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  • Writer's pictureWayne Shelton

The Book of Hebrews - The Faith Family

Hebrews 11:8-22


The two towering figures in the ‘roll call of faith’ found in Hebrews chapter 11 are Abraham and Moses. All the others named are associated with one or other of these towering figures and their significance in the Old Testament; that is, either with ‘the promise’ (v10) or the ‘Exodus’ and entry into the land (vv22-31).


This week we are looking at Abraham. His is the longest and most involved study in Hebrews 11. In fact, his story is also one of the longer accounts in the Old Testament, running from chapters 12 to 25 in the Book of Genesis. Richard Phillips, in his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews writes,


“Abraham’s significance can hardly be overestimated. It was through him that God gave the covenant of grace by which we are saved. Therefore, our salvation rests in part on God’s faithfulness to Abraham. Paul gives Abraham the important designation ‘the father of all who believe’ (Rom. 4:11). Thus we are saved as the spiritual offspring promised by God to Abraham, and his faith provides a good model we are bound to follow. Therefore, Jesus responded to the Jews’ boast that they were children of Abraham by saying, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did’ (Jn 8:39).”


In the New Testament, Abraham provides the example of faith par excellence. In the Old Testament, he is the first person to be specifically commended for his faith. Gen 15:6 says, ‘[Abram] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.’ The apostle Paul particularly emphasizes Abraham as a model for faith. Paul’s discussion of justification by faith in Romans 3 is followed in chapter 4 by a proof of his doctrine from the life of Abraham. The Book of Galatians also relies strongly on the precedent of Abraham’s faith. Given all this, we are not surprised that the writer of Hebrews pays so much attention to Abraham.


Moreover, Abraham’s experience informs us “that the life of faith is not one of receiving all God’s promises in tangible form, but rather of believing them in the face of hardship, receiving them by faith, living as Abraham did out of confidence in and reliance on God. from beginning to end, the Christian life is one of faith and not of sight” (Richard Phillips).


Emphasizing the principle that the Christian life is one of faith, Philip Hughes comments,


“He who begins by faith must continue by faith, for faith is the principle not only of initiation but also of perseverance. The life of faith did not cease for Abraham when he left Ur of the Chaldees behind him or when at length he set foot on the territory toward which he had directed his steps. Indeed, the situation into which he moved on his arrival in the land of promise was a more severe trial of his faith than was the call to leave home and kindred, and it was easier for him to live by faith as he journeyed toward a goal as yet unseen than to do so upon reaching this goal and finding that the fullness of all that had been promised was ‘not yet’” (Cited by Phillips).


This is biblical faith. As we look at the life of Abraham through four key life moments (crises), we can examine our faith to see if it is the faith of the Bible. Will we continue to trust God for his promises, even if there is little sign within our lifetime of their being fulfilled? Will we be people of faith?


Join us this week as we look at how Abraham responded in faith and was counted righteous. Then we can ask ourselves, Is my trust in the God of the Bible?

 

Unto Him,


Pastor Wayne

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