Some lessons on faith from the story of Abraham in Genesis 15-18.
1. Faith is a response to God’s Word
Abraham took God at his word concerning the birth of a son in his old age. Faith is not some kind of quality worked up in our own minds (‘believing in God for a miracle’). It is simply taking God at his word. If this is so, then the more we get into God’s word the stronger our faith will become.
2. Faith is not perfection
Gen 16 shows how Abraham failed. But he remained a true believer. We do not excuse our sin. But we do believe that our salvation rests on God’s promise, not on our performance.
3. Faith never gives up
By the time we reach chapter 17, Abraham has reached the age of 99, and still seen no outcome to the promises made when he was 75 (Gen 12:1-3). This encourages us never to give up, but to trust God to fulfil his promises to us whatever the time scale.
4. Faith is the gift of God
God’s sovereignty is seen in the fact that, although he would bless Ishmael, he would establish his covenant with Isaac (Gen 17:20f). Isaac was chosen before he was even born! And he, too, would later have to believe. Truly, faith is ‘the gift of God’ (Eph. 2:8).
5. Faith results in change
God changed the names of both Abram and Sarai. This change of names indicates a change of status. They would never be the same again! Although our names may not have been changed when we first believe in Christ, we too now have a different status. We have gone from sinners to saints, from barren to blessed, from God’s enemies to his friends.
6. Faith is demonstrated by obedience
Abraham’s response to the prescription of circumcision as the sign of God’s covenant was immediate. He did exactly what God had commanded. He, and all his household, were circumcised. He demonstrated his faith by his obedience; – and so must we!
(Based on Kurt Strassner, Opening Up Genesis, 75-78)