Summary: Lessons for the life of faith gleaned from the life of Abraham
Growing up I had the privilege of being the youngest of three sons. If you are the youngest of multiple siblings then you know the some of the benefits that come with that position. The parents tend to spoil the youngest more than the other siblings is one of the benefits. Another benefit is leniency when it comes to discipline. Of course, now that I am older that does not seem like a benefit, but at the time it was, so I thought. Out of all the benefits that come from being the youngest sibling, the one that most benefited me in my development as an adult was the fact that I was able to watch my older brothers and learn from their example.
Having two older brothers go before gave me an idea of what choices I needed to make and what choices I needed to avoid. At the time of growing up I did not realize that they were examples for me, nor did I avoid all the mistakes that they made. But one thing I do know is that I was careful to avoid at all cost some of the mistakes they made. At the same time, I was careful to follow some of the good choices that they made. The most important choice I made in my life on the basis of one of my brother’s example was the choice to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Had it not been for a brother’s godly example I may not have made the choice I did for Christ.
As Christians, who live two milleniums beyond the cross, we also find ourselves in a privileged position. We contemporary believers, to some degree, are the younger brothers and sisters to those who have gone before us. And in the same way I was able to learn from my earthly brothers, we as Christians can learn from those fellow saints who have gone before us.
We are told in the twelfth chapter of the book of Hebrews “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us…” The command to lay aside the things that may entangle the life of faith is preceded by the fact that so many men and women of faith have gone before us. In short, we are to learn from those who went before us so that we do not become so easily entangled. When you look back to chapter eleven, where we see some of the names that went before us, you notice that each name is prefaced by the statement, “by faith.”
Those who went before us were men and women of faith. Were they perfect in their walk of faith? No! But they did remove the things that entangled them and they ran the race with endurance. The same is true of us contemporary Christians. We will never live a perfect life of faith, but we can learn from those who went before us and possibly avoid their mistakes and implement their good choices.
Although each name that is mentioned in chapter eleven of Hebrews is important, the most important, when it comes to lessons for a life of faith is the man Abraham. Why is Abraham’s life so important to the life of faith? One only has to study the New Testament to find out why. You cannot read Romans chapter four or Galatians chapter three or James chapter two or Hebrews chapter eleven without coming to the conclusion that Abraham was a man of faith. One could easily goes as far as saying that Abraham is the hero of faith found in the biblical records. One only has to read Hebrews eleven to notice that more verses are attributed to Abraham than any other person of faith mentioned in that great chapter.
Although Abraham is considered the hero of faith, he is in no way without his flaws. In fact, we will learn as much from his flaws as we will his virtues. As we observe the life of Abraham we will notice his struggle to trust God, especially when times get tough. This struggle to trust God is not isolated to the life of Abraham. Every true believer faces conflicts and trials that test our ability to trust God. Therefore, Abraham’s life gives us much to glean from concerning our own pilgrimage.
Our study will entail the life of Abraham as recorded in the book of Genesis. The life of Abraham makes up about thirteen chapters of the fifty chapters recorded in the book of Genesis. In these chapters we will learn lessons for the life of faith. The first lesson we learn about the life of faith is the lesson of origin. That is, we will learn how the life of faith begins and what it entails. One cannot understand the starting point of the life of faith and the significance of it without first observing the setting of the life of faith.