Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Abraham Conundrum

It's mystifying and encouraging to me how Abraham was called the father of our faith and yet faltered in faith in significant ways.

With that in mind, I posted this thought on Facebook recently.
"The story of Abraham, our faith father, seems more to be a story of God's faithfulness than Abraham's."

Below is a response to that thought from someone, and in turn, my response to him. Thought you'd find it helpful.(no use speculating who it is! I have lots of friends on Facebook!)

"Agree, God is always faithful. In simple thinking though, faithfulness of God means good stuff happens to me, which of course isn't the truth. Even in judgement and wrath, God is faithful. In my mind though, if someone is living in sin and ignoring the tugging of God on their heart, then it's hard for them to see God's faithfulness - whether that is good or bad. Our acceptance of Christ as our savior and faith in God as our father makes it possible for us to recognize that spectrum of faithfulness - I've been living in that season - very clearly seeing where God is faithful in his correction over my life and fathering over me. Hopefully that makes a bit more sense. I still might be way off...which really just makes it all the better that I have wise elders to learn from :-). Re: your tweet though, I wonder, if Abraham had not been faithful to God in his time of suffering, would God still have rewarded Abraham?

Hope some of this makes sense. I guess your tweet is timely because I have been struggling with this in my own walk. Feeling like I've blown it with regards to finding a wife that God would have for me so now I'm destined to be alone. I guess it's my struggle in my faithfulness that God is with me so I am never alone and trusting in the desires of my heart that come from God and not my flesh. Make any sense at all?

My response:
"Great thoughts.
Abraham certainly knew what it was to trust God for salvation, to respond to God with obedience, to lay down his only son in sacrifice. He passed some important tests, but also failed some pretty spectacularly.
For instance, he lied twice about his wife being his sister, out of fear for his own safety and prosperity. He grew impatient about the promise of God of a son to his wife, and so made a slave girl pregnant. He blew it.
And yet he was called the father of our faith. The father of many nations. He was applauded in Hebrews for his 'faith and patience.'

How come? Some ideas.
I would say firstly, because he understood his righteousness was found in God's faithfulness, not his own.The first covenant God made with him in Gen 15 was an unconditional covenant, resting completely on God's faithfulness and not on Abraham's obedience at all. 'I will surely bless you and make you a blessing.' Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. I believe that like Abraham, our eternal life is based on Jesus'
performance not ours. Ultimately, when we are faithless he is still faithful.

Secondly, because he was quick to repent and obey when he sinned.
Although the lying about his wife thing was a besetting sin, Abraham didn't settle in it. He remained sensitive to the conviction of God. This introduces the second kind of covenant that God made with him. It was a conditional covenant of circumcision. It had to do with consecration. Sensitivity to God. Literally! There was an aspect of Abraham's call that was conditional on his obedience, for sure. He had to admit he had sinned and repent. Its the same with us. But it was not a 'one strike and you're out' condition. God kept on with him until he passed the test.

Thirdly, God seemed to measure him on his average. Like any heavy hitter in baseball he struck out a few times, and that had serious consequences, but it didn't disqualify him. His average was good. I'm not talking eternal life here. I am talking abundant life - rewards, promises, authority(like being entrusted to husband a wife). These require a good average. faith and patience, dealing with selfishness.

So we rest on the faithfulness of God and respond with our lives to this faithfulness too, knowing He is good and gracious.
Hope that clarifies more than confuses


  1. Hey Al...I like your answer!

    I guess it boils down to this "Living in the balance of grace and faith" (a great book by Andrew Wommack BTW)

    I HAVE everything I NEED for life and Godliness, i HAVE every spiritual blessing...but i will not experience them if i stay holding onto self-righteousness and pride...these i need to let go of (as hard as that is :-)) by the power of the Spirit to experience the blessings that are mine...

    Paul says in Galatians "If you live by the Spirit you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" but then in Rom 8 he says "If by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds of the body"

    Its seems like Paul is confused there...its like OK PAUL who does it, me or the Spirit? No, its a both-and situation not an either-or...I do it BY the Holy Spirit..

    Logic says that is impossible, revelation say with God all things are possible!

    This is what i believe Abraham's walk was with God...was it Gods faithfulness or Abraham's?

    As you so wonderfully wrote, it was both!

    ...the story always ends with ALL glory to God...why? because Abraham (and me) would still be a lost heathen had God not first loved him!

  2. Absolutely Craig! love your thoughts