Friday, January 09, 2009

Genesis 15: How can I be sure of my faith?

The LORD initiates contact will Abram to reassure him of his great promises to him. Previously the dust of Canaan spoke to him, now the stars call out of the number of descendents this son-less father will one day have. Then Abram asks, how can I be sure?

To which he receives no rebuke. Instead the LORD instructs him to prepare for a covenant. Animals are cut in half and laid out. One would expect the LORD and Abram to then walk between the animals, through the blood. But Abram doesn’t.

Instead the LORD acts in two parts. First to give him more insight into what will happen. The land will not be immediately inherited. Abram will have an offspring but the family will go to another nation and have to wait 400 years before they can take hold of their inheritance, until the sins of the current occupants have reached a level of evil and unrepentance that will justify the judgement upon them by the LORD who is slow to anger. This is the LORD’s way of acting – he shares his plans with his prophets (Amos 3, Genesis 26)

Furthermore, it is the LORD who walks through the blood – smoke and fire – not Abram. This is a covenant in blood where everything is on the LORD. It’s not down to Abram to keep it, only the LORD. And so it will be again, that the LORD makes a covenant in blood by which Abram’s Offspring will lead his people back into Eden, into their inheritance, into life.

And the question was, how can I be sure of my faith? It seems that the word of God is not enough, and that Abram gets no rebuke for raising the question. For our faith is not just built upon the word but upon blood. It isn’t just enough for God to say, a covenant in blood is required to secure the promises – and for other reasons too.How can I be sure of my faith? Through the blood of Jesus which the word of God testifies about. When I doubt and question, when I struggle to wait, look to the blood.


  1. Yes, it's the blood, and confidence in God's promises, 'No longer calling God a liar, but holding to his specific promises' (Schaeffer), but you've simplified 'faith' into meaning what serves your later definition. And you've ended up with a true, but sub-standard answer. If you described this 'faith' that we ought to be sure of, more as constituting a larger field of ideas, beliefs and realities than merely the 'salvific' or 'saving' aspect, then you'll find that your answer will be empowered to help people who are stuggling with more than just the salvific, or justified component.

    You've also got to incorporate the work of the Holy Spirit now, I think.

    Does that sound fair?

  2. A single blog post is not everything.

  3. Right on, Dave. You can't do the Institutes in one blog post.

  4. "When I doubt and question, when I struggle to wait, look to the blood."

    I guess I'm not just thinking in salvific terms here - though that is "primary" - the cross stands as the greatest anchor for all our understanding, and then further assurance is given too - not least by the Holy Spirit. Sureness of salvation overflows out to sureness concerning his definitions of everything else.