NT Connect: Hebrews 11:8-22
Weekly Reading: Genesis 21-25
The Proof of Genuine Faith
We sometimes look at our Christian walk and can only see our failures. Healthy self-examination can be a good thing; however, it can easily become unhealthy introspection. In those times, it is good to be reassured that God views us not as we see ourselves, but as we are in Christ Jesus.
None of the heroes of the faith were perfect. Between the promise of a son to Abraham and the birth of Isaac there was the episode with Hagar (Genesis 16:1-6). Yet God’s final word on Abraham and Sarah was “through faith” (Hebrews 11:11, NASB).
Abraham stepped out in faith by obeying the call of God (Hebrews 11:8). The “father of all those who believe” (Romans 4:11, NASB) left his home and his kindred to go to a land which he did not know and had not seen. There he received no inheritance, but dwelt in tents with his offspring, trusting in the promise of something better beyond (Hebrews 11:9-16).
The proof of Abraham’s faith, though, was his willingness to give back to God everything he had, including the son of promise, whom he had miraculously received because of his and Sarah’s faith (Hebrews 11:11). After all the waiting and wondering, the son had been given by God. Then, before the son was grown, God asked for him back, and Abraham obeyed. The thought of sacrificing Isaac must have grieved Abraham terribly, but he knew that he would have his son back. The scripture says, he even “considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19, NASB)
Isaac was offered as a sacrifice, but he was not slain. God provided a substitute. It was the fact that Abraham offered up Isaac that proved his faith. The test of our genuine faith, its real proof, is willingness to sacrifice. “If anyone wishes to come after Me,” Jesus commanded, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew. 16:14, NASB) “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1, NASB).
Faith in Christ is more than mere intellectual assent. It is believing with the heart and with the will, with adoration and with action. When John Bunyan was in jail for preaching the gospel, he was deeply concerned for his family. He was particularly grieved about his little blind daughter, for whom he had a special love. He wrote, “I saw in this condition I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children. Yet, thought I, I must do it; I must do it. The dearest idol I have known, what err that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee.”
The proof of our genuine faith is obedient sacrifice!