In Genesis 22, we read the following passage: Genesis 22 New International Version (NIV)
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”
19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
For many of Christians (true Jesus is the only way Christians) we have a hard time with this. That is, to say, that we believe in Jesus. We believe that he was born of a virgin, that he fulfilled all the prophesies about him (every one of them), that he was crucified (and died) and that on the third day he was brought back to life and that he now sits at the right hand of God. Here is where the issue or problem may occur for us as Christians - the without works part of our faith. Do not misunderstand me here, there is no works that we could possibly do in order to save ourselves - only God can save us through His Son Jesus Christ. The point being that our bodies are living temples to God's Spirit who resides in our temples. How can we expect the Holy Spirit (who resides in each follower and believer in Jesus Christ) not to bring good works out of us?
If then we are raised by Jesus Christ (from being dead in spirit to life) then why do we not expect to see the fruit of the Spirit? Sometimes this is difficult in that God lays before us trials and tribulations (tests) that for some can be painful or could stretch us in ways that we never wanted to be stretched. In sacrifice that we never wanted to make, in works that we never wanted to work out.
Abraham had Isaac at the ripe old age of 100 years. God then called him to take his son and sacrifice him. Many of us read this story as blind faith (I don't). Abraham believed in the Lord and his works (by his faith in God) was counted to him as righteouness). Abraham believed for years that God would give his barren wife a son (God did). Abraham believed in the power of the living God (because he witnessed time and time again). As you read the story in Genesis 22, we see that Abraham did all that the Lord required of him (even binding his one and only son) and he was even going to sacrifice him to the one true God (he trusted God because he knew God and what he did and could do). Because of this work (Abraham had to work - do the action - that the Lord required of him before the blessing could occur). Does the Lord have the power to bless us without action (of course), does the Lord bless us with the fruit of His Spirit (of course, he can do as he pleases).
Most of the time God calls us to action (as you read in James 1), in order to build us and strengthen us to who He knows we can become (disciples of His). I want to end this post with words from the Book of James:
James 2:14-26New International Version (NIV)
Faith and Deeds
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[b] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
When it is in our power to do good and we don't - shame on us.
When it is in our power to do good and we do - God smiles on us.
When we can do good to others - it is better for us (not expecting anything in return)
The blessing in this is that we truly get blessed more than the one(s) who we are blessing.
When you give, do not let the left hand see what the right hand is doing (because God knows and watches the actions of our hearts).