Living by Faith

Abraham is the Bible’s most prominent example of a person who lived by faith in God. He is honored in Hebrews chapter 11, the faith Hall of Fame. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Abraham believed God when he did not know where (vv. 8-10), when he did not know how (vv. 11-12), and when he did not know why (vv. 13-16). It was faith in God’s Word that made him leave his home, live as a pilgrim, and follow wherever God led.”

The New Testament says that those who have faith in Jesus are spiritual descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:6-9; Romans 4:16; Hebrews 2:16). This means that we may inherit the promises made to Abraham if we live by faith, as he did. Hebrews 11 uses the story of Abraham to teach us what it means to live by faith.


“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went” (Hebrews 11:8). When he said “yes” to God’s call, Abraham was saying “no” to all that was familiar. In fact, his home city, Ur, was a center for idol worship (Joshua 24:2). So he was saying “no” to the worship of false gods and responding with a “yes” to the only true and living God.

For Christians, obedience means saying “no” to anything that is in opposition to the will of God and saying “yes”  to what we know God wants us to do. The will of God is revealed in the Word of God. The Bible tells us what to believe and how to live. Like Abraham, we are called to respond to God’s will with  obedience.


“By faith he made his home in the promised land, like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents” (Hebrews 11:9). Canaan, the new land to which God sent him, was inhabited by people who lived in cities. By contrast, Abraham lived as a nomadic herdsman, moving through the land and living in tents. In several different places he built altars for the worship of God. In this he was publicly identified  with the true God.

Augustine, over 1600 years ago, lived in the decadent Roman empire. He taught that there is a distinction between the “city of God” and the “city of man.” Followers of Jesus hold dual citizenship and every day we  weigh whether loyalty to one conflicts with loyalty to the other. Like Abraham we are to keep our eyes of faith on the eternal “city with foundations whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, 16).


Abraham’s faith was put to the test on several occasions. In Genesis 12-16 we see him dealing with one challenging situation after another: famine, conflict over grazing lands, the kidnapping and rescue of his nephew Lot, Sarah’s temporary unbelief, and the matter of Hagar and Ishmael.

His greatest test of faith is mentioned in Hebrews 11:17-19. “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.” Genesis 22 tells the surprising story of how God directed Abraham to sacrifice his son. God was asking Abraham to give up the most precious thing in his life, Isaac the son of promise. He must have been bewildered by this command. It seemed ridiculous to offer up his son when God had promised that it was to be through Isaac that Abraham’s chosen descendants would be numbered.

How did he respond to this test? “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead” (Hebrews 11:19). In fact he considered that God would have to raise Isaac from death if he was to keep his promise. God had promised descendants to Abraham and that those descendants would come through Isaac. He maintained his faith in the word and power of God. In the desperate moment when the terrible sacrifice was to be offered, God delivered Isaac from death by means of a substitutionary sacrifice. Abraham passed this supreme test of faith.

When God interrupts our lives with uncomfortable circumstances or new directions, we should not panic. Instead the example of Abraham shows us the way to pass the test. We must pause and take time to reason it out, and consider what God has promised to do. Then respond with faith in his promises.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

“Yes” to the Will of God

Bill Bright was the founder of the student movement known as Campus Crusade for Christ. With thousands of full time Christian workers all over the world, “Cru” has been used by God to influence millions of people  for Jesus Christ. An interviewer once asked Mr. Bright “Why did God use you and bless your life?”

He answered, “When I was a young man I made a contract with God. I literally wrote it out and signed my name at the bottom. It said, ‘From this day forward, I am a slave of Jesus Christ.'”

Bright’s story reminds me of Abraham. He stands out as an example of obedient faith and full surrender to God. In Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter, almost one third of the verses are about Abraham’s faith. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

When we read about Abraham, we learn we learn some things about living by faith. Abraham responded to God’s call with instant obedience. He  was called to leave his home in the ancient city of Ur. Archaeology has uncovered a treasure of information about this great city.  Hundreds of cuneiform tablets have been unearthed there revealing Ur as the cultural capitol of world civilization in Abraham’s time.

Surrounded by lush orchards, irrigated fields and beautiful gardens, Ur was wealthy and sophisticated. It was a center for commerce, the arts, engineering,  and government. Ur was a desirable place to live. God spoke to Abraham there and told him to leave. As soon as he heard God’s call, Abraham started packing! This was an act of faith. Living by faith means we will be willing to obey God, as Abraham did.

Suppose you were Abraham’s next door neighbor and he told you he was leaving. “Why?” you ask. “Are you going on vacation?” “No.”

“Is it for a new job opportunity?” “Not exactly.”

“Do you have relatives living there?” “No.”

‘When are you coming back?” “I don’t know. Maybe never.”

“What will you do there?” “I don’t know that either.”

“How will you live and support yourself?” “I don’t know.”

Then he tells you something that sounds strange to your ears. He says that an impression from the one true God, an impression that seemed very much like a voice, told him to leave Ur and go to a new place to which he would be guided. He tells you that God said that something very good would happen to him and his family if he did what God told him to do.

What would you think if you heard something like that? That may have been what Abraham’s friends and relatives thought too. Daft! Crazy! Abraham has taken leave of his senses!

Archaeologists also tell us that Ur was a center for idolatry. There was in Ur a massive ziggurat and several temples dedicated to the worship of the moon god. The Bible says that Abraham’s father Terah, worshiped false gods (Joshua 24:2). So Abraham was brought up in a culture of idol worship. In leaving Ur, he was saying “no” to a world that was opposed to the living God. He was saying “yes” to the person and the purposes of the one and only true God.

Howard Hendricks used to illustrate the principle of obedience to God in this way. “Suppose written on a piece of paper I told you that I have the will of God for your life. You might ask me, ‘What can you tell me about it?’ I’d say three things for sure: it is good, it is acceptable, and it is perfect (Romans 12:1-2). God says his will for us is good. If you ask me how good it is, I would answer, ‘As good as God is. His will is acceptable and perfect. That means there is no way to add to it or take away from it. You cannot improve on it.’

“You might say, ‘Well that sounds appealing.’ When I hold out the paper to you it is blank. There is only one thing on it. There is a line for you to sign your name. If you ask, ‘What are the details? Can I see the fine print?’  The answer would be, ‘Just sign it.’ Agreeing to the will of God for your life means letting him fill in the details. It means saying ‘yes’ to his plans and purposes whatever they may be.”

Abraham (Hebrews 11:8) signed off on God’s will  and said, “I’m all in!” God led him on a tremendous adventure. He had no idea where God was going to lead him to go. He had no idea what God was going to ask him to do. He was living by faith and his faith is an example to us.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Noah’s Warnings

The war in the Middle East has prompted some people to ask questions about the second coming of Jesus Christ. When Jesus was asked about his return at the end of the age, he used Noah and his generation as an example.

“No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:36-39).

In his response to the question about the end times (Matthew 24:3), our Lord cited the flood, the one great historical demonstration by God that there will be a future universal judgment. He reminds us that those who refuse God’s merciful warnings will not escape his wrath. Judgment came once, and it will come again.

Noah’s life  was a warning to his generation. He was preaching by his words and actions that judgment was imminent. The people did not take him seriously even though he was building a boat the size of an ocean liner. It was a visible offer of safety to any who would pay attention. Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), challenging the ignorance and immorality of his generation.

Noah’s character was another warning. He stood alone in his generation as a “righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). He could be called blameless because of God’s grace. “Noah found favor (grace) in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). He did not find favor with God because he was righteous. He was righteous because he found favor with God, or because of God’s grace. It is the same for people today. The way to be righteous before God is to be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Noah was motivated by faith in God. “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s preaching and example “condemned,” or rebuked the ungodly lives of the people of his generation (Genesis 6:5). His message was a warning to them of God’s coming judgment.

Jesus said that just before the his return,  the world will be going about its business indifferent toward spiritual things. They will behave as in Noah’s day: “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” without any regard for God. People’s brains were hardwired to be skeptical of Noah’s message. The sad truth is that the majority of people today are willfully ignorant of the Bible’s warnings of God’s judgment and of his gracious offer of salvation.

John MacArthur wrote “The next judgment will be different in two ways. First, it will not be by flood (Genesis 9:15) but by fire (2 Peter 3:10). Second, it will be the last. . . . The only security is refuge in God’s ark, Jesus Christ.”

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Simplicity in Prayer

There is a fine example of prayer given to us by Mary, the mother of Jesus. She, along with Jesus and his disciples, had been invited to a wedding celebration (John 2:1-11). In all likelihood the wedding party included relatives or friends of Mary’s. An embarrassing situation arose when the hosts ran short of wine for the wedding feast. This is where Mary gives us a valuable lesson on prayer.

She went straight to Jesus. Had she tried to do this before? Is that why she felt free to come to him with this need? We cannot know what went on during the silent years of Jesus’ earlier human life with his family. The Bible does not tell us. But this incident reveals that she knew enough about Jesus’ identity and power to bring the problem to him.

Notice what she said to Jesus. In a few simple words she stated the need. “They have no more wine,” she said. That’s it. That’s all she said. Mary knew that she did not need to cajole or nag him with her proposed solutions to the problem. She simply stated the problem and left the solution with Jesus. When we pray for ourselves we tell the Lord what we need. When we intercede for others, we tell Jesus what we see that others need.

Mary left the matter with him. She relied upon his compassion and understanding. Someone has said that prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is, rather, laying hold of his highest willingness. She had never seen him turn water into wine and she probably had no idea how he would solve this problem. But she knew that Jesus would know what to do. It was up to him. She had fulfilled her responsibility.

I am aware of what the Bible teaches about importunity and persistence in prayer. This lesson is not about that. Nor is this about spiritual warfare. That is a subject for another article.

This is about prayer in its most basic and simplest form. She knew Jesus. She trusted Jesus. She presented the problem to Jesus. One of the ways the Holy Spirit helps us in our praying (Romans 8:26), is to help us to know Jesus better (John 16:14) and to feel safe when we have left our troubles with him.

Ole Hallesby, in his famous book on prayer, wrote, “As we learn to know Jesus in this way better and better, our prayers become quiet, confidential and blessed conversations with Him, our Best Friend, about the things which are on our minds, whether it be our own needs, or the needs of others. We experience wonderful peace and security by leaving our difficulties, both great and small, with Him . . . who understands what is best for us.

“And especially will our prayer life become restful when it really dawns upon us that we have done all we are supposed to do when we have spoken to him about it. From that moment we have left it with Him. It is His responsibility then, if we dare to use such a childlike expression. And that we dare to do!

“When the Spirit of God has succeeded in teaching us this secret, our prayer life will be freed from a great deal of that inner anxiety and worry which we formerly had when we prayed. After we have prayed, too, we experience a new peace. We have left the matter in the hands of Jesus.”

That is what Mary did. Her confidence in Jesus was not shaken by his abrupt and ironic reply to her. She was so sure of a positive outcome that she went right to the servants at the feast and told them, “Do whatever he tells you.” They did what Jesus directed them to do, and the result was a miracle, or sign by which God was glorified. Jesus turned water into wine, the best they had ever tasted!

There are many valuable lessons in this story. The one that stands out to me today is Mary’s example of simplicity in prayer. She presented the need to Jesus, and she left the solution to him.

Pastor Randy Faulkner