Heroes of Faith: Abel
Heroes of Faith: Abel
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4 ESV)
Background: See Genesis 4
God gave people the means to sacrifice and worship temporarily until he fulfilled his promised deliverance in Christ.
The narrative of Cain and Abel leads us to an all-important question, “How can sinners be right before God and acceptable to him?”
In the Old Testament, every faithful and obedient person who made God-ordained sacrifices did so, trusting that God would fulfill his mercy and grace through his Anointed.
- Abel offered his sacrifice of some of the firstborn of his flock by faith, making it acceptable to the Lord.
- Cain did the opposite; he attempted to come to God on his terms without shedding blood.
In the law of God, there were different offerings accepted by God, including offerings of grain and wine. However, shedding blood for burnt offerings was always the first offering since atonement for sin was the first order of business when approaching Holy God.
Abel illustrates the most crucial first step of faith—believing that the sin that separates us from God must be dealt with in the way God prescribes.
Romans lays out God’s plan in which we have faith. (See Romans 3:23-25)
Cain believed in God; otherwise, he would not have made a sacrifice to him. He failed to believe that no one comes to God without the shedding of blood. …Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:22 ESV)
Only one offering is acceptable by God; it is the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Therefore, our faith must be in Christ and his perfect offering on our behalf.
Jesus: 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:9; 14-15 ESV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)
Believers’ baptism is a visual of this truth, which is why it is an all-important obedient response of our salvation by faith in Christ. (See 1 Peter 2:24-25)
Hebrews 10 is insightful to the accomplishment of Christ and the hope that we place confidently in him. (See Hebrews 10:10-14)
Abel reveals how people come into the presence of God—by faith!
God testifies of Abel’s righteousness. However, it would be wrong for us to conclude that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice based on his righteousness, and he rejected Cain’s offering because his life was sinful. The text clearly states that Abel made his sacrifice by faith, not based on his righteous living.
Abraham believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6 ESV)
See Romans 4:4-5, 23-25, and 5:1-2
Abel exposes how people live righteously—by faith!
Abel helps us identify the extraordinary significance of people who have faith in God and are obedient to him.
Faithful people have an eternal perspective, understanding that our rewards, rest, and wholeness will come in the presence of Jesus in Heaven.
What does Abel’s life say?
- God will vindicate his people of faith. (Luke 18:7)
- Although we don’t know a single word uttered by Abel, his righteousness encourages us to live faithfully today.
- God eternally blesses people who come to him and live by faith
Abel expresses a life of eternal impact—by faith!
The tragedy’s toll on the human spirit can be heart-breaking. Being dismissive of the suffering is no more helpful than being overwhelmed by it. We must consider what is happening in the world under the providential sovereignty of God and what response the Holy Spirit requires of us. God empowers us to handle such brokenness with supernatural faith—a faith beyond human capacity that is not limited to or sourced from our experiences.