Summary: How can you say you are living in faith if you are not willing to risk everything for Jesus? Abraham risked everything on only one thing: God's word to him.
How many of you have ever invested money in the stock market? One of the first things the investment counselor wants to do is a risk assessment. He wants to find out how much of your money can you afford to lose and not be unhappy. But when you really look at a risk assessment, you are really assessing your level of fear. What he’s asking you is what level of fear of losing everything, on a scale of one to 10, can you handle?
For the fast past few weeks I've been studying about Abraham. I've started to see a connection between what the world calls "risk" and faith. Risk is the possibility of loss or injury. This is the way man sees risk. Then there is risk from a godly perspective. Look in Genesis chapter 12. We will read the first four versus.
Verse 1: "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee."
Stop right there. This is not the first conversation God has had with Abram. He just didn't show up in Haran and say “Abram, I want you to leave your father, your mother, your country and take everything that you own and follow me.”
How do I know that is not true? The Bible says in Romans and in Hebrews “by faith Abraham”. Faith means you know the one in whom you are placing your faith. So you don't come up to Abram on, say January 1st never having had a conversation with him, and say “I want you to give up everything you've ever known and follow me?”
How many of you met your wife for the first time when you knocked on her father's door and said “we're getting married, let's go”. You came by yourself and you would be leaving by yourself. So we know from verse one that God had a relationship with Abram long before He asked him to leave everything he has ever known.
Verses 2 and 3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
Now verse 4: "So Abram departed." So Abram obeyed. God spoke, he obeyed. That's what he did. Now let me finish.
Let's read verse 1 again. "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee."
Abram risked everything in the natural based on the word he received from God. God said I want you to do this and Abram obeyed. For many of us today that would not work. We are risk averse. “God, if you want me to do this, then I'm putting out my fleece like Gideon. I want some confirmation.” Ladies and gentlemen, Gideon had a sin nature and he didn't know God like we should know God. We are so risk averse that we don't trust God.
Faith begins with the knowledge of God. Hebrews 11:6 says "But without faith (apart from faith), it is impossible to please God.” We know that Abram had faith because he's in Hebrews 11 as one that "pleases God." And Galatians 5:6 says "faith worketh (or is energized) by love."
If faith works by love in the New Testament, do you think faith worked differently in the Old Testament? Here's my point: Abram loved God as much as he could possibly love God and that's why Romans 4:17 and 18 says it was "counted to him for righteousness."
We know from Romans 10:17 that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." I want you to think about it this way: faith comes from hearing but it is not enough just to hear what God says. There are a lot of folks who hear God every day but the key is going from hearing to receiving to doing.
Faith comes from hearing and receiving what is heard and then loving God enough to act. Most of us don't love God like we say we do. We don’t love Him enough to truly believe His Word and receive it to the point of living by it. James says show me your faith. Abram really didn't risk anything at all because he knew God. So when He said “Abram, I want you to leave everything,” Abram demonstrated his love for God by obeying Him. We have to get to the point that our love for God is all that matters. If we love God our faith will take care of itself.