The Hebrew writer indicates that Abraham
believed in the resurrection although it is obvious that he knew nothing
of the resurrection of Christ. "By faith Abraham, when God tested
him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was
about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him,
‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham
reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did
receive Isaac back from death" (Hebrews 11:17-19 NIV). How could
this be? Abraham actually believed that God could raise Isaac from the
dead. This was at least 2,000 years before Christ set foot on earth.
We may think that Abraham was at a great
disadvantage, but God was as real as life to him. Abraham’s faith
did not come from an historical argument about church doctrine rather it
came from his practical experiences in life. What Abraham had experienced
in his walk with God thoroughly convinced him that God could and would
raise Isaac from the dead.
"By faith Abraham, when called
to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and
went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made
his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he
lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the
same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and builder is God.
"By faith Abraham, even
though he was past age-and Sarah herself was barren-was enabled to become
a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And
so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants
as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the
What God had done and was doing in Abraham’s
life convinced Abraham of the possibility of the resurrection. Sarai and
Abram were well beyond childbearing years when God gave them a son. Their
ability to physically reproduce offspring had long gone. Abraham and Sarah
were thoroughly convinced of this fact. Sure there were times that even
Abraham had difficulty believing.
"God also said to Abraham,
"As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name
will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her.
I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples
will come from her."
"Abraham fell facedown; he laughed
and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years
old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" And Abraham
said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" (NIV).
This is not a laughter of joy over the fact
that he has been told that Sarah is going to have a son—it is a cynical
laugh of disbelief. However, by the time God asks Abraham to offer Isaac
as a sacrifice he truly believes that God can give Isaac back from the
Why shouldn’t Abraham believe God could
raise Isaac from the dead? God had given him Isaac when it was impossible
for him and his wife to conceive a child. They were as good as dead when
Isaac was conceived. The following verses from Genesis reveal Abraham believed
that Isaac would return from the sacrifice with him.
"Early the next morning Abraham
got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and
his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set
out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked
up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, "Stay here
with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and
then we will come back to you" (NIV).
Abraham’s faith in God was great enough
to believe that nothing was impossible for God. It was faith in
a God that could raise the dead that empowered every step taken as he sojourned
in the promised land looking for a city which had foundations, whose builder
and maker was God.
The Practical Value
of A Resurrection Faith
Faith in God’s resurrection power is
absolutely essential if we are seeking to commit our lives to Christ in
hope. It takes a resurrection faith to survive as a Christian—by
this I mean something more than just believing the doctrinal facts about
Christ’s resurrection. You must believe that the resurrection power of
God is available for you in the present. If you don’t believe this—the
resurrection of Jesus Christ is of little practical value to you.
For this reason, ever since
I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know
him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably
great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty
strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead
and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all
rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given,
not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed
all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything
for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything
in every way" (NIV ).
Do you believe
this power is available for you today? Do you believe it
is at work in the Christian’s life? It is! May God help us to become enlightened
to the powerful hope he has given us?
Faith in Christ’s resurrection gives
reason to hope against all hope. It fully persuades us to commit
our lives to Christ.
Against all hope, Abraham in
hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had
been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his
faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-since he was
about a hundred years old-and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did
not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened
in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had
power to do what he had promised" (NIV)
were not only true for Abraham, " . . .but also for us, to whom
God will credit righteousness-for us who believe in him who raised Jesus
our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and
was raised to life for our justification"
(Romans 4:24-25 NIV).
It requires a resurrection faith to
lose your life so that you might find it. There are some of you
in this audience this morning that are afraid to lose your life for Christ
sake. Do you know why you are afraid? Because you are having difficulty
believing that Christ can give you a better life in this world than what
you already have. That’s why you are afraid to give up your worldly ways.
At times Abraham had those same cynical doubts.
His cynical laugh is indicative of the fact that he didn’t believe that
something better awaited him. He was like many
of us; he was more than willing to settle for what he already possessed.
Can you even begin to imagine how that would have limited his potential?
How can I develop a resurrection faith?
You must first be willing to open your eyes
to see God’s power to salvage your life. Enough spiritual
power is going to waste in the church to put Niagara Falls to shame.
the work of God upon the soul is always represented in the Bible as one
of power. The true kingdom of God has to do with power God
wields in our lives.
We must depend upon God’s power to empower
our faithful works. Knowledge of God’s power only becomes real
when it is turned on in our lives.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
"With this in mind, we constantly
pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that
by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted
by your faith" (NIV).
God’s power comes into play when we
act upon our faith. Do you see the important part of this verse?
It says that God’s power fulfills "every good
purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."
Planting a seed is an act of faith in
the resurrection power of God. You can’t plant a seed in the ground
without faith. When you allow God to plant the seed of the kingdom—which
is his word—in your heart—why shouldn’t you believe in his resurrection
power. If he has power to make a flower seed come to life—he has the power
to make his word fruitful through your faithful response to it.
To succeed is
not our goal. The results of our faithful actions lie in
the hands of God. God doesn’t call us to be successful. He calls us to
be faithful. A powerful faith does not demand
miracles, but it often accomplishes them.
Where It all Begins
Abraham’s resurrection faith began with
hearing God’s voice. Initially, God asked Abraham to leave his
country, his kindred to go into an unknown land. He was told in doing so
he would become a blessing to all nations.
At times, Abraham and Sarah were tempted to
be a little cynical about God’s promises. They were very much like each
of us—there were times they had difficulty hearing God’s voice over the
shouts of the world. Both laughed when they were told they would have a
son when they were well past their childbearing years. In times of trouble
they often resorted to their own plans to accomplish God’s purpose. Their
doubts arose because of their inability to see what God saw for them.
Having a resurrection
hope in the promises of God comes when we put our faith to work when doubting
would be much easier. Hearing the call of God is the most
difficult thing in the world, but it is not impossible to hear. Someday
even the dead will hear the trumpet and the shouts of angels. Lazarus had
been dead four days but he heard the voice of God.
"Jesus called in a loud voice,
"Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped
with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face" (NIV).
"I am the resurrection and
the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever
lives and believes in me will never die" (NIV).
A resurrection faith begins with a desire
to believe in the voice of God. Paul
tells us, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing
by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
There was something strange about Abraham and Sarah—they wanted to believe
God. They wanted to believe but earthly realities often
blinded them to the promises of God.
There were times in their lives that they
wanted God’s guidance but sought to bring about God’s promises on their
own terms. They tried to have the promised son on their terms through a
servant girl. There were numerous times when they were seeking to trust
God for his protection, but they resorted to lying about Sarah being Abraham’s
sister for protection.
Fear tends to
produce the very thing it is afraid of. In a study of their
lives you discover that often their fear drove them into the very things
they were afraid of—however God’s resurrection power always salvaged their
lives from the mess they made. How many times have we run from our fears
and ended up facing the very thing we were running from?
Faith in God is
the only thing that can conquer our fears.
You don’t have to have a mountain moving
faith, but you do have to have a faith that is willing to climb the mountain
when you hear God’s call. Discovering God’s power begins with asking
God to help us overcome our unbelief. However, we must be honest enough
to admit our unbelief.
You don’t have to know where the trail will
end, but you must be willing to follow your faithful guide. I
took my daughter and her friend hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range
when she was in the eighth grade. We ascended the mountain to about 9500
feet. I could see our destination when we got out of the car to begin our
hike. I had been there before. I knew that it was a long way, but I never
told them where it was. When they ask me how much farther it was, I never
pointed to the place we were going. I knew that they were tired. I was
afraid that they would want to go back home before we reached our destination.
On our descent, they realized what I had done. They knew why I had done
it. God’s plans are much like that—they are taken one step at a time in
A man brought his son who was possessed by
a demon to Jesus. He said to Jesus, "But if you can do anything, take pity
on us and help us." Jesus said, "If you can believe? Everything is possible
for him who believes." The man responded to Jesus saying, "I do believe;
help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:17-24). That’s where it begins with
some. It begins with the cry to God—PLEASE HELP ME OVERCOME MY UNBELIEF!
Abraham and Sarah made this cry many times
from the weakness of their personal faith. Abraham sought the blessings
of God through Ishmael, but God told him that Sarah would have a son.
He took his doubts to God. God sought to renew and deepen his faith.
If you are having difficulty believing you must ask God for help. Then
you will see God’s power perfected in your weakness.
Resurrection power comes to our lives
when we relinquish our hold on our fears and embrace God’s ways through
repentance. The power of God begins when we overcome our fears
and answer the call of God personally. The disciples began living under
God’s power the moment they answered Christ’s call to become fishers of
men. It began with their personal response. They had to quit fishing; that
wasn’t easy. That meant giving up their means of livelihood. They went
back to fishing after Christ died on the cross.
How many of us seek to solve our problems
by forgetting them and going fishing? If we choose to go fishing the truth
will become even stranger. You must face the truth—you must listen to it—you
must obey it—you may not know much of it but obey what you know.
Peter penned the following verses after he
had given up on the messianic hope of Christ and gone back to fishing.
It was after Jesus had met them on the shore on their return from that
fishing trip after his resurrection. It was the resurrection that empowered
Peter to pen these verses.
1 Peter 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth
into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
God’s power begins when we relinquish
our hold on this world to follow Christ. Jesus told the rich young
ruler, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and
give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow
me" (Matthew 19:21-22). That’s where it must begin with many of
us. This young man went away sad, because he had great wealth.
God’s power comes into play when we
act upon our faith. There is something different
about our worship than with most worship services. We sing without
the accompaniment of musical instruments. The reason we worship with vocal
music is because it places the responsibility of worship on the shoulders
of the audience. It is your response
to God that makes this worship service valid. That’s what faith is—it is
your personal response to God. It is your personal response that makes
the difference in your life. It is not something that the church can do
for you; it is something you must do for yourself.
Every facet of our worship service is designed
for your personal expression of faith—regardless of how feeble you may
think it is. There are some whose faith
is not strong enough to bring them to church services, but they expect
it to take them to heaven. The church isn’t an institution
that can save us; the church is saved as it expresses its faith in God.
Our salvation has been provided in Jesus Christ,
but salvation is an ongoing process as God’s power salvages our lives step-by-step,
moment-by-moment as we surrender our hearts and minds to his will. It doesn’t
begin with an overwhelming faith. Sometimes all of would like to go back
to fishing when we become discouraged. It takes faith to keep going—it’s
okay if it begins weak—that’s where true faith begins. I believe it can
become overwhelming, but it begins with your first step.
Abraham believed in God because he knew that
God was faithful to keep his promises . . . "and so from this one
man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars
in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore" (Hebrews
Today God can "do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us"
(Ephesians 3:20). This is the resurrection power of the gospel. It comes
to us through faith in God’s promises of salvation.
Baptism is an expression of faith in
the resurrection. Our new life in Christ that begins at baptism
is an expression of faith in the resurrection power of God. A resurrection
faith begins the moment that you decide to die to you yourself to begin
your walk with Christ (Romans 6:3-4). In baptism we turn from the power
of Satan’s death grip on our lives to the power of God to salvage our lives
from Satan’s grip.