Sermon #1416 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: THE GOD OF GLORY
APPEARED UNTO ABRAHAM
Text: Genesis 12:1 - 13:4
Subject: Abraham’s Call, Faith, Failure and Preservation
Date: Sunday Morning – August 13, 2000
Tape # V-96b
Reading: Genesis 11:27-13:4
Of all the men mentioned in Bible history, other than our Lord himself, none is set before us as a more prominent example of faith than Abraham. Abraham is uniquely described as the friend of God, the father of them that believe, and that man through whom all the nations of the earth are blessed. These things make Abraham a man whose life and experiences in the grace of God are worthy of careful study.
In fact, the Book of Genesis, from chapter 11 and verse 27 through the rest of the Book, is taken up almost exclusively with Abraham and his seed. I want you to open your Bibles at Genesis chapter 12, and just hold them open at that chapter. We will be looking at the life of Abraham as it is described in Genesis 12:1 through chapter 13 and verse 4. The title of my message is The God of Glory Appeared to Abraham.
Having said all that, a word of caution is in order. When we study the lives and experiences of men like Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham, men of exemplary faith and faithfulness, we must not look upon them as extraordinary men, but as men who were saved by the grace of the extraordinary God of glory.
Proposition: Abraham’s greatness must be traced back to and attributed to the greatness of God and his grace.
Abraham would say, concerning himself what Paul said concerning himself. – “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Indeed, that is the delightful confession of all who know God. Every believer delights to turn attention away from himself to the Lord God alone. It is the joy of every believing heart to sing, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth’s sake.”
We recognize that the life we live in this body of flesh, we live by the grace of God. The life of faith is not a life of amazing will power, fortitude, and self-control. Far from it. The life of faith is a life of amazing grace.
· (Ephesians 2:8-9) "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Now, let’s look at Genesis 12 together. I want to show you five things in our text, five things displayed in the experiences of Abraham in this passage, about faith. It is my prayer that God the Holy Spirit will graciously grant to you who are yet without Christ the faith of Abraham and that he will encourage and strengthen you who are his in the faith.
I. Faith is the gift and operation of God in us.
Faith begins with God, not with man. Faith is not the result of man’s will, decision, or choice. Left to ourselves, none of us would or could believe God. If we believe, it is because it is “God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” We believe “according to the working of his mighty power.” We believe by “the operation of God,” because God has given us faith to believe. This is exemplified in the experience of Abraham.
· (Genesis 12:1) "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee:"
Notice that Moses says, “the Lord had said unto Abraham.” We are not told exactly when the Lord first spoke to the man Abram (Abraham) until we hear Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7.
· (Acts 7:1-4) "Then said the high priest, Are these things so? (2) And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, (3) And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee. (4) Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell."
Those words, “the God of Glory,” are used only twice in the entire Bible, in Acts 7:2 and Psalm 29:3. They refer, of course, to our Lord Jesus Christ, “the King of Glory.”
A. God gives faith to whom he will.
Abram was in Ur, dwelling among the Chaldeans, living in the midst of an idolatrous people, when God almighty stepped into his life. Why did the God of Glory appear to this particular man? The only answer that can be given is this. – God loved Abram. -- God chose Abram. – God was pleased to be gracious to Abram. – Abram was one of that great multitude whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life before the world began, one of those for whom the Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world. Every sinner to whom God gives faith is, like Abram, a monument to the sovereign will, purpose, and grace of God.
· (Romans 9:16) "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."
B. Faith is wrought in the hearts of chosen sinners by the revelation of Christ.
No one can or will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ until Christ is revealed to him and in him. That which is essential to faith is the knowledge of God in Christ. You cannot believe until Christ, the God of Glory appears to you.
Four hundred years had passed since the flood. The world was steeped in idolatry, much as it is today. Yet, even in that wicked, perverse, idolatrous generation, God sent someone to Abram who told him the story of grace, redemption, and salvation. When the word was preached, “the God of Glory appeared to Abraham,” and Abraham believed God. That is always how faith comes to chosen sinners.
· (Zechariah 12:10) "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."
· (Romans 10:13-17) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (14) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (15) And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (16) But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? (17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
C. Faith in Christ is the result of the effectual call of God the Holy Spirit in irresistible grace.
1. This is a personal call.
2. It is a call to separation (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Rev. 18:4).
3. It is a call accompanied by the promise of grace.
· (Genesis 12:2-3) "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: (3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
4. The call of God is an irresistible, effectual call.
· (Genesis 12:4) "So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran."
· (Psalms 65:4) "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple."
· (Psalms 110:3) "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth."
These three things are essential to faith in Christ. No sinner ever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ apart from…
1. God’s sovereign choice.
2. The revelation of God in Christ.
3. The call of God the Holy Spirit.
II. Faith is the gift of God. Second, faith in Christ is obedient.
Faith obeys God. As we shall see in a few minutes, it is not perfectly obedient; but it is obedient.
· (Genesis 12:4-5) "So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (5) And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came."
God has ordained that those who are saved by his grace walk before him in obedience; and what God has ordained God always accomplishes. It appears that Abram’s obedience was reluctant. The Lord had plainly told him to leave his kindred and his father’s house and go into the land of Canaan; but Abraham and Terah left Ur together and they dwelt in the land of Haran, until Terah died (Gen. 11:31-32).
After God took his father Terah, we read, “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him.” Disobedience is always costly. If we are his, the Lord God will see that we obey him. If necessary, he will take away anything and anyone hindering us, as he took Terah from Abram. Once Terah was dead, Abram went on to Canaan, as the Lord commanded him.
God has his ways of making his children willingly obedient to him; and where he gives faith he also gives obedience by the sweet discipline of his grace.
Illustrations: 1. Moses – Exodus 4:24-27
2, Absalom set Joab’s barley fields on fire.
3. Whatever it takes, God will make his
own obedient to him
III. Faith is the gift of God. Faith is obedient to God. And, third, faith, true faith, worships God.
· (Genesis 12:6-9) "And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. (7) And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. (8) And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. (9) And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south."
A. If we believe God, we will worship him as he is, as he makes himself known to us in his Son, in his Word, and in his works.
B. If we believe God, we will worship him at the altar he requires and in the way he prescribes.
Christ is our altar of worship; and the altar at which Abraham worshipped God typified Christ.
· (Hebrews 13:10) "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle."
· (Exodus 20:24-26) "An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. (25) And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. (26) Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon."
1. Christ is an altar of earth, of God’s making
2. Christ is an altar unpolluted by us, an altar to which we contribute nothing.
3. Christ is an altar without steps.
C. If we worship God, we will worship him in his house.
“Bethel” means the house of God. There Abraham worshipped, and there God’s people still worship.
1. God reveals himself in Bethel, in his house.
2. Bethel is all the more precious, the house of God is all the more precious, because as long as we are in this world the Canaanites surround us. – Blessed Bethel!
IV. Faith is the gift of God. Faith is obedient to God. Faith worships God. But there is a fourth lesson about faith in this chapter. It is just as important that we learn this fourth lesson as that we learn the first three. So, fourth, in verses 10-20, we see that faith in Christ, even the most exemplary faith, is never perfect faith.
A. Faith must be tried. – So the Lord sent a famine in the land of Canaan.
B. Often the trial of faith proves the weakness of our flesh.
God told Abraham to go to Canaan and promised to bless him there. But when famine came, Abraham went down to Egypt. In his unbelief and disobedience, he feared for his life and told Sarah to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister instead of his wife.
In weakness, fear, and disobedience, Abraham temporarily forsook God for Egypt. But God abides faithful. He would not forsake the object of his grace.
· (2 Timothy 2:13) "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself."
· (Malachi 3:6) "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."
· (Hebrews 13:5) "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
How gracious God is. When we would bring ourselves to shame and misery, when we would, if left to our own devices, destroy ourselves and all around us, the Lord our God graciously protects his own. He will not suffer his faithfulness to fail. It is written, “The gifts and callings of God are without repentance.”
Abraham was foolish; but God is wise. Abraham was unbelieving; but God abides faithful. When Abraham chose a path of destruction, God plagued the house of Pharaoh, kept the pagan king of Egypt from the lusts of his own heart, and caused that pagan king to become the protector of his erring child!
· (Genesis 12:20) "And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had."
V. There is one more lesson in our text. Faith is the gift of God. Faith is obedient to God. Faith worships God. Faith is never perfect. Yet, in Genesis 13:1-4, we see this fifth blessed fact revealed about true faith. – With all our faults, failures, failings, trials, falls, and sins, faith will never die. – True faith will persevere.
Faith does not persevere because we are faith, but because God is faithful. Faith does not persevere because we are strong, but because our God is strong. Faith does not persevere because of our hold on the Lord, but because of the Lord’s hold upon us! This is what we see in these four verses.
· (Genesis 13:1-4) "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 made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD."
A. God brought Abraham out of Egypt (v. 1).
B. God enriched Abraham, using even his unbelief, weakness, and disobedience to do so (v. 2).
The word “rich” means much more than wealthy. It means “honorable.” Abraham was made a better man.
C. Abraham pitched his tent between Bethel (the house of God) and Hai (a heap of ruins), and worshipped God “at the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.”
· (Colossians 2:6) "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:"
· (Psalms 116:12-14) "What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? (13) I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. (14) I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people."
· (Psalms 116:16-19) "O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. (17) I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. (18) I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, (19) In the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD."