To establish necessary faith, we can be guided by the under-listed attributes of Abraham, also removing wrong assumptions in regarding Abraham as having been spiritually superior. Abraham is our father, only because grace, leading to our salvation, begins with him. Righteousness is a virtue that cannot be associated with physical humans. Abraham obtained favour due to belief and faith.
“What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness’” (Romans 4:3 NIV). “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29 NIV).
Nevertheless, Abraham should never be taken as model on Christian living. He had tests, though not identical to ours, as living in a different historical background. We are Abraham’s seed only on one factor—belief in true God of the universe, whose living model is Jesus.
Some Christian communities pursue polygamy citing scriptures that project Abraham, or his grandson Jacob having been polygamous. However, all biblical characters should be viewed ordinarily like all of us. Some of them may carry good record, but with their own share of human frailties, lacking in perfection. We identify with them, only in our human frailties and not necessarily spiritual conditions.
By faith Abraham received grace. By faith true Christians have also received grace. God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35 and 1 Peter 1:17). Some of Abraham’s attributes reveal how God’s grace takes care of human inadequacies when exercising similar faith. If God’s favour was not taken away on account of Abraham’s shortcomings, the same applies to everyone else, regardless of possible shortcomings. Being preferred with the term “Abraham’s seed” entitles us with privileges accorded to Abraham.
Attribute #1: Direct Call
Abram was directly called to go to a place which only God knew to be good for him and his descendants (Gen. 12:1-4). He did not need to be familiar with that land, known only by God, avoiding all opposing opinions, as long as God had spoken. God’s voice carried utmost authority, even though common reasoning showed no beneficial value. As to why God specifically called Abraham, instead of any other, we are not told. But the reason could not have been to do with Abraham’s righteousness, as only God holds attributes of righteousness.
Christians are similarly called. “No-one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44 NIV). The calling is without consideration of virtuous acts, necessarily. Belief and faith, acknowledging the truth as a virtue that comes from God can set people free.
The uncertainties of spiritual jungles that a convert faces, when yielding to God’s calling are similar to the experiences of Abraham. Who committed himself to follow God through hazards imposed by idolaters in foreign lands. The world in which a Christian lives practices lifestyles opposed to Godly principles. The monumental question is: How can practicing Christianity be possible within the sinful world? It is extremely impossible, except when Christ takes over.
Our Christian calling does not give room for other options, as God’s word is final. Abram was also not given room for other options after God had spoken. The promised land of Canaan, as shown to Abraham, did not immediately reveal signs of advantageous qualities. A Christian, having been led to the conditions of heavenly promises, hardly sees any advantages. What is promised cannot be seen by physical eyes.
Attribute #2: Unconditional Promises
After arrival at the scene depicting the land of promise, nothing was appealing, except that the land had been designated by God (Genesis 12:6-9). Stiffer challenges of starvation were more than imagined, prompting Abram to succumb, instead of seeking God’s counsel. Where could God have been, in whom Abram had originally shown allegiance as the distressing famine devastated him? Moving to Egypt became irresistible.
God had to intervene, delivering him out of that self-imposed predicament (vs. 10-20). Faced with options between life and death, human flaws prevailed. His wife Sarai had to be surrendered. Such behaviour shows lapses, being weaknesses of human nature also inherent with Abram. God did not use that wrongness as valid to annul His affirmed unconditional decrees. Abraham’s blunder had not been deliberate, but being weakness as common to all men.
Christians are not spared. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9 NIV). Our points of weaknesses are good reasons why we should celebrate the marvellous grace of Jesus. Through Paul, Christ surmises that such weaknesses are necessary—to remain in a state of humility.
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13 NIV).
Our personal weaknesses cannot prevail against God’s marvellous grace. Christ availed Himself to rescue Peter, having lost faith due to imposing tempestuous sea, after achieving the impossible––strolling upon sea waters, (Matt. 14:30-31). Peter had faith, but like the patriarch Abraham’s starvation episode, the stormy sea caused the lapse leading to drowning.
Christ was right there, as He is always there for believers in similar spiritual predicaments. “…Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6 NIV).
Walking in grace, though, requires avoiding judging others, as the appreciation of grace implies being fully aware of own short-comings. Obviously, judging other people becomes mischievous when it is Christ carrying burdens on all causes of sinfulness (Matt. 7:1-5 and James 4:11-12). God tolerates one’s shortcomings, except when one fails to tolerate other people’s shortcomings (Matthew 6:14-15).
Attribute #3: Exposure to human reasoning
God promised a nation from Abraham’s offspring (Gen. 15:2-6) without specifying how possible that would happen. Abraham was later exposed to human reasoning, as the promise seemed overdue (Gen. 16:1-6). Ishmael, whose offspring later became a thorn in the flesh, on Isaac’s offspring––was a product of human reasoning. Isaac was to be the child of promise, not Ishmael. With his wife, Abraham was exposed to an idea facilitating the attainment of what had been promised unconditionally.
There are also instances through which Christians behave, supposing it to please God, yet leading to the opposite. Before ascension, Jesus instructed the disciples to wait for The Holy Spirit, needed for empowering them to do God’s work. One of the principal virtues of Christianity is to obey (1 Samuel 15:22).
Those disciples reasoned out that since their numbers had been reduced to eleven, the gap needed filling, thereby appointing Mathias. It appealed for prudence to choose from those, faithful in walking with them as Jesus’ disciples. They carefully considered merit, for the position of apostleship. Nothing appears amiss with that resolution:
“….Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us…So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ Then they drew lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:12-26 NIV).
This bears no precedent, as all of them were appointed by Christ. Peter and Andrew had been fishermen (Matt. 4:18-20), unlike those religiously devoted in Jerusalem. The same applied to the sons of thunder––James and John (Matt. 4:21-22). Matthew was a tax collector, also without anything to do with God (Matt. 9:9).
The background of Judas Iscariot is not given, but there is no doubt that God knew Judas’ character and how he would be used by Satan. How then did those apostles come up with, even the idea of casting lots to appoint an apostle? They were following human reasoning, instead of waiting for the Holy Spirit, as instructed (Luke 24:49, and Acts 1:4). What they did was not associated with waiting. Meanwhile, Christ was focusing on Paul, a Jewish scholar from Tarsus.
Though inaugurated with pomp and fanfare, Matthias’ name does not go further than mentioned in Acts 1:26. This is not suggesting that Matthias was not a Christian. But the eleven apostles had overlooked the fact that the church was led by Christ, though not seen physically.