Becoming a Father of Faith

Dr. Steve Viars June 21, 2020
Outline

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested...”

“ln your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

4 characteristics of a mature faith that impacts your family and others

I. Grows Through God's Testing Over Time - vv. 1-2

Genesis 22:1 - …after these things…

Genesis 1:28 - God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 6:5 - Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 11:4 - They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Genesis 11:8-9 - So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

Genesis 15:6 -Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

A. “After these things” - v. 1 - God's tests are often failed many times before we arrive at maturity

Psalm 145:8 - The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in loving kindness.

Genesis 18:14 - Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.

B. "Offer him up" - v. 2 - God's tests involve a choice of obedience that we see as the loss or death of something

II. Demonstrates Devotion to God Alone

A. “Burnt offering” – (v. 2-3)

Genesis 22:1 - Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Genesis 22:2 - He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

1. represents your whole life

“In the sacrificial system a ‘whole burnt offering’ was a substitute for the worshipper. The symbolism is that all the sacrifice ascending in smoke to God is representative of the worshipper offering all of himself to God. Isaac in this sense represented all of Abraham, all the promises.” (Willem VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 407

Genesis 22:5 - Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”

2. includes giving that which you love to the Lord

1 Samuel 15:14 - But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”

1 Samuel 15:22-23 - Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”

B. “Rose early” – immediate obedience (v. 3)

Genesis 22:3 - So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

“The past few weeks, I’ve been uncomfortable,” Lawrence said to the crowd. “That word ‘uncomfortable’ will be an important one in all of our steps in our journey to bring equality. I’ve learned that every truly good thing in life comes from being brave and stepping into the uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to set aside everything I know about America and listen to someone else’s perspective. However, it’s necessary.”

“I’ve learned a lot in this past month,” Lawrence told the crowd. “There’s three main things that I’m learning. I’m learning to listen more; I’m learning that listening is usually more valuable than talking. You learn when you listen, and you begin to understand when you listen. I’m learning to try and put myself in the shoes of those who are in pain. Empathy and compassion will be vital as we take the right steps towards reconciliation.

“I’m also learning that love can conquer all things, and love is what will bring change,” Lawrence said. “One of the most timely verses right now is 1 Peter 4:8, it says, ‘Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.’”

“So let’s continue to listen, learn and love, even when it is uncomfortable—especially when it’s uncomfortable,” Lawrence said. “Because this is when change happens. And the world for generations to come will be different. It’ll be better. So thank you guys for coming out, and let this just be one of many steps in the right direction in the future.”

III. Exercises Reasoned Faith Based Upon the Promises and Character of God – vv. 4-14, cf. Hebrew 11:19

A. Knows God’s character by how he revealed himself in the past

Genesis 22:5 - Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”

Hebrews 11:17-19 - By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.

B. Trusts the promise of life amidst a command to die

C. Has faith in God’s provision for “the lamb” (v. 8)

Genesis 22:8 - Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

IV. Becomes a Blessing to Others

Genesis 22:16-18 - and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

- How many of you enjoy, or enjoyed, taking tests? ... I'm sure there may be that rare exception among us, but most of us would say that wasn't our favorite activity in school...

- did you have a teacher, or a professor, who was known for giving especially difficult ones? ...

- for anyone who attended the same Bible college I did during the many years this man taught

-they would all shout out the same name in unison ... Dr. Carter. ..

- that name could still send chills up your spine ... Dr. Rembert Carter ... a PhD from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland ... you had him your freshman year for the History of Western Civilization ...

- Dr. Carter loved that topic - and he wanted you to love it too ...

- that started with a textbook that was practically impossible to comprehend ... I can remember sitting down at my desk and trying to crowd out all the sounds around me and read the same paragraph over and over and say to myself ... I have no idea what this means ...

- he was also an incredibly great lecturer... but he went so fast that you were taking notes like a wild person ...

- but he was especially known for his tests ...

- it wasn't just that they were incredibly difficult... but it's the way he gave them ...

- on test day, you received an exam ... and a scratch off card, kind-of like a lottery card

- your test was different than the person sitting next you…and so was the answer card ...

- it was all multiple choice ... and you had to keep scratching off possible answers till you find the correct one ...

- your grade was determined by trying to have the fewest number of scratch off's by time the test was over ...

- so you're just trembling because you don't want to scratch off another wrong answer...

- and keep in mind, I was going to school with people planning to be pastors, and missionaries, and Christian schoolteachers ...

- let's just say I learned some new vocabulary words from classmates as we kept scratching and failing...

- however, does God give tests? ... he sure does ... the passage we're about to study begins with the words ... "Now it came about after these things, that God tested ... " ...

- it doesn't get any plainer than that...

- However, before this passage is over ... because this individual handled the test so well, the Lord said to him ... "ln your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

- please think about the conditions of the world in which we live ...

- wouldn't you like to know how to handle a test of your faith in a way that the earth and those living in it would be blessed in some way? ...

- especially because there are so many evidences of the curse all around us these days ... imagining living in a way that others around you are blessed ...

- with that in mind, please open you Bible to Genesis 22 ... this summer we've been doing a series on Overcoming Fear and Worry ...

- we started in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 and thought about how we don't have to worry because God faithfully provides for even the birds and the lilies and He surely loves us more than them ...

- then we studied the magnificent miracle of the giving of manna to the children of Israel... a provision that pointed directly to the bread of life, the Lord Jesus Christ and the ultimate satisfaction we can find in Him ...

- last week we looked 1 Peter chapter 1 and reminded ourselves of the beauty and power of God's great and precious promises ...

- this morning we're talking about Becoming a Father of Faith ...

- read Genesis 22:1-19

- so we're talking about Becoming a Father of Faith, and with the time we have remaining, let's think about 4 characteristics of a mature faith that impacts your family and others.

I. Grows Through God's Testing Over Time - vv. 1-2

- the phrase 22:1 - "after these things" is loaded with meaning ...

- by this chapter we know that God has created people male and female and placed them in a perfect garden to be his visible representatives on this earth ... we are image bearers unlike any aspect of God's creation ...

- we have this marvelous summary -- Genesis 1 :28 - God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

- in order to fulfill this task, God counseled them in the garden of the cool of the day with words and guidance they were to obey and follow so they could represent Him well...

- unfortunately they rebelled and God's counsel came true ... their disobedience resulted in death - beginning with guilt/shame in their relationship with God and each other ...

- and as the story unfolds in subsequent chapters, the development of a culture that grows more wicked and disobedient by the day ...

- but there's a background of unfolding hope ... because even while Adam and Eve hung their heads in shame after trying to blame one another for their sin – God explained that Someone was coming who would crush Satan's head, even though in the process His own heel would be bruised ...

- yet the pride and rebellion against God's Word continues until we reach chapter 6 where we read this startling summary ... Genesis 6:5 - Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

- kind of sounds like the nightly news, doesn't it? ...

- then we have the flood, and the promise of the rainbow ... but instead of scattering and filling the earth as they were commanded, we find mankind proclaiming in Genesis 11 - Genesis 11 :4 - They said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."

- that's when Genesis 11 :8-9 - So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

- that was an act of grace, to restrain man's evil and pride and self-righteousness and rebellion ...

- it was in that setting that God came in Genesis 12 to the man we know as "father Abraham" ...

- and in a crucial interchange, God came and made a series of promises to him ... and in chapter 15:6, we read these incredibly important words ... Genesis 15:6 -Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

- I hope those who have been in our verse by verse exposition of Romans this year have these words ringing in your ears ... because that righteousness is a gift from God through the finished work of the Messiah who was bruised on the heel... on the cross of Calvary ... so sin and death and the work of our adversary could be crushed ...

- now you might say-you better believe Abraham believed God ... look at what we just read in chapter 22 in his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac ...

- you also might say - perhaps under your breath - and there's no way I could have faith like this ... friend, that position would be forgetting some of "the things" ...

A. "After these things" - v. 1 - God's tests are often failed many times before we arrive at maturity

- if you know your Bible ... you can remember some of Abraham's so called "lapses of faith" ... times when he failed miserably ...

- like in chapter 12 when he told his wife to lie to the Pharaoh and say she was his sister so they wouldn't kill him and take her...

- which made it easier for them ... to take her ... "father Abraham" did that... and can we all take out our red pens and put a big "F" on the top of his paper ... and maybe send him out in the hall for some special instruction if we still even believe in that anymore ...

- God had to miraculously intervene but because Sarai was getting older and then still didn't even have one child, much less an entire nation ... they took matters in their own hands and Abram went into his handmaiden Hagar and conceived a son ...

- instead of waiting for God to keep His promise in a way that was consistent with His commands ... Abraham sought a human solution to a seemingly complex problem....

- here's the point - just because you may have failed in the past - multiple times and in spectacular ways ... that doesn't mean there's no place for you in the plan and program of God today ...

- because Abraham's Father is Psalm 145:8 - The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in loving kindness.

- by time we get to chapter 22, much has occurred ... God reaffirmed His covenant when Abraham was 99 years old ... He appeared again to him and Sarah and repeated the promise and when Sarah heard it, she laughed ... [which by the way, is a decidedly bad thing to do when you hear the Word of God] ... and the response was – Genesis 18:14 - Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.

- did God keep that promise? ... does God always keep His word? ...

- for people like you and me who are so prone to worry ... and are so prone to follow man made solutions to our problems because they seem faster, easier, or more palatable to the unbelieving people around us ... does God always keep His Word? ...

- yes, but often in the form of a test...

B. "Offer him up" -v. 2 - God's tests involve a choice of obedience that we see as the loss or death of something

- friend, are there any ways you are being tested right now? ... regarding the pandemic and all that goes along with where we are in that story right now? ...

- with everything happening with the murders and the protests? .... what is God up to in your life? ...

- in what way is He testing your love for Him? ... your willingness to follow His Word even when you can't see how obedience could ever work out? ...

- the good news is - even if you have failed those tests before ... that doesn't mean you have to fail the next one, even if the next one is even bigger …

II. [A Mature Faith] Demonstrates Devotion to God Alone

- this was to be a…

A. “Burnt offering” – (v. 2-3)

- of course by now their son has been born – so Abraham and Sarah name him Isaac – meaning – “he laughs” – God has turned their laughter of doubt and unbelief into joy as they hold in their arms the son of promise…

- God has produced from a womb that Sarah declared to be dead a little baby full of life…

- but now when he is in his early-mid-teens, God tests Abraham and did you notice his initial response?...

- Genesis 22:1 - Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

- then we read these unbelievable words…Genesis 22:2 - He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

- this kind of offering…

1. represents your whole life

- with some of the offerings in the OT sacrificial system…some of the offering was burned on the alter and some was eaten by the worshipper…that would be true of a fellowship offering for example…

- In the sacrificial system a “whole burnt offering” was a substitute for the worshipper. The symbolism is that all the sacrifice ascending in smoke to God is representative of the worshipper offering all of himself to God. Isaac in this sense represented all of Abraham, all the promises. (Willem VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 407.

- in other words, no part is reserved…this is why Abraham explained to his servants in a few verses…

- Genesis 22:5 - Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”

- how Abraham responded to this test would reveal the identity of his true God…the One to whom he was genuinely devoted…

2. Includes giving that which you love to the Lord

- sometimes people who practice lent around Easter joke and say things like, I’ll give up broccoli or exercise…

- otherwise sacrifice or religious words/rituals are meaningless and superficial…

- do you remember when King Saul was told to not leave any of his defeated enemy’s animals alive…and the prophet Samuel came and Saul said – I obeyed God’s Word…I obeyed God’s Word…

- and Samuel had a classic response… 1 Samuel 15:14 - But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”

- Saul did not pass the test…of devotion to God alone…

- and to the evangelical church and the culture in which we find ourselves…we could not overemphasize the importance of what was said next…

- 1 Samuel 15:22–23 - Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”

- that’s what happens when you fail the test…but thankfully Abraham was not like that…

B. “Rose early” – immediate obedience (v. 3)

- this verse is dripping with meaning…

- Genesis 22:3 - So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

- isn’t it delightful to see the way Abraham has allowed God to grow his faith?...

- because ultimately this story is pointing to another act of obedience…and another act of sacrifice…when our Savior voluntarily walked up the hill of Calvary and died on the cross for us…

- isn’t that just what we heard from Brock and Jenn Russell…and from all the testimonies we’ve heard this summer?...

- their faith is being tested…but they have the promises of God’s Word, and the principles of God’s Word…and they are going to believe and follow even when it’s hard…

- Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

- we could give positive examples of this in all sorts of directions…

- I’ve spoken with a number of men and women of color the last couple of weeks and have thanked the Lord for the authentic, honest way they have spoken…being forthright about struggles and injustices but ultimately anchoring their hope in God’s Word and the truth of the gospel…

- I’m hearing police officers who are hurting right now say they want to glorify God as they fulfill their duty even when there is unjust criticism against some of them…

- it’s pretty ironic in some cities that are screaming the loudest to defund the police while at the same time mandating that law enforcement officers work mandatory 12-hour days to manage protests with no days off…

- it’s great to see so many medical workers and government leaders…I hope we are all very thankful for these men and women in our community and state…who have been tested like never before and often done incredibly well…

- teachers…moms…students…

- I was telling the education committee the other day that of our church and associated ministries’ 175 employees, Scott Grass has had to carry the heaviest load…

- but because he’s let the Word of God be His guide and companion he’s passed the test with flying colors…

- here’s another example that really stood out…and I’m not asking you to completely agree with every illustration…but what’s happening at Clemson’s football program is really astounding…

- some time ago Sports Illustrated ran a cover story on the program and the role faith plays in the life of the coach and many of the players…

- and the article was clear – its not forced on anyone, but it’s certainly not hidden…

- their quarterback Trevor Lawrence is an outspoken believer…which is always a dangerous thing I know…

- but he and the some of the senior leaders of the team gathered at the coach’s house for a series of discussions…and then they led a peaceful protest about what’s been happening…

- and here’s some of what he said to the student body that was gathered…

“The past few weeks, I’ve been uncomfortable,” Lawrence said to the crowd. “That word ‘uncomfortable’ will be an important one in all of our steps in our journey to bring equality. I’ve learned that every truly good thing in life comes from being brave and stepping into the uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to set aside everything I know about America and listen to someone else’s perspective. However, it’s necessary.”

- please think about the word “test” and uncomfortable…because they certainly go together…

- “I’ve learned a lot in this past month,” Lawrence told the crowd. “There’s three main things that I’m learning. I’m learning to listen more; I’m learning that listening is usually more valuable than talking. You learn when you listen, and you begin to understand when you listen. I’m learning to try and put myself in the shoes of those who are in pain. Empathy and compassion will be vital as we take the right steps towards reconciliation.

- “I’m also learning that love can conquer all things, and love is what will bring change,” Lawrence said. “One of the most timely verses right now is 1 Peter 4:8, it says, ‘Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.’

- “So let’s continue to listen, learn and love, even when it is uncomfortable—especially when its’ uncomfortable,” Lawrence said. “Because this is when change happens. And the world for generations to come will be different. It’ll be better. So thank you guys for coming out, and let this just be one of many steps in the right direction in the future.”

- there’s so many observations that could be made about all of this – but one clear question for all of us is…what is God asking you to put on the alter in order to demonstrate your allegiance to Him?...

- now, let’s move a little further in the text…

III. Exercises Reasoned Faith Based Upon the Promises and Character of God – vv. 4-14, cf. Hebrew 11:19)

- I realize that’s a mouthful, but it’s important to see that Abraham wasn’t simply practicing blind faith here…neither is God calling you or me to do that…

A. Knows God’s character by how he revealed himself in the past

- one of the astounding aspects of this story is what Abraham told his servant…

- Genesis 22:5 - Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”

- please think about this for a minute…the verb “return” is plural…Abraham knew he and Isaac were coming back…and Hebrews 11:19 develops that fuller…

- Hebrews 11:17–19 - By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.

- Abraham knew that God’s Word had promised the nation would come through Isaac…and if God wanted him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice…Abraham was fully convinced that God was powerful enough to do what?...raise Isaac from the dead…

- and you could say – wow, that would have been even more powerful…perhaps we could respond…God was reserving that demonstration for another place and time…

B. Trusts the promise of life amidst a command to die

- this is why joyful thanksgiving is so important…

- God had already demonstrated His power over death by allowing Abraham and Sarah to conceive in the first place…

- and so he knew…

C. Has faith in God’s provision for “the lamb” (v. 8)

- Genesis 22:8 - Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

- that’s one of the biggest challenges whenever we’re being tested…will God provide?...

- families expecting a new baby face this…how does the conversation go?...would you like to have a boy or a girl?...

- stock answer – it doesn’t matter…as long as our baby is healthy…

- I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about how that answer impacts a family with one or more children with special needs…

- but perhaps the underlying fear or worry is – if I was tested like that, the need would outstrip the provision…

- we had a marvelous opportunity to talk about that as a church family at David Worrell’s memorial service a couple of weeks ago…

- when David and his brother Kyle were born 25 years ago…one weighed 1.6 pounds and the other 1.7…

- people cried out to God to spare their lives and He did…but the needs were significant…

- did God provide for David?...would you like the clear proof…

- this is going to be a rough Father’s Day for Scott – but he was an incredible example of being used of God to supply for David like only a loving, sacrificial father could…

- God gave him a loving mother, a great brother and two marvelous sisters…

- and there are so many great things about this story…but the best is that in David’s early teens, he trusted Christ as Savior and Lord…

- God didn’t just provide a loving family for David…God provided a lamb for David Worrell…

- this family rooted their test in the truthfulness of God’s Word and the power of the gospel…

- how did this portion of Abraham’s story end?...

IV. Becomes a Blessing to Others

- Genesis 22:16–18 - and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

- develop how living out and encouraging others to live out this kind of worshipful faith is what can be the greatest blessing to our world right now…

- conclusion – David Worrell’s final message to his family – “Thank You”

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video