Monday, February 12, 2007

Faith of our Fathers

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7

It’s quite something to think of all the generations that have gone before us, who have lived lives of faith and inherited the promises of God. In my own life, I have many generations of faithful men and women to look back on and to imitate: their faithful testimony still has an impact on my life even though they are now in heaven.

Even if you are the first generation of your earthly family to have come to faith in Christ Jesus, you still have a rich legacy of faithful fathers, starting with the patriarch Abraham. In Genesis 15:6 we see Abraham come to faith in God:

Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

And what faith that was! Faith that God would provide him not only a genealogical son, but a whole nation! Faith so secure that he would take his long-awaited son and be willing to offer him as a sacrifice to God. James tells us that through this act, Abraham’s faith was perfected.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God. James 2:21-32

There are many other fathers who lived by faith – for a quick overview, check out the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. The many people listed and written about in that chapter lived out their faith in God, and serve as an example to us. The first verse in that chapter reminds us what faith is – and describes the way these faithful fathers and mothers lived.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Faith is a result of hearing God’s word and believing.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

God, in His grace, saves us when we believe.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

How should we respond to this gift? Live by faith.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20

I am so grateful for the many examples of faithful and faith-filled people in my life who are certainly worthy of emulation. My own father is at the top of the list. He has done an exemplary job, as the hymnwriter describes, of reaching others through the “preaching” of living a faithful life.

And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
by kindly words and virtuous life

Thank you, Dad, for the significant impact your faith has had on my life. Happy Birthday. I love you.

Faith of Our Fathers
Words by Frederick W. Faber

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

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