“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10 (Read Genesis 12)
James wrote (James 2:18): “Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” And most certainly, we see Abraham’s faith by his works.
It is as we read in Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
And how did Abram respond? Genesis 12:4-5 says: “So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.”
After going as far as Haran and staying there until his father died (Acts 7:2ff.), Abram heeded God’s command and promise and traveled to the land of Canaan, where he lived as a stranger – never possessing more than a field and cave for a burial place – but trusted God’s promise that his descendants would possess the land and that God would fulfill His promises to make of him a great nation and through his Seed to bless all the nations of the world (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14ff.; 15:5-6; 17:3-8; 22:15-18).
It was by faith that Abraham moved to this new, foreign land and dwelt there – because he believed God’s promises and trusted that God would fulfill all His words and promises and send One who would redeem him and all mankind from sin and its punishment. As we read, Abraham “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
Do you have faith like Abraham? You say you have faith in God and His promises, but what has that faith moved you to do? You say you believe that Christ Jesus died for all your sins and rose again; does that faith move you to live in the confidence that God is merciful and forgives you all your sins through faith in Jesus’ name? Cf. Romans 1:16-17; 5:1-2. You say you believe that Jesus will come again and raise up all who died to give to all who trust in Him eternal life in heaven, but do you fear death? Cf. 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.
You say you believe that God will provide for all your needs. Do you fret and worry? Cf. Matthew 6:25ff. You say you believe that God will care for you and bless you if you trust Him and give generously and sacrificially to the work of His kingdom, but do you give as He has blessed you? Cf. Proverbs 3:9-10.
You say you believe God’s commandments and the teaching of His Word are good and right, but do you trust God’s Word enough to shun sin and resist evil and false doctrine to walk in His ways? Cf. Proverbs 3:5-8; 8:13.
Perhaps God has called you to enter into His service as a pastor, teacher or missionary. Perhaps He has called you to leave your family and homeland and travel to some faraway place to serve Him and bear witness to Christ Jesus? Do you follow His leading, trusting that He will care for you and provide for all your needs?
Indeed, the list could go on. Abraham had faith in the LORD God and His promises, but that faith also moved Abraham to act. He left his homeland and his people and sojourned in a foreign land, trusting that God had a better plan and that God would fulfill His promises. As the writer to the Hebrews states, Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
And so, the question follows: “What about you and me?” We trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His blood shed for us upon the cross for our salvation. We look forward to our eternal home in heaven which is given us for Jesus’ sake. Do we live out our faith? Do we live for the kingdom of God? Or, do we live for this world and the pleasures of this world? Are we living in accord with our professed faith? Are we looking “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”? Cf. 1 John 2:15ff.; James 4:4.
Once again, the Bible tells us: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). And when we do, we see our sinfulness, our failings to live and walk by faith. We see our need to repent and look to Jesus and His cross for forgiveness, and then also for the help and strength to amend our ways and walk by faith.
And, in Jesus there is forgiveness, and in Jesus there is life. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2). And God tells us: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (Psalm 32:8; cf. Psalm 32:1ff.).
O dearest Jesus, forgive us for our failures to truly trust You and live our lives in that faith. Have mercy upon us for the sake of your shed blood. Cleanse us from our sin and move us to live by faith, trusting in You alone for forgiveness and life, and living our lives here in this world in faith, looking “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Amen.