8.1 THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM
(by St Paul)
"To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see." (Hebrews 11:1)
"By faith we understand that the world was created by the Word of God; and that from that which is invisible, visible things have been made." (Hebrews 11:3)
"It was by faith that Abraham obeyed God's call to set out for a country
which was to be the inheritance given to him and to his descendants;
and that he set out not knowing where he was going.
By faith he arrived, as a foreigner, in the Promised Land, and lived there as if in a strange country, with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
They lived there looking forward to a city founded and designed by God. It was also by faith that Sarah, in spite of being past the age, was made able to conceive, because she believed that God would be faithful to His promise. Because of this, there came from one man, Abraham, who was already as good as dead himself, descendants numbered as the stars of heaven and the sands of the seashore.
(Read Genesis 18:1-19. Note the first Biblical inference as to the Trinity of Divine Persons of the Godhead.)
It was in this same faith that they died, without having yet received the things God had promised, knowing them to be a long way off and that they were but pilgrims and strangers upon the earth.
They did not long for the country they had left, rather they longed for their heavenly homeland which is to come. And this is why God is pleased to be their God and has prepared a city for them.
It was faith that enabled Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice when God put him to the test.
And, he did this knowing that it was to be through Isaac (Genesis 21:12) that the descendants God promised him were to come. So, Abraham offered Isaac believing in God's power to raise him from death." (In this, was pre-figured God's own offering of His own Divine Son, Christ the Messiah, slain, and raised to life again.)
8.2 ABRAHAM: JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
(by St Paul)
"Abraham put his faith in God, and his faith was considered as justifying him." (Genesis 15:6)
"Though it seemed Abraham's hope could not be fulfilled,
he hoped and he believed, and by doing so he did become
'the father of many nations' exactly as he had been promised:
'your descendants will be as many as the stars'. (Genesis 22:17)
Even the thought that his body was past fatherhood - he was about a hundred years old - and Sarah was too old to become a mother, did not shake his belief.
Since God had promised it, Abraham refused either to deny it,
or even to doubt it, but drew strength from faith and gave glory to
God, convinced that God had power to do what He had promised.
This is the faith that was 'considered as justifying him'.
Scripture, however, does not refer only to Abraham, but to us as well, when it says that his faith was 'considered as justifying him', so too, will our faith be 'considered as justifying us' if we, too, believe in Him who raised Jesus Christ our Lord, from the dead; Jesus, who was put to death for our sins, and raised to life to justify us." (Romans 4:18-25)
JUSTIFICATION IS NOT BY OBEDIENCE TO ANY LAW
(Except 'the Law of Love')
"The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham
and his descendants on account of any law, but on account of
the righteousness which consists in faith.
If the world is only to be inherited by those who submit to the Law, then faith is pointless, and the promise worth nothing. Law involves the possibility of punishment for the breaking of a law. Only without law is there no possibility of punishment. This is why that which fulfils the promise depends on the grace of faith, so that it may be a free gift to all who will receive it, not only to those of the Law, but also to those of the faith of Abraham who is father to us all. As the Scripture says: "I have made you (Abraham) the father of many nations." (Genesis 17:4-9)
So, Abraham is our father in the eyes of God in Whom Abraham put his faith. God, Who brings the dead to life; and Who calls into being, that which did not exist." (Romans 4:13-17)
READ ALSO: Salvation: The grace of faith. (Romans 5:1-21)