BY FAITH ABRAHAM OBEYED (2)
A Meditation on Genesis 12:1-4; Hebrews 11:8-10
Then God called Abram to leave Ur, He wasn’t testing Abram’s ability to think logically or rationally; rather He was testing his faith and his love for God. Second Corinthians 5:7 is basic, yet essential to the Christian life: “we walk by faith, not by sight.” There are certain commands and callings that you will never be able to “reason” yourself into obeying.
When the rich, young ruler came to Christ looking for salvation, what did Jesus say? He said, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Lk. 18:22). “Liquidate all your assets.” Does that sound reasonable? Did Jesus demonstrate the wisdom of God in what He was asking? No, but He did attach a promise: “and you will have treasure in heaven.” Once again, I think we have an example of an unreasonable request—from a human perspective—that can only be followed if one has faith in God and believes the promise.
I find it interesting, and puzzling, that so many “Christian” books are being marketed to and purchased by unbelievers. Years ago we had cross-over music with Amy Grant. Now it seems that we have cross-over books, like books on leadership. Why, one has to wonder, do these books appeal to unbelievers? When it comes to many of the books on leadership, the answer is plain: they’re basically Harvard business principles found in the Scriptures that are void of the need for faith and reliance upon God.
Don’t misconstrue what I’m saying, God’s commands are reasonable—if you have the mind of Christ—and we should lay out their reasonableness. Yet it is the pastor’s job to preach God’s Word, which the Spirit uses to elicit and strengthen faith. Then the pastor challenges God’s people to trust Him by faith. Don’t forget: faith is sine qua non for pleasing God: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
God is continually testing our faith, and taking us through fiery trials to refine our faith. Peter wrote, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7). Take note of how precious our faith is to God.
The righteous shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17) and, simultaneously, not check their brains at the church door. Many commands exhort us to think and to grow in knowledge. Paul told Timothy, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Tim. 2:7). Peter’s second epistle ends with the admonishment, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (2 Pet. 3:18). And the greatest commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). Christians should, thus, be the best thinkers and scholars on God’s green earth. Faith and rigorous thinking are not mortal enemies, but beloved friends. The problem enters when so-called reason undermines faith.
Adam and Eve were called, as we all are, to live by faith. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Gen. 2:16-17). Satan challenged this command, and told Eve, “You will not surely die” (3:4). “So when the woman saw that the tree was god for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (3:6). If I can paraphrase, Eve thought, “Judging by the looks of this tree, there’s no good reason why I shouldn’t eat of its fruit.” As a result, she disobeyed God and disregarded His promise of certain death. Part and parcel of Eve’s deception was the embracing of reason over faith in God’s Word.
In closing, let me ask, “Is there anything God is calling you to do—by faith—that you are reasoning yourself out of? Like joining the church or tithing or leading your family in worship? Few things hinder God from working in our lives like a lack of faith. This teaching has been abused, nevertheless Scripture plainly teaches us about the importance of faith. Jesus didn’t do many mighty works in Nazareth, because of their unbelief (Matt. 13:58). Therefore, let’s all cry out to God, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk. 9:24).
Pastor Wayne Christensen, www.foxlakechurch.org, October 25, 2015