Degrees of Faith
Genesis 15:6 is quoted three times in the New Testament in Romans, Galatians, and James. It is a verse that challenges us to examine the faith we claim to have, how that faith is expressed in our lives and how faith influences our actions and attitudes. The degree to which we develop our faith will have a direct impact on its role. Learning, experiencing, living, and praying about our faith helps us develop a greater degree of faith.
Romans 10:17 reminds us that God’s word is the key to our faith, and James 1:22-25 reinforces our need to experience this word. The extent to which we study and practice God’s law will correlate with the degree of faith we develop. II Corinthians 5:7 tells us to walk by, or live by, our faith, and Romans 5:1-2 says that faith grants us access to the grace of Jesus Christ. James 1:6 tells us that our prayer can increase our faith, and James 5:15 also demonstrates that faith will affect our prayers in turn.
James 2:19 speaks of a faith in the existence of God, and he acknowledges that even demons have this level of faith. Such a faith is a start, but it makes us no higher or better than those demons cast away from God’s presence. John 12:42 tells of individuals who believe on Jesus, but they leave that faith unspoken due to political and social pressures. Matthew 6:19 and the subsequent verses record Jesus discussing those who have faith in God, but that faith only goes so far before the cares of this world override that faith. Finally, James 2:22 discusses a perfected, or completed, faith.
The Faith of Abraham
In Genesis 15:6, Abraham believes God – more than simply believing in Him. In Galatians 3:6, Paul applies this passage to those who are of the faith. They are referred to as sons of Abraham, receiving the blessings of his faith by their own faith. Romans 4:3 is another reference to Abraham, and Paul here puts an emphasis on Abraham’s trust in God. A third reference is in James 2:23, combining Abraham’s trust with actions – perfecting his faith. Paul and James put a great deal of significance on Abraham’s faith, illustrating his trust and obedience in that faith.
In Genesis 15, the author is not speaking of a singular point in time. Genesis 12 records Abraham departing his homeland in faith. Chapter 13 records his faith in God in allowing Lot to choose where they would separate. Genesis 17 records a promise to Abraham for a male heir, and Genesis 22 shows Abraham willing to offer his promised son because of his faith that God can raise the dead. We may be quick to say we have a faith in God, but is it a faith that can be attributed to us as righteousness like was Abraham’s faith?
A Perfected Faith
Despite Abraham’s faults and occasional sins, his faith defines our record of his life. Can the same be said of us? Despite moments of weakness, of struggles, and trials, can it be said of us that we trust in God when it counts the most? Do we give Him control over our lives when we feel the most out of control? As God accounts Abraham’s faith unto righteousness, we can accomplish the same if we learn, if we study, if we experience and live our faith. We too can believe in God and have it accounted unto us as righteousness. We too can have a perfected faith by tying our actions to our faith.