In both the small group I lead and TBD, our church youth group, I have been leading a study through the book of James. In each group, before tackling James’ thoughts regarding the fact that “faith without works is dead” (2:14-26), we did a study of the life of Abraham. We did this because James uses Abraham as an example of faith showing itself in works, and while doing this preliminary study, I realized more fully why.

  • He uprooted his family from Haran to go to, what God described as, “the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12). As one of our group members put it, “Thanks for the details, God.”
  • Though he and Sarah were both old and beyond the age of having children, he trusted that God would provide an heir for him (Gen. 15). Of course, he didn’t trust God perfectly, as the Hagar/Ishmael incident shows, not to mention that fact that both Abraham and Sarah laughed at the idea. Yet their shortcomings give those of us with often weak faith hope. Comfort can be found in that fact that the promises of God to Abraham were not contingent upon Abraham, but solely upon God (Gen. 15:17-21; 22:16).
  • He bound himself to God through the covenant of circumcision at 100 years old, along with his entire household (Gen. 17). No comment necessary.
  • He was more than willing to sacrifice his son because of God’s command, believing that even if he killed Isaac, God would raise him from the dead (Gen. 22; Heb. 11:19).

So much more could be said about this father of our faith, but his entire life was an example of faith shown through works. His actions clearly reveal that he not only said what he believed, but he believed what he said; his works were the visible evidence of his invisible faith. And Abraham’s faith says more about God than it does about Abraham, because Abraham’s faith was not wishful thinking or a blind leap. Rather it was grounded in a God that continually reaffirmed His covenant and held Himself fully responsible for fulfilling it. Our God is worthy of the kind of radical, life-altering faith that Abraham exemplifies, because He is the definition of “trustworthy.” Abraham could do what he did because he believed God was who He said he was. So my faith will increase as I see more of who God is, and thereby see that He is worthy of my complete trust. Knowing God is the key to seeing with eyes of faith.