Called to Freedom
Galatians 11: Father Abraham
April 28, 2013
SCRIPTURE READING: Gen. 12:1-6 (Eddie)
I grew up in the church, going to Sunday School, so I have seen my share of FLANNEL GRAPHS and eaten a lot of GOLDFISH crackers. But the single most iconic Sunday School memory is one SONGS.
Q Can you guess the song?
“FATHER ABRAHAM had many sons, many sons had father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s just praise the Lord!”
Unbeknownst to me (and probably the teacher), that song contains a PROFOUND THEOLOGICAL TRUTH, which Paul’s topic today:
Galatians 3:6-9 Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
If you are in Christ, you are indeed an heir of Abraham, recipient of all of the same BLESSINGS and RESPONSIBILITIES.
* This is far bigger than simply singing the Christian version of “99 BOTTLES of BEER on the wall.”
Right now, I am reading “TEAM of RIVALS,” about Abraham Lincoln and how he brought his political opponents into his cabinet. In addressing the slavery issue, the FOUNDING FATHERS were even more revered than they are today.
* Likewise, the Jews as well as the Judizers deeply valued Abraham and his STORY carried great WEIGHT.
To briefly SUMMARIZE: Abraham’s story begins in Genesis 3, right after the Fall, when God promised:
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
This was God’s promise to restore the damage done by sin. Things were fairly quiet on this front for a while, until ABRAHAM.
BLESSED THROUGH ABRAHAM
The key point is that God’s plan was to work through ONE MAN to reach out to the entire world. God made great promises to him and those promises are now made to US:
Genesis 12:2-3 “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.”
Notice the key phrase there, see if it SOUNDS FAMILIAR:
Galatians 3:8-9 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The blessing is, PRIMARILY, though NOT EXCLUSIVELY, “JUSTIFICATION by faith.” That means being found NOT GUILTY, being made RIGHTEOUS, and being ADOPTED into God’s family.
* We are adopted into Abraham’s family, which is God’s family, for “I will be YOUR God and you will be MY PEOPLE.”
FAITH LIKE ABRAHAM
Abraham was the father of the God’s people, and was the EXEMPLAR of what being a Jew meant. THEY would point to how Abraham had been CIRCUMCISED and say “You should too.”
* But they drew the wrong lessons from his life.
Abraham was NOT saved through OBEDIENCE to the Law (which didn’t exist yet). Scripture doesn’t say that God chose him because he was REALLY GOOD. He probably wasn’t even a MONOTHEIST.
* The one thing he did was BELIEVE and TRUST God.
Abraham’s faith serves as a great EXAMPLE to us. Remember, faith is not believing the UNBELIEVABLE. It is not working up the FORCE of WILL to have the “faith of a mustard seed.”
* Faith is TRUSTING GOD to do what he said he will do; it is trusting him more than we trust OURSELVES.
Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
* Notice the key point – Abraham’s ACTIONS PROVED that he knew Isaac would live.
Abraham’s FAITH was not a COLLECTION of DOCTRINES, but absolute trust that God was who he said he was and would do what he said he would do.
* Abraham’s FAITH meant that MOVED when God TOLD him to move, stopped when told to stop, and SACRIFICED his son when told.
DOCTRINE VS. PROMISES
As we read the Bible and listen to sermons, we can either think in terms of DOCTRINAL POINTS to be understood or PROMISES to be BELIEVED, and then ACTED on.
* We have been JUSTIFIED by God’s GRACE: This is a PROMISE that we don’t need to make God ACCEPT us, so we stop trying.
* Christ’s GRACE is SUFFICIENT, so we can MOVE FORWARD even when we feel WEAK.
* God is a loving FATHER and PROVIDER: We show faith by NOT being ANXIOUS.
* God is OMNISCIENT: We need to ACT in accordance to his COMMANDS.
Q What Christian BELIEFS do your ACTIONS CONTRADICT?
A BLESSING TO THE NATIONS
But there is ANOTHER WAY that we are supposed to be like Father Abraham: We are responsible to help fulfill “be a blessing...”
The point of Christianity has never been “Jesus SAVES you so you can go to HEAVEN,” it has always been, “God brought you into his kingdom so you can extend his KINGDOM into the world.”
1 Peter 2:9-12 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Last week I was at a board retreat for FRIENDSHIP HOUSE. We were talking about how “growth” as a CORE VALUE. “Volunteers, staff, and those in need should leave different than when they came.”
* Likewise, OUR CORNER of the world should be DIFFERENT because we came.
A BLESSING TO OUR NEIGHBORS
I talk a lot about “ENGAGING our CULTURE,” and the importance of being a light to the nations. I think one of the most important ways for our church to move forward is to help others.
* HELPING OTHERS is a key component of BEING HEALED.
I want to look at ways that some of you are already doing that, to help inspire all of us to do it more.
1. JOHN Pugh: Praying in Darrington
2. NATE Kaplan: Hiring non-Christians
3. MARILYN: Our “Youth group”/Friendship House
There are THREE KEY ways I see these stories showing us how to be a blessing:
1. PRAY: This is no token thing – God moves because of our prayers.
2. INVEST: Give of yourself (cf. neighborhood kids over).
3. RISK: Not safety but stepping outside of yourself.
Q HOW are we supposed to be a blessing to the nations?
Q More importantly, what is ONE WAY that YOU can be a BLESSING to your neighbors?
* Please text Sunday School Teachers ; service is almost over