What does faith produce—what is its fruit?
More often than not, I see people point to some sort of quantitative measure as evidence of faithfulness. In churches, faithfulness is most commonly linked to attendance and giving. But I love the reminder R. Kent Hughes offers in his commentary on Genesis. He writes:
Here is the beautiful thing in Genesis: The two greatest persons of primeval and patriarchal times were Noah and Abram — and both were paragons of faith. Of Noah, Hebrews says, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (11:7). Of Abram, Hebrews follows by saying, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (11:8).
Both men’s faith produced amazing obedience. “Noah . . . did all that God commanded him,” the Genesis text emphasizes four times (cf. 6:22; 7:5, 9, 16). Abraham immediately “obeyed” and “went,” says the writer of Hebrews. Thus we see that both men were used to effect salvation for others by their faith. Noah’s faith wrought salvation for his family and preserved the promise of the seed of Eve. Abram’s faith created a people through whom the promise would be fulfilled.
And the way Abram’s faith began in Ur is the way it continued. Later it was the same faith by which he received his righteousness. Faith does not earn righteousness; it receives righteousness. Faith is the instrument by which we receive the righteousness that God gives. “He believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
“May we believe the bare word of God,” Hughes concludes. “May we believe so that the promises not present become as present by reason of the sure steadfastness of him who promised them.” Belief leads to obedience—always, always, always. Although we shy away from saying such things for fear of being legalists, it’s not legalistic to voice what the Bible illustrates time and again. So why are we so afraid of saying it?