While we are encouraged to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:17), it is easier said than done. The truth of the matter is that we have been so accustomed to live by what our eyes can see. As such, we do not readily believe and accept anything that is of faith. But what is faith? The Bible defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith, then, is to believe in what our eyes cannot see. As we keep on believing, it becomes a reality as the Lord gives it substance and makes it visible to the naked eye. Therefore, we continue to hope that what we have received in faith will happen just as we have believed. The apostle Paul magnified this hope when he said, “hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24-25).
In order to better understand how faith works, it is best that we consider the life of a man of faith, Abraham. He was called a friend of God because of his faith in God. Abraham lived in Mesopotamia, a thriving but an idolatrous city. Since God wanted to start a new generation of believers out of him, God called Abraham saying, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Certainly, it was not easy for Abraham to leave his country and his kindred and plunge himself into the unknown. But when he did it out of his faith in God, it was credited to him as righteousness. Indeed, his leaving everything behind was a necessary step for God to be able to accomplish his plan for him. As it is today, it is also not easy for someone to become a Christian when he stays with friends and relatives who are unbelievers. Their influences and the social pressure around him will be a tremendous hindrance in moving away from sinful and idolatrous practices. No wonder many of those who left home and moved to another country found it easier to evangelize since they were far from their relatives’ influences. With Abraham away from home, God was able to build him up, and prepared him to become the father of many nations.
As if that was not enough to test his obedience, God tested Abraham again when he commanded him to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. To Abraham, Isaac was the fullness of God’s promise. He was born when Abraham was already one hundred years old, but God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will show you” (Gen. 22:2). When God gives instructions, he leaves room for faith to work. Abraham was not given the specific spot where he will make the sacrifice. But as in the past, Abraham set out to the region without knowing which mountain he shall make the sacrifice. What mattered to him then was that he was willing to make the sacrifice as commanded by God, wherever that will be. Again, this act of faith on his part was credited to him as righteousness.
In both instances, Abraham obeyed without hesitation. In his epistle, James used Abraham’s faith to illustrate what an active faith is. He said, “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did” (James 2:21-22). Faith then is acting out what we believe. If the Lord gives instruction to us through his Word, we need to believe and act it out, whether it seems logical or not. Had Abraham allowed his eyes and his mind to prevail, he would not have set out to the Promised Land because beyond Haran was a desert. It was not certain whether he would find any good land going further. But Abraham believed God and that going through the desert was necessary to get into the Promised Land. Similarly, Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac because he “reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death” (Heb. 11:19).
Unless we act out our faith as Abraham did, that faith is dead and we shall not benefit from it. Let us learn a lesson from a man who refused to believe when the Lord said through the prophet Elisha, “About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria” (2 King 7:1). Because of his unbelief, Elisha said, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” (v. 2). Indeed, there was an abundance of food the following day. The people rushed to it and trampled the man to death. He saw it with his eyes but did not taste any of it. Friends, the Bible is full of promises for us. Unless we believe and receive these by faith, these will not be ours to enjoy. We shall see these promises being fulfilled in the lives of others but we will not taste any of it. Therefore, let us receive the Word of God and choose to live by faith. Hallelujah!