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Abraham, Father of the Faithful (E)

Hebrews 11:8-19

Introduction:

1. What is faith?

Contemporary theology tends to view faith as a sort of mental/ emotional contract with God which leaves out any behavioral change, but in order to become like Christ, people must change.

2. In the physical realm we know much about health issues like cholesterol, smoking, and obesity, but the medical community has no cure for these problems beyond people changing their behavior.

3. Faith is probably best understood when we see it in the lives of great men. Bible truths become clearer when they breathe. Abraham was called the father of the faithful because in him faith came to life.

Abraham had faith in a God-given vision. That's the kind of faith that is important. The vision that God gave Abraham was so big that it challenged him for a lifetime.

God's vision for Abraham's life was the motivating factor that made Abraham a great man. What he became by reaching for that God-given vision was the key to his greatness.
 
 

I. How One Acquires Faith

A. Abraham's faith was acquired through his decision to trust God.

Hebrews 11:8-10
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place, which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

B. There was fear and trepidation in the heart of Abraham as he faced the unknown. Yet, his decision to obey God and face the unknown was his mark of faithfulness.

C. It is difficult to see the unseen. Many only see the immediate. They reach out for things they can tangibly put their hands on. They never look beyond themselves, and they never look at what they could be.

1. The courage to look and move into the unknown comes from trusting God. Trusting God is the beginning of faith. But merely trusting does not develop faith. Faith involves making a decision to follow God as we hear what He says.

Ro 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
 
 

2. There is a vast difference in the results of a man who thinks different and the man who chooses to do differently.

a. The Doer will outdistance the thinker.

b. We become arrogant about the way we think.

D. Faith is developed by trusting and obeying. Some want to move forward only when they can see their way through. But faith is not seeing our way through, it is obeying and trusting God when we cannot see our way through.

2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Songwriter Oscar Eliason wrote, "Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Got any mountains you can't tunnel through?" He answered these questions by saying, "God specializes in things thought impossible."

That's good news because every Christian faces obstacles along life's pathway and walking in God's will doesn't guarantee that the way will be easy. That's why we must trust God and go forward in faith.

At the entrance to a local hospital parking lot is an automatic gate. It is designed to go up when a car activates a hidden sensor near the entrance. When someone drives up the ramp leading to that gate, it remains down, firmly blocking the entrance. But as you get close to it, the arm swings up and you proceed right through. If a person were to park his car a few yards away from the entrance, it would stay closed. Only as you move forward does it open.

Is there some barrier across your path just now? Someone has said, "If God built a bridge a yard ahead, it could not be a bridge of faith." It's that first step into the unseen that proves we have faith.

He 11:8
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place, which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

He was obeying God and relying on Him. His task was to go; God's was to clear the path.

Abraham was motivated by a vision from God that was far beyond himself.

"Some people look at things as they are and say, why? Some people look at things as they could be and say, why not?"

"...Even though he did see his way through."

Gen 15:1
After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward."

II. Faith Is a Life Altering Decision.

A. Most choices in life are incidental. In fact ninety-five percent of the decisions we make are incidental, only 5% are important. In very few instances is one decision actually better than the other is.

1. Sometimes I think that we have too many choices to make today.

Supermarket 9,000 to 12,000 choices in the average supermarket

Revlon 158 shades of lipstick

Crest 36 sizes and flavors

31 plus flavors Ice cream

B. Trade off in making choices keeps people from wanting to choose.

Certain things you loose when you make any choice. A grocery store clerk said, "It's up to you lady, you're either old enough to get the senior citizens discount or you're not old enough."

C. The choice of faith in God is a life changing choice.

Ge 12:4
So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy-and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

1. Choices more than condition determine our future.

Early age -- conditions determine choices

Later age -- choices determine our condition

2. Society says people are victims of conditions --- people not responsible for their plight. But choices determine our condition more than anything else.

"Great people are ordinary people who make extraordinary decisions."

Be careful which rut you choose, you will be in it for the next twenty miles.

D. Abraham's choice of faith in God not only changed his life but it also changed his family's life. Choices affect others --- we make a decision without other people but once it is made it will affect them.

1. Wrong decisions will leave scars on your life or on the lives of others. It is true that grace heals but scars are left.

2. It is only through making right decisions that we can have control over our circumstances. The moment we choose not to make a decision about something is the moment that we put ourselves in the hands of circumstances.

III. Requirements For A Decision of Faith.

A. Abraham trusted and obeyed God when he faced his insecurities. Abraham knew what Helen Keller stated about security.

Helen Keller: "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

When you have nothing left but God, you begin to learn that God is enough.

B. Abraham trusted and obeyed when he faced the impossibilities and did not know how God's will would be accomplished.

He 11:11
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

Ro 4:18-20
Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

Ge 15:2
And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?

C. Abraham trusted and obeyed God when he did not know when God would fulfill His promises.

He 11:13-16
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

C. Abraham trusted and obeyed God by faith when he did not know why God was so working.

He 11:17-19
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

D. Abraham trusted and obeyed God when it called for a sacrifice.

There is no success without sacrifice. If I succeed without sacrifice, then it's because someone who went before me made the sacrifice. If I sacrifice, and don't see success, then someone who follows will reap success from my sacrifice.

E. Abraham trusted and obeyed God when it required persistence and patience. Abraham's dream was so big that he couldn't accomplish his dream in a year, or decade, or even in a lifetime.

Heb 11:9-10
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

He 11:37-38
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Conclusion:

James 2:21-24
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

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