Today’s reading: Genesis 20-22; Matthew 7
God calls us to believe in Him but, more importantly, to believe Him. Abraham believed God or mostly believed God, except when it came to attempting to protect himself by claiming Sarah was his sister not his wife. Sin doesn’t die easily, does it?
But, as unsteady as it was at times, Abraham’s faith translated into action. Abraham did not withhold his own son, Isaac, but took steps to offer him as a sacrifice to God. Later in our reading, we will see that Abraham did not expect the outcome that came, that, at the last minute God would stop him, reassure him, and provide another sacrifice in Isaac’s place (Hebrews 11:17-19). The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham had assumed that God would let him follow through with the sacrifice and, afterwards, raise up Isaac from the dead.
It is curious, in light of the comment in Hebrews, that Abraham told an anxious Isaac, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). That statement, in light of the New Testament, is loaded with meaning. God has provided for himself a lamb for a burnt offering, His own Son, Jesus Christ. In that case, the offering was not interrupted but completed. The resurrection that Abraham anticipated for Isaac occurred for Jesus who not only was raised from the dead but ascended to the right hand of God where He sits in glory and power (Philippians 2:1ff).
Faith acts. Abraham’s actions demonstrate that. In our Matthew reading, we find Jesus telling His disciples to demonstrate faith in both actions and attitudes. Faith is not merely holding a correct theological view but of living in the light of that biblically informed theological view. This action results in knowing God and being known by Him, so that in the judgment it will be that relationship that carries us into His welcoming presence, not the works that we did. Works demonstrate faith but it is faith, not works, that saves us. Show your faith through works, but trust Him, not those works, for salvation.
Remember, Abraham was saved by his faith, demonstrated in his works, and not lost by his failures and inconsistencies (Romans 4). The grace of God in Christ made the difference. Isn’t that true for you as well?