Summary: All the stories of the bible are beautiful but some are timeless like the calling of Abraham. Abraham is referred to as the “father of faith” and as we examine his life and faith, I see a four part progression begining with obedience.
Sermon – Four part progression of faith
I wonder if you noticed that all three readings for today are about faith. As we make our Lenten journey towards the glorious resurrection of our Lord, it is so appropriate to check where we are in our own personal faith and relationship with Him. All the stories of the bible are beautiful but some are timeless like the calling of Abraham. Abraham is referred to as the “father of faith” and as we examine his life and faith this morning, I see a four part progression, the first of which is Abraham’s
Last week we talked about how Adam & Eve’s disobedience brought sin as opposed to Jesus’ obedience that brought righteous to all of us. (Rom 5:19). Our faith is often tested by obedience but like Adam & Eve many good people fail the test. Abraham was tested too – not once but many times. He remained obedient to God and this is what made him unique and the Father of many Nations. Scripture tells us that his faith was accounted to him as righteousness. In other words he became right with God through faith.
But, faith requires obedience. Sometimes when we do not like what scripture says, we choose to disobey. For example, scripture says we are not to defile our body which is the temple of God. It also tells us not to lie, steal, gossip, commit adultery and so on but if this becomes a life style then we are deliberately disobeying God. Disobedience is an enemy to faith. Just as you and I do not like disobedient children so too, God is displeased with those who do not listen to him. The Israelites were God’s chosen people but it was their disobedience that often angered and distanced God.
Even our Lord learned to be obedient to the will of the Father. In Heb ch 5 it says: “Though he were a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all those that obey him.” Notice obedience is linked to salvation. The Son of God was perfected in learning obedience by giving Himself up unto the will of God. Likewise, the obedience of a life wholly given up to God's will propel us right in the presence and love of our heavenly Father.
It was hard for Abraham to be willing to sacrifice his son but he was obedient and never failed the test. It was hard for him to leave his father’s house and move to a strange land but instead of doubting or debating God, he was obedient. Abraham was not just a good guy; he was a man of unwavering faith who trusted God completely. God loved him because he was an obedient child. Friends, have you been obedient to the voice of God? Are you willing to risk or give up something to honor God? Listening to God is not a journey of reckless pursuit because whenever God asks us to do something, he always with us throughout that time. The second part of Abraham’s faith was about,
2. Relying on a promise and Exploring the unknown
Going back to our reading in Gen 4; God says to Abraham: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house and go to a land that I will show you” God’s call was demanding but it was followed by a promise and a blessing which said: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Think about this. At that time Abraham had no children and besides he and Sarah were too old to have any. It was humanly impossible to have kids and yet God declared that he would make a great nation of Abraham. Friends, it tells us that with God all things are possible BUT it only works for those who believe.
I wonder how many of you would be willing to pack your bags, quit your job, leave your family and start out on foot towards Mexico or another country never to return again. Sounds foolish but that is exactly what Abraham did. He relied on God’s promise. Notice, the promise and blessing had to be received in faith because it was in future tense – it said if you did such and such, then I will bless you. What if he doubted God? He would have lost the opportunity to eternal life and would never be known as the father of faith. Friends, are you a doubter or a believer? People who doubt God lose the opportunity to inherit an eternal Kingdom. We have to learn to trust God and rely on his promises just like Abraham.