Faith In Action
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
What does faith look like in action How does it express itself in our lives How can we know we have the real thing In Abraham, we see five traits of faith.
Romans 418a (Holman) Against hope, with hope he believed,. . .
One, faith goes beyond our five senses. Hope is the expectation of something desirable. Abraham wanted descendants, but was past the age of 70 when God called him. The patriarchs plight was beyond hope. He had to find a hope beyond hope.
Every logical argument said No All past experience said No Common sense said No Everything pointed to the contrary, but when God said Yes Abraham agreed with Him, and believed. When all natural human hope failed, spiritual hope took over. Human hope is based on outward possibilities and trusts only as far as it can see. Spiritual hope trusts God even when the way cannot be seen.
There has to be difficulty connected with what faith is necessary for, or faith is not needed. To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark is faith.
It never rained before the time of Noah. A mist watered the ground (GN 26). Nevertheless, against all the evidence of human history, Noah built a huge ship.
Gideon was outnumbered hundreds to one, but against human reasoning, he proceeded. Joshua, defying common sense, ordered the sun and moon to stand still. Fortunately the sun and moon had never heard of common sense, and thus obeyed.
If we live by our five senses alone, our faith will stay stuck in the mud. Do not fasten your mind to your physical eyes. Base hope on more than what you can see.
We have tunnel vision. Hence, faith must fly upward on celestial wings and unite with God who sees all. Learn to listen to what He says about what He is seeing.
Romans 418b . . .so that he became the father of many nations, . . .
Two, faith generates great expectations. Abrahams faith made him anticipate something wonderful from God. Suddenly filled with great expectations, he looked forward to having an heir through which his descendants would become numerous.
A person full of faith looks for blessings, expects them, believing prayer requests will be granted, and constantly looking for the Divine to work among His people. Ann Hunter Small, a missionary teacher who felt this to be an important characteristic of Gods people, said, A church which is alive dares to do anything.
John and Charles Wesley were discussing an important project they both agreed was worthwhile and desirable. Charles felt they could not do it John felt they should, and pressed the point. Finally, Charles said, When God gives me wings, Ill fly. John replied, When God tells me to fly, Ill trust Him for the wings.
Easy things are hard if we approach them without God hard things are easy if faith points us to Him. Faith expects great things from God, whatever the obstacle.
Rom. 418c According to what had been spoken So will your descendants be.
Three, faith clings to Gods Word. God told Abraham his descendants would be as numerous as the stars (GN 155). Abraham, believing the bare Word of God, required nothing else. God made a statement Abraham clutched it and didnt let go.
Faith clings to Gods Word, without need of proof. Faith believes the Word unbelief questions it. D. L. Moody would say, Unbelief sees something in Gods hand and says, I wish I had that. Faith sees it and says, I will have it–and gets it
If we have a promise from God, let our faith be grounded on it. God should be believed absolutely and without hesitation. He has proven Himself worthy of our trust. Let us think well of the bridge which has often carried us over troubled waters.
God should be treated as a trusted friend. Unbelief dishonors Him by making Him out to be a liar. It is presumption to not take God at His word. It insults the Lord. He should be trusted as a father, not suspected as a stranger of questionable character.
A word of caution be sure what we are trusting is truly a word from God. Human faith, apart from a genuine promise of God to rest on, is folly and fanaticism.
We can want something so badly that we convince ourselves it is Gods will, even if it is not. Desire can cloud our judgment. Dont mistake presumption for faith.
Never exalt your own mind to the place of deity. Your thoughts are fallible. In any situation, you might possibly be wrong. Keeping this in mind staves off pride.
Andrew Murrays nephew had tuberculosis, but wanted to accompany the famous preacher on a preaching tour, though physically unable. Murray said, You believe God can heal you, do you not When the nephew said, Yes, Murray replied, Let us go to God in faith believing. The two prayed for healing and ended by thanking God for the miracle they believed had already taken place. They left on the tour, confident the young man was totally healed. In three weeks he was dead.
Just because we think something is right does not necessarily make it right. Judge everything in light of the promises of God. Faith clings to the Word of God.
Romans 419 He considered his own body to be already dead (since he was
about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarahs
womb, without weakening in the faith.
Four, faith envisions resurrection. Sarahs womb was barren, and Abrahams reproductive powers were dead, but he trusted God for a resurrection. He envisioned life springing from death. If we can trust God for this, we can trust Him for anything.
We can almost hear Satans taunts, Look at your body, Abraham Look at Sarahs barrenness. But then listen as Abraham responds in faith, What difference do these facts make Abraham was not dismayed at his own personal weaknesses.
At the age of 99, before the birth of Isaac, Abraham obediently changed his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude). I wonder how many people smirked, Where is the multitude Can you imagine a 99-year-old husband and an 89-year-old wife wanting to buy a home near an elementary school
Abrahams faith saw past death and envisioned resurrection. God brings life out of death. Earth was without form and void, but God brought life to the ruins.
In darkness God said, Let there be light, and there was light. In Sarahs dead womb, God said, Let there be Isaac, and there was Isaac. Adam sinned, and something died in the human heart. But through the new birth, God can place within us the new life of Jesus. Someday all the dead will be resurrected.
Death is no great obstacle to God. It is the cup in which God pours life, the framework that exhibits Gods power, the dust in which seeds of glory bud and flower (Barnhouse). And if He can overcome death, He can overcome anything.
What guarantees this Why can we be confident Because God raised Jesus from death. This forever ended all doubt about Gods ability to infuse life into death.
Romans 420a He did not waver in unbelief at Gods promise, but was
strengthened in his faith. . .
Five, faith staggers not. Abraham remained upright he never fell flat. No ones faith is perfect. Abraham had periodic moments of doubt along the way and tried to help God out by begetting a child by Hagar. But finally he set his face like flint and overcame victoriously. He did change his name and submit to circumcision.
Do not mistake passing doubts for sin. Only when we yield to doubt does it become sin. We all have moments when we tend to second-guess our thoughts.
The heart will always have doubts clinging to it. The faithful have little rest in this life from internal conflict. These fiery internal ordeals are painful, but in their midst we often see God more clearly than ever before. Often in moments of turmoil, we have been reminded again that Gods strength is made perfect in weakness. Through dependence on the Lord, at last we emerge from the conflict victorious.
To be entirely free from doubt can be a sign of presumption rather than faith. Faith allows us to answer and overcome our doubts, not eliminate them altogether.
Even the greatest saints testify they are always attacked by doubts. They struggle with it as long as they live. Bunyan said seven abominations always remained in his heart. One was a secret inclining to unbelief. The key to success is found in not giving in to our doubts. We must deal with them, but carry on.