We often think of inheritance as money. That’s probably so more times than not. But inheritance can also be land, possessions, or that famous dish that has been passed down through the generations. I inherited a hickory cane that was once my great-great-grandfather’s. In some places, titles such as Count and Duke are inherited. What we think and believe about God is often, in a sense, inherited. I have Anabaptists roots that I inherited from folks that can be traced to Reformation times. Some of you, in the same way, may be Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptists, etc…not so much by choice but by heritage. (Sorry if I left our your particular roots) As we consider Inherited Faith we are not, however, considering religion, tradition, or denomination but something deeper and more personal.
Paul, continuing his correction of the Galatians wrote, “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.” (Galatians 3:7–9, NASB95) A little history is perhaps in order. The Jewish folks of Jesus’ and Paul’s day put great stock in being able to trace their lineage through the ages, father to son, back to Abraham. Paul sees God’s greater plan. Faith is not an accident of being born into the right family. Faith is believing and trusting God like Abraham.
Abraham wasn’t perfect but he did grow in his faith and trust in God. There is an arc to Abraham’s faith story. He has to trust God enough to move away from his family and the familiar grounds of his youth to a land and people that didn’t know him. Even though he received a great promise that his descendants would be the like the stars in the sky it was not clear to him how it would happen. He even tried to help God out and provide an heir, but God had a different plan. Abraham’s faith was tested by the passing of time and crescendos with the willingness to offer Isaac back to God.
Our faith in God is traced all the way back to Abraham. But did you notice that Paul doesn’t call believers in Jesus the great-great-great…..grandchildren of Abraham but sons (and daughters) of Abraham? Paul concludes, “in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14, NASB95) The blessing of Abraham isn’t a form of religion but a personal and intimate relationship with God through faith. We are to walk in the Spirit, impacting the world around us through faith. Faith to believe that Jesus died, rose from the dead, and loves all. Faith to pray, to act, and to give. Faith to forgive. Faith to take the big impossible steps. And perhaps hardest of all, Faith to wait on God.
Our lineage or heritage may be a particular tradition of following Jesus, our inheritance is walking in faith like Abraham.