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Abraham: The Test of Faith, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
September 23, 2021 8:00 am

Abraham: The Test of Faith, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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September 23, 2021 8:00 am

Part of being in school is knowing that there’s always an exam around the corner. Dr. Tony Evans says that the same is true in the Christian life. When the testing time comes, find out how you can be ready to put what you really believe into action.

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Faith is defined by your foot movement, not by your feelings. When spiritual challenges come along, Dr. Tony Evans says we need to put what we believe into action.

It's your life, not your lips. It's your walk, not your talk. Faith is measured by movement. If there is no movement, there is no faith, no matter how faithish you feel. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, 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.

Part of being in school is knowing that there's always an exam right around the corner. Today, Dr. Evans explains that the same is true in the Christian life. Let's turn to Hebrews 11, verse 17, as he looks at one man's time of testing. And 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 them back as a type. All of us, as we came through school, had to face tests. The teacher gave us tests to see if we really heard what they taught, whether we really knew the information that had been given.

So they gave us a test. Some of those tests came as pop quizzes, little short exams that were unexpected, unannounced. And the idea of a pop quiz was to make sure you were always ready for a test.

But then there were the whoppers, the midterms and the finals. Those were the big tests. They typically carried more weight than the pop quizzes because they were typically more extensive in the nature of the testing. Those tests were critical and us passing them to moving to the next grade level. If you failed them enough, you would have to repeat the grade all over again because you were not yet able to pass the test. When you passed the test, you could then move up to a new level of testing.

You went from this grade test to that grade test, but at a higher level because now you were in a higher grade. When God is ready to give you a new level of experience with Him, it comes with a test. Now the bad news of a test is that it's a test. The good news of a test is that it's preparation for a higher level. And you can really know when God is ready to really move you to the next level because it will be a final exam. In other words, it'll be a major test. Now we get minor tests, little pop quizzes along the way, but then everybody gets hit with that whopper, that test that seems like it'll knock you over. It's a major exam because God is ready to move you to a major level.

You cannot have a seventh grade experience with God until you pass a sixth grade exam. So today we want to look at the test of faith, Abraham's final exam. The author of Hebrews tells us that it came when God asked Abraham to offer up Isaac, which took place in Genesis chapter 22. So what he talks about in Hebrews 11 actually took place in Genesis 22, this final exam. He is told to offer up Isaac, who was the promise. So here's when you know it's a major test because you're getting ready to have a major promotion to a whole other level. You know it's a major test when it calls for something significant in your life and at the very same time makes absolutely no sense at all.

It's a major exam when God is asking you to do something, to be something, to go somewhere, there is some demand being placed on you, and it makes absolutely no sense at all. Hebrews 11 says that God told Abraham to offer up Isaac, who was the son of the promise. In Genesis chapter 22, where the story is unfolded for us in that chapter in detail, God tells Abraham these words.

He says to Abraham in Genesis chapter 22, now it came about, verse 1, after these things that God tested Abraham and said to him, Abraham, and he said, here I am, and 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 the mountain of which I will tell you. That made no sense. Let me show you why. Because it is full of contradictions. Theological contradiction, number one. I made a promise that through you, I'm going to birth a nation via your son Isaac, now kill him. But Isaac is a teenager. He's not married.

He has no children. You told me through him you're going to build a whole nation and affect the whole world. How can he be the extension of the lineage that you promised if I kill him? It's a contradiction. When God is giving you a major exam, it makes no sense. It looks like God is contradicting himself. Not only was it a theological contradiction, it was a biblical contradiction because in Genesis chapter 9, God condemns murder. He says you cannot take the life of another person, yet he just told Abraham to take the life of his son. So God not only has contradicted his promise, he's contradicted his whole biblical teaching. God, right now, what you're asking doesn't make sense.

Not only was it a biblical contradiction and a theological contradiction, it was an emotional contradiction. Because he says, take your son whom you love, your only son, your only son through Sarah, and I want you to take him and sacrifice him. I love this boy.

I've waited a hundred years for this boy. You're asking me to give up the thing I love most? Watch this. You're asking me to give up the very thing you bless me with.

That's a pull on the heart string that you can't explain. God, that doesn't make sense. Not only was it a theological contradiction, a biblical contradiction, and an emotional contradiction, it was a relational contradiction. How are we going to explain this to Sarah, your baby mama? How are we going to explain to Sarah, I'm getting ready to take our son out and slay him because that's what God told me? Now you know why it says Abraham got up early in the morning.

He had to get up before Sarah got up so he wouldn't have to explain any of this. Worst of all, maybe, it was a spiritual contradiction because God tells him, take Isaac, slay him, and worship me. If there was ever a day you don't feel like going to church, this is the day. Because how do you worship God with a broken heart? How do you worship God when God is doing a number on you? How do you worship God when he has disappointed you? How do you worship God and go to the altar when you believe he has failed you? God, how do I go to church today? It says I don't feel like worshiping today.

Not in light of what you're asking of me, demanding of me, instructing me, calling me to do the day I want to worship at Bedside Baptist and Mattress Methodist. Because what you are asking is too deep. But it says Abraham got up.

There's another thing you need to observe. It says get up and go to the mountain to the place I will show you. He had to obey without all the details. God didn't give him all the information. He said after you get up and after you get to the mountain, then I'll show you the spot I want you to go to. But I'm not going to give you all the details up front.

I will only give you more details when I see you moving. See, one of the reasons that we do not see more details from God is he can't get us to move from where we are. Because remember, faith is acting like God is telling the truth. Faith is defined by your foot movement, not by your feelings.

It's your life, not your lips. It's your walk, not your talk. Faith is measured by movement.

If there is no movement, there is no faith, no matter how faithish you feel. Dr. Evans will be back with more of Abraham's story when he returns in just a moment. First, though, we're excited to let you know that Tony has authored a brand new book and companion Bible study that goes hand in hand with the material he's been talking about today.

It's called Kingdom Heroes. Like the Heroes of the Faith messages that we've been hearing, this book and Bible study focus on two very powerful words, by faith. You'll discover how otherwise ordinary people became the best known characters in the Bible. Tony took God at his word and believed what he said was true. So what does it take to live a life of faith today where we live? What do we say to a culture that insists that only seeing is believing?

How can we learn to trust God when our fears and feelings tell us not to? Find the answers by getting for yourself a copy of Tony's two-volume, 13-message audio collection Heroes of the Faith on CD or digital download. And his brand new book and Bible study, Kingdom Heroes. For a limited time, we're offering this entire three-resource package as our gift to you in appreciation for your generous contribution to help support Tony's ministry here on this station. Just visit us today at tonyevans.org or call us at 1-800-800-3222. Make your contribution and let us send you the Heroes of the Faith and Kingdom Heroes book and Bible study package as our thank you gift.

Again, that's tonyevans.org or call us day or night at 1-800-800-3222. Dr. Evans will be back with more of today's lesson right after this. Dr. Tony Evans talks about his first trip to Israel. A photograph became a motion picture so that I was now seeing and living color the atmosphere, environment, the feel, the excitement, the learning of what the Bible describes. Now you can have that same experience along with Tony in a new motion picture coming to theaters in November, Journey with Jesus.

A lot of people want to go to Israel and it is an expensive trip and we did not want those people denied the experience that we had while being physically there. You'll travel with Tony as he explores actual sites where the most powerful events in the Bible took place, not just helping you see them, but understand what they mean and how they can change your life. We want this to be a biblical experience, not merely a sightseeing tour. Journey with Jesus in theaters November 15th, 16th, and 17th.

Visit tonyevans.org for locations, showtimes, and to learn more. Verse 4 says, on the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. He tells the young men, the servants who help carry the load, y'all stay here, I and the lad will go up and we will worship and return to you. But God told you to kill him.

So what do you mean, we coming back to see you afterwards? See, when you're called to faith, you got to speak the truth in the midst of the contradiction of the circumstance. Hebrews 11 says the reason he said that was because he believed God was even able to raise the dead. That's what Hebrews 11 says. So if I obey you, God, and do what you told me to do, and at the same time believe your promise that you're going to work through Isaac to make a great nation, then I also have to believe, since you don't contradict yourself, that if I do what you tell me to do, you got some kind of miracle you're planning to bring me and this boy back here again.

But what made him speak that? Where did this faith confidence come that God could raise the dead? Well, you recall, Sarah's womb was dead, and Abraham couldn't function no more at 100 years old. And God created a hookup, and a miracle baby of Isaac was born. He had seen what God could do in raising a womb, so he figured the same God could raise a son. So when God calls you to a major exam, don't forget what he did in the quizzes. Don't forget what he did yesterday when he moves you to a bigger challenge tomorrow.

Because if it's bigger today than what he did yesterday, it's because he's moving you to a new grade level, a higher experience with him. And so they make their way to the place that God said. Isaac says to his father, my father, verse 7 of Genesis 22, Here I am, my son. He said, Behold, I see the fire, I see the wood, but I don't see the lamb. Every other time we went to church, we had a sacrifice, but today you didn't bring a lamb.

What's that, Dad? He says, Son, God's got to fix this one. The Lord will provide himself, because I don't have an answer for you.

I don't know how this is going to work out. And when God puts you in a final exam, you don't know how this is going to work out. God has got to do something here, because only God has an answer to this dilemma of faith that I'm in. Because this is a midterm or a final.

This is not a little pop quiz, and it's confusing. God's got to provide the solution. And so he takes his son up. He puts him on the altar. Verse 9, He built an altar, arranged the wood, bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood.

Can you imagine what he's thinking, feeling? And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. Verse 11, but the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, that's Jesus in the Old Testament, the angel of the Lord, Abraham, Abraham, whenever God calls your name twice. See, when he told him to obey, he only called his name once in verse 1, Abraham. But now in the middle of his crisis, he calls his name twice.

That means there's something special coming down the pike. Abraham, Abraham, and he said, here I am, do not, verse 12, stretch your hand out against the lad and do nothing to him. For now I know you fear me since you have not withheld your son, your only son from me. You should be having a problem right now. And it ought to be a theological problem because God says, now I know. Oh, wait a minute, you're God. You're omniscient.

Omniscient means all knowing. You already knew what I would do because you're God. You know yesterday, you know today, and you got prophecy down.

You know tomorrow. You know where I came from. You know where I am. You know where I'm going. What do you mean you only know this now and you're an all knowing God? Come on, with your knowledge base, I could have stayed in bed. We could have skipped all this because you already know.

But that's not what God says. He says, now I know as though I didn't know before. I'm knowing it now. And I only know it now because of what you just did. So how do we theologically bring together the concept of an all knowing God and a not knowing something till now?

How does that work? Well, I want to share with you today something God does not know. He obviously knows everything informationally. He knows everything actual. He knows everything potential. He knows what was, what is, what will be, and what could have been. He is the only one who can answer the what if questions of life. He knows all of that.

But what is this that he now only knows now? While God knows everything actual and everything potential, he does not know everything experiential. For example, if you were to ask God, what does it feel like to commit a sin? I suggest to you he couldn't answer that question because he's never done it. No, he's never committed a sin.

So if you ask him, what does it feel like to do it? Does he know what sin is? Yes. Does he know what sin can do?

Yes. He can give you all the information. What he can't give you is the experience. Now, he can tell you what it feels like to die for your sin, my sin through Jesus Christ, but he can't tell you what it feels like to do it himself because that's not been part of his experience. So while God knows everything, he hasn't experienced everything he knows. The reason why God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ, according to the book of Hebrews, is that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ so he could sympathize with our weaknesses, so he could feel what we go through.

The Father knows what you go through. Jesus can feel it. So Jesus the Son can explain to God the Father, who already knows the information, what the information feels like, because he became a man. So what then is being said to Abraham at this moment? He is saying, Abraham, now I know you love me because I see it and feel it. In other words, you have now given me the experience of your love, not merely the verbalization of it. We come to church and we say, I love you, I love you, I love you, Lord, today. We express it, we sing it, we repeat it, we say it, and God comes back saying, I want a love I can feel. He wants to feel it. And what makes God feel it, that is, know it experientially and not just informationally, is when we choose him over the thing we love most. Sacrifice your son, the son whom you love, your only begotten son. Do you love me more than him?

That's a final exam. When God calls forth a faith act of love so he can feel it. Now I know. Informationally, yes, intellectually, yeah, but today I feel your love.

And I feel it because of your choice of me over the thing you love most in life. Dr. Tony Evans will be back in just a moment with an important question we need to ask ourselves. First, though, what you've been listening to today is part of Tony's current series, Heroes of the Faith. As I mentioned earlier, we're making this two-volume, 13-message collection available to you on CD and digital download, along with his brand-new book and Bible study, Kingdom Heroes. They're our gift to you when you help us keep Tony's teaching on this station with your generous donation. Just visit tonyevans.org to get your copy of this powerful package. You'll find a link with all the details right on the home page. And while you're there, take a moment to sign up for Tony's free weekly e-mail devotional. Again, tonyevans.org, or call us at 1-800-800-3222 and let one of our friendly team members assist you. Our resource center is open 24-7, so call any time.

Again, that's 1-800-800-3222. Even if we say we trust God, we'll never really know until the time our faith could cost us something, maybe something precious. Tomorrow, Dr. Evans will help us examine the depth of our faith as he continues his look at Abraham's story.

Right now, though, he's back with this important question. What is your Isaac, that thing that God can't have because you're too attached to it? Is it your money? Is it the relationship? Is it the career? Is it the skill? Is it the opportunity? What is it that is your Isaac? And God says, bring it here. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative, celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-20 06:05:53 / 2023-08-20 06:14:28 / 9

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