Carl Johnston

Bible heroes are far from perfect

Heroes of the faith are produced in troubled times, writes Carl Johnston, senior pastor of Letchworth Garden City Church and the newest member of the MPower Team.

“Without faith, it’s impossible to please God,” (Hebrews 11:6). With any superhero, knighthood or entry into any kind of hall of fame, we rightly wax lyrical about one’s great exploits and strength of character, often prone to overlooking moments of indecision and weakness in order to fully justify superhero status. Not so with the Bible, as you read of the raw and, at times, brutal life stories of individuals living a life of faith.

Take Abraham, without question one of the outstanding individuals of the Bible. God spoke to him personally, visited him in his home and even considered him a friend. Abraham loved God, to the point he was even willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to prove his faith. What a hero!

However, you don’t have to read too far into his life story before you see his glaring mistakes, yet Genesis 15:6 records that Abraham ‘believed the Lord and it was credited to him as righteousness’.

I’m glad the Bible is not a fairy tale but a true-to-life account of people living real lives, making similar, if not the same mistakes I make over and over again. If it were a fairy tale, we would read of heroes like Abraham who never sinned, always trusted God and responded whenever God called without hesitation.

However, you and I would never be able to relate to that guy because it’s not the life we know and understand. The Bible isn’t full of those heroes… it’s full of heroes who overcome adversity, realise that God is bigger than their mistakes and still manage, somehow, to stand tall and learn how to trust God.

The story of Abraham is filled with a quest for peace mixed with courage and loyalty – it’s impressive! He was indeed a man learning to live up to God’s standards; however, he had not yet fully learned how to trust God.

The promises of God to Abraham were huge but they didn’t come about in either the way or within the timescale he anticipated. Sound familiar? Along with his wife Sarah, he was prone to taking matters into his own hands (Genesis 16) and his impatience produced much unhappiness for them and others. Still sound familiar?

Yet, despite Abraham’s faithlessness, God was faithful, and throughout the Bible, we see this theme recurring. Where God’s promises are threatened by sin, in every case God overrules man’s failure bringing about his sovereign purposes.

The promises of God do not depend on the mistakes and mishaps of man but on the faithfulness of God – when we are faithless, he remains faithful in order to restore us to faith and to fulfil his purpose and promises through us.

The true-to-life account of Abraham was not an unbroken catalogue of faith, but one full of ups and downs, moments of worry, doubt, indecision, and frustration, yet Abraham grew to understand that God would always do what he said – he believed the Lord and it was ‘credited to him as righteousness’.

Men, faith is a deep conviction that God’s words are true and he will perform all he promises, even when it doesn’t pan out the way we thought it would. Hebrews 11 reminds us that ‘without faith, it is impossible to please God’.

Your journey may not be as eventful as Abraham’s, but you can be sure there will be tests and trials, ups and downs, success and failures along the way. Through all those things let us be men of faith who believe the Lord will do all he has set out to accomplish.

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