WHAT IS THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM? by James Mattison
As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ... and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:27,29).
What does the scripture tell us? It says that if one is baptized into Christ, he has put on Christ, or become a Christian. Then, when you have become a Christian, you are a true descendant of Abraham, and an heir of the promise. Now this does not mean, that we are Jews. Abraham himself was not a Jew. He was a Chaldean and came from Ur of the Chaldees.
The outstanding thing about Abraham was his faith. He developed a faith that was accounted perfect in God’s eyes. David developed the same kind of faith. Jesus had perfect faith also, and to a greater degree than either Abraham or David, for Jesus was God’s own Son.
We are interested in having the same kind of faith Abraham had because this verse declares that, if we belong to Christ, we have something in common with Abraham, and will be heirs of great promise.
What kind of faith did Abraham have? In the first place, he left his home in Ur of the Chaldees and traveled to a strange country because he believed God. God had told him that if he would move to a far country, even Palestine, God would make him into a great nation, would bless him, would make his name great, and he would be a blessing to many people. Because Abraham believed, he went.
Later, when Abraham had a son, God asked him to offer that son as a sacrifice upon an altar. Though Abraham was deeply tested in this, he did not falter. He did as God had commanded. He obeyed God. In Abraham’s mind, Isaac was as good as dead because God had commanded him to slay Isaac. We know that God stayed Abraham’s hand as the knife was uplifted, and a ram was provided for the offering. The New Testament tells us that the reason Abraham was willing to obey God in this matter of slaying his son was because Abraham believed that God was able to resurrect Isaac from the dead. (Heb. 11:19.) Abraham’s life was one experience after another of believing God and obeying God. Because he had such great faith in God and was so obedient to God, Abraham’s faith was counted to him for righteousness.
Because Abraham had such great faith, he is called the father of the faithful in the New Testament. If we, then, have as much faith as Abraham had, we would have the faith of Abraham. This is exactly what Romans 4:11, 12, 13, and 16 says: “He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also; the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For 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 . . . . 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.”
There are two main truths we see here. First, Abraham is the father of all godly people; that is, the father of all faithful people in this matter of having faith. Second, because of his faith, God made him a promise. That promise is here stated in Romans 4:13: Abraham is to be heir of the world; he is to inherit the earth.
Verse sixteen adds that all who have the faith of Abraham come under this promise. They also shall inherit the earth.
Now we are beginning to see into the depths of God’s meaning when He said,
“If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Let us look a little further into the promises God made to Abraham, for there were several promises that God made to him. According to Galatians 3:29, any promise that God made to Abraham comes to us through Jesus Christ.
Turn first to Genesis 13:14 and 15. God told Abraham, “Lift us now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.” This promise included two things: inheritance, and everlasting life. God said Abraham was to inherit land, and that inheritance was to last forever.
Here, then, are two promises that every Christian can claim—inheritance in the earth, and eternal life (to be given when that inheritance is given to us). Jesus gave his people the same promise in Matthew 5:5. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Some would tell us today that we are going to heaven to live forever, but Jesus said that his people would inherit the earth. He further said, in Revelation 5:9, 10, that his people would reign on the earth. Then he said that they would reign a thousand years. By putting these together it is easy to see that our hope is in the coming of Jesus to give us the earth, to give us eternal life, and permit us to reign with him a thousand years. This is the Bible hope. Our part in these promises depends upon our faith.
Another promise that God gave Abraham is found in Genesis 22:17 and 18. It concerned a Seed that Abraham would have. Notice that the passage mentions two seeds: a multitudinous seed and a single Seed. We will read only about the single Seed, who was Jesus Christ. “Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
Now you say, “How do you know this is speaking of Christ?”
The answer is found in Galatians 3:16:
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.”
So the promises were made to Abraham and his seed. Jesus was Abraham’s seed, and we are Abraham’s seed if we are in Jesus.
Now these promises that God has made to the faithful are of great value. The object of Jesus’ life was to confirm these promises. This is recorded in Romans 15:18: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.”
God has made what promises to us for the future? We all know that He will today give the “faithful” peace and comfort, strength and encouragement, and will guide each one through life. But what has God promised to His people for eternity? These promises we have read are the promises God has made to His people for eternity: eternal life and eternal inheritance of the earth. Jesus confirmed them. He promises us the same promises. These promises are sure.
Jesus is the Seed of Abraham and will possess the gate of his enemies. Jesus shall rule over this earth when he comes. Hearken to the signs of the times, my friends, for Jesus’ return is at hand. Repent and do the first works, or else you must suffer the wrath of God.
So, you see that it is important to have faith in God and faith in God’s promises. Abraham is not more important than Jesus Christ our Saviour. God had a place for them both in His plan for us. He gave the promises to Abraham and his seed. Christ is the Seed of Abraham. Through Christ we become heirs of God’s promises to Abraham — eternal inheritance and eternal life. This is why the Bible speaks of those who have “the faith of Abraham” as being heirs of the promises.
What Does Abrahamic Faith Mean?
One of the Bible characters revered by Christians, Jews, and Moslems alike is the patriarch Abraham. To the Jews, Abraham is the ancestor from whom the Hebrew people sprang. They look back to him as Father Abraham, the first Hebrew, the man whose dealings with the Lord God of heaven and earth were the foundation of Israel's intense monotheism - belief in one God only and its religious worship in the midst of pagan nations serving a multitude of idols.
To the Moslems, the followers of Mohammed, Abraham is remembered and revered as the father of Ishmael and grandfather of Esau, ancestors of the Arabian people from which Mohammed sprang and in whose land Islam, the Mohammedan religion, began and is yet centered. ...
Christians, also, with the Old Testament as an integral part of their Bible, regard Abraham with affection and respect, remembering that the very first verse of the New Testament speaks of
Jesus Christ as "the son of Abraham." Christians, too, claim to worship only one God - the God of Abraham - the Lord God of heaven and earth. It cannot be denied that the true Christian faith of the New Testament is thoroughly monotheistic.
Abraham, thus, is seen as the physical or spiritual ancestor of peoples who alone in a polytheistic or atheistic world teach the worship of the one and only God. Abraham appears as a great beacon light in the history of mankind - one of those extremely rare individuals who tower head and shoulders above the common lot and from whose lifetime a new era can be dated.
It is no wonder, then, that Abraham is mentioned time and time again in the New Testament, that he is held up before the eyes of Christians as an example whose faith and obedience to God are to be followed. It is strange to hear professing Christians today dismiss Abraham's life and faith as having little importance for us, in light of New Testament teaching to the contrary.
The Apostle Paul, for example, in the midst of his great doctrinal epistles to the Romans and Galatians, makes it a point to bring into his discussion the faith of Abraham. Almost the entire fourth chapter of Romans is taken up with this matter. In verse 11, Paul calls him "the father of all them that believe," that is, of all true Christian believers. If you are a real Christian, should you not wish to know something about one who is called your father? In verse 12, he is called the father of those who walk in the steps of his faith. It is apparent, then, that the faith of Abraham, or Abrahamic Faith, is. or should be an important matter to Christians.
Galatians 3, also, is largely concerned with the Abrahamic faith. Here, Paul stresses the great importance of the covenant God made with Abraham. The Apostle points out that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is the promised Seed of Abraham. (Verse 16.) He goes on to declare that those who belong to Christ, who have been truly baptized into Christ, have also now become the seed of Abraham. Let us read verses 26, 27, 29: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. ... And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
From the Bible standpoint, it is a momentous thing for a person to be reckoned of the seed of Abraham. Paul implies as much, when he declares that those who are Abraham's seed are "heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). It is obvious that an heir should be interested in his inheritance, and if we are heirs as Paul says, we should have a vital interest in what we are to inherit.
This inheritance is inseparably joined to a certain "promise" connected with Abraham. Notice Galatians 3:18: "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." What is this. promised inheritance and what part do Christians have in it as the seed of Abraham?
The writer of Hebrews, summing up the history of Abraham from the Book of Genesis, says in Hebrews 11:8, 9:
"By faith, Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country." This land in which Abraham sojourned, or lived as a stranger, was the land of Canaan, later called Palestine. It says that Abraham was to inherit this land "afterwards" and calls it the land of "promise." Verse 13 says that he died in faith, not having received the promise. In Acts 7:5, the martyr Stephen refers to the same fact, declaring that God gave Abraham "none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him."
This might seem like a contradiction - that God promised Abraham and his seed the land of Palestine as an inheritance - and Abraham died without ever inheriting it, first living there as an alien and a stranger.
But just here is where the Abrahamic faith comes in. Abraham believed in resurrection, that God is able to raise the dead. Hebrews 11.19 states as much. Though he died, not ever receiving the promised inheritance of the land, this could not frustrate God's purpose or promise. There is a resurrection coming some day, and then, according to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, Abraham will have his inheritance in the Kingdom of God. (Luke 13:28, 29.) This Kingdom will be established on the earth when Christ returns, and will have its center in the Promised Land. The Abrahamic faith holds dearly to God's great promises, for "if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Our faith and hope as Christians, as the seed of Abraham, look forward to the inheritance with Abraham in the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God on earth, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns.
This is what "'Abrahamic faith" means!