a marriage partner etc. …but what God is telling us is, use faith to believe that God can give us new life. Even though your natural inclination is saying no, it’s impossible, God is telling us to fight against what our ‘self’ is telling us and God is giving the strength of faith to fight against self.
Further, in the story of Abraham, in order for new birth to take place, in order for fruit to be born, Abraham faith not only had to overcome his own impossibility, he had to overcome Sarah’s impossibility as well. And his faith was so powerful that not only did God give fruit through Abrahams life, but Abrahams faith bore fruit in Sarah’s life and she developed strong faith (see Hebrews 11), which gives us a practical illustration. If we are living righteous lives by faith, our faith should bear fruit in other people’s lives. There is something wrong with our faith if our faith doesn’t cause other people to believe in the creative power of God.
So let’s summarize what we studied so far. In order for Abraham to exercise faith,
1) He has to believe that God is the creator and resurrecter and He gives the promise
2) In order to experience the promise, Abraham had to deny totally who he is
Faith can be exercised fully only when you deny yourself. If you try to protect your own sentimental feelings, and believe that I am weak, I got this kind of gene in my body, I grew up like this in sin. FORGET IT!!! Forget who you are; how dysfunctional you are; how defective you are. It does not matter because we are speaking to God the creator. He “calleth those things which be not as though they were”. New birth is possible. New birth comes with new desires, new motivations, new attitudes. God can provide anything and everything in order to make you like Jesus. What is this not realized in our lives? We are listening more to us than we are listening to God the creator.
Romans 4:20 He (Abraham) staggered (wavered) not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
Abraham exercised strength in his faith because his carnal nature, his finite nature was strongly against faith. So every time you think of faith, think of another word that starts with the word f=fight. But when you think of the word fight, think of self denial. Then we can enter into the faith experience. What is strong in faith means according to verse 21?
Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded (understood, convinced, convicted) that, what he had promised, he was able (we are disable, but God is able) also to perform. 22And therefore it was [his belief or saving faith] imputed to him for righteousness.
Note also that, when Abraham had strong faith, he gave glory to God (Romans 4:20). When Abraham believed in the creative power of God, God said, “I know you fear me” (Gen 22:12). It sounds like the first angels message, “Fear God and give glory” (Revelation 14:7). In order for us to proclaim the three angels messages and have Jesus living in us, we must have the faith like Abraham.
But in order to have faith of Abraham, there must be a denial of self. Just totally deny us and let God remold and refashion us and restore our identity in the spiritual things of God. Scary thing isn’t it to really live by faith? But I am glad to know that I can grow in faith. Every day we must exercise it and when opportunities come, we must rejoice.
Your friends come to you with anger. Rejoice!
Your mother is coming to you with a complaint. Rejoice!
You husband is about to flex his manly authority. Rejoice!
Someone has and is still offending you. Rejoice!
When you are about to loose your temper. Rejoice! In those moments, keep praying, Lord you are able. It feels impossible to be an obedient character, its not my fault, its his fault, we argue, but in that moment you must believe that God can give (create) new thoughts, feelings and empower you. Do you believe?
Now what do you believe when the bible says “Abraham believed and God counted him for righteousness”? Simply believing? No, Abraham had to fight for his faith, but it was the good fight of faith.
The above message is based on: