Before There Were Kings 2 - Abraham, Father of Believers

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Reading: Genesis 15:1-6; Romans 4:16-25
Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6 (NIV)

I.    Against all Hope

      A.  Homeless and Childless

            1.   God had promised long ago to make Abram a great nation and give him a land

                   a.   In Genesis 12 God had promised both.

                   b.   Abram left everything to take hold of God and his promises.

            2.   Still he is childless and wandering.

                   a.   Many years had passed and God’s promises remained unfulfilled.

                   b.   Abram has an emptiness in his heart.

            3.   Abraham has doubts (vv.1-3)

                   a.   The promises are good, but they are so far out of his reach now.

                   b.   Is the promise little more than a dream?

                   c.   Abram voices his doubts to God.

      B.  As good as Dead

            1.   Abraham recognizes he is no longer physically able to have children. Rom. 4:19

                   a.   He and his wife are well passed their child-bearing years.

                   b.   What’s more, even when they were younger they didn’t have any kids.

            2.   God’s promises can’t be fulfilled anymore.

                   a.   How can Abram become a great nation if everything goes to his servant?

                   b.   God is his strength? But there’s nothing or no one to be strong for!

            3.   Not without a miracle.

                   a.   Is Abram holding out for a miracle?

                   b.   Is Abram calling God’s hand?

      C.  Believing the Impossible

            1.   God takes him outside and says “Look up”

                   a.   Abram’s head hangs low with realism, God lifts his chin toward Himself.

                   b.   Look up Abram at a zillion lights hanging impossibly in the sky.

            2.   God is unimpressed with Abram’s realism, the promise of Gen 12:2 still stands.

                   a.   Abram can you count? Can you count those impossible lights?

                   b.   God knows each star by name, Abram doesn’t even have enough numbers!

                   c.   “If I can make a zillion stars, I can keep a promise.”

            3.   Whatever happened in Abram’s mind, the next thing we read is that he believed God.

                   a.   Maybe it was the shear beauty of the stars, or God’s greatness in them.

                   b.   Maybe it was the certainty in God’s voice, telling him to look and count.

                   c.   Abram knew God keeps his Word.

II.   The Father of all who Believe

      A.  A Father Because he believed

            1.   In Romans 4 Paul was dealing with getting right with God.

                   a.   Does this happen by keeping the law?

                   b.   That’s not how it worked for Abram.

            2.   He points out that Abraham got right with God through faith.

                   a.   Abraham’s faith is credited as goodness

            3.   In fact Abraham received the promise of Fatherhood because he believed.

                   a.   Romans 4:13: It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

                   b.   Belief is the true legacy of Abraham.

      B.  A Father of many Nations

            1.   Abram became a father of many nations — not one or two.

                   a.   Many nations: Israel yes.

                   b.   But also a Father to the nations—the gentiles.

            2.   Abraham is a spiritual father for all who inherit his legacy — all who believe.

                   a.   Abraham is not simply a genetic predecessor.

                   b.   Abraham is a father to all who follow his example of faith.

      C.  Passing on the Torch of Faith

            1.   Because Abraham and 1000 other parents passed on their faith we are here today.

                   a.   Abraham passed on what he learned of God to Isaac -> Jacob -> 12 sons.

                   b.   Because they did that, Moses learned of God, and Joshua, Samuel, David, etc.

            2.   We have already inherited the legacy of Abraham’s faith.

                   a.   We too, are heirs of Abraham’s faith and hold that inheritance in our hands

                   b.   By God’s grace we also hold it in our hearts.

            3.   In Ephesians 6:1 parents are urged to bring up children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

                   a.   It is our task as fathers (and mothers) to train our children.

                   b.   Sunday School and Christian School and Church can help, but it’s our job.

III.  Extra Credit

      A.  Faith is credited as Righteousness

            1.   Faith isn’t righteousness.

                   a.   Faith is trust, it’s staking our life on God

            2.   God graciously credits us with righteousness when we trust him.

                   a.   God covers our bill, when we trust him to do the job right. !?

                   b.   That’s his promise to us.

            3.   That righteousness is for those who believe in the saving work of Jesus (Rom.4:24-25)

      B.  Faith Restores us to God

            1.   Unrighteousness (sin) breaks trust with God: it says his ways aren’t enough.

            2.   Trust in God restores our relationship and counts for God as righteousness. (Rom 1:17)

            3.   Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth and heaven—on which God’s messages of love fly so fast, that before we call he answers, and while we are yet speaking he hears us. But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we receive the promise? (Charles Spurgeon)

      C.  Faith is Enough

            1.   However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. Rom 4:5

            2.   God is trustworthy, as Abraham knew.

            3.   Trust God to fill the empty places in your life.

The Bottom Line:

God provides Faithfully for all who Trust him. Let’s pass on the Legacy of God’s goodness.

Hymn: Red #40 Great is thy Faithfulness

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