THE STORY OF THE BIBLE 

 

White Teaching 2: Creator Builds a Nation

 

Timeless Truth: What sin changes, faith overcomes.

 

Background Notes

 

How would the broken relationship between Creator and man ever be restored in such a sin-sick world? How would fallen people learn to live in a fallen world? This teaching offers a two-word answer: “By faith.”

  • Adam and Eve became unrighteous because they disbelieved God’s word.

  • By contrast, Abraham believed God’s word and was declared righteous.

 

Since the expulsion from the Garden, salvation has always been by faith. What sin changes, faith overcomes.

 

This teaching’s focus is on faith: man’s belief and obedient response to God’s revelation.

 

Creator’s relentless pursuit of humanity becomes more evident in His great plan to bring us back to him. He does this by initiating relationships in people  who then (and only then) respond to God by faith.

 

Thus, faith overcomes the brokenness in humanity’s relationship to God. God’s revelation ALWAYS precedes faith. Faith is never blind. Whether through word or through deed, Creator reveals Himself before human beings can believe.

 

This teaching focuses on faith through a study of three stories in the life of Abraham. You could also consider an alternative study of faith through the characters of Sarah or Hagar also.

 

The Story: Abraham—A Profile of Faith

 

Begin by briefly talking about the ways that we believe Creator talks to us in our culture.

  • Who wishes God would phone?

  • Perhaps a text message?

  • Maybe an email?

  • Possibly a GodTV cable channel?

Creator has chosen to reveal Himself to our ancestors and elders in various and often creative ways in the past.

 

In this teaching we see God revealing Himself in very personal ways to the various people in his Word, the Bible. Thankfully He continues to reveal Himself to us through the enduring communication of His Word. 
 

  1. Story 1: A Land for Abram

    1. Background: Abram is 75 years old the first time God calls him. God asks Abram to leave his present home and go to an unknown place that He would show him. So Abram gathered his family and belongings and eventually ended up in Canaan.

    2. God

      1. God initiated the relationship with Abram.

      2. God gave Abram specific instructions.

      3. God made specific promises to Abram in a covenant:

        • I will make you a great nation.

        • I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.

        • I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.

        • I will bless all the peoples of the earth through you.

    3. Abram’s Faith Response

  • Abram was chosen by grace, not by merit.

  • Abram obeyed God’s instructions by faith.

  • Abram built altars and worshiped.

  

  1. Story 2: An Heir for Abram
    Background: Abram worried that he had no children of his own. He expressed his concerns to God, who promised that an heir would come from Abram’s own body. Abram and Sarai used Hagar to produce a child, Ishmael. But Isaac, the child of promise, would come from Sarah’s womb.
     

  2. God

    1. God, taking the initiative, promised offspring.

    2. God declared Abram righteous because Abram believed Him.

    3. God gave the sign of the promise in circumcision, and changed Abram and Sarai’s names.

      1. Abram:

    4. Abram’s righteousness was by faith. Believers have always been saved by grace through faith.

    5. Man and God have a restored relationship when man trusts God.

    6. Negatively, Abram and Sarai did not wait on God, but had Hagar bear a son, Ishmael. This resulted in tragic and broken relationships.

 

  1. Story 3: A Test for Abraham                                                                                                       Background: Another great act of faith is recorded in this third story. Approximately forty years after Abraham’s first encounter with God, God called him to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham took Isaac, two servants, and some wood and set out. Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, but God stopped him. God provided a ram in the thicket to sacrifice instead.

  2. God
    1. God initiated the relationship again and tested Abraham’s faith.

    2. God provided a replacement sacrifice for Abraham’s son.

    3. God repeatd His promise to bless Abraham and all nations through him.

  3. Abraham’s Faith Response

    1. Abraham obeyed immediately and trusted that God could resurrect Isaac.

    2. Abraham’s obedience was evidence of his mature faith.

 

  1. Thoughts

    1. God graciously seeks a relationship with us by revealing Himself to us.

    2. As fallen people, we do not seek God until He seeks us first. When He does seek me, I should respond by faith.

    3. Faith is always based on the Word (promise) of God or a revelation about His character. The believer is to trust God to be who He says He is and to do what He says He will do.

    4. Faith is believing and obeying God as He reveals Himself and His plan. Obedience is an outward expression of an inward faith.

    5. Following God takes my life in a different direction.

    6. Nothing we do merits God’s favor. His grace seems perplexing because we do nothing to earn it.

    7. Faith in God is the only requirement for righteousness and salvation. Faith is a sinner’s only hope for salvation.

    8. Our relationship with God does not necessarily get easier over time. It will continue to be tested.

    9. God can be trusted with our most precious “possessions.”

 

Talking Circle

  • What if you were 90-year-old Sarah who learned that you would bear a child?

  • What if you were Isaac on the sacrificial altar?

  • What if you were Sarah and learned that Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac?

  • What if you had been in Hagar’s situation, pregnant, alone, and scared in the desert?

  • What if you had been Hagar in the desert with Ishmael?

  • What if you were Ishmael, sent away to wander helplessly in the desert?

Deeper Thoughts (Optional)

  • If you were in that situation:

    • What would you have been feeling?

    • What would you have learned about God?

    • What would you have learned about faith?

    • What problem did your character’s faith overcome?