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A Step Of Faith Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 2, 2022 1:00 am

A Step Of Faith Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 2, 2022 1:00 am

Our spiritual journey is not based on how much faith we possess but rather upon the One in whom we trust. God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, promising to make of him a great nation. In this message, we investigate the background, family, and false gods that Abraham left. He faced a lifelong journey of trust in God. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Before there was a Bible, before even an Old Testament, God called a man out of Ur of the Chaldees and promised to make of him a great nation. Seeing that promise fulfilled required great faith. Abraham faced a lifelong journey of trust in God.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer set the stage for us as we embark on a series you're calling Strength for the Journey.

Dave, it's hard for me to overemphasize how important this series of messages is. You look through the Bible and you see chapter after chapter devoted to the life of Abraham. You go into the New Testament and you discover that he is quoted, his story is retold because it's a story of faith, it's a story of the covenants. It is really the beginning of redemption. That's why I'm so excited about this series.

There's something else also. What we'll discover is that God uses imperfect saints. Abraham was not a man without faults.

He was like we are. And yet in and through the difficulties and the challenges, God was with him. That's why we need Strength for the Journey.

I hope that you get on the phone, call your friends, invite them to listen to this series of messages because I think it's going to be a great encouragement to help us all the way to the finish line as you frequently hear on Running to Win. Now let us listen carefully as we think of the story and the calling of Abraham. So what do we make of the present conflict that is taking place in the land of Israel?

The conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, Israel giving back the land, endless conflict, endless terrorism. How do we connect that and biblical history? Standing at the headwaters of it all is a man by the name of Abraham, a colossus of a man historically speaking. He's the one who is claimed by all three faiths. The Jews of course claim him as the first Hebrew. In fact in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis he is called a Hebrew, the use of the word the first time in the Bible. He's really the first Jew and so they look at him as their ancestor. He's claimed by us as Christians because the Apostle Paul says in the book of Galatians that through faith in Jesus Christ Abraham is the father of us all, so we all claim him and say he's ours. And he's also claimed by the Muslims who refer to him as El Halel as we would also Abraham, the friend of God.

It's repeated twice in scripture that he's God's friend. And so there stands Abraham, controversial figure, a figure of great impact not only in biblical history but the ongoing consequences as we shall see even today. When he was living there in Ur of the Chaldees it was a very very sophisticated place in the year 2000 BC. It was one of the high points of ancient religion. It had a library.

The third dynasty of the time was very high class so far as people were concerned. They lived in houses not tents. So when God came to Abraham and asked him to leave God was asking a great deal of him. Ur is about 250 miles from Baghdad. That's in the country of Iraq. You know if Iraq could ever solve its problems and become a nation of peace it could make millions and millions of dollars on tourism. Because we think of Baghdad, Babylon is just close by, maybe 50 or 75 miles away.

Ancient Babylon, we'd all love to go there but probably it'll never happen. And so Abraham leaves and he goes on a journey that will take him nearly 1,000 miles to the land of Canaan. He goes to Haran and there he is. It says that he settled there until his dad died, until Terah died. It's about 600 miles from Ur and then another 400 miles to the land. Imagine traveling with camels and sheep and goats and herdsmen, 300 and you have to negotiate all the way along the line for food and for water because most of that area is desert.

What a trek, he assumed. The Bible tells us in Genesis chapter 12 and that's the passage that I want you to turn to today. Genesis chapter 12, the opening of Genesis 12 really begins in the last part of chapter 11 where we have the story of Terah and the journey to Haran and Abraham was there until his dad died and then he left for the land. But it says in chapter 12 verse 1, one of the most important chapters in all of the Bible, it says, now the Lord said to Abraham, and I'm going to use the word Abraham even though your Bible says Abram because at this time he was not yet called Abraham, but for sake of consistency I'll always refer to him as Abraham. Now the Lord said to Abraham, go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.

God came and says I want to take you somewhere, go to a land that I will lead you to. Remember that Ur of the Chaldees was polytheistic, they believed in many gods. If you were there today you could even see a monument to the sun god because people worship the sun, they worship nature.

The temptation to do that is very strong. We think of Katrina I should say, the hurricane that took place. There was a sign put up in New Orleans that said, oh Katrina, have mercy on us. Now of course back of Katrina is God, but people tended to worship nature. And so it was there that they had many different kinds of gods and God steps onto the, into Abraham's life now and says, Abraham, you come with me, I am Jehovah and I will show you a land that you are going to inherit. And Abraham becomes the first clear monotheist in that pagan culture. He now believes in only one God. You say, well how did God come to Abraham?

Did he come with a voice? Most assuredly because God spoke directly. How did Abraham know that this was the true God? Very probably that voice had such a sense of authenticity and integrity that Abraham knew that he was hearing from the true and the one God. And God steps onto this scene even though Abraham is a pagan and sovereignly chooses Abraham to be his man to begin the process of bringing a redeemer to the world. God had said in Genesis chapter three that he's going to, through the seed of the woman, the work of the enemy is going to be destroyed and so God now begins that process and Abraham is going to be the man through whom it will be accomplished. Now God not only called Abraham but God had to give to Abraham the faith to be obedient to that calling.

This is all one-sided, this is all of God. And so God says, Abraham, leave your country, leave your kindred, that is your immediate family and even your immediate family, your father's house and go to a land that I will show you. And when Abraham leaves with his dad, Terah, he doesn't enter into the land as I mentioned, he goes to Haran and they settle down there until Terah dies. God says, Abraham, you can't go into the land until the death of your father. You have to leave all of those family members behind.

Lot can go with you but your parents can't. God sometimes calls us into great things and he asks us to leave our families for his glory and for his purposes. Now with that background what I want us to do very briefly is to see first of all the promises that God made to Abraham, the promises that he received. And these promises are really three in number.

The first is a personal promise. He says, verse 2, and I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great. Go to Israel today and you'll find out that that has been accomplished because people will be talking about Abraham, the controversy that has to do with Abraham. And God says, I'm going to bless you personally. I'm going to give you even more flocks and more herds and more servants and you're going to become a very, very wealthy man. I will bless you and I will make of you a great name. Interestingly, at the Tower of Babel, the people built that tower because they said we want to make for ourselves a name. And God says, I'm putting an end to those plans.

Never have in life a desire to make for yourself a name. Years ago the Lord impressed upon my heart those words of scripture that say, seekest thou great things for thyself, seek them not. Don't seek to be great, seek to be godly. And if in the process God wants to make you great, that has to be his decision and not yours. Abraham plucked out of paganism and God says, I'm going to make you great. And that of course has been fulfilled.

So the first blessing was personal. The second was a national blessing. He says, I will make of you a great nation.

And that's been accomplished. The Jewish nation has been a great nation. It is becoming a great nation and it will still be a great nation in the future because God says, Abraham's seed, I will make of you that great nation.

And so the Jews have never really been assimilated into other kinds of cultures like the rest of us have been. They are something like the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream flows through the ocean. It's a part of the ocean. And yet it remains to have its distinctive identity. And the Gulf Stream can have a great impact.

In fact, there are places in northern Scotland, even though it is very cold, where the Gulf Stream has such an influence that it's almost tropical. And in the very same way, the Jewish nation has become a part of culture, of course, but it has retained its identity throughout all these years. So there are still many people — many of whom are listening to me today — saying, yes, I am Jewish.

It has maintained its identity. And God says that there are going to be national blessings. I will bless you. If you know me at all, you know that I often say to people, God bless you.

I said that twice yesterday to people in a restaurant, even as I was paying for our breakfast that my wife and I had together. God bless you. But when I say it, it's only a wish. I'm only praying. I'm only wishing that God will bless them. But when God says I will bless you, God has the resources for that blessing, because everything that God promises, he has the ability and the resource to carry out. God says, I will bless you. And if there is someone who is going to curse you, I will curse that person. If someone dishonors you, I will curse that person. And in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed, God says.

Antisemitism, at its root, is rebellion and anger against God's choice, as we shall see in later messages. So there are personal blessings, there are national blessings, and there are also universal blessings. I already read the text, it says, in you, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. When the Bible uses the word all, it doesn't mean every single person on planet earth is going to be blessed. It means all in terms of classes, some people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation because of what God has done. And so it means all, not in terms of every particular, but all generally, all at least from the standpoint of the representatives of the world, they will be blessed through you. And you and I have been blessed because of Abraham. Because it is through Abraham that the seed of Jesus Christ has come. And now look at that little phrase in the last part of verse three, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. In you, in that phrase, in you, entailed in it is the Messiah. Because there's no way that Abraham could be a blessing to everybody.

That's not possible. And so God says it's going to happen in you because God knows that the seed is going to come from Abraham. So those are the promises that God gave to Abraham, personal promises, national promises, universal promises. And now the journey to the land begins. You'll notice it says, verse four, so Abraham went as the Lord had told him and Lot went with him. That is his nephew. Abraham was 75 years old when he departed from Haran.

That's where his father died. And Abraham took Sarah his wife and Lot his brother's son and all their possessions and all that they had gathered and the people that they had acquired in Haran and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. And so they began their journey.

Probably a journey of many, many months. And then finally they arrive in the land that God has promised them. And the land is peopled by folks who are called Canaanites. But it is there that God now appears to Abraham again and God is going to confirm his covenant with Abraham many, many times.

And he says in verse seven, then the Lord appeared to Abraham and said to your offspring, I will give this land. My wife and I have never had a title deed to a house. Usually it's because we owned a part of the house and the bank always owned most of the house. So I assume that the bank had the title deed. But some of you may have the title deed to your house. And that title deed, you know, is stamped and it's signed and you've had attorneys making sure that it's absolutely right. So you are the owner of the house.

And here's the piece of paper to prove it. My friend, believe me when I tell you that there is no title deed to the land that is more impeccable. There is no title deed to the land that is more certain, that is more sure than the one that God gave to Abraham that day when he said to you, I will give this land. God has spoken.

And when God speaks, it happens. That land and that promise belongs to Abraham. The Jews believe that the Muslims believe it, too. In this series, we're going to study the conflict between Islam and the Jewish religion as it relates to the promises. And we will find out that the Quran speaks about Abraham. And we'll find out also that Muslim tradition says that it is really to Ishmael who is the inheritor of the promise.

And so the conflict in the Middle East is set up. But God says to Abraham, I'm giving you the land. And it's going to be yours. And later on, he's going to say, I'm giving it to you for an everlasting possession.

And he's even going to give them the boundaries of it. And so Abraham has this experience of going into the land. He's received this word from God.

It is not an agreement among equals. The covenant that God made with Abraham is unconditional in the sense that God is saying, I'm taking full responsibility for it. I give you the revelation and then I give you the grace and the strength and the faith and the ability to obey so that it will be carried out. And the word of God is sure and will come to pass.

Well, this is Pastor Luther. You know, the life of Abraham is so critical because there are three major religions that really trace their origin back to him. Obviously there's Judaism, but we as Christians also go back to Abraham because of the covenants.

And then you have Islam claiming that its origin dates back to Abraham. And as this series of messages continues, we're going to be unpacking some of these concepts. That's why this series is so important. And I'm making it available to you for a gift of any amount because there are those of you who are listening and you might not be able to catch all the various episodes, you could have the whole sermon series to play again and again. The title is Strength for the Journey.

And here's what you do for a gift of any amount. You go to RTWOffer.com. Now, oftentimes I've discovered that it's very difficult to catch some information because I don't have a pencil. I'm giving you time so that you can get a pencil or a pen so that you can write this down.

Go to RTWOffer.com or if you prefer, you can call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. And I'm going to be giving you that contact info again. But let's remember Abraham's importance in the scriptures, in history. He was not a perfect man, but sovereignly chosen by God for a specific assignment.

And today we honor him and we honor his God. This sermon series is entitled Strength for the Journey. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com. We're making it available for a gift of any amount or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

As a matter of fact, you can pick up that phone and you can call right now, 1-888-218-9337. And from my heart to yours, thank you so much for your support, for your encouragement, for your prayers as Running to Win continues to expand. Thousands upon thousands of people hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you are a part of this ministry. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Keeping straight the differences between Old and New Testaments can be confusing.

James is one of our Running to Win listeners and poses this question. How did the Old Testament people become born-again Christians? James, I want to thank you for your question because even though I have to smile a little bit because the Old Testament people didn't exactly become born-again Christians, I think they were born again, but they would not have been called Christians because Christ had not yet come.

But your question is a very good one. How were the Old Testament saints saved? Well, the short answer is they were saved by faith. But the content of their faith was different from ours. For example, Genesis chapter 15, Abraham goes outside, sees the stars, has a revelation from God that his seed will be as innumerable as the stars, and the Bible says he believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness. Now, what did he believe? Did he believe that Jesus Christ was going to come or that Jesus Christ would die for his sins?

Maybe Abraham saw that with some clarity, but the average Jew certainly didn't. But as they believed what God revealed to them, and even as they were obedient to what God had revealed as an indication of the fact that they did indeed believe and brought sacrifices and so forth, their faith was credited for righteousness. Now, their sin was not permanently taken away, but you get a man like David, for example, in the Psalms, he obviously has intimacy with God. And David committed a great sin, and that sin had to be set aside along with the other sins of those who were saved in the Old Testament. The sins were set aside, and it is when Jesus Christ came finally that those sins, too, were taken away. What I'm telling you is based on Romans chapter 3. We don't have time to get into the text itself, but it says that in former times, God overlooked the sin. It doesn't mean that he wasn't concerned about it, but God set it aside until Jesus would come, and even the Old Testament saints had their sin finally taken away by the death of Christ.

Bottom line, faith, content of faith different from ours, sin taken away finally by the coming of Jesus. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or, call us with that question at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. When God makes a unilateral promise, you can take it to the bank. God told Abraham that all the earth would be blessed through his posterity. Next time, why Abraham the patriarch would only see that promise fulfilled through the eyes of faith. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-24 06:03:57 / 2023-04-24 06:12:22 / 8

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