«By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks» (Hebrews 11:4).
FAITH IS NOT a product of our hands, mind, or heart. No. Faith is our faithful response to the Lord. Faith is the full assurance that God fulfills what He has promised and the testimony of God attesting to and recognizing the validity and truthfulness of such faith that is reflected in a life of faithfulness.
Faith is practical and goes beyond a definition. To understand and grow in faith we must walk with the faithful because faith «Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen»(J. Oswald Sanders).
Abel experienced a faith lived God’s way. The name «Abel» means «breath, respiration, transience, in reference to the brevity of his existence.» In fact, only a single incident of his life was recorded in the Bible but it left its mark in history: an offering that was approved by heaven, for it was according to the divine request. Quantitatively, Cain’s offering could have been even greater, but it was not what God had asked for.
Bringing an offering of the best of the flock showed faith in the promised Redeemer, the true Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. Bloodshed was a recognition on Abel’s part of his sinfulness and need for divine forgiveness. It was what God asked for and the best he had. Abel’s was a faith according to God’s way. This pleased God, while Cain’s offering was unacceptable, because it was not according to God’s way, but his own.
So it will be with all who will live godly in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:12). Persecution and reproach await all who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ. The character of the persecution changes with the times, but the principle—the spirit that underlies it—is the same that has slain the chosen of the Lord ever since the days of Abel (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 576).
Paul emphasizes the role of faith and faithfulness, intimately linked and based on hope; the supreme need of those who await the Lord’s coming.
Living according to God’s way has its cost, but it also has its reward.