- Sermon Notes
Passing the Test
July 12, 2020
ILLUS – The worst test ever
- Just thinking about taking a test can be a bit unnerving for some. Your heart races and your hands get sweaty; it is not a pleasant place.
- The truth is tests are not reserved for the classroom only.
- There are seasons in life when other tests occur as well, the testing of our faith.
- Tonight, we are going to study a passage which will give us insight into the “How’,” “What’s,” and “Why’s” behind the testing of our faith so that we may pass each one with flying colors.
- After 25 years of waiting for the child that God had promised, Abraham, at the age 100, and Sarah, at 90, had their first child together, Isaac.
- By the time we reach Genesis 22 at least 13 years had passed.
- One would think the only thing their story needed was a fairy tale ending, “And they lived happily ever after.”
- Abraham and Sarah had been through so much.
- Surely nothing more would be asked or required of them.
- Then we read the first verse and realize Abraham’s faith would be tested again, the greatest test of his life.
Faith Will Be Tested (1-2)
- There is a pattern in the Bible when it comes to God’s promises.
- First, a promise is given which requires the recipient to believe that God will fulfill His promise His way according to His timing.
- Then, the promise is followed by a period testing of that person’s faith.
A. God has a purpose for each test
- This is the first time the word test is used in the Bible.
- The word test means to try or to prove.
ILLUS – Why do teachers give their students exams? To reveal what their students know in a specific area of study.
- Spiritually speaking, a test proves faith. Do we walk our talk?
- Tests reveal who we are and what we are made of, the substance of our character.
- Tests reveal what we believe, the depth of our conviction.
- Specifically, tests reveal what we think about God.
4. God does not test our faith because there is sin in our lives, but to reveal the faith in our hearts.
- This means God’s tests are designed to strengthen us, not weaken us.
- The tests apply pressure to our lives which strengthen our character.
- The pressure then deepens our faith because we draw closer to God.
Job 23:10, But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
d. Once 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.
- 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.
- Temptation appeals to our sin nature.
- Temptation seeks to weaken the one tempted.
- Temptation aims to ruin the relationship between God and the worshipper.
- 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
- God takes the initiative because who would ask God to test their faith. (1)
- God knows when 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 she gave birth to Ishmael.
- For over 38 years, God had been preparing Abraham for this test.
b. God knows what to test us. It must involve something we value deeply; something we may want to resist.
c. God knows how intense the test should be.
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.
- God sets the terms for each test. (2)
- “Take now your son”
- “Your only son”
- “Whom you love”
- “Go to Moriah”
- 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.
APPL – Before Isaac was born Abraham’s faith was tested as he waited for God to fulfill His promise.
- Question – “Abraham, will you trust and obey God’s Word while waiting for His promise to be fulfilled?”
- After Isaac was born Abraham’s faith was tested again, to give his beloved son, Isaac, back to the Lord.
- Question – “Abraham, will you give Isaac back to the Lord and trust and obey God?”
Transition – Please notice Abraham’s response because his response reveals how to pass the test.
II. Faith Obeys God Completely (3-4)
- Where there is faith, there is obedience.
- True faith bears the fruit of complete obedience.
- This means our faith is revealed by our attitudes, words, and choices while in the crucible of testing.
A. Faith does not delay to obey
- There is no hint of Abraham debating with God, hiding from God, or raging against God.
- Nor is there any mention of Abraham asking others for their opinions to justify his disobedience.
- Abraham knew God. He had walked with God for many years and was convinced his God had spoken to him.
APPL – There is a time to wait.
- When God has not provided direction.
- If you do not know, then do not go.
- God does not play “Hide and Seek” with His children. He wants us to know His ways.
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.
- And there is also a time to move.
- Abraham rose early in the morning.
a. Abraham saddled his donkey.
b. He took two of his young men and Isaac.
c. He the split wood himself and departed for the place God had told him.
B. Faith perseveres when the journey is long
- Imagine how quiet that journey was.
- It took three days to get there by foot, approximately 50 miles.
- It would have been tempting to stop short and turn back especially when that destination came into view.
- How far would Abraham go?
- How much would Abraham obey?
APPL – You know you are walking by faith when you are wholeheartedly 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.
APPL – How far will you go to obey God? Are you willing to give all to Him and hold nothing back?
John 15:14, You are My friends, if you do what I command you.
Transition – These questions strike at the heart of our priorities, hopes, and confidence in God’s character and heart. You see, a faith that passes the test is a. . .
III. Faith is Convinced God will Provide (5-8)
2 Timothy 1:12, For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
A. Remember “Who” when we question “Why”
- “Why” is the question that often plagues us.
- Why is there suffering?
- Why does a parent bury a child?
- 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.
- But when we focus on “Who” we are reminded that God is on the throne. We are comforted in knowing that God is near, and He knows best.
ILLUS – The plaque Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, would hang in his home.
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
- Abraham did not have a blind faith. With laser-like focus his eyes were on the Lord.
- Abraham focused on God’s holy character and loving heart.
- Abraham focused on God’s infinite wisdom and unmatched power.
2. Abraham declared, “. . . we will worship and return to you.” (5)
3. This is the first occurrence of the word worship in the Bible.
4. Then Isaac asked Abraham, “. . . where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (7)
5. Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (8)
- Abraham was not avoiding the subject.
- Abraham had settled the matter in his heart.
6. God had promised that through Isaac, Abraham’s descendants would be called in Genesis 17:19.
7. Now, God commanded him to sacrifice his son.
8. By faith, Abraham reconciled God’s promise with God’s command.
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.
- 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 him.
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.”
Genesis 22:1-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Offering of Isaac
22 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 [a]provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.