Freed to be Free #8
The Man of Faith
Why God Responds to Faith
Houston pastor John Bisango describes a time when his daughter age five, came to him and asked for a doll house. John promptly nodded and promised to build her one, then he went back to reading his book. Soon he glanced out the study window and saw her arms filled with dishes, toys, and dolls, making trip after trip until she had a great pile of playthings in the yard. He asked his wife what she was doing.
“Oh, you promised to build her a doll house, and she believes you. She’s just getting ready for it.”
“You would have thought I’d been hit by an atom bomb,” John later said. “I threw aside that book, raced to the lumber yard for supplies, and quickly built that little girl a doll house. Now why did I respond? Because I wanted to? No. Because she deserved it? No. Her daddy had given his word, and she believed it and acted upon it. When I saw her faith, nothing could keep me from carrying out my word.”*
We continue in our Study of Grace through Faith in the book of Galatians … today in Chapter 3
He was an everyday guy, but not the guy you would expect to be famously used by God.
Like most people today, he knew who God was but chose instead to find his own way. He chose to create his own god rather than worship to the true God.
He rejected the place that God deserved in life.
He lived among a people that worshipped idols.
But God appeared to him, and spoke to him, revealed himself to him, and invited him to follow him.
God was very clear in his call to Abraham.
Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
He told him to
Leave his country
Leave his people
Leave his family
Go to the land I will show
We must see first that NIV correctly translates it “The Lord HAD SAID” …
Because when you back up into 11:31 you see that Terah, Abraham’s Father, left Ur of the Chaldeans headed for Canaan, with Abraham and Grandson, Lot. But they stopped a short way out in Haran and “settled there” …
God is not a God who accepts when we settle for less than what he commands.
So Abraham, after his Father died, continued in the original call and promises of God.
His nephew, Lot, went with him.
But if you know the story, when given a choice for where to live, Lot walked by SIGHT and picked a lush valley with two cities called Sodom and Gomorrah. And he disappears from the pages of history in Genesis 19 after his city is destroyed by God, his wife is turned to salt, and his daughters disgraced him.
Terah died outside of God’s Blessing
Lot died in disgrace
But Abraham died in Faith, Obedience, and Expectation … and 1500 years later Paul is lifting him up as a Paragon of Faith and another 2000 years later we are still looking to follow his footsteps.
Paul uses this term,
“The Man of Faith.”
We hear that term about people, “He’s a Man of Faith”; “She’s a Woman of Faith”.
But what IS a Person of Faith?
a Person of Faith
1. Believes God
If you look back at the first five verses of this chapter, you will see that Paul asks 6 questions.
Now in these verses he makes 6 statements about the Person of faith. We’ll see two in each of three points.
A. Abraham believed and it was Credited as Righteousness
1. notice that it is always God’s Grace ALONE that chooses to reveal himself to anyone and offer them the opportunity for life and blessing.
2. Did God choose Abraham because he deserved it? No, he chose Abraham because he wanted to
3. God came to Abraham and revealed himself to him. We don’t have the details about that revelation but it was MORE than enough for Abraham to set aside the idol worship he had known, according to (Joshua 24:2), and choose to place his life, his family, his future, his address in the hands of Almighty God. We may not know HOW God revealed himself but his revelation is always enough. Just as his revelation of himself is enough for you.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
Abraham Believed God
4. There was something INTERNAL that happened to Abraham that day when he heard God and believed God.
a. We are spiritual beings.
b. That is to say, we were created with an ability to relate to God.
c. but our sin separates us from God. We can’t act right, we can’t live right. Our righteous acts, good deeds, good intentions, and religious studies and expressions will never make us righteous in God’s eyes.
5. Look at the Faith of Abraham
a. Abraham believed even though he didn’t know WHERE God was taking him, living in tents looking forward to the city of God.
b. He believed even though he didn’t know HOW God could do what he said he would do
c. he believed, though he didn’t know WHEN the promise would be fulfilled
d. he believed, in spite of the fact that he didn’t know WHY God had chosen him for himself.
e. He didn’t know Where, How, When, or Why, he just knew That he had been called he just knew WHAT God had said, GO to a place I will show … I.E. FOLLOW ME
6. 19th Century Commentator G. G. Findlay wrote, “the Legalist tries to make God believe in him; Abraham and Paul are content to BELIEVE in God.”
7. We are NOT Saved by making Promises to God and hoping He will believe us. We are saved by Believing the Promises of God, believing in HIM.
And Paul makes his next statement
B. Those who Believe, are the children of Abraham
1. the person of faith becomes one of Abraham’s descendants. We try to be good people and somehow attain the state of being people of faith. But folks that is backwards. We must be people of faith to move into God’s righteousness before we can become people with a righteous character. Findlay puts it this way,
“righteousness of character springs out of righteous standing.”
2. We follow Abraham’s example. We experience HIS inheritance. When we are people of faith, we look like him. We are part of his family. Jew or Gentile, man or woman, B.C. or A.D.
3. Paul strips away the power of any form of religious or racial bigotry with this statement about who are Abraham’s Children. The Judaizers would have said that Israel in general and the correct law followers in specific were Abraham’s posterity, but Paul says NO, it is the people of faith.
4. we cannot boast over any other person of faith, because they have the same standing as do we, an offspring of Abraham.
5. Every “child of Abraham” has this in common with him …
a. we have lived and were born among other pagan people
b. we have been called by God to come out of the idolatry of worshipping self
c. we have been called to enter into the promise of God and dwell in his goodness
d. we have been blessed by the promised seed.
6. If you have not believed God internally, then you cannot walk with God externally … Abraham Believed God and it was credited as Righteousness … The Righteous don’t live by righteousness … the Righteous Live by Faith (Hab 2:4)
7. Romans 10:10 – says “with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made into salvation” –
There is an INTERNAL and an EXTERNAL component to faith and righteousness
8. Times change but the condition of the human heart does not and God’s demands do not change.
9. Abraham lived thousands of years ago, Habakkuk a thousand years less. Paul wrote this letter 1950 years ago … but whether in the iron age, or the age of the Chaldeans, or the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages, the Industrial Age, the Computer Age, the Modern World, the Post-Modern World, or any age that will follow into Eternity, one thing remains,
The Just, the Righteous will live by Faith, and not just ANY faith, but the Person of Faith will Believe God.
Abraham was called “The Friend of God”, what greater thing can be said of a person than that they are a friend? What greater friend is their than a friend of God?
Abraham’s belief was not passive but active
A friend is one who shows himself friendly,
a friend is one who will restructure their lives for the object of their friendship …
So, the Person of Faith …
2. Orders Their Lives Around the Word of God
Psalm 119:133 – Order my steps your word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me
Do you remember the song
Order my steps in your word dear Lord,
Lead me, guide me, everyday
Send your anointing, Father I pray
Order my steps in your word,
Please, order my steps in your word.
Humbly, I ask thee to teach me your will,
While you are working, help me be still,
Satan is busy, but my God is real;
Order my steps in your word
Please, order my steps in your word.
Abraham believed God internally, but he also MOVED to follow God Externally
Paul’s 3rd statement
A. All who rely on the law are under the Curse
1. Henry Blackaby says “you can’t stay where you are and go with God”
2. Romans 4:14-15 says for if those who live y law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression
3. you can’t do it YOUR way and expect to get God’s results
4. the reason we remain under a curse, when we attempt salvation by works or the law, is because the law never had the ability to save. It reveals sin. Remember it is the “class monitor” not the mediator that brings us to God. Because There is “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men (1 tim 2:5,6)
5. Abraham couldn’t stay where he was because God had revealed it was time to move.
6. We can’t get to God through the law because he has revealed a better way
Paul makes a 4th statement
B. Those who have Faith are Blessed with Him
1. When we do what he did we receive what he received
2. Abraham was told to “GO … and you will be blessed” – that is Combine Internal Faith with External Obedience
3. “Pastor, are you preaching a salvation of Faith combined with works?” NO, absolutely not! But I AM saying what James said, that “if you say you have Faith, let me see it.” If Abraham believed God he HAD to Follow. You cannot separate one from the other. Faith orders it’s life around the Word of God
4. as a friend of God, he reordered his life to the Revelation and Invitation of God
5. What will YOU do? You claim to believe in God, will you follow him? God told Abraham to Go … and he went. God revealed himself to Moses … and he had to leave the mountain and go to Egypt. Gideon met Jesus in Judges 6 and he had to LEAD God’s army. Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, James and John, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” and they left their nets, pulled their boats up on shore, and followed him. He told Matthew “Follow me” and he left his tax table and followed. Christ called Saul and told him to stop fighting him and follow him, and Paul was reborn.
6. Have you proven your faith with following, or does your failure to follow reveal a faulty faith?
God told Abraham, “I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless” (Gen 17:1)
BUT I CAN’T … Abraham could say … “you didn’t hear me, I am GOD ALMIGHTY”
7. God’s call to obedience is always preceded by his revelation of himself. If you believe what he says, who he says he is, then you will DO what he says and calls you to do.
8. God told Abraham in Gen. 15:1 “do not be afraid … I am your shield, your very great reward”
Why are we fearful? Fear of losing what we have or think that we need. But God says “I will protect you … I am your reward”
i.e. you don’t have to worry about losing anything you need because you have me and I am ALL you need!
“Pastor, aren’t you just calling us to a different FORM of legalism” …
Great question, but NO! and neither was Paul.
9. He was trying to get them to see the foundation for the law in Abraham and the completion of the law, in Christ Jesus, are at the same time, both simpler AND more a complex expression of FAITH.
10. as strange as it may seem, a list of rules, no matter how exhaustive, are much easier than the responsibility to follow Christ.
a. That is because the Man of Faith, Believes God …
b. while the Person who follows rules religiously doesn’t have to believe anything. They just have to do. (Say this, do that, don’t do that, don’t do this, check a box and move on.)
11. The Man of Faith orders their lives around the Word of God. The Religious man orders heir lives around something too, but it is manmade so I don’t have to follow God. Just stay where I am, doing what I am doing
Following God is a dynamic relationship of hearing, believing, and following.
Because the Man of Faith … Believes God
Orders their Lives around the Word
3. Lives By Faith
That is so much more complex because it means I have to evaluate every part of my life and see if I am in line with God.
I have to ask, “Do I believe what he says?” “Do I do what I say I believe?”
But with a life of faith comes a life of Blessing
Paul makes his fifth statement
A. No One is Justified by the Law … but by Faith
1. Faith that orders it’s life around the Word, then moves to a lifestyle of faith.
2. if you know the story, you know that Abraham wasn’t perfect. He struggled with belief and trust but he kept moving.
Proverbs 24:16 – though a righteous man falls seven times he always rises
The seven there is a symbol of perfection … What made Abraham a perfect example of a man of faith is that he kept getting back up. He kept following. He recognized that perfection / blamelessness before God doesn’t come from his personal ability but on the Grace of God.
3. That’s what separated him from the others around him.
Thomas Fuller, a Puritan Preacher said that people are divided into 3 Groups: Intenders, Endeavorers, and Performers.
a. Terah, Abraham’s father was an intender. He moved out of Ur, he was heading for Canaan, the problem is that he settled in Haran. By the way, God called Abraham out of the Idolatry of Ur, and then Terah settled in Haran, Haran was known as a city centered around the worship of the Lunar god, whose name happened to be SIN. He was called out, but settled for sin. But he intended to follow God … Are you an intender?
b. What about Lot, Terah’s grandson, Abraham’s nephew … He endeavored on. He left the land of Sin, he tried hard … he tried to be a good husband, a good father, he tried to be a good businessman he tried to choose the what looked right … but that was his problem, he walked by sight. He left the land of Sin, he left Ur and Haran, but his sight walking got him in Sodom. Are you an endeavorer?
c. but no one is justified by trying or by settling … Abraham wasn’t perfect, but he had Faith.
And he performed his faith. He left Ur, he left Haran. He left the land of sin. He worked his way to Canaan, he survived famines, fears, kings and pharaohs. He got past his self-doubt and personal sin. He kept on believing. He was a performer of Faith, not an intender, not an endeavorer, he followed through on his faith because there is no other way to be Right before God than to have faith.
Let’s be honest though, it’s hard to have faith, if it’s blind faith. What Abraham had was the Word of God, but nothing to see.
We have much more than Abraham did. We have a greater reason to place our faith.
As Paul makes one last statement
B. Christ Redeemed …
… that the Blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles that by Faith we might HAVE the Holy Spirit
1. there is a REASON, something we can be sure of in placing our faith. We don’t have to WONDER if we are made right with God when we place our faith in Christ, because Christ has secured it. We will talk more about the legal ramifications next week, but we Christ has given us a foundation for our faith
2. He has Redeemed us – exagorazo /ex-ag-or-ad-zo/ payment of a price to recover from the power of another, to ransom, buy off
We’ve been living in the Land of Sin … Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death …” And Jesus Christ on the cross paid our price to recover us from the power of sin
3. “in order that” – Jesus didn’t go to the cross for NOTHING … he Redeemed us with a Purpose …
4. “that the blessing given to Abraham might come …” –
a. Blessing – eulogia /yoo-log-ee-ah/ praise, laudation, panegyric – now that last word is not one I’ve ever used, but it means an eulogistic oration or writing, a formal or elaborate praise
b. come – ginomai – to come into existence, to receive being
c. oh Listen, there is nothing in me that would warrant God praising me … not any formal blessing. I am not worthy and will never be worthy. What could God, write or same about me? … let me come back …
5. When we in faith receive the gracious gift of Salvation, we are sons of Abraham and receive the Blessing of Abraham …
What is that? Oh there are some things out there. There are sermons out there and songs out there, theology out there that will try and tell you that this means that the physical blessings of Abraham is For Us … but if we want to know what Paul means, we have to READ WHAT he said. It was as if God knew that we would misinterpret what he meant. This doesn’t give you the right to all of Israel’s physical promises. I would recommend that you don’t go over to Israel and try to claim every place you step your foot as yours. That is NOT the Blessing that God is talking about. God is NOT saying that he’s going to make a great nation out of you, nor that you necessarily will be a blessing to the world …
6. Read verse 14 that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles (that’s us) through Christ Jesus, so that by FAITH we might RECEIVE the promise of the Spirit. Which blessing is he talking about? The Word means a Formal Oration of praise, a writing of praise, elaborate praise. What is the ELABORATE Praise that Abraham received? “Abraham Believed God and it was credited to him as Righteousness” There is no one righteous not even one. Romans 4:16 says “the promise comes by faith” …
Oh dear resident or former resident of the “land of Sin” … none of us is worthy of the Praise of God … But Jesus Christ died, purchasing our pardon, buying us back from the hold that sin had on us. And because I received him by Faith, I have been given the Holy Spirit. And so Christ’s Righteousness is put into MY Account. So when God looks at me, when he looks at every Person of Faith, he writes the most praiseworthy thing, he places your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life and he will not never erase it.
When he looks at me, he stands to his feet and offers up praise
When I stand in the courts of Heaven, God will look at me and he won’t see me, he will see Christ IN ME, that is my hope of Glory. God will count me worthy and he will say “Enter in …”
The Greatest Blessing Abraham can pass to us is the Blessing of the Righteousness that comes by faith.
Because I have placed my faith in Christ, I can say what they said of Abraham
I Am A Friend of God
Yes in Him, my name is GREAT it is in the Lamb’s Book
Yes I Am Part of a Great Family, the Family of God
Yes I have been given a Land of Promise … the Land of the Living …
what a trade for the land of sin
I Am a Friend of God
I am a Friend of God
I am a Friend of God
He calls ME Friend …
When I stand to be judged, they won’t list my sins and call me a stranger to God, they will say “Jim Believed God and it was Credited to him as Righteousness”
What about You?
* John Bisango, The Power of Positive Praying (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1965), 24.
Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (285). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.