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The Life of Faith

June 2nd, 2014

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

Romans 4:13

The New Testament, from the perspective of the full revelation of God in Christ, uses Abraham as an example for us in our own faith journey. As Abraham believed, so we also must believe.

His call was a call to separate. The first note of his faith was that it was a response to the divine will of God that separated him from his former life. Alexander Maclaren wrote:

The life of faith ever begins as that of ‘the Father of the Faithful’ began, with the solemn recognition of a divine will which separates. Further, Abram saw plainly what he had to leave, but not what he was to win. He had to make a venture of faith, for ‘the land that I will shew thee’ was undefined. Certainly it was somewhere, but where was it? He had to fling away substance for what seemed shadow to all but the eye of faith, as we all have to do.

So it is with us who follow Christ. We cannot hang on to the world and believe in Him at the same time. The call separates us from our past, from the world, from our old nature, from our old life, and what we shall become is proclaimed in Scripture, but it is also somewhat vague.

He was called to go somewhere he had never been. This is the second thing, that we are called to follow the Lord, and every life of faith has the element of “sojourn” within it. The principles of righteousness are clearly laid out in Scripture, but in the applications and in the life long pursuit of following Him we discover that we have not become mechanical – to simply obey rules – but we have become pilgrims.

In Hebrews 11:8-10 we read:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

He was called to know God. The third matter is that we discover the will of God only as we discover the Lord Himself. Abraham asked for some sign, some evidence that he was going on the right track, that the Lord would fulfill His promises, but God’s only evidence was a greater revelation of Himself (Gen. 15). When we are concerned with the outward, physical signs that we are going the right way, when we ask for material, “this-world” evidence that we are doing the right thing, the Lord may from time to time answer these prayers. But He does so because He knows we are weak, made of dust.

These physical affirmations are merely “crumbs along the trail” while the great feast is waiting for us in the end. The great joy that faith grasps is the revelation of His heart to our heart, of His face to our face, and not of the receiving of the material affirmations from His hand. Where we follow the Lord becomes less important to us as we mature in grace. Who we follow becomes all important! We will ultimately only discover the where by knowing the Who. Learning who God is, what are the passions of His heart, will show you where He is leading you.

Anyone who has heard the call of Christ in his heart, who has repented, turned, and in faith followed Him, now has a perfectionistic bent. They will no longer be content with the imperfect. They have been touched by perfect love, and want only to experience perfect love. And the same is true for every spiritual grace: joy, peace, hope, holiness, obedience. Like Abraham, we look for the city whose designer and builder is God, and cannot be content with this world.

The greater revelation of the heart of God is what our hearts need; He is what we truly crave. The more we know Him the better we follow Him, and the less we care about where He leads us, how He will use us, and how He will bless us here. This is where joy is experienced, in knowing Him and serving Him and following Him in whatever path He leads us in.

He was called to an unimaginatively grand future. A final matter in the life of faith: it gains momentum as it goes along. Death and the separation of our spirits from this earth are not fearsome, neither do we die in anonymity, forgotten and alone, rather we enter into the fullness of life that Christ had promised.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day … as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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