We want to survey the life of Abraham to learn what it teaches us about faith. Because of the large amount of material involved, we will use as our base text, also looking at the relevant passages in Genesis and other biblical books.
The author of Hebrews uses two critical issues in Abraham’s life to help us understand biblical faith: the Promised Land and the promised son . .
Read Heb. 11:8. Abram was from Ur of the Chaldeans (Babylon), and when God called him, he was living in Haran (MAP). God simply called him to go west to a land he would show him (12:1). The author of Hebrews distills what 12:4,5 say (read). This provides us with our first insight into biblical faith.
Imagine getting into a time machine, going back to 2166 BC, and stepping out onto Abraham’s veranda in Haran. You’re sitting there, sipping a cold one with Abraham, and he starts telling you about God’s promise to give him a land to the west.
You ask him if he believes that promise, and he says “Of course.” Eventually, you would probably say, “If you believe God’s promise, what are you doing here? Why aren’t you packing? Why haven’t you left?”
What would be the proof that Abraham believed God? Wouldn’t we be safe in saying that if he didn’t leave, he didn’t have faith? This is exactly what the author of Hebrews is emphasizing in Heb. 11:8 (“By faith Abraham . . . obeyed by going . . . “).
So the first insight into biblical faith that we learn is that it is active rather than passive. It involves a willingness to act on God’s truth. Like James says in Jas. 2, if there is no action on God’s command, there is no evidence for others or for yourself that you believe God’s promise.
This is only mental assent, which even the demons have, and which God rejects as necessary but insufficient for faith.
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