By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went… By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son…By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Isau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. Hebrews 11:8,17, 20, 21
Today, I want to look at Old Testament faith. Because not only did Paul point out the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but so did You, Jesus, when You where pointing out the extreme faith of the Centurion. Now, don’t start to think that “extreme” faith is something only for particular individuals. I think that’s how most of us look at it. “Well, faith is a gift, and I just don’t have that gift.” Hmm. Let’s think about that one.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that “by grace are you saved through faith; and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” So we can know, Lord, that all who receive You, receive You by faith and receive the gift of faith from You.
Now, Scripture also tells me that some in the body of Christ receive a special gift of faith beyond others. And I was wondering how to explain this faith from the faith of all believers. And I think the best way to explain it is to explain the faith of all believers as extraordinary faith and the faith of those believers who receive the spiritual gift of faith as super-extraordinary. Which implies to me that all believers ought to be exhibiting extraordinary faith!
Why do I say all believers ought to exhibit extraordinary faith? Because I can’t think of an example of a person that Scripture or You, Jesus, set before us that did not have extraordinary faith. Each person You have “exalted” before us took life steps that were not ordinary to people. They each stood out as peculiar from the normal. Let’s look at Abraham.
Abraham was living in a society where everyone worshipped multiple gods. Somehow, he came to the conclusion that only You, God, were true. He heard Your voice and listened. You told him to leave, follow Your direction, and just keep going until You told him to stop. He had no idea where You were taking him. He had no idea about the people groups he would pass through. He had no idea about anything except You. All he knew was that he had chosen to trust You as God and that was all he needed to know to know that You had it all under control. If anybody had his back, it was You. As a matter of fact, not only did You have his back, but You had his present, and his future.
So Abraham headed out with his family based on Your Word, based on Your promise. Because he knew that out of everyone who ever existed, You alone were the One who would keep His promises. You alone were the One who was able. He walked according to Your promises. He lived for his inheritance, his future in You, because he saw it as a “done deal.” It was “done” enough for him to obey You no matter what.
He lived in a foreign land where the people were strangers and sometimes even his enemies. He was different and unlike those around him. He stood out. Because of his outlook in You and the way he conducted his life in that outlook and according to that outlook, he lit the way wherever he went. He stood out as different. The light either drew people to him, or was too bright, and jealousy repelled them.
But he was not repelled from his journey because he was following You and not a goal or a mission or a dream or a ministry. He was obeying Your calling. He was interested in the inheritance You had promised. And there was more than physical blessing included with that inheritance. You were the eminent center of the blessing.
Abraham left an established home. He left the patterns of the life he was accustomed to. He left the traditions of the men and women he had grown up in and become accustomed to. He left his hopes and dreams he had grown accustomed to and he followed You because You had given him a new life and a new home in Him. You were teaching him what a living sanctuary looked like and acted like and lived like. So he lived in a tent where ever You led him.
Because of Abraham’s choice to follow You so drastically, so extraordinarily, his wife Sarah, was effected extraordinarily. She bore a son when it was “humanly impossible” to do so. But nothing is impossible for You. So here You are Lord, bringing forth from Abraham and Sarah an extraordinary child, a child of faith, just like You brought forth Abraham, and every believer since, by Your extraordinary power to impart Your extraordinariness to us.
Now, if Abraham was following you to obtain only his physical promise from You, then why does Hebrews 11:13 say that he died, “not having received the things promised”? Because the real promise was of You and Your kingdom. The ultimate goal that Abraham was seeking was Your heavenly kingdom and presence.
What is this faith we are given and ought to be exhibiting? It’s the faith that would offer up our only son if God told us to do so. “Wait, wait! Not everyone is called to go. Not everyone is called to offer up something like that. That was for Abraham. That’s not for me. That’s not for now.” Fooey! Faith has never changed. Faith is always faith and it’s always extraordinary and uncomfortable. It’s extraordinary and uncomfortable because it’s absolutely unnatural for us. O.K., so God doesn’t call everyone to faith like this. Only His believers, his children are called to faith like this. Oh, and ALL his children are called to faith like this.
Faith like this can be summed up in one attitude, one belief–Living as though You have determined that God is ABLE and WILL fulfill His promises. It’s what compelled Isaac and Jacob in all they did even to the moment when they were preparing to leave this earth. Because their journey was not ending and there ending was not here.
All I know is that faith doesn’t look like the world. Faith stands out and is different. It’s unique. It’s powerful and it’s nothing I have naturally. Faith is extraordinary because it is given to each believer by an EXTRAORDINARY GOD. Now, whatever is birthed from someone receives the DNA of the ones they were birthed from. So, if I am born again of God, then I receive His extraordinary DNA. Who’s DNA am I exhibiting? What does my life look like to God and to those around me?
Lord, You are more than EXTRAORDINARY! And I can’t tell You how much You mean to me because I am empty and lost and dead without You. But You have made me Your child. I’ve been born again by the Spirit of God, by Your EXTRAORDINARY power and love and grace. And faith is faith. Faith is believing in Your EXTRAORDINARINESS and choosing to live EXTRAORDINARILY because that is living in You. If I am in You, and You are EXTRAORDINARY, then I must be extraordinary also, or it makes me a liar, because You never lie. Lord, I want to be an extraordinary influence on the lives around me. And it’s not because of anything inherently extraordinary in me. It’s absolutely only because of everything EXTRAORDINARY in You and about You, and I’m in You, my EXTRAORDINARY GOD. I’m not afraid God. I’ve got You and that’s all I need to live an extraordinary life in faith in You. Lord, I am so excited about the journey You are taking me on and even more excited that I’ll never have to walk it alone!