By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.(NIV)This is verified in the story: note that Abraham told his servants "Wait here and WE will return to you." He either was glossing over the fact that he would kill his son and return alone (lying) or he did believe that God would resurrect his son. He was right in thinking that God could raise the dead, but did not know that God would instead stop the sacrifice at the last minute instead.
The brother of Jesus, James, used this story about Abraham's great faith when he answered people who thought they could say they believed in God but did not need to act on their beliefs (James, Chapter 2:20-24):
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (NIV)In other words, what good is it to believe something is right if we don't bother to do it?
There was never another case in the Bible where God asked a man to sacrifice his son, although God sacrificed His own son, Jesus, providing a way for us to obtain eternal life:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)We are not asked to sacrifice our children as Abraham was, but followers of Jesus are encouraged to live our lives for God. The Apostle Paul wrote:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will.(NIV)What parts of our lives are we willing to place before the Lord, to let Him change?
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