Tag Archives: belief

“Those who are of faith are blessed”

History hinges on Genesis 12:1-3. Prior to this we have seen God working on the world as a whole. At least in what we have recorded, God did not significantly select one nation over the others until Genesis 12, when He calls Abraham. Here, the call becomes exclusive. God chooses Abraham. He tells Abraham that he will become a great nation. From here onward, Scripture records the history of Israel, not the history of Babylon, England, China, the United States, or any other nation.

In fact, God promises here to fight for the descendents of Abraham:

“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” -Genesis 12:3 (ESV)

This is what we see throughout the Old Testament. God fights for Israel. He fights for them against foreign nations, but He also fights for them against their own sin and corruption. When Israel becomes corrupted, God brings Assyria and Babylon to crush them, leaving only a remnant of faithful people who will again establish the nation of Israel as it was meant to be.

Repeatedly, God chooses one thing, but not another. He chooses one nation, and not another nation. God encourages one kind of behavior, and he condemns another. Here in Genesis 12, God has chosen Israel.

The call was not one-sided. I’m sure that, if Abraham had chosen not to obey the Lord, then God would not have blessed him or fought for him. But Abraham “went, as the Lord had told him.” Just like throughout all of Israel’s history, Abraham’s obedience was a sign that he accepted God. By doing “as the Lord had told him,” Abraham was signalling to God that he would allow God to bless him and his offspring.

History hinges on Genesis 12:1-3 because in choosing Abraham, God chose you. God’s intent in exclusively choosing Abraham was that “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” In Galatians 3:9, God tells us, in the words of Paul, that “those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

Abraham demonstrated that he accepted God by going where God told him to go. Through Abraham’s faith, everyone in the world can be blessed. Through Abraham’s┬ádescendants, God raised up a nation that understood Him, a nation that would be prepared for the coming of Jesus, a nation that called Jesus their Messiah, their expected One, the One who would redeem them. And through Jesus, God calls each of us. The symbol of Abraham’s faith was obedience, and the symbol of our faith is identification with Jesus–believing in Him.

But still, God’s call is exclusive. God hates evil, suffering, greed, and everything that’s wrong with the world. God blesses “those who are of faith”, but He curses evil, and if a person does not choose God, they choose evil. There are only two choices: God, or not-God. God is calling you, just as He called Abraham. Are you “of faith”? If so, Scripture is not just Israel’s history, but also your history.

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.” –Galatians 3:7 (ESV)

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Why I believe, though I’m not certain of God or his existence

Uncertainty is difficult to accept, and I’m uncertain of two enormous things. First, I cannot, with absolute and complete certainty, tell you God exists, or that I’ve seen him logically proven. Second, I’m uncertain of God’s thoughts and plans. God tells us hard things. Take up my cross and follow him? Lose my life and it will be saved?

The definition of “certain” is this: “known or proved to be true; indisputable” (from Merriam-Webster’s 11th ed. Collegiate Dictionary). I’ll admit to you that I’m not 100 % certain of anything. Everything can be doubted, and to a certain extent, everything should be doubted. How do you know you’re awake right now, rather than dreaming or in a coma?

I’m not certain God exists, but I am convinced he exists. With some thought and reading, I’ve decided that it’s exceedingly more likely that God does exist than that he doesn’t exist. So let’s say I’m 80% certain. What do I do with the other 20% of uncertainty?

This is why faith is essential to being a disciple of Jesus. Faith is not a blind acceptance of an unsupported fact. Faith is a wise and necessary assumption that something likely to be true is true. If God does exist, then this fact is terribly important, and I need to do something about it. Because so much hangs on God’s existence, we can’t afford to waver back and forth for very long. We need to decide. By faith, I’ve decided God exists, but my faith isn’t without reason.

My second uncertainty came after I decided God exists. This second uncertainty centers on the challenging commands in the Bible. Love my enemies? Rejoice when I’m persecuted? I still don’t understand these extreme acts of self-denial. I also don’t know how I can ever do them. I’m a selfish, broken person, and I’m not sure how God will use me even if I can take up my cross and follow him.

But this is where I need to continue having faith. I need to have faith that God is wise, that he will give me the ability to deny myself and follow him, and that at the end of time, he’ll make everything right again.

Faith is necessary both to believe in Jesus and to follow him. I find it hard to accept uncertainty, and I sometimes doubt the most fundamental aspects of my beliefs. But these doubts motivate me to think harder about what I believe, and by faith I can set my doubts aside and press forward. Without accepting uncertainty, I would never accomplish anything for the kingdom of heaven. We need to be convinced of God before we can take action, and we need faith to be convinced.