JUSTIFIED BY FAITH AND WORKS
Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Genesis 22:10-12
Here’s the stuff of Christian maturity. First, I am justified by faith. But then, I am to be justified by works as well. I am to walk to my Mt. Moriah in obedience to whatever God asks of me. To say I have faith, but then not have the courage to walk it out, cheapens, if not nullifies, my words.
God asked Abraham for one of the hardest things anyone has ever done to obey God. Though I’m sure there was inner anguish, there is no account that he argued with God or postponed his obedience. God spoke, Abraham acted. He trusted God that there would be a redemptive ending. He believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead. For us, that may be a stretch but nothing like it was for Abraham. To date, there had never been a resurrection from the dead. Abraham stretched his faith to include something for which there had been no precedent.
I am not saved by works, but by faith. I know that. But faith without works is a tragedy. When God calls me to do something difficult but my faith falters and I run away from my ‘Ninevah’, the purpose for which I was created falls apart. I miss out on the exhilarating provision of a lamb and those around me miss out on the story God wanted to write through my obedience. If Satan can’t take away my eternal destiny, he’ll do the next best thing ~ convince me that I can’t trust God. His rhetoric will posture God as unreasonable and reckless with my life.
“Was not Abraham justified by works when he offered up his son, Isaac, on the altar?” James 2:21 Indeed. From that moment on, the world has re-told the story. As much as it is recounted, we still can’t grasp the breadth of his faith. It is a God-story and defies the inclination of every Christian to play it safe.
Show me how others view me and the many words I offer about You and the life of faith. Do they take them seriously? And do You, Lord? Amen
Journal Question: Is there something God has called you to do and you’ve put it aside for a time? What has been the effect on others? What has been the effect on you and your walk with God?