The Faith of Abraham
By C. Eldon McNabb
The promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were." (Rom. 4:13-17)
In a very brief two-thousand-year history of the world, the first eleven chapters of Genesis, we are told that Enoch walked with God, and Noah found grace in the Lord. As the third millennium began, a man was born whose status with God was to be even more exalted. His name was Abraham.
James, the brother of our Lord, said Abraham "was called the friend of God." And here, in Romans chapter four he is called "the father of all them that believe." Abrahamís faith in God was so great that he is given a place in history, and a name which is almost synonymous with Jesus Christ himself. It is Jesus Christ who is the "Father of all them that believe."
What expression of faith should merit such accolades? What faith indeed! God appeared to Abram when he was seventy-five years old, and told him that He would make him a great nation. His wife was still a beautiful, youthful and fertile at sixth-five years of age. (At that time men were still living to nearly two-hundred years of age.) A few years later, God appeared to him again, and Abram, still childless, suggested that God name his beloved servant as his heir, but God repeated and enlarged his promise to Abram, "and he believed the Lord." When Abram was eighty-five, Sarah still childless, offered Abram her handmaid, that she might bear him a son for her, and she bare him Ishmael.
Twenty-four years after God had made the original promise to Abram, God appeared to him the fourth time. By now Abram had a son of his own, and was content to let him fulfill Godís promise. Sarah, was eighty-nine and past her bearing years. Abram himself being ninety-nine, and apparently sterile, supposed that God intended Ishmael to be the seed which He had promised. However, God had seen the faith of Abram and how he had not ever doubted whether God would do what He said He would do, though what method God would use was optional in his mind. God repeated his promise and enlarged upon it, and changed Abramís name to Abraham.
When God told Abraham that he would have the seed of the promise by Sarah, it was so ludicrous that he actually fell on the floor with laughter. Finally, when he could quit laughing, He told God that it would not be necessary to go to all that trouble. Ishmael would do just fine. God apparently enjoyed Abrahams reaction, because He named the child Isaac, which means laughter. When Sarah heard an angel mentioning her prospective motherhood to Abraham a few days later, she laughed too. But God performed the great miracle of the birth of Isaac, and the faith of Abraham became stronger than ever. Not only had God kept his word, but He had performed the impossible in the process.
Some years passed by, and God appeared unto Abraham for the seventh time. This time He put the faith of Abraham to yet another test, perhaps the greatest possible test of all. He told Abraham, "I want you to offer up Isaac, a burnt offering, to me." Once again, the faith of Abraham did not waver. He knew, beyond doubt, that God was faithful to His promises. Once again he did not know how God would accomplish it, but he knew that Godís promise was sure. "Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."
What faith indeed! "The faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead." (Rom. 4:13-17)
The true promised seed has come. "Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name," and be heirs together with Him.