does it mean
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE FAITH? Ask this question to several people and you're
likely to get several different answers. But when it comes to the salvation of one's eternity bound
soul, only one answer is the right one-the one found in the Bible. So we are going to learn what
it means to have faith using one of the greatest examples of faith found in the Bible-the story
of Abraham sacrificing Isaac.
The story begins with Abraham desiring a son by his wife Sarah. She was barren, unable
to have a child and the fulfillment of Abraham's desire seemed impossible. But nothing is
impossible to God, so one day He made the following promise:
"And God said [to Abraham], Sarah thy wife SHALL BEAR THEE A SON
indeed; and thou shalt call his name ISAAC: and I will establish my covenant with
him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him." GENESIS 17:19
Eventually Isaac was born, and became the pride and joy of Abraham. He loved his son very
much and spent a lot of time with him as he grew. But one day, when the boy was about twelve,
God shocked Abraham by commanding him to: "Take now thy son, thine only son
Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and OFFER HIM THERE FOR
A BURNT OFFERING upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." GENESIS 22:1-2
One can imagine the sadness Abraham felt as he thought about having to sacrifice his
beloved son. But nevertheless he trusted God and did as commanded (Gen. 22:3-4). Three days
later, Abraham arrived with Isaac and two hired servants at the base of the mountain where the
sacrifice was to take place. It was here that Abraham said something indicative of his great
faith: "And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I AND THE LAD
will go yonder and worship, and COME AGAIN to you." GEN. 22:5
By saying, "I AND THE LAD WILL...COME AGAIN" Abraham was showing faith that he
would return with his son, Isaac-ALIVE! Was he planning to disobey God at the last minute?
Not at all, the BIBLE says: "ABRAHAM STRETCHED FORTH HIS HAND, AND TOOK THE
KNIFE TO SLAY HIS SON. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven,
and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, LAY NOT THINE
HAND UPON THE LAD, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou
fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." GEN. 22:9-12
Abraham, faced with the prospect of losing his only son, displayed an enormous amount
of faith and trust in God. WHAT WAS HIS SECRET TO HAVING SO MUCH FAITH?
WAS ABRAHAM GOOD AT "WISHFUL THINKING"? Many today feel that if you have enough
faith and believe hard enough your desires will come to pass. But all the wishing and hoping in
the world will not force God to fulfill our desires. God is not a "puppet", existing solely to
satisfy our wishes. The outcome of any situation is totally dependent on His sovereign will. The
Bible, referring to God's will, says: "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed
[considered] as nothing: and HE [God] DOETH ACCORDING TO HIS WILL in the army of
heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and NONE CAN STAY [stop] HIS HAND,
or say unto him, What doest thou?" DANIEL 4:35
WAS ABRAHAM RELYING ON A "HUNCH"? Many people go through life operating on
"hunches". Their morality is guided by what feels right and so is their faith. Therefore
they reason "if it feels right, it will turn out okay". But feelings can change and produce
uncertainty. Abraham displayed no uncertainty in GEN. 22:5 when he said "...I AND THE
LAD WILL....COME AGAIN to you." His faith was not based on a feeling. As sinners we
can't trust our own hearts (our emotions). The BIBLE says: "The heart is DECEITFUL
above all things, and desperately wicked: WHO CAN KNOW IT?" JER. 17:9. God does not
deal in uncertainties, He doesn't have to - He's God! Instead, He deals in promises! After all
God knows it all, can do it all, and therefore can promise and deliver anything. Which brings
us to the true secret of Abraham's faith: HE WAS SIMPLY TRUSTING GOD'S PROMISE!
Let's see his faith in "action" by taking a closer look at the promise Abraham was trusting
in. Referring again to Gen. 17:19 we find that: "...God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a
son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him
for an everlasting covenant, and with HIS SEED AFTER HIM."
The phrase "HIS SEED AFTER HIM" refers to Isaac's descendants. God had unconditionally
promised that Isaac would live long enough to have children. God promised it, and nothing
could change that; not Abraham's knife nor even God Himself. Since Isaac, at the time of his
"sacrifice", had not yet had children, Abraham reasoned that his son would either have to
come back from the dead or not even die in the first place. GOD HAD TO KEEP HIS PROMISE,
HE CANNOT LIE (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18).
In fact, the BIBLE says that's exactly what Abraham reasoned: "BY FAITH Abraham,
when he was tried [tested], offered up Isaac: and he that had received THE PROMISES
offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be
called: ACCOUNTING THAT GOD WAS ABLE TO RAISE HIM UP, EVEN FROM THE DEAD;
from whence also he received him in a figure.." HEB. 11:17-19
Trusting God's promise and taking Him at His Word was the secret to Abraham's faith.
That's why the BIBLE says Abraham: "...STAGGERED [doubted] NOT AT THE PROMISE
OF GOD through unbelief; but was STRONG IN FAITH, giving glory to God; And being
fully persuaded that, what he [God] had PROMISED, he was ABLE ALSO TO PERFORM."
So we learn from Abraham that faith is not wishful thinking, but rather: FAITH IS
TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD! This means a person CAN'T HAVE FAITH UNLESS THEY FIRST
HEAR GOD'S WORD. After all, you can't trust in what you haven't heard nor can you claim a
promise you don't know has been given.
That's why the BIBLE says: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be
saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and HOW SHALL
THEY BELIEVE IN HIM OF WHOM THEY HAVE NOT HEARD? and how shall they hear without
a preacher?" ROMANS 10:13-14
True BIBLE faith is impossible without FIRST hearing the promises of God, found
in His Word. The following passages bear this out:
"In whom YE ALSO TRUSTED, AFTER THAT YE HEARD THE WORD of truth, the gospel of
your salvation..." EPHESIANS 1:13
"...BELIEVING ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN in the law..." ACTS 24:14
"And many more BELIEVED BECAUSE OF HIS OWN WORD..." JOHN 4:41-42
"...I BELIEVE GOD, THAT IT SHALL BE EVEN AS IT WAS TOLD ME." ACTS 27:25
"He that BELIEVETH on me, AS THE SCRIPTURE HATH SAID..." JOHN 7:38
"..We, ACCORDING TO HIS PROMISE, look for new heavens and a new earth." II PET. 3:13
"BUT THESE ARE WRITTEN, THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ.." JOHN 20:31
"HE THAT HEARETH MY WORD, AND BELIEVETH on him that sent me, hath everlasting life,
and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." JOHN 5:24
"SO THEN FAITH COMETH BY HEARING, AND HEARING BY THE WORD OF GOD." ROM. 10:17
We said at the beginning of all this that understanding the Bible's definition of faith is
vital if one is to be saved and go to Heaven when they die. That's because while many people
may have "faith" that they will go to Heaven, their faith is not based on the only promise
God made concerning salvation. He said in His Word: "That if thou shalt confess with thy
mouth the Lord Jesus [that means repent], and shalt believe in thine heart [that means
faith] that God hath raised him from the dead, THOU SHALT BE SAVED." Rom. 10:9
The only way God promised a person can get saved is by: "..REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD,
AND FAITH TOWARD OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST." Acts 20:21
Unfortunately a large number of people, not familiar with God's promises, are trusting in
something God never promised. The result is tragic, as the following poem illustrates:
Many will say: "why can't I go in? I've done these good deeds, to pay for my sins!"
But God will reply: "who told you that saves? You claim a promise, that I never gave."
Many will say: "why can't I go in? I'm trusting baptism, to pay for my sin!"
But God will reply: "that won't get you saved! Where in the Bible was that promise made?"
Many will say: "why can't I go in? I've kept the commandments, to pay for my sins!"
But God will reply: "assumption you made, you trusted in something that can't get you saved."
Many will say: "but I really tried!" And always the same will be God's reply
"You're all trying something that I never said. You should've looked into the Bible instead."
So please take the time to ask yourself: What is my faith based on? Is it wishful
thinking? Or do I simply take God at His Word like Abraham did? Do I even know what God
has promised concerning salvation? Could I end up being one of those people described in the
poem? Am I trusting something that God never promised in His Word?
If you died today, are you 100% sure you
would go to Heaven? The Bible says you can!
"These things have I written...that ye may
know that ye have eternal life," I John 5:13.
A. You must realize where you stand with God.
1. Your sins separate you and God. "your iniquities
have separated between you and your God,"
2. That includes everyone. "For all have sinned,
and come short of the glory of God;" Rom. 3:23.
B. You must realize that Heaven can't be earned.
1. Not by doing enough good things. "Not by
works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy he saved us..."
2. Not by being baptized, joining a church, or
obeying the Ten Commandments. "For by
grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast."
C. You must be willing to change your direction.
"the wages of sin is death;" Romans 6:23.
1. Self righteousness will cause you to miss Heaven.
Rom. 10:2-3; Luke 13:2; Matt. 5:20; Rom. 3:28
2. Faith in yourself, your baptism, your church will
cause you to miss Heaven, John 1:12; John 3:3.
3. You must repent. "Repent ye therefore, and be
converted," Acts 3:19. "The Lord is...not
willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance." II Pet. 3:9
* Repentance means to change your mind about sin.
D. You must receive Jesus Christ by faith as your
personal Saviour. "being justified by faith,"
Eternal life was paid for with the shed blood
of Christ. Accept it as a free gift. "For
whosoever shall call upon the name of the
Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13
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