- Sermon Notes
Passing the Test
ILLUS – The worst test I ever took in my life!!!
1. Just thinking about taking a test can be a bit unnerving for some. The heart races, hands get sweaty, it’s not a pleasant place.
2. The truth is tests aren’t reserved for the classroom only.
3. There are seasons in life when tests occur as well.
4. Today, we’re going to study a passage which will give us insight into the “how’s”, what’s”, and “why’s” behind the testing of our faith so that we may pass each one with “flying colors”.
READ Genesis 22:1-8
1. After 25 years of waiting for the child that God had promised, Abraham, at the age 100, and Sarah, at 90, had Isaac.
2. At this point, at least 13 years had passed. One would think the only thing that this story needed was the perfect fairy tale ending, “And they lived happily ever after.” They had been through so much. Surely nothing more would be asked of them!
3. Then we read Genesis 22:1 and realize Abraham’s faith would be tested once again.
I. Faith Will Be Tested (1-2)
A. God has a purpose for each test
1. This is the first time the word test is used in the Bible.
2. The word test means to try or to prove.
ILLUS – Why do teachers give their students exams? To reveal what a student knows in a specific area of study!
3. Spiritually speaking, a test proves faith. Do we walk the talk?
- a. Tests reveal who we are and what we’re made of.
- b. Tests reveal what we believe.
- c. Specifically, tests reveal what we think about God.
- d. So, God does not test our faith because of sin in our lives, but to reveal the faith in our hearts.
4. Tests are also designed to strengthen us.
- a. Pressure from the test develops our character.
- b. Pressure from the test deepens our faith, which strengthens our relationship with God.
Job 23:10, “But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
- c. After the testing is complete, God is glorified through our testimony!
ILLUS – Joseph’s words to his brothers revealed his faith in God even though they had sold him into slavery when he seventeen years old.
Genesis 45:7, “And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.”
5. “Testing” is not “Temptation”.
James 1:13-15, Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does
not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin;
and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
- a. Temptation appeals to our sin nature.
- b. Temptation seeks to weaken the one tempted.
- c. Temptation seeks to destroy the relationship between God and the one tempted.
- d. Satan’s goal is to destroy those he tempts.
John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV)
B. Each test is perfectly tailored for each person
1. God takes the initiative. (1)
- a. God knows the right time to test us.
Abraham had been tested before.
Some tests Abraham passed, like when he gave Lot the first choice of land to settle in.
Some tests Abraham failed, like when he compromised with Hagar and had Ishmael.
For over 38 years, God had been preparing Abraham for this test!
- b. God knows which area to test. It must involve something we value deeply; something we may want to resist!
- c. God knows how much the test should cover and just how much pressure we can take.
Psalm 103:13-14, Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows
our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
2. God sets the terms (2)
- a. “Take now your son”
- b. “Your only son”
- c. “Whom you love”
- d. “Isaac”
- e. “Go to Moriah”
- f. Offer him as a “burnt offering”
Romans 12:1, I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to
God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Bottom Line – Before Isaac was born – “Abraham, will you trust and obey God’s Word while waiting for His promise to be fulfilled?”
After Isaac was born – “Abraham, will you give Isaac back to the Lord and trust and obey God?” Notice Abraham’s response…
II. Faith Obeys God Completely (3-4)
A. Faith won’t delay to obey
1. No mention of Abraham debating with God or hiding from God or raging against God.
2. No mention of Abraham asking others for their opinions to justify his rebellion.
3 Abraham had walked with God for many years and he knew his God had spoken to him!
4. There’s a time to wait!
- a. When God has not provided direction.
- b. If you don’t know, then don’t go!
Psalm 25:5, Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day!
5. There is also a time to move!
- a. Abraham rose early in the morning
- b. Saddled his donkey
- c. Took two of his young men and Isaac
- d. Split wood and departed for the place God had told him!
B. Faith perseveres even if the journey is long
1. Imagine how quiet that journey was.
2. It took three days to get there by foot, about 50 miles.
3. It would have been easy to stop short or turn back especially when that mountain came into
- a. How much of what God commanded would Abraham obey?
- b. How far would Abraham walk in obedience?
APPL - You know you are walking by faith when you are obeying God’s commands. Faith perseveres!
James 2:21-23, Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working
with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was
reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.
John 15:14, “You are My friends, if you do what I command you.”
APPL – How far will you go to obey God? Are you willing to give all to Him and hold nothing back?
Transition – These questions strike at the heart of our priorities, hopes, and confidence in God’s heart and character.
III. Faith is Confident that God will Provide (5-8)
A. Remember “Who” when you question “Why”
1. Often, “Why?” is the question that plagues us.
- a. Why is there suffering?
- b. Why does a parent bury a child?
- c. Why now? Why them? Why me?
ILLUS – You hear the tension in Job when he faced a great test…
Job 13:15, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.”
2. But when we focus on “Who”
- a. We’re reminded that God is on the throne.
- b. We’re comforted in knowing that God is near, and He knows best.
Psalm 23:3-4, “He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
B. God never fails
1. This is not blind faith… it’s clearly focused on God.
- a. His holy character and heart
- b. His infinite wisdom and power
2. Abraham declared we will worship and we will return.
3. Then Isaac asked Abraham, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
4. Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
- a. Abraham was not avoiding the subject.
- b. Abraham had settled the matter in his heart!
5. God had promised through Isaac, Abraham’s descendants would be called in Genesis 17:19.
6. Now, God commanded him to sacrifice his son.
7. By faith, Abraham reconciled God’s promise with God’s command to sacrifice Isaac.
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 men even from the
dead; from which he also received him back as a type.
8. Abraham believed Isaac was going to die but he also trusted that God would bring Isaac back to life so that he could come back down that mountain with
ILLUS – During a trying season while working in China as a missionary, Hudson Taylor wrote to his wife words that reflected faith that had been tested by trials and yet was anchored in firm in Christ, “We have twenty-five cents – and all the promises of God!”
1 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." 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." 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.
4 On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. 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." 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" 8 Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.