The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 225)

The Obedience of Faith – Abraham

Christian Living


Genesis 12:1-9

We are living in the last days, characterised as perilous times. As Christians, how are we to live a life of obedience in such a time? We will examine the life of Abraham and see his obedience of faith. Abraham’s faith was so comprehensive that he was called by God Himself “the father of all them that believe” (Rom 4:11).
So, what does this mean for us?

One day, Abraham, who lived in the city of Ur, heard God speaking to him and immediately Abraham obeyed and departed from his hometown. Abraham knew definitely that God had spoken to him and “he went out, not knowing whither he went.” This is what we call the obedience of faith.

There are five aspects to the obedience of faith as illustrated in this particular period of Abraham’s life.

Abraham’s Obedience was Prompt
When God spoke to Abraham, he never asked God why he must go, and neither did he ask God to show him where he should go. Why? Because Abraham trusted God and this means taking God at His word. It was by faith that Abraham obeyed God as recorded in Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.”

We do not know how God spoke to him, but we are sure that He did speak and directly so that Abraham heard His command. And then in faith, he obeyed. His obedience was prompt. When God speaks to us it is sometimes very difficult to explain the “how” of it. That He has spoken we are sure, and all that we have to do is to obey His voice promptly.

In today’s context, God speaks to us through His Word, whether through the reading of His Word on our own, or hearing it through preaching. God can speak to us through counsellors, our pastors, elders, deacons or even fellow brothers and sisters through their personal sharing and discipleship. God can also lead us through circumstances. But the point is, when God does speak to us through one of these means, what is our response? Is it as prompt as Abraham? Is it by faith when we obey Him?

Abraham’s Obedience was Practical
We are told in Genesis 12:4 that when God spoke to him, “Abraham departed, as the LORD had spoken to him,” Abraham’s faith was not hazy, vague or unclear, rather it was active. Faith obeys God by launching out upon His promises and by doing His bidding without question. As James said, if faith does not work, it is dead (Jas 2:17 & 20).

Abraham’s faith did work, and what an upheaval this meant in his life! It resulted in him packing up all his goods, saying goodbye to all his relatives and friends, and moving out to do God’s will. Has God spoken to you? If so, some practical action must demonstrate your faith in Him. In other words, you must obey Him by taking action. Remember that faith without action is dead and trust must be followed by action.

Abraham’s Obedience was Progressive
When Abraham left Ur, this was only the first step of faith; for one step of faith always leads on to another, and another and then another. Genesis 12:4-9 shows the progressiveness of Abraham’s faith in this first stage of his experience, “So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.” Abraham did not stop half way but arrived in the land of Canaan. “Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.”

As Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.” God is delighted by each step we take to obey Him. God’s desire is that the principle of faith should operate throughout every part or area of our lives. He wants us to trust Him, not only for spiritual needs but also for temporal needs.

When Jesus was on earth, He grew up in four areas, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men” (Lk 2:52). Wisdom is about our mental capabilities; stature is about our physical capabilities, while favour with God is about our spiritual relationship, and favour with men is about our social relationships.

Every year, my wife and I would go for our personal retreat to spend time evaluating our own lives in these four areas and plan what we would do for the next year as an individual, and as a couple.

God’s desire is that the principle of faith should not only operate throughout every area of our lives, but also at every stage of our lives. This begins from the day we place our faith in Jesus and trust Him as our personal Lord and Saviour, till the day we go home to be with Him, at whatever age.

So, the question is that, through all these stages, do you trust God in all the decisions you make and can heartily say “Yes, God is the center of my life and in all that I do. He is first, no matter how tough and difficult it is.”

I came to know Christ during my Polytechnic days and looking back, I am glad to have had someone guided me in my Christian growth. The challenge he gave me was to put God first by applying Matthew 6:33 in my life as a student, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mat 6:33).

Applying this verse in my life as a student then meant that exam or no exam, I would attend church to worship God, I would come for Bible study and would go “combatting”, that is, going house to house to witness just before our Fellowship meeting.

Fast forward to my parenting years when my children were young. Applying this verse meant that even when the children were ill, and Rebecca had to stay home with them, I would move out alone, be it to worship or Bible study.

So, the lesson here is that we should trust God progressively, in every area and at every stage of our lives.

Abraham’s Obedience was Peculiar
When we pause to think about it, it was a very strange thing for Abraham to do. All of a sudden he packed all his belongings, gathered his family together, left his home, kindred and friends, and went off to an unknown destination. The non-Christian would say, “Why has this man given up everything he knows for the unknown? I call it foolish!”

Just like Abraham, people will look at you and think in their minds that you are peculiar and foolish. But is that so? No, not if God has spoken, and not if faith is obeying. It may be peculiar in the eyes of the world, but it is very pleasing in the eyes of God. God emphasises this in 1 Peter 2:9-10, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Yes, we were once not a people of God, and had not obtained mercy, but now that we are the people of God, and have now obtained mercy, how then are we to live our lives before Him? Should we not respond with gratefulness and live lives that are peculiar but which will certainly please God, though not men?

Abraham’s obedience was productive
By simply hearing God’s voice and doing His will, Abraham produced something for the glory of God and for the blessing of millions. As God confirmed to Abraham, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” (Gen 12:2) and “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Gen 22:18).

This promise is given specifically to Abraham that through him a great nation shall come about. God may not have given you such a great promise, but one thing is sure, God will bless you and in a way that shall be more than you can imagine. For this, I can testify that indeed God has kept His promise in my life and in the life of my wife and my family. We are not rich in man’s eyes, but I can say that we are blessed in the eyes of God. He has blessed us over and above what we can plan, think or imagine.

Examples of Jesus’ obedience to God
I would like us to consider three verses from the Bible focusing on Jesus’ obedience. First, Hebrews 5:8 says, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Second, during the most critical point in Jesus’ life when He was alone praying to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed in Luke 22:42, “saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me, nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.” Third, Philippians 2:8 records, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

Had Jesus disobeyed God His Father who sent Him to this world to die for us, you and I would still be in our sins and under condemnation. You and I would still be as hopeless as anyone on earth and we would not have the Gospel or Good News to share.

If Jesus, the Son of God needed to learn obedience by the things which He suffered, what about us? Yes, Jesus obeyed God and He suffered. He obeyed even unto death on the cross. What an example of obedience our Lord has shown us while He was on earth.

Conclusion
Let us pray that we may have grace to hear God’s voice and always do His will, promptly and in a practical way. May He grant us strength that we will not mind if others think our actions are peculiar. Let us also believe that God will make our obedience productive, to His glory and to the blessing of many.


Alan Yong

- Alan Yong is a deacon of The 'Fisherman of Christ' Fellowship.

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