Abraham got a new name after entering the covenant with God. It was a symbol of a new beginning – of a set precedent – on how one can come into a relationship with God that can last forever.
Abraham is our spiritual father and our salvation model. We can understand something of our salvation by looking at him.
A closer look at Abraham
In this blog, we look at Abraham as our model.
Was faith all he had? What led him to his convictions and what was the reason that really made him believe? Also, Abraham was a human just like us. He could not have been perfectly obedient, so there must have been a covering for his inadequacies.
What can we learn from Abraham?
There are four things that we can lift from the life of Abraham that can teach us about salvation.
1. He knew God and His ways.
2. He had absolute faith in God and His ways.
3. Abraham was obedient.
4. He was covered by the blood sacrifice of Jesus.
Let us look at each of these things in turn.
1. Abraham came to know God and His ways.
Like all true followers of God’s, Abraham’s faith was connected to his knowledge of God. The more knowledge we have, the greater our faith will be. The greater our faith the more knowledge we will seek.
How to attain true knowledge?
It can only be found in the Bible. Any outside knowledge about God must be confirmed in the Bible.
God will never contradict Himself. If it is Him talking, you’ll find confirmation in the Bible – either about His character or about what He said.
How did Abraham get knowledge about God and His ways?
Genesis tells us little, but the book of Jasher gives us a lot of insight.
Jasher 9:5-6 says:
“And when Avram came out from the cave, he went to Noach and his son Shem, and he remained with them to learn the instruction of YAHUAH and his ways, and no man knew where Avram was, and Avram served Noach and Shem his son for a long time. And Avram was in Noach’s house thirty-nine years, and Avram knew YAHUAH from three years old, and he went in the ways of YAHUAH until the day of his death, as Noach and his son Shem had taught him…” (Cepher).
Abraham trusted God
Abram (his name before entering the covenant of God) also struggled and had doubts about God.
He was no different from us!
For him, however, in-depth actual knowledge and understanding of God won over the foolishness of false gods, human philosophies, and the selfishness of human instincts. It caused Avram to trust God and to walk in His ways.
Trust, faith, and knowledge
Knowledge is tied to faith. And to have faith is also to trust. What do we trust? Mostly, we trust what we understand and experience to be true.
Say, for instance, I decide there is no God based on my ‘knowledge.’
But, to accomplish family unity or the preservation of a relationship, I decide to ‘believe.’ This is not faith. Faith cannot exist because I want it to.
True faith can only exist because of what we understand and experience to be true. What produces faith is the knowledge and experiences we gather about God and His ways that we trust or believe to be true. If our understanding is confirmed, we trust Him, and our faith grows.
In the book of Jasher, Avram first determined that he was going to serve the sun as God. Then, he added the moon and the stars.
Finally, Avram made his decision to serve the one true God because he reasoned through his understanding (what he knew to be true) that only God could have created the earth and humanity. This decision shaped the rest of his life.
Jasher 9:18-19 illustrates this:
“And in the morning when it was light and the sun shone upon the earth as usual, Avram saw all the things that YAHUAH ELOHIYM had made upon the earth. And Avram said unto himself surely these are not elohiym that made the earth and all mankind, but these are the servants of elohiym….”
Romans 1:20, elaborates further:
“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
Abram evaluated what he knew and what his experiences told him, and he then determined that YHVH (the tetragrammaton that signifies God’s actual name) was the one true God. His faith was arrived at with reasonably based upon what he knew to be true. It was, therefore, honest and absolute. Abram’s faith continued to grow until it controlled every aspect of his life.
2. Abraham had true faith in God and His ways.
Faith must grow
Galatians 3:6-7 says:
“In the same way, Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.
The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.”
Nothing in life ever stays the same. It is just a law of life. Something either grows or dies. Faith can only be one of three things: It can be non-existent, it can increase, or it can shrink. Faith is not neutral.
Colossians 2:6-7 states it beautifully:
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (NLT).
If our faith is firmly rooted in truth, it will grow.
Our absolute faith and trust in God can place us on the narrow way that leads to life.
Or, if we instead choose to believe in men and the ways of the world, it puts us on the broad way that leads to death. There is nothing in between.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (NLT).
This is the problem with faith for many of us: We think that we need to put aside the truth to have faith.
No, it is the opposite – it is what we know to be the truth that helps us determine where our faith lies. Does our faith lie in what God says or in what man says? It is what we determine in our minds and hearts to be true that causes us to have faith in someone or something.
3. Abraham was Obedient
Abraham’s faith led him into obedience to God. His relationship with God is what saved him.
We can read this for ourselves in Genesis 15:4-6:
“Then the Lord said to him, ‘No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.’ Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, ‘Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!’ And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith” (NLT).
God also tells this to Isaac, Abram’s son, in Genesis 26:3-5:
“Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”
Abraham was in covenant relationship with God because he was obedient.
Obedience is love
1 John 5:3 says:
“Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.”
God equates obedience to love. We love God by giving Him our obedience.
God values our faith, but our faith itself is just the acknowledgment of God for who He is, and quite frankly this is expected of us. We can read for ourselves in James 2:19: “…the demons also believe, and shudder.” However, it is our act of love (not a feeling of love), which is obedience, that makes our faith in God into a covenant relationship with God. Faith can only lead us to a relationship with God it is not in and of itself the relationship.
The Hebrew word for love is Ahava, which means ‘to give.’ We love by giving. The one we give to is the one we love.
The Bible says it best in 1 John 3:16:
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us…”
The ultimate love is laying down our lives for others. Real love for God is laying our lives (our wants and desires) at His feet and living in His ways. Our gift of love to God is our obedience.
4. He was covered by the Blood Sacrifice of Jesus
But wasn’t Abraham long since dead and gone when Jesus was sacrificed on the cross? How can we claim a connection to Jesus?
Revelation 13:8 states:
“And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made” (NLT).
God exists in another dimension – outside of time. For Him, everything has already taken place – even when Abraham lived, his name was already written into the Book of Life.
This is why God said in Genesis 15:6: “and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
This is exactly what Jesus’ sacrifice does for us it counts us as righteous because our true faith leads us into a covenant relationship with God.
How does Jesus’ sacrifice do this?
It is because Jesus’ sacrifice fulfills the requirements of the Book of the Covenant, as we talked about in my last blog. His sacrifice turns our inadequate obedience into perfect obedience. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we can present God with the perfect gift, our complete compliance.
Romans 4:21-24 tells us as much:
“He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.
And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (NLT).
God gave us a way for us to be His people. Abraham is our example.
Through knowledge, faith, and obedience, we can be His people. What is paramount is that this can only be achieved through an ongoing cooperative relationship with God.
For knowledge: God gave us the Bible and His Holy Spirit, but it is us who must search it out and seek to understand it.
For faith: God gave us the Abrahamic covenant, but it is only through our trust in Him that we enter it.
For obedience: God gave us the Book of the Covenant, which can only be fully accomplished through a mutual relationship of love between God and us.
It is our love for God, which causes us to lay our lives at His feet. But He loved us first, by laying His life down, to complete us. What a wonderful God we serve!