Only Jesus' godly trust exceeded Abraham's demonstration of godly faith. Commonly, writers in the Bible used Abraham when they explained God's concept of faith. [As examples, consider Romans 4 and James 2:21-26.]

Abraham demonstrated both sides of faith. He both quietly and actively trusted God. Though he never touched a Bible, read a scripture, or knew about Jesus' life, he trusted God in ways we hope to equal but can never surpass.

Abraham learned one side of faith is quiet, trusting God's promise in silent confidence. He did not learn that side of faith easily. God's promises to him in Genesis 12:1-3 could come true only if Abraham had a son. Though he was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4) when God made those promises, he and Sarah had no children. When God made the promise, Sarah was not pregnant.

Abraham learned trusting God to keep His promise meant patiently waiting. That is not easily learned. Abraham, like us, was anxious, concerned, and impatient. He attempted to give God a way to keep the promises by asking God to accept Eliazer as his son (Genesis 15:1-6). God said, "No. You will have your own son." Genesis records that Abraham believed God, and God accepted Abraham to be a righteous man on the basis of that trust. It would be 25 years before God's promise of a heir born from Abraham and Sarah's marriage became fact (see Genesis 17).

Years after Isaac's birth, God, without explanation, instructed Abraham to take this promised son and sacrifice him on Mount Moriah (see Genesis 22). Without delay, Abraham obeyed. He would have killed the child in sacrifice had God not stopped him. In faith, he trusted the God who gave him the child, not the fact the child existed.

Abraham learned to trust God quietly. Having learned that lesson, he learned to trust God in aggressive action. In that, Abraham is a permanent example for Christians. Before the people of Israel existed, Abraham learned what Jesus demonstrated hundreds of years later. Faith in God trusts in quiet surrender (as in Gethsemane) and trusts in active surrender (as in the cross).

It is the rare individual who learns both sides of godly faith. As Christians, we struggle to learn the fullness of complete faith in God. Full, complete faith knows when to trust quietly and when to trust actively. Full, complete faith allows God to help us understand that obedient faith quietly trusts at the appropriate time, and actively trusts at the appropriate time.

Through God's values and guidance, godly wisdom learns when to patiently trust and when to be active. Godly faith understands serving God can be quiet or be active.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 10 June 2001

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