We had a discussion at our GC about the concept of "faith with no works is dead". We looked at the story in Scripture (gen 22) regarding Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac. It is such a profound and disturbing story to read for the first time. It makes you question this God that Abraham was following. What kind of God is this?! And what kind of man is this that would do something like that to his son?!
-Abraham waited till he was over 100 years old before God gave him this son.
(a fulfillment of God's promise)
-Isaac was a son that God promised Abraham He would make a nation thru
(God's faithfulness to Abraham)
-Isaac was the only way Abraham's lineage would carry on.
(Abraham's worth here on earth)
What is the deal with God wanting a sacrifice anyway?
The whole concept of sacrifice/blood shed was introduced because of our thickheadedness. We are convinced we know a better way, that we are smarter then God, we don't need God.....Sin. The darkness, anger and pain that is brought by sin had ravaged this earth and even more devastating it separates us from a pure Holy God of Love. The first death was the death of an animal that was used to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. Something had to die because of their pride and rebellion.
So back to God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son. This was a major test for Abraham's faith, OBVIOUSLY. Everything about God was in question with this request. His faithfulness to His promises, His love, His care, His wisdom. THEN on top of it Abraham had to walk for 3 days to get to the spot God told him to do this tragic thing. 3 days mulling over this crazy, heart wrenching, life altering, brain spinning request!
The scripture says, "Early the next morning Abraham got up, loaded his donkey....." As soon as he could he went to do what God had asked him to do. No questions, no harsh words for God, no waiting for a changing of the mind, no manipulating of the request. This seems like total madness. But for a man who had walked with God for a majority of his life it was the only logical thing for him to do.
He trusted his God with EVERYTHING.
And it was accounted to him for righteousness AND he was considered God's friend because of this faith. (James 2:23) Was he a perfect man? By NO MEANS. But his faith in God allowed God to move in his life and this was accounted to him for righteousness.
Faith in God MOVES us.
This brings us back to the concept that "faith with out works is dead". If you don't move, you don't believe. That is why people have such a hard time applying principles Jesus taught, because we don't believe He knows what He is talking about. We think we have a better understanding of what is going on. Or we think the difficulty makes it not worth our time or energy. But if we believe we will want to obey and ask God to help us obey! Will we do it perfectly? By NO MEANS, but by God's grace we will allow Him to make changes in our lives.
We will take that step of obedience if we have Faith that He is who He says He is.
And we are also afraid. Afraid of letting go of our lives. Afraid of letting Him and His ways take over. What will happen if we do this?
But if we have a reverence for this God, Faith in who He says He is COUPLED with knowledge of His LOVE for us then our fear will be over shadowed.
1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
Abraham was so SURE of God's character and promises that he had the faith to believe God was going to fufill His promise of bringing a nation thru Isaac even if it meant He would raise Isaac from the dead. That is total faith in God's promises and faithfulness.Hebrews 11:17-19 says,"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death."
Also Abraham was not living for THIS earth, this life, he had faith in a better country. The promise of a life after this fleeting life on earth was over. A better, eternal existence with no more pain, tears, brokeness. An existence the way God intended for us to live.
Hebrews 11:10 speaking of Abraham says, "For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."
Not only is this a story of faith. It is also a story of love. Not just the love of a human for his Creator. But the PERFECT love of the Creator for mankind. Abraham didn't have to sacrifice his son, because The Creator would sacrifice Himself instead. His Son Jesus. To live the life we broken humans can not live no matter how hard we try. And to pay the debt we owe, so that we can be clean and pure before this Holy God that loves and wants to bless us beyond this temporal short existence.
That is Good News.