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Saving Faith Like Abraham - Sermon

Today I want to talk about saving faith. Even though Abraham was not a perfect person, he had tremendous faith in God. Abraham was a shepherd in the desert, an alien in a strange land. But God chose him because of his faith. God chose Abraham to be the father of all who believe. Just like Abraham, we are justified by our faith in God. Today’s sermon explains what it means to have saving faith like Abraham.

Genesis 15:1-5 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.” 2 But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

v1 Abraham was sometimes afraid. He lied two times about his wife Sarah, saying that she was only his sister. More recently, Abraham had proven himself incredibly brave by pursuing four kings and rescuing his nephew Lot and his family. Melchezidek told Abraham that God had “delivered your enemies into your hands.” Here, God encourages Abraham, telling him, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield.” God also tells Abraham that He will receive a very great reward. Abraham had taken an oath not to take anything from the battle because he didn’t want anyone to say that he had become rich from other people’s wealth. Instead, he wanted people to see that God had uniquely blessed him. God honored that faith, saying “I am your very great reward” or “Your reward will be very great.” v2-3 Still, Abraham complains to God. God had already promised him offspring, but Abraham had not seen them yet. He thought that his servant Eliezer would inherit God’s blessing. v4 However, God had a special plan for Abraham to have a son through Sarah. Here, God was very specific—“your heir will be of your own blood.” In fact, it wasn’t until at least 15 years later that Abraham would have his son Isaac. The boy was named “laughter” because his birth was so surprising. God works in such ways. Romans 4:17 says, “God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” There was no other explanation for why Abraham would have a son. If a son was to come, it would be from God alone. v5 God led Abraham outside. Perhaps Abraham had been lying in bed when he had his vision. Now God took him outside and asked him to look up at the multitude of stars in the desert sky. “So shall your offspring be.” What an awesome promise! v6 Abraham believed God, or rather, he believed in God. He did not believe that what God said was possible because he could do it himself or it seemed possible. He did not understand how or why it would happen. Abraham’s entire hope lay entirely on God. Abraham was entirely certain for one reason only—because God promised it. God was pleased with this faith and He considered Abraham righteous. “This man who trusts in Me, who believes in Me, is in a right standing with Me.”

What does this mean for us?
Sometimes, we may think that God saved people in the Old Testament in a different way. We may think that they were saved because they obeyed the rituals or performed ceremonies. But that’s not true. God saves everyone in the same way and on the same basis—there is no difference except that God’s people in the Old Testament looked

forward to what God would do and we look back to what God has done. We have faith in the same promise, the same God. Paul holds up Abraham’s faith in God as an example for us. He says that Abraham is the “father of us all.” Romans 4:16-25 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. 18 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.” 19 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. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Paul says that we are in the same position as Abraham and we are saved with the same faith that he had. Just like Abraham had faith in God and not in himself, and was credited with righteousness as a result, so also we are credited with righteousness when we have faith in God and not ourselves. Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead. We also must face the fact that we cannot please God with our sinful nature. Our nature is in rebellion against God, and that is why it is so easy to sin and so difficult to do right. We are like a boulder on the side of a mountain that only has one way to go—down. It is impossible for us to be righteous by doing good works. Our nature is corrupted. Ephesians 2:3-5, 8-9 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Paul says that God had a plan from before the beginning of the world to save certain people by grace. He predestined these people to be saved according to His own good will. Who are these people? What is God’s will and plan? Paul says gives us the answer here in verses 8-9. God choose to save those who have faith. Not just any faith, but faith like Abraham had. Faith that rested entirely on God and not in the least bit on themselves. Faith that depends on what God has done and promised, and nothing else! It’s not faith because something seems probable or even possible. It’s not faith because we feel like it. It’s a faith that regards God’s promise as an established fact, just like Abraham believed God’s promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Brothers and sisters, we cannot boast except to boast in the Lord. Who are we? Nobody. Abraham was a shepherd in the desert, an alien in a strange land. But God chose him because of his faith. Do you realize that God doesn’t care about how smart you are, how strong you are, how capable you are? 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” In fact, God rejects people who come to Him with faith in themselves. When we come to God, we need to acknowledge that we are completely bankrupt and that we have nothing. What good is it if we have all the money in the world, but lack the joy and peace of a relationship with God? What good is it if we gain the whole world but lose our soul? We need to be like the monkey that lets go of the fruit inside the box in order to be set free. If we insist on holding on to the idea of deserving anything from God, we are like the monkey that cannot open his fist. I want to be foolish, lowly, and despised in the eyes of the world so that God will choose me! “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Quote from Jim Elliot) I want to be a fool for God, if only He will choose me.

This is important because what we believe in our heart determines what we think in our mind and how we act. If we are defeated in our mind, then we will be defeated in our everyday life. We are born again. We are a new creation. We are dead to sin, but alive to

Christ. We are created to do good works and be transformed to be more and more like Jesus. Freely you have received grace, freely give grace! Hold firm the promise! Romans 8:28-39