This week at City Church we began a series examining the life of Abraham. Here are some of the reasons why we believe this series on faith will be significant and helpful for us as a church
1] Salvation is by grace through faith
The gospel is the Good News that leads to salvation and is accessed through faith. Jesus has done all the work; he has satisfied the payment of our sins and given us his righteousness. All we are required to do is believe. Read Romans 1:16-17. 4:20-5:1-2
2] We please and glorify God through faith
Faith is an integral part of the Christian life, that is why It is being counterfeited more in our world today. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 11 begins from Creation to Christ and shows how everyone who has pleased God has done it by faith. This passage culminates with chapter 12 where we as Christians realize that we also have a race to run that will need faith. In order to be sustained we have to look to Jesus, the promise. Read Heb 11- 12:1-3
3] Abraham’s faith story tells of our beginnings.
My wife and I have heard this request countless times “Tell us about how you met.” Genesis is the book of beginnings, and when people ask about the story of our faith, Abraham is included. God initially made a rescue promise in Genesis 3:15, but in Abraham we see it materialized. The picture of God pursuing us begins here and culminates in Jesus. As we study Abraham’s faith, we come to a deep sense of appreciation for our gospel story. Read Luke 24:44-47
4] We have common ground with the original audience
We must never read Genesis and forget who it was written to. Genesis was first heard by Israelites who were stuck in the desert on route between their rescue in Egypt and future possession of the land of promise. They needed encouragement, so Abraham was an example to follow and a warning to avoid sin. Just like the Israelites, Abraham was in between where God had called him from and the promises God had made to him. His story was also an encouragement to avoid sin because after it God charges Abraham to walk before him. Sodom and Gomorrah are an illustration of the consequences of not placing faith in God. Israel itself was always learning from their father Abraham.(Isaiah 51:1-2)
Abraham, more than other figures in the bible knew what it meant to live by faith in the middle of overwhelming circumstances. In Abraham, we find the faith and failures of a man like us who lived in a gap between promise and reality. Like Abraham, we also live in the gap between the promise and reality in the personal promises (the grace we need to remain vigilant) and ultimately in waiting for him (perpetual expectation of his glorious appearing). We live in the already (where we are rescued but yet still face difficult circumstances) not yet(New Heaven New Earth). We live in the reality gap, we are saved from the penalty of sin, are being saved from the power of sin and eagerly wait for the fulfillment of being saved from the presence of sin. Read: Heb 3:13- 4:3
5] Abraham’s faith story points us to the gospel
Abraham was a forerunner to Christ. After bringing up all people who lived by faith in Heb 11 We are encouraged now to look to Christ In Heb 12. Christ in Luke 24:43 says all the scriptures spoke of Him. Jesus is the promise. Our salvation as Christians does not rest in trying to do what Abraham did but by putting faith in what Christ has done.[i] Like Tim Keller says, “Jesus is the true and better Abraham, who answers the call of God, who leaves all the familiar comforts of the world into the void, not knowing where He went.”[ii]
In Christ we see an example of ultimate trust in God, he trusted God even with his own death because he knew that God would not abandon him(Acts 2:27) In Christ, we are indeed introduced to the God-Man. As God, he is faithful to us and as a man he is faithful to God. Our Faith is not in faith but in Christ who lives in us. Faith is trusting that Christ will be faithful even in the times when we’re not faithful to Him. God’s commitment to us is also revealed at the cross. God’s love doesn’t waver even when our faith does. Christ will be faithful in us and faithful for us. Indeed Christ in us is the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)Faith is trusting Christ instead of trusting in ourselves to trust Christ. There is a huge difference between the two. One looks upward; the other looks inward. [iii]
What other reasons can you come up with for learning about the faith of Abraham?
[i] Duguid, Iain M. Living in the gap between promise and reality: the Gospel according to Abraham. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 1999.
[iii] Lee, Zach. "John Calvin on Faith and Assurance." The Village Church. October 09, 2012. Accessed February 08, 2017. http://www.tvcresources.net/resource-library/articles/john-calvin-on-faith-and-assurance?nav=m-44609&wildcard=%2Fthe-village-blog%2Fjohn-calvin-on-faith-and-assurance%2F.