The Necessity of Faith to Obtain Mercy from God


January 25, 1998 ~ Pickering Standard Church


Faith is the means by which we lay hold of the promises of God, it is through faith that we understand the requirements of a relationship with God.  We read in Hebrews chapter 11 evidence that this is so:


Hebrews 11:4-12

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.  By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.  By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.  By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:  For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.  Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.


Let us look specifically at the case of Abraham and Sarah with respect to the birth of their son Isaac.  In Genesis 15 God speaks to Abraham, then about 70 years in age, that he and his wife will have a son.  We will look at the importance played by their faith in the eventual birth of Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90.


Genesis 15:1-6

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.  And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?  And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.  And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.  And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.  And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.


We see here we that Abraham, even though he was well past the age at which men have sons born to them, believed the promise of God concerning the birth of a son, and that God accounted this belief as righteousness before God.  He simply took God at His word in spite of the surprise which the promise doubtless caused in Abraham.  Our bible passage from earlier affirms that:


Hebrews 11:6

without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


Two points come into view here:

1/ That those that come to God must believe that He exists.  Abraham had no doubt about God’s existence, his entire life was oriented around God’s revelation of Himself to Abraham.

2/ That He rewards those who diligently seek Him.Abraham gives example of his diligence when he rescues Lot from the kings that captured Sodom and Gomorrah and the king of Sodom tries to give him a reward:


Genesis 14:21-24

And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.  And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:  Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.


God had made certain promises to Abraham when He first called him from out of Haran:


Genesis 12:1

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.


In the scripture regarding the king of Sodom we see Abraham’s willing dependance upon God to maintain his life and method of living.  In his letter to the Roman Christians Paul gives a wonderful exposition of the faith in God with which Abraham lived:


Romans 4:13-22

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:  Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.  Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,  (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.  Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.  And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;  And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.


Abraham understood the nature of the God who had made these promises to him, that it was impossible for God to lie to him, or to tell him things in an effort to tease him.  Abraham’s understanding of the character of God allowed him to believe that God’s promises were trustworthy. 


Paul in Hebrews writes:


Hebrews 6:18

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.


Essentially stating that when God gives His word there is great and significant reason to find comfort in His promise.  The picture is of people running to God for refuge and taking hold of His offered salvation on the basis of the strength of His promise.  James in his letter encourages us to ask God for what we need with the expectation that God will provide what is needed.  Again emphasizing that we can trust God to supply our needs.


James 1:5-7

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.


And example of some who have seen God and still not had the faith that He would keep His promises is given in Psalm 78 in reference to the wandering in the wilderness of the Israelites:


Psalm 78:9-22

The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.  They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.  Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.  He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.  In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.  He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.  He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.  And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.  And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.  Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?  Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?  Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:


Any of us here who have children have encountered the same situation in children who do not fully believe that provision will always be made for their basic needs of life and so they ask their parents repeatedly for something which has always been provided in the past and for which no indication has ever been given that such provision would cease in the future.  Eventually children learn that they can entirely trust their parents to provide for them such things as are of benefit to them and so they learn to take us at our word.  The Israelites mentioned earlier against whom God’s anger rose put God to the test because the continually refused to believe that He would care for them.  In spite of the repeated evidence that showed that God would provide all their needs they constantly complained about the situation in which they found themselves.  They allowed the reality of their desert surroundings to overwhelm their belief in the power of God to overcome all obstacles.


In Deuteronomy we read these astounding words:


Deuteronomy 29:5

And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.


Now this overwhelms our sense of reality as even in our protected environment we must repeatedly purchase clothing and shoes to replace those that wear out.  Yet the Israelites, we are told, had clothes and shoes that lasted throughout the wandering in the wilderness, a period of forty years!  We do well to wonder how people in such a situation could possibly doubt that God could do what He said He would do and yet we are often in a similar situation ourselves.