What made Abraham such a prolific Bible hero?
For centuries, Bible teachers have taught their followers to aspire to his level of faith. The Jewish nation sees Abraham as their father, as does much of the Islamic world. His life was used as an example by Paul, James, and the writer of Hebrews to demonstrate salvation by faith, and living by faith.
Yet, Abraham was not a perfect man and sinned on at least three occasions recorded by scripture. So, what is it about Abraham that has inspired generations of people to follow the Lord more perfectly? Three things:
1. Abraham believed God.
Genesis 15:6 says, “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” This scripture is repeated in Romans 4:3, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Abraham’s belief in God extended way beyond a vague belief in a divine figure, and went even deeper than a belief in the existence of the God of the Bible. Abraham’s belief in God was a personal trust.
God spoke to Abraham, and Abraham believed what God told him. He literally trusted God with his life. That’s true faith, and it’s the faith that motivated Abraham’s life.
2. Abraham’s faith produced Abraham’s life.
Hebrews 11:8-10 says:
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Hebrews 11 contains a highlight reel of Abraham’s life, recording every major accomplishment he had in the Lord. Before each action, Hebrews states, “By faith.”
By faith Abraham went out to a strange country, not knowing where he went. By faith, he sojourned in the land of promise. By faith he offered up Isaac. By faith.
“By faith” simply means, “Because he trusted God, he obeyed Him in doing this.”
Because Abraham trusted God, he answered God’s call to go to a place that he would eventually inherit, though he had no idea where he was going.
Because Abraham trusted God, he sojourned in the promised land, looking for God’s city.
Because Abraham trusted God, he offered up Isaac when God told him to.
Notice that everything Abraham did, he did because he trusted God. His trust in God shaped his worldview, his values, his decision making, and his actions.
3. His actions completed his faith.
James 2:21-24 says:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
James 2 is often misinterpreted. Many use these verses to teach that a certain amount of works is necessary for salvation. That teaching completely ignores the fact that James was written to Christians who were already saved.
James 2 is not about salvation. Rather, it is about making your faith complete, or useful. It’s about fully realizing the blessing of your salvation in this world.
Abraham believed God. That trust in God motivated action. His actions completed his faith and allowed God to bless him.
A prime example of this is the birth of Isaac. God told Abraham that he would father a son in his old age, by his wife, Sarah, who, even in her prime could not have children. Abraham believed God, and God regarded Abraham’s trust as righteousness.
Abraham acted on that faith to father a child with Sarah, and because he acted on that faith, God blessed him with a son. Had Abraham not acted on that faith, fathering a son would have been biologically impossible. However, Abraham’s faith, coupled with his action, produced a child. God blessed.
In considering these three things about Abraham, we must ask ourselves the following questions. (1) Do I believe God? Do I have faith? (2) Do my actions reflect the faith I say I have? (3) Am I living out my faith in a way that facilitates God blessing me?
If our actions do not reflect the faith we profess, then we must assess ourselves to see what we really believe, then work to bring that into accordance with scripture. This will also involve learning new actions and new habits, and unlearning some old ones.
If our actions reflect our faith, then we will see our faith completed and God will bless us. If we give God nothing to bless, then we have no reason to expect a blessing.
May God guide you as your continue to seek His truth.