Faith or Presumption, What’s the Difference?

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), January 7 

After nearly forty years of walking with God, Abraham doesn’t blink an eye when God instructs him to take Isaac up on the mount and offer him to the Lord (Gen. 22). Abraham has learned a number of truths about God:

God is good, knowable, and trustworthy.

God’s ways differ from man’s.

Faith in God pleases Him.

Abraham also learns the difference between faith and presumption:

Faith:

  • Faith begins with a promise from God.
  • Joy floods the hearts of those who trust God regardless of their circumstances.
  • Faith is God-centered (God wants to do something that brings glory to Himself).
  • Faith is humble.
  • Faith waits on God and surrenders to Him.

Presumption:

  • Presumption begins with a personal desire.
  • Anger occurs in the hearts of those whose expectations are dashed.
  • Presumption is man-centered (Man wants God to do something for him).
  • Presumption is arrogant and demanding.
  • Presumption dictates what God must do.

Abraham responds to God’s instructions and takes Isaac up on the mount, believing that if God can bring life to a barren womb then He can raise Isaac from the dead, “Concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (Hebrews 11:19). God responds to Abraham’s childlike faith and interrupts his obedience with His provision.

UnknownAbraham teaches believers of every generation that God fulfills promises that He makes. That’s not presumption. That’s faith! Life in a barren womb. Life from a dead heir. Substitute ram for the son of promise. Wife for the son.

A modern day analogy of faith

In corporate law, a stock certificate (also known as a share) is a legal document that certifies ownership of a specific number of stock shares (or fractions thereof) in a corporation. To own Home Depot stock is to own a portion of Home Depot. The promises of God are like stock certificates. To have a promise from God certifies the owner of God’s activity. God obligates Himself to the owner of that promise.

God gave Abraham a promise of a son, a land, and a nation through whom He would bless all the nations. Sixty-five years later, all Abraham has are a 40-year-old single son and a burial plot in Canaan. The promise of God certifies that Abraham actually has a son, a land, and a great nation, although he only sees partial fulfillment in his lifetime. To have a promise is to have total fulfillment, whether you see it or not, and whether it occurs in your lifetime.

Questions from today’s reading (Genesis 21:8-24:67):

What does God’s instruction to Abraham regarding Isaac require of Abraham?

What news does Abraham receive about his extended family after he returns from Mount Moriah? What does this news reveal to Abraham about God’s provision?

What had Abraham’s servant learned about God from Abraham that gave him boldness in prayer regarding his mission?