Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Response of Faith

“Faith, then, is a quality of response to God that is expressed in trust, reliance, commitment, and obedience. It is an unquestioned obedience, based on who He is and the person’s experience of God as He is!” ~ Henry Blackaby, Created To Be God’s Friend

For too long we have made faith an intellectual belief. There is no doubt that faith begins with truth and facts about God. That is what gives us the foundation to trust and obey God. I think we understand that part of faith.

What I am talking about is understanding that real Biblical faith deals more with how we live our lives then with what we believe. Faith is more than just believing certain facts about God, it is more than trying not to sin and obeying the commandments, and it is more than doing religious or spiritual activities. Biblical faith is all about how we respond to God when He comes to us. Will we follow or will we stay where we are? The faith God is looking for in you and in me is the trust and obedience that allows us to follow Him.

The example we are given in the Bible for this type of faith is a man named Abram, or as he was later renamed, Abraham. Abraham was called out of his homeland. “Follow Me to the land that I will show you,” God challenged Abraham. Abraham packed up his things and his family and followed after God. Abraham didn’t know where he was going, he didn’t know what the future held. All he knew was that God had called to him. Abraham trusted God enough, at that time in his life, to leave his home and journey into the unknown

In Romans 4 there are four facts about Abraham’s faith that we need to have in our lives. Take a moment and read through Romans 4.

1. People are declared righteous because of their faith. The Scriptures say, God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith in him. (Romans 4:3; CEV)

God accepted Abraham based on Abraham’s faith. Abraham’s faith is first seen, not in his obedience to the Law, but in his response to God. Abraham’s faith was to respond and follow God when God called to him.

I believe that God calls to us. Not just once, but many times throughout our lives. Each time God calls He is looking for a response of faith. With each call the amount of faith needed will be more, but every time we take a step of faith our trust in God will grow. If we want stronger faith we have to respond to what we know about God right now.

2. Obedience is a sign of faith. The circumcision ceremony was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous. (Romans 4:11, NLT)

Circumcision symbolizes the entire Law of God. Abraham was declared righteous before the Law was given. Abraham’s faith was not based on ceremonies and laws, but what he knew about God. It was this faith that prompted Abraham to respond to God’s calling. When God gave Abraham the ceremony of circumcision, its purpose was not make Abraham righteous, but to show the world that God had already accepted him.

Our obedience is just like that. God has given us the commandments and the teachings of Jesus, not to make us righteous, but to show the world that He has accepted us. Obedience shows the world the faith that we have in Jesus.

3. A relationship with God is made possible through faith. It is clear, then, that God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was not based on obedience to God’s law, but on the new relationship with God that comes by faith. (Romans 4:13; NLT)

Abraham could not have a relationship with God based on obedience. The reason is because Abraham sinned. Even after God had chosen Abraham and called Abraham to follow Him, Abraham sinned. Obedience cannot make up for rebellion. There has to be something better than obedience to have a relationship with God. That something, which is missing, is called faith.

If faith was just about what we believed and trusted about God, then we would all be in trouble. Each and every one of us have misconceptions and wrong ideas about God. That is only logical since He divine and we are human. We can’t possibly know, accurately, everything about God. Therefore, faith is about our response to God, to what we know about Him and His call to us. Faith is a quality of relationship rather than an intellectual pursuit.

4. Faith, as it grows, brings glory to God. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. (Romans 4:20; NLT)

Abraham brought glory to God by following and trusting God. Abraham did what God asked of him, and not only did God bless Abraham, but the world was (and is) able to see God at work.

When we follow and trust God we will bring glory to God. Not because we are singing songs and dancing in the streets, but because our lives reflect His glory. A life of faith has an influence on the lives around it. Even if we don’t think so, when we live lives trusting and loving God, the people around us are impacted. When we are faithful God is glorified.

Faith is not just our beliefs about God. Faith is what makes it possible for us to have a relationship with God. Without faith: belief in, trust in, and love of God; there is no relationship with God. Our faith is not measured by what we know, but how we respond to God.

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