Abraham: The Life of Faith

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Genesis 12, verses one through three. Now, the Lord said to Abraham, Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land, which I will show you. And I will make you a great nation. And I will bless you and make your name great. And so you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you and the ones who curses you, I will curse. And in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed. Now what we just read is known as the call of Abraham or Abraham. And this is a significant turn in the story of Genesis, the story of the Bible. It’s a significant turn because if you read Genesis and you start in Genesis, chapter one, our first chapter in scriptures, it starts off with God creating the world. He creates light, He creates animals, He creates plants. And he says, This is good, it is good. And then he creates man and says, This is very good. And then chapter two man names the animals and it looks like everything is going well. And then Genesis chapter three Man sins. They eat the apple, disobeying God and sin enters the world and God curses them. And then the next chapter we have Cain and Abel. And I’m guessing you guys know what happened in Cain and Abel. Cain kills his brother Abel, and then Cain is cursed. Doesn’t take long after that until we get to Chapter seven of Genesis, where the Bible tells us that people’s minds and hearts were so wicked that that’s all they thought.

That’s all they did. And God sends a flood to cleanse the world. And then in Genesis chapter 11, you have the Tower of Babel, where God comes down, confuses the people’s languages and separates them across the whole earth because of their disobedience and arrogance and desire to be like God. And when reading Genesis three through 11, you’re like, you get kind of depressed because it is just one failing after another. It’s like watching a train wreck of human sin and God’s curses to correct those sins. It’s not one horrible thing, it’s one horrible thing after another. And with these curses, God separates man from himself. He separates them from the garden. He separates Cain from his family, and then he cuts off most of the world’s population by the flood. And then he separates the people. At Babel. And its curse after curse until we get to the story of Genesis chapter 12. Where God chooses one man, Abraham, from amongst the whole earth. And God will rename Abraham to Abraham in Genesis chapter 17. So if we use that name, we’re going to kind of use it. Abraham means like father of many and Abraham means father. They’re very similar, obviously, but we’re going to use them interchangeably here. But what does God tell him? He says, Leave everything you know, forsake your home, depart from your relatives and leave everything you know behind and go to the place that I will show you for.

If you do, I will make you a great nation. I will bless you. I will make your name great. And so you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, curse those who curse you, and in all the families of the earth will be blessed. Right blessing will come to a hurting, destructive, cursed world because it is through Abraham that this call in Genesis 12 that God is seeking to bring about blessing, to bring about redemption, to bring about blessing, and to reconcile the world. And when we look at the scope of Scripture and what this text means and what Abraham’s life means, it is immense. But I do not want to lose perspective. The perspective of the man. Abraham Because from where we’re sitting, we think. Abraham This is a no brainer. You obviously have to go. But for him, the decision is not so obvious. Let’s not be mistaken here. Abraham has a hard choice to make for he doesn’t even have a clear understanding of who the God is who called him. In Joshua 24, Verse two, It tells us that Abraham, before he was called, was a worshiper of idols. All right. He doesn’t have a track record like we do of who God is in scripture. He only has the oral traditions that his family have passed down that have been mixed with idol worship.

And it’s a dilemma for he can either live where he has been living and live comfortably. With where he is, what he has, and what he knows. And he can definitely retire at this moment. Abraham is not a young man when he gets called. He’s 75 years old. And not only is he not a young man, he is also very wealthy and he has the means to retire. And why go on an adventure when you’re 75 years old? He has the means to ignore this call and sit back and enjoy what he has. But of course, we wouldn’t be talking about Abraham. Abraham today if he had ignored the call. Genesis 12 four through nine records. Abraham’s response where it says so. Abraham went as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abraham was 75 years old when he set out from Hebron. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew lot, and all the possessions that he had accumulated and the people that they had acquired in Hebron. And they set out for the land of Canaan and they arrived there. Abraham traveled through the land as far as the site of the Great Tree of Mora at Shekem at the time of the cannon. At that time, the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abraham and said to your offspring, I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. And from there he went on towards the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and I on the east.

And there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. Then Abraham set out and continued toward the Negev. All right. Now it’s important to remember that God is not in the business of making mistakes. When God calls Abraham at 75, he is not late in calling Abraham. Right. He calls him exactly when he means to. Moses is actually five years older than Abraham when he’s called to go to Egypt. And Samuel is called when he is 12 years old. So I think we need to remember that God’s call for our lives is not limited by your age. All right. Abram starts traveling south, and he doesn’t really know the right spot. Right. His. His father had set out for Canaan from her, but they just kind of stayed in Huron and never moved on. And so Abram goes because remember, it’s the land that God is going to show him. He doesn’t actually know where he is going to end. And as he is traveling, suddenly the Lord appears to him and says, this is the land. This is what I told you to go where I told you to go. And I’m sure Abram at that moment is relieved and excited. He found the place that God had called him to, and because of that, he is filled with worship and praise and Thanksgiving.

And he builds an altar and he worships the Lord. But a thing to remember is that Abraham is a shepherd, not just a shepherd of sheep, but he has other animals with him, and animals need pasture. And so instead of like us who live in houses, he lived in tents and lived a life more of a pastoral nomad. And so when he gets to that place, he can’t stay there for too long because his flocks need food and water. And so he starts wandering around that place where God appeared to him and he builds an altar and he calls on the name of the Lord again. And he goes, You know how I imagine it is? He’s like, Okay, Lord, what am I supposed to do next? You told me I’m in the land, but you didn’t give me any further instructions. But God doesn’t appear to Him, so he continues to do what shepherds do, and he goes around. Which brings us to verse ten. And verse ten reads this way. Now, there was a famine in the land, and Abraham went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. A famine in wetland, the land that God told him. This is the place. Question for all of us is that what was supposed to happen? Of course, we reading the story, having hindsight, knowing what God’s going to do in Abraham’s life, know that this is just a part of God’s plan, that he is sovereign and that he is in control.

And we have the benefit of perspective, of hindsight. But Abraham doesn’t. He is living it. He’s not reading about it. He is forced to leave the land that God told him to go to. And I would wager that he, at the very least, is discouraged, but more likely that he is a full of fear and doubt. And the reason why I say that is because when he gets to Egypt, he whispers to his wife and he’s like, you know what, wife? Don’t tell them that you’re my wife because then people will get envious of me and then they’ll kill me. So, you know, just lie and say that you’re my heart, you’re my sister because you’re really my half sister. And they tell this lie. Because he’s afraid of getting killed. And I wonder what are all the doubts and all the different things that are coming into Abram’s mind? I mean, he just left all that he knew to follow this call from God to go to a land. He shows up in the land and he almost immediately has to leave because of a famine. And it doesn’t look good. It doesn’t look promising. And I’m sure he’s thinking. Right. Our assumption, maybe like Abraham, is that if God has called us to do something, shouldn’t it work out? Shouldn’t he go before you bless what you do and not immediately result in failure? And my question next question to you guys is, have you ever experienced this? Have you ever experienced famine? Have you ever, like Abraham, obeyed the call that God had for your life? And then immediately afterwards, life became harder.

More uncomfortable. And seemingly that God. Hasn’t followed through for you. Because maybe how you felt then is how Abraham is feeling now. Ten years ago, almost to the day as well. Apparently. I just things happen in March around here. But ten years ago, almost to the day, I think it was March 8th, 2013 was my first time I ever came to Utah and I was driving with a group of friends and we came down through Provo Canyon into Utah Valley for the first time. And as we were traveling through this. I felt a conviction on my heart from the Holy Spirit that this is where I belonged. And I wrestled with that for a long time because I didn’t know anyone here. I didn’t know a single person. And I didn’t I couldn’t explain it, but I knew that this is where I had to be. And I prayed and I surrendered. Now. Soon after, I ended up dating a girl who lived in Saint George. That summer, I got connected to a church in Springville, Utah, through camping ministry that I did that summer. And through that, I got to meet some of the people from around here, and they told me that there would be a lot of ministry opportunities that I could get plugged into.

And I thought this all made so much sense. God, you called me here and I’m going to come here and I’m going to do an internship. I’m going to marry this girl, and then I’m going to find a place and plug in and do ministry. And. It didn’t take long for when I moved here. To where it felt like a famine. A month after I started my internship, it ended. The pastor who was the the pastor of the church at the time, he stepped down from ministry. Didn’t take long for my relationship with that girl to end. And it seemed like everywhere I looked, everywhere I went, ministry doors were just closed, slammed in my face. And I remember asking God, What did you bring me here for? Everything I came here for. Didn’t work out. And of course, now in hindsight, I look back and I believe that’s one of the reasons why God brought me here. Nothing I came here for worked out, and I had to learn that faith in God. Isn’t faith. If you are telling God that this is how it has to be. If you are trusting in God, you don’t get to set the parameters of what He must do for you. You can only trust in the promises that he makes. And in the goodness of his character, not in our intuition or in our hearts or how things look. For it is only possible to trust God with open hands.

You can’t trust God with closed fists because otherwise you are saying, God, I will trust you only if. This happens a certain way. And in a certain time, which of course is not trusting God but yourself and in your way and in your wisdom and what you want. And God is refining Abraham’s faith and not only his faith, but his theology. Through this famine, through this trial, Paul in Second Corinthians encapsulates this idea far better than I ever could. He says in Second Corinthians chapter one, he says, For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, I keep missing these. Keep missing these I’m sorry, Second Corinthians chapter one, verses eight, for we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. It was the affliction, the despair, the sentence of death that would focus him on the promises of God that could not be taken away. It was the suffering that would focus his life in faith on the promise of the resurrection. See, God gave Abraham promises. And guess what? God delivered on every single one of those promises. In fact, you know, he did it even when it seemed impossible. Right.

But like Abraham, we can confuse the promises of God with our ideas of who God should be or what he should do, which creates mistrust, doubt and fear when it doesn’t happen. But we need to remember. However unlikely the outcome, however, the unlikely the outcome may seem in the moment. God’s promises will be fulfilled. And we see that time and time again in the life of Abraham. So Genesis 17 1515 through 17. God also said to Abraham, As for Sarah, your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai. Her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and surely will give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations. Kings of people will come from her. Abraham fell face down and laughed and said to himself, Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Well, Sarah bear a child at age 90. See to man. And to our eyes, this was impossible. But we read what God can do in Genesis 21. Now, the Lord was gracious to Sarah, as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the very time God had promised, the very time God had promised, however unlikely the outcome seemed. God’s promises were fulfilled. Not only, however unlikely outcomes seemed. It’s how dire the circumstances, how dire the circumstances got. God’s promises were fulfilled.

God was still faithful to Abraham in the famine of Chapter 12. In fact, when they get to Egypt and Abraham’s like, Oh, she’s not my wife. Pharaoh is like, Oh, she’s beautiful. I’ll I’ll take her for myself. And then God sends a plague. And Pharaoh is like, what? The junk. Abraham. Why didn’t you tell me? And God saves Sarah. And they go eventually back to the Promised Land. Not only that, but. Lot in his family would get captured and taken as slaves and Abraham would have to go and rescue them. Fight in chapter 14 of Genesis and fight for Kings. And perhaps. He was feet or inches away from losing his promised son. Isaac on Mount Moriah. Before God spared him. God was still faithful to the promises, no matter how dire the situation got. And he was faithful to the promises. No longer how long, no matter how long it took to come about. For it is through the covenant that God made with Abraham to bless him and to bless all the nations of the earth through you. That Jesus is promised. Galatians 316 tells us this now. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say into seeds as referring to many, but rather to one and to your seed that is Christ. Jesus Christ was born 2000 years after the time of Abraham. But God was still faithful to his promises. Even though Abraham didn’t get to see him, God was still faithful.

Abraham was promised to be a father of many nations. He only had a few kids. Abraham was promised that all this land would belong to his descendants. And the only land that he ever owned his whole life was where he was buried. And but of course, this is what the Bible tells us, what faith looks like. Hebrews 11 verse one explains faith like this. Now. Faith is confidence in what we hope for. Assurance and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended commended for in just a few years. A few verses later, we see how Abraham had faith in Hebrews 11. By faith. Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith, he made it to the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country. Verse 11. And by faith, even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful, who had made the promise. And so from this one man as good as dead came the Descendants, as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

Verse 16. Instead, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God. For he has prepared a city for them. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God. Why? Because of their faith in His faithfulness. Galatians three six through nine explains to us into more detail what that looks like. Even so, Abraham believed God and it was credited it to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure it is those who are faith, who are the 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. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness and righteousness being right with God. Righteousness being fellowship with him no longer under the curse of Genesis. Chapter three no longer separated but reconciled to God. And today, how we have a relationship with God is no different than how Abraham had a relationship with God. Romans 422 through 25, which is the whole chapter is about Abraham says this, quote, This is why it was credited to him as righteousness. The words it was credited to him were not written for him alone, but also to us to whom God will credit righteousness for us, for us who believe in Him, who raised Jesus, our Lord from the dead.

And He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 117 says the righteous or the just depending on your translation, shall live by faith. That is how Abraham lived. And that’s also how we are called to live. Timothy Keller once summarized Abraham Abraham’s life. Oh, did I? Oh, man. Shoot. This is embarrassing. All right, one second. I got to find Timothy Keller’s quote because it’s good. All right. There it is. There it is. I messed up there. I got to. I got to redo that. All right. Timothy Keller once said this, quote. This is summarizing Abraham’s life. God says I’m going to send you out. Abraham responds, Where? And God tells him, I will tell you later. God tells Abraham, I will give you a land. Abraham. Abraham asks where and God responds. Responds with. I will tell you later. God tells Abraham, I will give you a child. And Abraham asks How? And God says, Wait and see. God gives him a child. And then Abraham is asked to kill his child. And Abraham asks God why? And God responds with I will tell you later. Walk up the mountain. Take the knife. Take the fire. See, Abraham was an ordinary man with a lot of flaws. But he was a man of faith who looms large over the pages of Scripture as well as human history. Almost half of the world claims that Abraham is their father. Christians, Jews and Muslims all claim that he is their father.

And the writers of the New Testament and the Old Testament talk about the importance of Abraham and what his life meant time and time again. And it’s easy for us to idolize him, to build him up into this colossal figure that we could never be like that he is godlier than we could ever reach. Yet when we read his story. It becomes clear that Abraham was a very flawed individual. He failed time and time again. And he was he was messy. But ultimately, what set him apart wasn’t anything other than the faith he had. In the promises of a faithful God and in the character of an extraordinarily gracious God. And that is the same God that we worship today. The same God that we trust in today. And it was God’s faithfulness in the life of Abraham that brought about the fruit, not Abraham’s talent, not his intelligence, not his hard work. In fact, that’s what got him into trouble. When he conspired to lie and when he tried to go, okay, God, you promised a kid. There’s no kid. What are we going to do? And they come up with a plan to have a kid by Sarah’s handmaiden instead. And Hagar and Ishmael. And God says no. I Promised you a Son by Sarah. And it was his faith in God alone that set apart Abraham. He had an amazing faith. But the reason why we remember him and the reason why the blessing came through him and the reason why we’re talking about him today.

Is not really his faith. But the faithfulness of God. And that is what we celebrate. And what sets us apart like Abraham, isn’t our perfection, our abilities, our knowledge. It isn’t what we can do for God, but is instead what He has done for us the grace of God on our lives, the grace of God, meaning the unmerited favor of God given. And he gives it freely to those who trust in him, who trust in what Christ has done for them on the cross, who trust in His faithfulness and in his graciousness. As Ephesians two eight through ten tells us, for by grace, you have been saved through faith. This is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not as a result of works so that no 1st May boast. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we would walk in them. And just like Abraham, our faith needs to be grounded in the promises and in the character of God, not in our feelings, not with what we see, so that we may live by faith and not by sight. For no matter how unlikely the how unlikely the outcome may seem or how dire the circumstance asses get, or even how long it takes, God is faithful to his promises. And my question to us then is if God is always faithful to His promises.

What promises are we leaning into? See Abraham was leaning into the promises of God. What promises are we leaning into? Because, like Abraham, we have the propensity of not knowing the differences between what my eyes and my heart and what I think, what God should do for me, as opposed to what God actually promises. And if we are going to know if we are going to be able to distinguish, distinguish the promises of God against what we see or what we feel God should do, the answer is knowing the promises of God and knowing the promises of God that are in Scripture. Those are the promises that we can trust in. And I have a few of my absolute favorite up here. These are make it. These are promises that we can rely on. Make it to the make it. Never mind. I’m not going to say it. All right. This these are promises that we can trust in wholeheartedly, John one nine If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Romans 828 And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. First Corinthians 1013. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can endure.

But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out. So that you can endure it. John 1125 through 26, Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they die. And whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this? Now, I began this sermon with the call of Abraham where God said, Go and do this and I will bless you. I will be your God and I will bless the world through you. And though we don’t receive the exact call that Abraham got to go, leave your family and go do everything that he was called to do. Jesus does give us who are of the faith a call right before he ascends into heaven. He gives his disciples a mission, a call to bring the blessing that has come through Christ to the whole world. That fulfilled promise of Abraham and Paul would call it in Second Corinthians, the Ministry of Reconciliation, the reconciliation of man to God that has come by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this call is found in the final words of the gospel of Matthew. And I want to end today by reading and reminding of reminding us of that call. Matthew 2819 through 20. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing in them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you. And surely I am always with you to the very end of the age.

Romans 11:11-24

Romans 11:25-36