Faith Proven by Works

Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT)

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. 


By ‘Debo Onabanjo

As was noted in last Monday’s reflection, Abraham for all intents and purposes had mentally offered his son to God before he attempted the physical act. Because of his demonstrated faith, God later reiterated his plans to bless Abraham and give him descendants beyond number (Genesis 22:16-18). 

Abraham not only believed God, he clearly demonstrated through his willingness to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering that he was prepared to prove his faith through his actions. As James later wrote, faith without works is no faith. James cited the example of Abraham’s offering of his son Isaac on the altar as faith and action working together.

According to James, Abraham’s “actions made his faith complete.” (James 2:17, 21-22.) God was never interested in Abraham offering his son as a sacrifice and later gave the Israelites strict instructions through Moses that anyone who offered their children as a sacrifice to the pagan god Molech should be put to death. (Leviticus 20:1-5.)

In what ways are you putting your faith in the Lord into action? Can people see through my actions that I have faith in God and believe his promises? Even though God does not require us to sacrifice our children as burnt offerings, he freely gave his only begotten Son as atoning sacrifice for our sins. All that he asks is that we offer ourselves to him as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2) by demonstrating unwavering faith through our actions. As Scripture tells us, “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6). 

Just as God tested Abraham to be sure that his faith was real, God is going to test our faith in the crucible and furnace of affliction. It is not a question of IF but WHEN. We can be sure that God is not going to demand that we sacrifice our children as a burnt offering to him. God does not delight in our offerings as much as in our obedience. But God will test our faith to be sure that we are truly on his side. 

I do not know how God will test my faith or how your faith will be tested. It will come through our trials and tribulations, but when we abide in Jesus regardless of whatever comes our way, we will definitely be able to pass the testing of our faith like Abraham and Job and many others before us have done. It is important to remember that it is through our actions in the face of travails that we demonstrate the vitality of our faith. 

The only way to be sure that our faith will not fail is to keep our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus became the pioneer and perfecter of our faith because he learned obedience through his own temptation and looked beyond the pain of the cross to the joy that awaited him.

Almighty and ever living God, we thank you for your love for us demonstrated through the sacrifice of your beloved Son Jesus Christ. Help us to persevere when our faith is tested by looking unto Jesus who alone is the author and finisher of our faith. Let us follow his perfect example as we live out our faith one day at a time. By abiding in Jesus, we can overcome our trials and tribulations and bring God glory. Keep us faithful to the end in the power of your Holy Spirit. Thank you, Jesus, for your nearness to us at all times. Accept our humble prayers offered in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.

What Shall We Do by Faith?

Hebrews 11:4-7 (NRSV)

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.


By Chuck Griffin

I prefer to plan. I enjoy visualizing where I want to go and devising how I am going to get there. If I cannot make my plan work, I become frustrated.

As a young man, this strategy worked well for me. A time came when people called on me to handle the planning of strategies and messages, with specific goals in mind.

As I grow older, however, I wonder if this tendency to plan can sometimes be a weakness rather than a strength. In particular, being wired in such a way can make it difficult to let God lead.

As we see in Hebrews, good things happen when we have faith that we are part of the big plan God already has put into place. The examples in the verses above are just the beginning of a long list of faithful people, one that stretches through the Bible and into the present. The reward for faith, even for Old Testament characters, amounts to salvation and a promise of eternal life.

The problem with planning is it can limit us. Planners can achieve only what is humanly possible. Aligning ourselves with God’s plan, even if it doesn’t always make sense in human terms, opens us to divine possibilities.

I don’t want to give you anything sounding like a plan, but here’s something we all should watch for in our lives. Do you ever have what seems like a holy desire to do something others might call irrational?

Let’s bathe those desires in prayer and see if they remain. If they do, God may be calling us to take an unplanned step in faith.

Lord, we should pray this prayer more often: Make us bold for you!

Forward Looking

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NRSV)

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.


At this point in Hebrews, “all of these” means the ancestors of the Israelites. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others were promised much by God regarding what would happen to their line over thousands of years.

As today’s Scripture notes, these were big-picture people, loyal followers of God who thought about more than their immediate needs. They are examples for all of us.

Ultimately, those big promises were fulfilled long after their deaths when God came among us in flesh through that line of Israelites, as Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice willingly offered on the cross, all the world has been blessed, given the potential to overcome the devastating effects of sin through simple faith.

By virtue of living so much later, we have been blessed with a clearer understanding of the work God is doing. Even we should not get too comfortable, though—our individual decisions to follow Christ make us strangers in this world. We hope for so much more, and we invite others to see more than what is obviously before them.

Like any traveler on a trip, we have to eat and find places of shelter. We are never truly home, however.

This sense of disconnectedness from the place where we were born could make us a little sad, until we remember something important: We will go home. God has prepared a city for us, too, and once there, we never again will feel displaced.

Lord, help us to treat this world on a daily basis as a place to offer grace from on high and promises of a better life. We are grateful for the occasional tastes of home we receive now as we align our hearts with yours. Amen.