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Encountering the Power of God

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
November 15, 2020 7:00 am

Encountering the Power of God

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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November 15, 2020 7:00 am

People often say theyd believe in God if they could see him face to face. In this lesson, Dr. Tony Evans will tell us the story of one man who had a personal encounter with the Lord and what lessons we can learn from his experience.

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There are times in our experience when it looks like God said one thing and the opposite is taking place. Dr. Tony Evans says while we're waiting for God to keep His promises, things sometimes get worse before they get better.

And it is during those times all of us question how real this thing is. This is the alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative. Even when all our Christian experience is telling us that God keeps His promises, our confidence can get shaken when it looks like He's doing just the opposite. Today, Dr. Evans will tell us the story of a man in that very situation who was forced to decide what he really believed.

Let's join him. It's the truth we're told. There are times in our Christian experience when we don't feel like God keeps His promises. There are times in our experience when it looks like God said one thing and the opposite is taking place.

And it is during those times when all of us, to varying degrees, question how real this thing is. When it comes to God's promises, we know the theology that He can't lie. But sometimes you feel like He lied to you. Because what He says and what you are seeing do not match. They don't agree.

They aren't coming together. Well, I want to take you to a situation in Scripture that is going to stretch you if you're not familiar with it. And even if you are, it's going to perhaps take you to a place to understanding God and His confusing you with His promises. God's promises come at two levels. There are the recorded promises in His Word, and then there are the applied promises in our experience. That's where He takes a principle or precept from the Word, but applies it to your unique situation. It's when the Holy Spirit lifts the print off the Bible and says, this is for you. When you and I were in school, the teacher did not take our word for it that we understood what they taught and remembered what they said.

They didn't just believe it because you said, I got it. They gave you a test. The test usually came in two forms. One would be a quiz.

Those would be pop quizzes. Those were small tests along the way, but then there was the big one. There was the midterm and the final. Those were big tests.

And those usually carried the weight of the percentage of your grade, because they were just so big. We're going to take you to one of the big tests in Scripture. And through this test, we're going to tell you and me and us how we can have an encounter with God and His promises. In Genesis 22, we have one of the most recorded events in history repeated over and over again in the New Testament, although it happened in the Old Testament, and that is Abraham offering up Isaac. Let me read the first two verses of Genesis 22. Now, it came about after these things that God tested Abraham and said to Abraham and said to him, Abraham, he said, here I am. 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. Somebody say, this is a test.

That's what He said. God tested Abraham. So before I get any further, let me explain something. When God wants to give you an encounter with Him, it will typically involve a test. God did hear you say amen in church. He heard you say praise the Lord. He knows that you are here in the building. He's seen you wave your hand in the air like you just don't care.

But He's not banking on that. He's going to give you a test. You ladies know what it is to have something in the oven cooking for dinner and know that it can look brown on the outside, that turkey, that roast. It can look well done, but what you do, you stick that fork in it because you know externally it can look good and it still be raw inside. God knows on Sunday morning His people can look good, but He got to stick a fork in it to see whether it's well done and ready to go. So your encounter with God and His promises will involve a test. But this is not any kind of test. Tests come in different shapes and sizes. This is a test related to a promise.

I'll explain. This test is unique because it involved a series of contradictions. A contradiction is when God says one thing and appears to be doing another.

It's when He says this over here, but He's doing the exact opposite over here. I don't know if you've had that yet, but when God says something here and He says the exact opposite is occurring, you say, well, what's the contradiction? Number one, there was a theological contradiction. You see, God had promised way back in Genesis chapter 12 that He was going to make a great nation out of Abraham and it would come through the son of Sarah whose name was Isaac. God had made a promise. But here in Genesis chapter 22, God tells Abraham to kill the promise. Isaac is a teenager.

He's unmarried. But you said through Isaac the promise would come of building a seed that would become a great nation. Well, how can it become a great nation if you're telling me to kill the very promise that you said it would come through? That's a theological contradiction. That's where you said one thing and you're telling me to do something that's opposite to what you said. Kill what you said should live. To offer your son on the altar as a burnt offering means to kill him, and that's murder. But isn't it you, God, who said thou shalt not kill? Isn't it you, God, who in Genesis chapter 9 verse 6 said if any man kills another man, he shall by man be killed for man is created in the image of God?

Didn't I hear you say that? Well, if you said that over here, how are you asking me to kill him over here? That's a contradiction involved in a test. It's not only a theological contradiction.

It's not only a biblical contradiction. It's an emotional contradiction, because he says sacrifice your son, your only son, and then he says whom you love. He loved this boy.

This was the only son through his wife Sarah. He says, and I want you to give him up, and I want you to turn him over. This boy is the love of my life, and you're asking me to take the love of my life and give him up. My only son, you're asking me to turn over and to even take his life.

That's killing my emotions. And worst of all, it's a spiritual contradiction. Verse 3 says, Abraham rose up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and he arose and went to the place which God had told him. The reason he got up early is because he had such confidence in God that even if it didn't make sense and even if he killed his son, God would get him up out the grave. He says in verse 8, God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son. Isaac asked him, Dad, I see the fire, I see the wood, I see the stuff to make the fire, but I don't see any lamb.

Every other time we went to church, we had a lamb. He says, Son, only God can fix this one. I can't explain what's going to happen. I don't know how God's going to do it.

I don't have an explanation. All I can tell you is God's going to have to provide this. God's going to have to provide this, because when God puts you in a contradiction, you can't explain how it's going to work out. Now watch this. They come to the place in verse 9, which God told him, and Abraham built an altar there, arranged the wood, bound his son Isaac on top of the wood, and Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. Can you imagine what he's thinking and feeling right now? Because this doesn't make sense.

I'm getting rid of the one thing I love most in my life. The angel of the Lord, verse 11, Jesus in the Old Testament called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham. Watch it when God calls your name twice. And he said, Here I am. This is the second time he said that. I'm here.

I'm submitted to you. Do not stretch out your hand against the lad and do nothing to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.

The problem is those three words. Now I know. Come on, God. You are omniscient. You knew before I got up what was going to happen today. How come you only knowing this now? What do you mean now you know? You know the beginning from the end.

What's so special about now? God knows everything actual. God knows everything potential, but he does not know everything experiential.

Let me put it another way. God has not experienced everything he knows. He knows everything, but everything he knows he's not necessarily experienced. For example, if you were to ask God, what does it feel like to commit a sin? He couldn't tell you what it feels like to commit a sin because he's never committed a sin. So the only way he could discover what it's like to have sin was to bear our sin because he never had any of his own to bear. So he never experienced sin, although he knows all about sin. He knows what it is. He knows where it came from. He knows what it does, but he doesn't know how it feels to do it because he never did it. So he has omniscience about the information, but not omniscience about the experience of the data. When God wanted to know what it feels like to be human, guess what he did?

He became a man. Hebrews 4 says, so that he could sympathize with our infirmity so he could feel it. He wanted to feel what it feels like to be lonely because he's never been lonely. He wanted to feel what it feels like to be misused and abused and rejected and to go through things humans go through. So in order to feel it like we feel it, he became one of us because in his nature, he doesn't feel everything he knows. So guess why God puts you in a trial that doesn't make sense because he wants to feel your love. He don't just want to hear it.

He don't just want to hear discussions about it. He wants to feel it. And what makes him feel it when you choose him over something you already love? He says, I know you fear me because you've not withheld your son, the only one you've got whom you love from me. When you had to choose between me and him, you chose me. And now I know because now I feel it. When God wants to give you an encounter with him, it will involve a contradiction that involves a choice.

And it may be, it's different strokes for different folks, but it may be choosing the thing you treasure the most. But as bad as that seems, God is opening up the door for an encounter with the living God. Abraham raised up his eyes, look, verse 13, and behold, there was a ram caught in the thicket. Now, this is the quietest ram in history.

If a ram is caught in the thicket, it's trying to wiggle, it's trying to get out the thicket. He does not see the solution until the obedience occurs. See, a lot of us are looking for the ram when we haven't finished the obedience. So God is keeping the ram quiet. The solution was already there, it just wasn't revealed until after God felt him.

So many of us could be delaying seeing the ram because we are delaying fulfilling the obedience. We didn't do a little something over here, a little something over there, but we didn't complete it. We didn't complete the test.

We started the test maybe, but we didn't complete it. And as a result, the solution is quiet. Abraham called the name of the place, verse 14, the Lord will provide. That's one of the big names of God, Jehovah-jireh.

You've heard it, you've sung it. That's Jehovah-jireh. It is said to this day in the mount of the Lord, it will be provided. Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time. That's a big principle in Scripture. When God wants to confirm something, he does it a second or third time. Verse 16, 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, 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 gates of their enemies.

In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed my voice. God made a promise to Abraham way back in Genesis chapter 12. Same promise, but he doesn't swear by it until Genesis 22, the passage we're reading today. Between Genesis 12 and Genesis 22, when he swears by something he said, are dozens of years. It took him 25 years from the time he was supposed to have Isaac till the time he actually had Isaac. Isaac is a teenager now, so we've got decades that have gone by when nothing has happened about the promise. There are those who feel like God has said something in His word or said something to you years ago and nothing has happened yet. That is because you must understand between God's promise and God's oath is space. In that space between what He says He's going to do and when He's actually going to do it is a time when He's getting the promise ready for you and He's getting you ready for the promise. Between Genesis 12 and Genesis 22, Abraham made a bunch of mistakes. So in the space between God's promise and God's oath is His preparation.

And you have a part to play in how long it lasts. Dr. Evans will tell us more about the significant difference between a promise and an oath. When he comes back in a moment to continue this message from his life-changing series Divine Encounters. And I wanted to be sure to let you know that Tony has released the perfect companion book to what we've been hearing about today.

It's called Kingdom Encounters and it explores how you can have the same kind of one-on-one experiences with God that we read about in the lives of people like Moses, Daniel, Abraham, and others. We want to help you learn how to set your faith on fire and keep it burning. So we're making available both the book and digital and CD copies of all eight full-length messages from the Divine Encounters series, including material we won't have time to share on the radio as our thank you gift when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching coming your way on this station. Take advantage of this special double offer before time runs out by visiting tonyevans.org or call our 24-hour resource center at 1-800-800-3222, where team members are standing by to help you.

That's 1-800-800-3222. We'll get back to our teaching time right after this. The thing about serving an infinite God is that no matter how much you know about Him, there's always more to learn. So whether you're brand new to Scripture or an experienced ministry professional, there's something for you at the Tony Evans Training Center. You'll find online courses covering core concepts of the faith. Working at your own pace and schedule, you'll dig deep into the historical context of the book, uncover the key teachings, and learn how to apply them in real-world situations. There's lots of exclusive content from Dr. Evans to keep you interested and motivated, and an online forum where you can ask questions, get answers, and collaborate with other students. The more you learn, the more you'll want to learn. Give it a try.

The Tony Evans Training Center, a world of discovery anytime, anywhere. In Hebrews chapter 6, here's what we read, verse 13. For when God made the promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself. Remember, God said, I swear, saying, I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.

We just read that. And so having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is a end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose, interpose with an oath so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope that is set before us.

Okay, watch this. He says, folk who make promises take oaths in order to confirm the promise. When you go to court, your lawyer, prior to going there, may take a deposition. The deposition is to be a honest assessment of your understanding of the issue. But when you go to court and they say, put your hand on the Bible, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.

That stuff has gone now to a whole different level. That's why they want to take folks' statements under oath, because now it's a higher level of accountability. Hebrews 6 says, when you take an oath, you take an oath before someone greater than yourself. So you take the oath in court to the judge, because the judge has authority over you in the court. And the judge even tells you there's one higher than him, so he makes you put your hand on the Bible to bring God into your testimony. So you got a judge over you, and he at least declares there's a God over him, so that now you are judged by what you just said.

And you can perjure yourself on the witness stand. He says, just so it is with men, it is with God. He says, but there's a problem with God.

He says, because God has nobody else to appeal to. In other words, when God takes an oath, he doesn't have any other book to use, because he wrote the book. When God takes an oath, there is nobody greater than him. So when he took the oath in Genesis 22, he says, I swear by myself, because I would swear by somebody greater, but nobody greater, nobody greater, nobody greater than you.

Boy, I'm just surprised I stayed on tune there. So he could swear by nobody greater than himself. So he swore by himself. Now let me tell you what happens when God takes an oath related to a promise. He plans to bring you away, even though you don't know how in the world he gonna do it, because it doesn't make sense.

It's totally contradictory. How in the world is God gonna pull this off? He says, I swear by myself, which means I don't need anybody outside of me to make it happen. In other words, when God is ready to make a promise and oath, there's nothing left for you to do. You don't have to do anything else.

You don't have to try anything else. He's just gonna zip in there and do it his way by himself without informing you first. It means he's taking the issue over. By two immutable, unchangeable things, it is impossible, Hebrews 6, for God to lie. One, because he makes a promise and he's a promise keeper, not a promise breaker. And two, because he makes an oath, and when he makes an oath, he has the power to pull off whatever was in the promise all by himself, which means you don't have to understand how he gonna do it.

It's not for you to understand. All you gotta do is finish the obedience until he's ready to take it over himself. James chapter 2, verses 21 to 23, James says, Abraham offered up Isaac, and when he offered up Isaac, he perfected his faith. God broke through and God became more real to him so that after that he was called a friend of God. Now I know we sing the song, I am a friend of God, but you may be his child, but you may not yet be his friend, because you're not a friend of God until you have exercised the faith of Abraham. If you want the experience of Abraham, you have to have the faith of Abraham. And the faith of Abraham was to obey when it didn't make sense. And when he didn't know how in the world God was gonna do it, and he says, Abraham's faith was perfected.

Now let me close with a concept. In Hebrews chapter 11, verses 17 to 19, it closes with this phrase. Abraham offered up Isaac, and then it says, and he got him back as a type.

Okay, don't miss this. This is rich, it's deep, and it matters. That's in Hebrews 11. All of Hebrews 11 is about what folk went through in the Old Testament, but it's written in the New Testament.

He said he got Isaac back. God told him, you know, you don't have to sacrifice him, he is a ram, and he got him back as a type. Now a type is something physical in the Old Testament, designed to teach us something spiritual in the New Testament.

Something happened back then physically. So you got all these physical things, the temple, the tabernacle, the sacrifices, to point to something that was to come. So a type is something physical to teach you something spiritual.

So let's get this. The reason why Abraham's story is being retold over and over again is God wants to us to use something now based on the principle we learned from what happened then. What happened then was God using a test to bring about His promise through an oath.

He says what happened to Isaac then is a physical illustration of a spiritual principle that should be happening right now, and that is using tests and passing them to see God's promises fulfilled in your life, even when you can't figure out how in the world God is going to make it happen. Dr. Evans will have a word about how that kind of story can be your kind of story. First though, don't forget to take advantage of that special offer I told you about earlier. You'll get all eight full-length messages in Tony's current series, Divine Encounters, along with that great companion book, Kingdom Encounters. They're both yours with our thanks when you make a contribution to help us continue presenting this program every day. This special offer runs out soon, so be sure to call 1-800-800-3222 today to get the details and make your request. Our resource center never closes. That's 1-800-800-3222, or visit tonyevans.org, where you can make all the arrangements online.

I'll repeat that website information in a moment, right after this special invitation from Dr. Evans. If you've never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you can do that right now. Simply go to Him and acknowledge that you're a sinner in need of a Savior and that you're transferring your trust to Him alone because of His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. And if you will go to Him for salvation, He promises to give it to you free of charge, just for the asking. Learn more about what all that means and why it's so important. Visit tonyevans.org and follow the link that says Jesus. Tony has a quick video that explains it all, and you'll find some free follow-up resources there as well. That's tonyevans.org. The Bible tells us to bring our requests to the Lord, but next time Dr. Evans explains why those requests ought to have more to do with God's agenda than our own. I hope you'll be back with us. The alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-27 18:23:03 / 2024-01-27 18:33:02 / 10

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