After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying,
“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”
2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”m3 Abram also said, “Since You have given me no son, one who has been born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He credited it to him as righteousness.
Ready for a challenge? I hope these observations will be a blessed challenge to your Christian walk.
What does faith do?
James says, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).
Paul says, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:28).
Jesus commends the woman who comes to him and is willing to “receive the scraps that fall from the master’s table.” He commends her great faith (cf. Matthew 15:28).
Abram believes the Lord, and it is counted to him as righteousness.
As I consider this portion of the Abram narrative, I see not only the most important thing that faith does. I see also some other things it does.
Faith justifies. This is surely most important. We need not justify ourselves. To anyone. About anything. God is judge. And those who put their faith in him are counted righteous. Period.
That’s a beautiful thing. But wait! There’s more!
Faith also confronts God with his promises and requires an answer. This is not telling God what to do. But it is telling God that we are relying on his promises when we bring these to God’s attention. We can say, “God, you promised to hear and answer my prayers. I don’t see it.”
Then faith waits for the answer. It doesn’t demand as though we can call God to account. But it does ask. And it waits for God’s answer. We don’t know what Abram would have done had God not answered him here. But God did answer. And he gave more assurance to his promises.
Faith begets more clarification, and sometimes further promises from God. I’ve prayed, and received not only answers to my prayers, but also further promises of God’s continued favor and blessing.
Faith sees, relies on, and lives into the goodness and faithfulness of God. It will therefore move us to obey God more fully. It will inspire sacrifice and bolster our resistance to temptation. It will keep us humble. It will put us on the path of God’s blessing – not only our own blessings, but the blessings of others.
Faith does all this because of its object. Faith doesn’t believe in itself. It is not self-conscious. Faith believes in God. Faith is conscious of God’s word, promises, faithfulness, goodness, love, righteousness, justice, grace, and truth.
That’s a lot. And it’s all God’s gift, given by the Holy Spirit. Inspired by God’s revelation of himself in Jesus, and on bold display here in these few verses. And there’s more to come.
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