Faithlife Sermons

October 4, 2020 - Answering The Call

Notes
Transcript
Last week we discussed the call of Abraham.
367 years after the Flood, God seeks out Abraham, and calls him out to use him for His purposes.
It was WITH Abraham that God establishes a covenant...and it was THROUGH Abraham that God would reveal His plan of redemption.
See we talked about how mankind up to that point was 0-3.
The Fall
The Flood
The Tower of Babel
Each one an instance where sinful man rebelled against God, received judgment, and then God stepped in to redeem.
This is the pattern we've seen so far in the OT:
People sin...
people face the consequences....
God redeems
The covenant established with Abraham brought with it numerous promises from God.
God promised Abraham:
Land
Descendants
Blessing
The land that God promised Abraham and his descendants was the land of Canaan.
And in order for that to happen, God would need to supply Abraham with descendants......and so this became apart of the covenant as well...the promise of descendants.
The last promise that was apart of the covenant was that "in Abraham, all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
And so God's plan for Abraham is not that Abraham would receive all these blessings from God merely for Abraham......BUT that Abraham would be individually blessed, for the purpose that now thru Abraham, this blessing would extend to the whole world.
Remember?
Abraham was blessed...to be a blessing
Our focus last week was on the Call and the Covenant of Abraham...This week we'll focus in on the response of Abraham to this call.
• What I'd like to do first is go through the historical account of Abraham's response to this call...
• ...and then circle back to look more closely at the implications for us....
....To look more closely at aspects OF his response...
• At 75 years of age, Abram answers the Call of God to leave his country, his kindred, and his father's house and go to a land that would be shown to him later.
• He departs Haran, taking with his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all his possessions, and all the people they had acquired in Haran...
• ...and they head to Canaan.
• What I'd like to do first is go through the historical account of Abraham's response to this call...
• ...and then circle back to look more closely at the implications for us.
• At 75 years of age, Abram answers the Call of God to leave his country, his kindred, and his father's house and go to a land that would be shown to him later.
• He departs Haran, taking with his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all his possessions, and all the people they had acquired in Haran...
• ...and they head to Canaan.
• Some time later, there was a great famine in the land, and so Abram makes his way to Egypt...
• ...to temporarily stay there.
• His wife Sarai was with him, and because he thought the Egyptians would kill him to take his wife...
• ...he tells her to say that she's merely his sister.
• She complies...
• and she tells the Egyptians that she is his sister.
• They then take Sarai to the Pharaoh, thinking she's Abram's sister.
• God then fills Pharaoh's house with great plagues because of the situation.
• Pharaoh gives Sarai back to Abram, and they continue on.
• The group continues making its way back to Canaan, and Lot and Abram realize the land won't sustain both of them...
• ...so they decide it best to separate.
• Abram settled in the land of Canaan, and Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom.
• Following this God makes his covenant with Abram, which we discussed last week.
• Promising him land, descendants, and blessing.
• 10 years after getting to Canaan, Abram and Sarai are still without child, and so they take matters into their own hands.
• Sarai, goes and gets Hagar, one of her female Egyptian servants, and has Abram take her as a wife.
• They get together, and Hagar ends up birthing Ishmael.
• Abram was 86 years old at this point.
• 13 years later, when Abram was 99 years old, God establishes a covenant of circumcision with him...
• with the circumcision being the sign of the covenant.
• This is when God changes Abram's name to Abraham.
• Abram = revered father
• Abraham = father of a multitude
• God then promises a son to be born to Abraham and his wife, Sarah...
• ...and the child was to be called "Isaac".
• God promises to establish his covenant with Isaac and his descendants as well.
• God then prepares to render judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, but Abraham intercedes for the righteous still in the city.
• God extends mercy for the few, allows them to escape the city, and then destroys it.
• In the process, Lot's wife, looks back at God's judgment on the city, and turns to a pillar of salt.
• THEN - Isaac was born.
• Abraham was 100 years old.
• Years later God would ask that Abraham sacrifice "his only son" Isaac.
• The one that had fulfilled the promise of God.
• God now asking for Abraham to offer him up.
• Abraham complies, but right before he kills him, the angel of the Lord stops him.
• Some time later, when Sarah was 127 years old, she dies.
• Abraham was 137 years old at the time.
• 3 years later, Isaac marries Rebekah...
• ...and 35 years after that...Abraham dies.
• This is a brief summary of the historical events that took place following the Call of Abraham.
• And what jumps out at us throughout this story in Scripture is the "faith" that is displayed by Abraham.
• A "faith" so profound that Paul and James reference this faith over and over again in the NEW TESTAMENT~
Paul says:
Romans 4:2–3 ESV
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Romans 4:16–22 ESV
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
Galatians 3:7–9 ESV
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
That’s PAUL - How about James...
James says:
James 2:21–23 ESV
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.
• And so Paul and James each make reference to the fact that Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
• So what was it about this particular faith that made it a saving faith, and therefore pleasing to God?
• Let's look at this faith.
SLIDE: ABRAHAM'S FAITH: BASED ON REVELATION

Abraham’s Faith

• We can see throughout this story here that God was constantly revealing Himself to Abraham, guiding him along the way.
1. In Ur of the Chaldees:
Acts 7:2–3 ESV
2 And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’
2. God also revealed Himself to Abraham at Haran of Mesopotamia:
Genesis 12:1 ESV
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
3. At Shechem in Canaan:
Genesis 12:6–7 ESV
6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
4. After Lot moved to Sodom
Genesis 13:14–17 ESV
14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”
And many more times God revealed Himself to Abraham in guiding him.
• Genesis chapters 15, 17, 18, and 22.
• And so by God revealing Himself to Abraham, He provided Abraham with ample evidence for him to put his faith and trust in God.
• And so this speaks to us today.
Our faith must be based upon revelation.
• We know that God doesn't reveal Himself in the exact ways He did with Abraham...
• ...BUT He DOES reveal Himself.
• ...through His word.
Romans 10:17 ESV
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
• So the Word of God produces spiritual hearing, and spiritual hearing produces faith.
• We MUST be in this Word.
• We MUST breathe in this Word.
• **I love to ask myself questions when it comes to this.
• Think back to the last time you opened up His Word.
• Now, if someone told you that they'd give you $5 million to read the entire book of Romans tonight, would you do it?
• Would you adjust your schedule to make it happen?
• Would you cancel plans to make it happen?
• Let's answer that question… (Listen - I have to ask myself - If I wasn’t preaching every week - would I....?)
• ...and then let's think back again to the last time we opened the Word.
• Is there a disconnect there?
• Has it been ages since we last opened up His Word on our own...
• ...but now at the possibility of $5 million would we drop everything to make it happen?
• Saving Faith is a faith that breathes in the Word...and communes with God.
• Saving Faith can't live without the Word.
• The more we read and pray over the Word, the more God reveals Himself to us through the person of Jesus Christ.
Our faith must be based upon revelation
But that’s not all we see when we look at Abraham’s faith...
SLIDE: ABRAHAM'S FAITH: AN OBEDIENT FAITH

Abraham’s Faith

• Throughout this story God called on Abraham to do many things...
• ...some being - - seemingly ridiculous.
• God called Abraham to leave his country, his kindred, and his father's house, to go to a land that would be shown to him later.
Hebrews 11:8 ESV
8 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.
• Think of the LEVEL of TRUST involved here…!
**I’m at a good point of life to see this kind of trust play itself out...
I have a 9 year old…a 6 year old…and a 3 year old
If my 9 year old - was on my roof - and I told him to jump and I’ll catch him...
He would think twice - and probably MANY MORE TIMES than that!
But my 3 year old - - She would hear me say - Come on - jump and I’ll catch you...
And she would - jump
Small kids have - UNHINDERED FAITH in their parents!
But as they get older - as WE get older - that faith turns to - DOUBT…FEAR!
Jesus says - Have CHILD-LIKE faith! - UNLESS you have faith like a child - you will not enter the kingdom!
• Verse 9 in Hebrews 11 - tells us that Abraham obeyed God by sojourning in a foreign land:
Hebrews 11:9 ESV
9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
• What do we see here? - faith obeying...
• And then we come to what seems to be the biggest test of all.
• God calls for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, the very one promised to him, the one promised to be used by God to carry on the Covenant.
• AND - Hebrews 11:17 tells us how Abraham's faith responded:
Hebrews 11:17–18 ESV
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
• Through all of this we see that Saving Faith - OBEYS ...regardless of the request.
• The kind of faith that receives the righteousness of God...OBEYS God...
• Therefore...by faith, we must obey God.
• The Gospel itself calls for obedience.
Romans 1:4–5 ESV
4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
• So we have received grace, in order to bring about the obedience of faith.
Ephesians 2:8–10 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. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
• So...saved BY grace, THRU faith, FOR good works
• Saving Faith - Obeys...
• BUT be careful!
• Does Saving Faith only receive the Righteousness of God after the outward acts of obedience??
• Answer - No!
Romans 4:9–10 ESV
9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.
• If you remember, God established a Covenant of Circumcision with Abraham.
• The question is - Was the Righteousness of God imputed to Abraham before or after he got circumcised in obeying the covenant?
• Did Abraham's faith "cash in" on the righteousness of God before or after his circumcision?
• Answer?
• Back to verse 10:
Romans 4:10–12 ESV
10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
• Faith alone saves...but faith leads to joyful obedience.
• True Christian obedience is not merely outward moral accomplishments.
• If we learned anything from the apostle Paul in Philippians, it was that his satisfaction in life was rooted in the person of and proclamation of Jesus Christ...
...and so his obedience to Christ was driven by his Joy in Christ.
SLIDE: QUESTION
How do you leave your country, your kindred, your father's house, and everything that you've known, without knowing where you're going?
Satisfaction in God - Joy in God
SLIDE: Question 2
How do you raise up the knife to slaughter your son as a sacrifice to the Lord?
Satisfaction in God - Joy in God
This is what it is to "Obey God"
The result of Joy in God...is obedience!
SO - do we leave here today pursuing righteous deeds, and doing our best to ignore unrighteous deeds?
• OR
Do we leave here pursuing Joy in God...
• ...because when there's Joy in God, obedience happens.
• We are to obey God with the heart..this is where obedience starts.
Hebrews 3:10 ESV
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’
• By faith, we must obey God.
- But this isn’t all we see from Abraham’s faith...
Yes - Abraham’s faith:
Was based on Revelation
Was an Obedient Faith
But also...
SLIDE: ABRAHAM'S FAITH: A GROWING FAITH

Abraham’s Faith

• To say that Abraham's faith was a growing faith, is to say that he didn't have it all together.
• There were times when his faith was weak.
Remember?
• He had told his wife Sarah (who was his half-sister), to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister and not mention that they were married, so that they wouldn't kill Abraham.
Genesis 12:13 ESV
13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.”
• Remember when Abraham questioned God when he and Sarah didn't have any children?
Genesis 15:2 ESV
2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
• He also showed a LACK of faith when he had a child with Hagar...
• ...and he ended up offering an alternative to God, in Ishmael, when he thought it would be impossible for he and Sarah to have children.
• How many of us can relate?
• How many of us have "given up on God" in a situation...
• ...Decided that God just doesn't hear me...
• ...He doesn't know I'm here.
• He is there!
• And over time Abraham's faith grew...
• In regards to conceiving a child, Paul tells us in Romans 4:
Romans 4:18–22 ESV
18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
• This reminds me of a story I heard a pastor once tell...
• ...where he was talking about faith and belief, and he pulled out a Bebe gun up on stage, and with a balloon on the other side of the long stage, he asked - "who in here believes I could shoot that balloon from over here?"
• Quite a few people raised their hands...
• And then he asked - "how many of you who believed I could hit the balloon, would be willing to come up here and hold the balloon in your outstretched hand...for me to shoot at it?"
• Quite a few people now lowered their hands.
• He then asked - "ok, of those who believe I could hit the balloon while you hold it in your outstretched hand, how many would be willing to put the balloon in your teeth and hold it there for me to shoot it?"
• One guy left his hand up.
• The pastor called the guy up on stage...
• Gave him the balloon, and told him to put it in his teeth, and go stand in the right spot.
• The pastor lifts the gun and aims (not really planning on firing)...
• BUT, as he's aiming, he says to himself...."i got this!"...and pulled the trigger.
• He hit the ballon.
• NOW - As dumb as that was to do...he hit the balloon and made a great point.
• How many in that room truly believed that he could hit the balloon??...
• ...regardless of where the balloon was?
• How many truly believed he could hit the balloon?
• One guy.
• One guy truly believed, and it was evidenced by his willingness to be used.
• See, the others in that sanctuary SAID they believed, until something was required of THEM!
• So they said - "I believe he can...BUT their actions revealed what? --- I'M not willing to SEE IF he can."
• What does that mean?
• It means - they didn't truly believe.
• This then plays right into Abraham truly believing the promises of God, to the extent that he was willing to sacrifice Isaac, his son.
• So God made a promise to Abraham that hinged on a descendant, and then asks Abraham that he kill the only descendant that God had given him.
• The only way that Abraham follows through with that is if he "truly believes".
Hebrews 11:17–19 ESV
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
• Abraham's faith was a growing faith, and so our faith must be a - - growing faith.
• And it's hard because so many things try to prevent us from growing.
• This world will do whatever it can to draw you to itself...so that it can destroy you.
• All the things this world offers:
• Money
• Power
• Influence
• Status
• Blah, blah, blah
• This is WHY we need the Word daily...to put to death what is earthly in us...
• So that we can go from men and women of little faith:
Matthew 8:25–26 ESV
25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
• Men and women of little faith....to men and women of GREAT boldness!
Acts 4:13 ESV
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
• This verse here should CHARGE us today!
• Do you see what it says?
• Peter and John...uneducated, common men.
• This is who God uses.
• Just like we've seen with Abraham, he didn't have it all together...
• ...He was a sinful man.
• AND YET - God uses sinful men to carry out His divine purposes.
• The Scriptures say over and over again that Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
• Abraham would have read John 3:16 and thought...Yes - I believe that...
• ...I believe that my "belief in God and His Son will result in me not perishing and attaining eternal life".
He would have believed John 3:16.
But he also would have believed John 14:12.
John 14:12 ESV
12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
• We believe John 3:16...but do we believe John 14:12?
• Do we see evidence of the latter verse in our lives?
• See, we're called to grow in our faith.
• So are we?
• Are you "doing things" today for Christ that you would have never done 5 years ago...3 years ago...a year ago?
SUMMARY
• We have seen that the faith of Abraham was:
Based on Revelation
An Obedient Faith
A Growing Faith
• The scriptures tell us that "all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in Abraham"...
• And so..
• Are we now walking in the steps of the faith of Abraham, obeying the Word of God given today through the gospel of Christ, even as he obeyed the word given to him, and as a result, growing in our faith?
- May we pray that we continue to do this - TOGETHER! - As we HEED the CALL of God in our lives...
Let's pray...
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