In the School of Faith with Abraham
The school of faith may be a wonderful school, but sometimes we don’t make very good students. In the school of faith, our classroom is Life. The Bible is our textbook. Our faculty the prophets and apostles. But the Dean of the school of faith would have to be Abraham.
Turn to Romans 4:2-3 and fill in two key words.
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham _______________ God, and it was accounted to him for ___________________________.”
Further down in verse 11, Abraham is called “the ______________ of all them that believe.”
Abraham led the way by his example. From him we can learn some incredible lessons about faith. Faith is of monumental, inestimable importance.
Seven Reasons Why Faith is So Important
1. Faith is the distinguishing mark of the Christian.
Did you know that Christians were called “believers” before they were ever called Christians? “Believers”—that is the distinguishing mark of a Christian: that he or she by faith believes God.
2. To exercise faith is our chief duty.
Turn to John 6:29.
a. _______________ is speaking.
b. “The work of God” in your life is:
Believing God—taking Him at His word—is our chief duty. Therefore,
3. Unbelief (the opposite of faith) is the supreme evil.
There is no greater evil than unbelief. “How can it be,” you ask, “that unbelief is the greatest evil? Wouldn’t murder, to name just one, be much worse?” Before we go any further, let’s see if this is right.
How did humanity fall into sin to begin with?
When all mankind fell as a race in Genesis chapter 3, it began with unbelief. This is why unbelief is so costly! Actually, it is deadly.
a. Turn to 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
21 For since by man came ______________, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in __________ shall all be made __________.
b. The man by whom death came was ________________.
c. The man by whom salvation came was ______________________.
All the sins man has committed since that time trace their roots back to that deadliest sin of all, unbelief.
A CLOSER LOOK AT A DEADLY MISTAKE
What started this deadly progression was that Eve did not believe God. She fell into sin because of unbelief. People today don’t go to hell today because they steal, lie, or commit adultery, for those sins have been paid for with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Most people have it exactly backward. Ask any person on the street who is not a Christian how they are going to be admitted into Heaven. They will answer that they think/hope their good deeds will, by the time they die, outweigh their bad deeds. Those bad deeds—if they reach some nebulous tipping point, will send them to hell. (Not them, of course—some other poor hapless person.)
The Bible says, “No. To the contrary.”
d. Turn to John 3:18.
“He that _______________ on Him is ______ condemned, but he that
_____________ not is condemned already because he hath _____ _____________.”
Think about it. The reason men and women go to hell today is they have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Faith is the way you are going to live the Christian life.
Once you believe in Jesus Christ, how will you carry it out? By trying? No. By trusting. The Christian life is lived by faith.
Four times the Bible says “the just shall live by faith.”
a. Turn to Habakkuk 2:4. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the ________ shall live by his ___________.
b. Romans 1:17. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, “The _______ shall live by __________.”
c. Galatians 3:11. But that ______ man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, “The ______ shall live by _________.”
d. Hebrews 10:38. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Four times God says it. Do you think He is trying to tell us something? The only way to live the Christian life genuinely is by faith.
5. Faith is the way your Christian life will either flourish or falter.
Your Christian life will be measured by your faith.
Turn to Matthew 9:29. “According to your _________, be it unto you.” Not according to your feeling, your fame, your fortune, your friends, your fate, but according to your faith be it unto you.
6. Faith, above all things, pleases God.
If you please God, it doesn’t matter whom you displease, and if you displease God it doesn’t matter whom you please.
And how will you please God?
Turn to Hebrews 11:6 (the chapter known as “The Faith Chapter).
“But without ___________it is ________________ to ________________ _______.” It doesn’t say “hardly possible.” It is _________________ to please Him, “for he that cometh to God must _______________ that He is, and that He is a rewarder of ______ that diligently seek Him.”
7. Faith is the only way to overcome the world.
Turn to 1 John 5:4. “And this is the ______________ that ____________________ the world, even our __________.” When we greet one another here in church, rather than saying” How you feeling,” we ought to say, “How are you faith-ing? We live by faith.
Learning from Abraham in the School of Faith
THE ROOT OF FAITH
1. Faith Is NOT Rooted in Human Will
a. Turn again to Genesis 12:1
Now the _______ had said unto Abraham, “Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house into a land that I will show thee.
The basis of Abraham’s faith is that God had spoken to him! In your Bible you may want to underscore “Now the Lord had said…”
Many people misunderstand faith and the source of faith. Faith is not rooted in human will.
b. Turn back just a page to Genesis chapter 11—the building of the Tower of Babel. Notice how it describes what happened.
Count how many times you see the people talking among themselves and using the word “us.”
Underscore each “us” in your Bible
“And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech and it came to pass as they journeyed from the east that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and they dwelt there, and they said one to another, Go to let us make brick and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone and slime had they for mortar and they said, Go to let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven and let us make us a name.”
This is man’s will, man’s attempt to establish his own kingdom through his own will.
c. Now, return to chapter 12 where God is speaking. Read 12:1-3 and verse 7. Notice the difference.
_________________________________ is saying “I will.”
d. In vv. 1-3 and 7,he says it __________ times.
Man says, “I will.” God says, “I will.” Man says “Let us,” but God continues to tell Abraham, “I will.”
Faith is not rooted in man’s “I will’s” but in God’s “I will’s.” Not in man’s “Let us,” but in God’s sovereign will.
Another contrast: The people of Babel were trying to make a name for themselves (see 11:4). But they failed. Does anyone know their names today? A few of us know the name Nimrod, who is a type of the anti-Christ, a name that is despised. Yet God said to Abraham, “I will give you a name,” and the name Abraham is revered still today, thousands of years later, throughout the entire world.
Faith is not rooted in human will. That’s very important. Today many people have sort of a “tower of Babel mentality,” trying to make for themselves a name. You don’t do that. You have to hear from God. Faith is not rooted in human will.
2. Faith Is NOT Rooted in Human Worth.
a. Abraham was a pagan. Look again in 12:1. When God called Abraham, he was a pagan, living in pagan idolatry, in an idolatrous land, “Ur of the Chaldees,” the center of idolatry.
b. Abraham was already 75 years old. This tells us, no one is too pagan or too old for God to choose them.
3. Faith Is NOT Rooted in Human Wisdom.
a. Look again at 12:1.
And the Lord said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house unto a ________ that I will ________ thee.
This wasn’t something Abraham figured out. He marched under sealed orders. Faith is not positive thinking, following a hunch, hoping for the best, then trying to make it work. It’s not a feeling of optimism, it’s not “believing what you know isn’t so.” When Abraham went out, he didn’t know why and he didn’t know where. He only knew Whom.
True faith comes from the Word of God.
b. Turn to Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by _______________, and _____________ by the Word of God.
Faith therefore does not rest on any road map, but in a relationship with Almighty God.
Abraham shows us how:
Think about Abraham. He’s seventy-five years old now, well-established, rich, has a beautiful wife, and he’s living in comfort. God says, “Get up, let’s go.” He didn’t know where he was going or why he was going at this time. All he knew was that God had spoken. That must have been very exciting. If your life is dull and insipid, begin to live by faith. That will turn the monotonous to the momentous.
What is faith?
Remember, we have said that the root of faith is the Word of God—what God has said in His Word. Now, if you believe the word of God, that’s the root, but that’s not faith yet— that’s the preamble for faith.
A key concept to grasp:
Believing the word of God is mental. Faith is actual. The difference between belief and faith is that faith is belief with legs on it. Belief is knowing the Word of God. Faith is knowing the God of that Word.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe, one of the finest Bible expositors alive today, said
“Faith is not believing in spite of evidence—that’s superstition. Faith is obeying God’s Word in spite of circumstances or consequences.” We do not live by explanations, we live by promises.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER:
1. Abraham heard from God. Are you hearing from God? Is God speaking to you?
2. Do you have a quiet time? Are you connected to God?
If God is not speaking to you, you’re not living by faith. It’s impossible. You’re going here and there, doing whatever you think you ought to do. Faith is hearing the word of God and acting on it.
THE REQUIREMENT OF FAITH
1. Look again in Genesis 12:1.
Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, get thee ______ of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house into a land that I will show thee.
In short: “Get thee out…unto.”
“Come out from where you are and go to where you need to be.”
Real faith not only brings us out, real faith brings us in.
When we say, “Get thee out,” for Abraham, it meant literally. But I’m speaking spiritually, not geographically. This means you cannot live in your old way of life and think at the same time you can live by faith. It cannot be done.
2. Turn to Deuteronomy 6:23
And He brought us ______ from thence that He might bring us _____, to give us the land.
a. Who is speaking?
b. Identify the “us” in this passage.
Similarly, God said to Abraham, “Come out of Ur that I might bring you in.”
c. If you want to have a life of faith, you must forsake idolatry. You say, “I don’t have any idols.” Is there anything you’ve put on a pedestal, something or someone you love more, serve more, fear more, trust more than God?
That is an idol. Some love money more than God. Some fear man more than God. Some trust ability more than God. You cannot live a life of faith unless you are willing to come out of the old way. And you must turn from that idolatry, which is sin. Do you know the reason that many people don’t have faith? They’re not willing to leave Ur of the Chaldees. They try to have faith right where they are in their same old lifestyle and they wonder why it doesn’t work. There’s nothing that will quench the Spirit and quell faith more than sin in the heart.
d. Remember from our recent study, we examined carefully Psalm 66:18—
If I ___________ (cherish, hold onto) _____________ in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.
This is a sobering thought—if you want God to hear your prayers, your petitions for others, to answer when you call upon Him, He’s not going to o it I you still cling to sin and idolatry in your life. It will be the costliest hoarding you have ever done.
I pray that God will rivet these verses upon your heart:
3. Turn to Hebrews 3:12
Beware lest there be in any of you an evil ___________ of _____________.
Unbelief never comes out of the head, it comes out of the heart.
Some people say they can’t believe the Word of God because they have intellectual problems. No, they have a sin problem. There is some iniquity, some rotten sin they’re holding onto, cherishing.
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us _____ _________ every weight, and the ______ which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
How do you look to Jesus? By laying aside those weights and sins that so easily beset us. There’s no way you can pray in faith with unconfessed, unrepented of sin in your heart.
Many people say, “I doubt my salvation, I’m not sure I’m saved, I have doubt, I have doubt, I have doubt. You talk to them about their theology, and they’ll nod their head, but they still have doubt. If you stay there long enough, you’ll find out that that person has sin in his or her life. Idols they’ve not forsaken. Things they’re doing. What right would you have to have absolute assurance if you’re living with sin in your heart and in your life? If you’re having trouble with faith, try repentance.
THE REWARD OF FAITH
We’re back in Genesis 12 now, and God’s promise of blessing once Abraham leaves his father’s house and land and devotes himself totally to God:
2 And I will make of thee a ________ _________, and I will _______ thee, and make thy name ________; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will _________ them that _________ thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in _______ shall _____ ______________ of the earth be blessed.
By faith man gives God pleasure and by faith God give man treasure. We please God when we believe Him. God promises several things to Abraham, but every blessing of God—not some, every—is appropriated by faith. Some people just want the gift of a Midas touch so they can get what they want—all self-centered. God wants you to be a river of revival, not a reservoir of blessings.
If you begin to pray, “God, make me a blessing,” faith begins to flow through your life. It’s amazing how much God will let pass through your hands if you will receive and give. Think of how God used Abraham to be a blessing. Out of Abraham we have the Jewish nation, the descendants of Abraham who gave us the Bible. We have the prophets, Moses, and in the flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no greater blessing than to be a blessing. This is the reward of faith.
THE RELAPSE OF FAITH
I wish I could tell you that Abraham never had a relapse in his faith, but he did. At one point, his faith failed and faltered.
1. Back to Genesis 12:10
10 And there was a famine in the land[Canaan]: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
In the wonderful land of plenty, the land that represents the fullness of the Spirit—corn and oil, wine, figs, grapes, pomegranates—of Canaan, there arose a __________.
God had called Abraham there, so why allow a famine once he got there?
Abraham’s faith was being tested. God tested Abraham several times, not to make him fall, but God revealed to him some weaknesses—flaws Abraham would have to deal with to become the man God wanted him to be. A faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted.
2. See 1 Peter 1:7
7 That the _________ of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with _______, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
The word “trial” here is the same word used when describing what a metalsmith does to see how pure a metal is. The miner brings his gold to be tested; God brings our faith to be tested. God allowed a famine in the promised land of Canaan, exactly where God had told Abraham to go.
What’s the lesson for us? Sometimes we think when we serve and obey God, we’ll be free from all testing and trials. Not true. There can be trials and heartaches in the land of milk and honey.
Abraham’s Faith Falters
He does something he’s not supposed to do. He goes down to the land of Egypt. Abraham’s steps down may be the same steps you’re in danger of taking:
1. Sinful Compromises.
A. His nephew Lot.
In Genesis 12:1, God told Abraham, “Get out of there, get away from your kinfolk,” but in verses 4-5, we learn Abraham didn’t fully obey because he _______________
Taking Lot along with him was a costly compromise. In later chapters in Genesis, we find…
Turn to Genesis 13 :10.
“And Lot lifted up his eyes and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well-watered everywhere before the Lord ______________ _________ and ________________, even as the garden of the Lord like the land of __________.”
Lot said, “Look—this is like Egypt, that’s the way I want to go.”
By not obeying fully and bringing Lot along, Abraham bought a whole pack of trouble for himself.
B. Haran Stop-off.
Abraham doesn’t go all the way to Canaan; he stops off in Haran. He’s like some of you. You give your heart to Jesus, but you have some hangover sins, and you compromise a little bit. You say, “I’m going to keep this thing or that thing in my life.”
2. Misplaced Confidence.
Egypt with plenty of food began to look real good to Abraham. He said, “There’s food in Egypt. God gave me a brain, God gave me a mind, God doesn’t expect me to starve,” so he went down to Egypt.
Turn to Isaiah 31:1.
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they _______ _______ unto the Holy One of Israel, neither _______ ____ _______!
Sometimes you begin by compromising, then you put your confidence in places you ought not. Things get bad and you begin to scheme. A wise person said, “Never doubt in the dark what God has showed you in the light.”
It’s amazing: Abraham trusted God to take him all the way from Ur of the Chaldees, then didn’t trust God after he got there!
Have you ever trusted God to save you and then don’t trust God to keep you? Have you ever trusted God for spiritual things and then can’t trust him for material things? Have you trusted God for all eternity and yet you can’t trust him for next week?
3. Changing Conduct.
Notice how Abraham’s conduct begins to change. He takes his father with him, he takes Lot with him, he doesn’t go all the way but stops awhile in Haran, he gets to Canaan; everything’s not like it ought to be, so he goes down to Egypt for help, where he compromises further!
In Genesis 12:11, Abraham, the father of the faithful, asks his attractive wife Sarai to ______________________________________ to save his own hide. That rascal.
He life was unraveling.
I’m ashamed of Abraham. Did you know that a Christian, a true Christian, can do some terrible things? “That which is flesh is flesh.” I don’t care how long you’ve been saved, your flesh has not improved one iota. Your flesh cannot become cultured and changed. If you take your eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ and stop living by faith, you’ll discover your old fleshly nature is still there.
Many a Christian who started out a life of faith began to compromise, scheme, then do things he would never have dreamed he might have done.
Unbelief is a thief. Blessings were stolen from Abraham. This lapse of faith cost Abraham---
Some parents have compromised their faith, gone down to Egypt, yet not come all the way out or let go of all those idols. You may come out and be all right, but your son or daughter may not. There may be tastes and desires in their lives because you’ve been camping out in Egypt.
THE RESTORATION OF FAITH
How to Repair a Broken Faith
Thank God Abraham didn’t stay there. Here’s how he got restored.
Back to Genesis 13, see verses 1-4.
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; 4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
He went back to where he left off with the Lord. He was an old man at this time, but he was young in the faith. I’m grateful God was tender and patient with him. God remembered his frailty:
For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:14
Abraham failed in the school of faith, but God just re-enrolled him, put him through again. God doesn’t grade on the curve; He keeps on re-enrolling us, giving us the lesson so we can pass.
How did Abraham repair his broken faith? Three things.
This is the way you can repair your broken faith.
And Abraham went up ______ of _________. Genesis 13:1
He already had forsaken the Ur of the Chaldees and now he forsakes Egypt. Are you willing to forsake Egypt? You cannot get right with God and remain in Egypt.
Is there some sin in your life that’s invalidating your faith? Repent of it. The most miserable man on earth is not an unsaved man but a saved man out of fellowship with God. What a terrible cost to remain in Egypt. Oh, the misery of believing in God and living in Egypt.
And he went on his journeys from the south, even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the __________________. Genesis 13:2
Did you once walk with God and remember how it was when God was real to you? When you had your Bethel? That’s where Abraham had met God in the first place.
Was there ever a time where God was nearer, dearer, sweeter to you than He is right now? If so, you’re backslidden. Remember what it was like, how sweet it was when you walked with the Lord. Let God bring you back to His house.
You ask, “How can I get right with God? Where can I find Him?” You’ll find him right where you left Him. You don’t have to guess at it. You get on your knees, your face, God will show you. Go back to your first love.
Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 13:4
He went back to the altar, gave it all back to God, and the Lord cleansed him.
Here’s the sweet thing: when you read the New Testament, you don’t read anything about Abraham’s failure. Nothing. The only way you can find that is to read it in the Old Testament. Isn’t God good? God did not remember his sin. God remembered his faith.
And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17
If you’ve gotten away from God and your faith needs First Aid, do what Abraham did:
Father God, I thank you for the life of faith. And Lord, I pray in my own heart and my own life, You’ll help me not to compromise, but to come all the way out of the land of idolatry. Not to compromise by taking a sojourn into Egypt, but to live day after day just trusting you, relying on Your Word. In Jesus’ name, amen.