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