Message from the Pastor
When Your Faith is Tested
Text: Hebrews 11:17-19 (Genesis 22:1-18)
Key verse: Hebrews 11:17 - By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,Premise: The testing of our faith is a priceless gift from God to make us stronger, deeper and more valuable to Him.
Engineers tell us that the only way that metal can safely be used is after testing it. And it must exceed the testing requirements. Repeatedly. The metal to be used must be pure. And in order for it to be purified, it must go through fire. It must be melted, and molded to fit the designers’ purpose.
God allows us to be tested as well. We don’t enjoy it, but it is true.
This is what his Word says concerning trials and testings:
James 1:2 – My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
1 Peter 4:12 - Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
We go through life constantly being educated, constantly learning and hopefully, always progressing.
As we begin to learn, we are tested, to a degree, not just on knowledge but also experience.
The testing of our faith is no different, in that, it is a gauge that defines where we are in our walk with God.
Please turn to Genesis 22 for the story to unfold for us more.
We are going to deal with five (5) aspects of testing as it relates to our faith.
1. The Place of Testing – 22:1-2b
A. Faith is not tested in familiar places
B. An understanding of what it means for God to “tempt”
i. It does not mean, solicitation to do evil – James 1:13 - Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
ii. In Genesis 22:1, it means to “try or prove” - Psalms 26:2 - Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.
iii. It is a quality of putting to the test to see what the end result will be.
C. A place of God’s timing (it came to pass)
D. A place of God’s purpose (offer him [Isaac] there for a burnt offering)
i. To prove our faith
ii. To teach us faith
iii. To build our faith
E. A place of God’s choosing (Moriah = that which Jehovah has made one see)
i. It will be adequate – a place sufficient for examination
ii. It will be appropriate – the most suitable environment for examination
iii. It will require movement on your part
2. The Pressure of Testing – 22:2c-3
A. Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves - There is a story about a lady that went to the butcher to buy a chicken for her family’s dinner. The butcher had but one chicken left. She asked him to weigh it and it was clear that it was on the small side. When she asked if he hand another chicken he said sure and took the chicken with him into the back room. A few minutes later he returned with the same chicken and laid it on the scale along with a little extra pressure from his thumb. The lady was not overly impressed with this bird either so she said, I’ll take both chickens… When God allows pressure, it is for our good, not our hurt.
B. Faith is only strengthened by testing
C. Look at the pressure Abraham was under:
i. The offering of his only beloved son, Isaac
ii. Three days journey to the place of sacrifice
D. As pressure creates a diamond so pressure creates in us a more valuable faith:
i. It is God’s goal to make us better than what we were before - Psalms 66:10-12 – 10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. 11 Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. 12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
ii. The pressure will never go beyond what we are capable of handling – 1 Corinthians 10:13 - There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
3. The Provision in Testing – 22:4-9
A. One day, a grandfather went fishing on a small lake. Pushing his boat away from the dock, he jumped in and managed to get a way out before dropping anchor. His grandson and son came down to the dock and noticed that grandpa was just sitting in the boat with his head propped on both hands, not doing anything. The grandson asked, “What is grandpa doing?” The father said, “Well, he was going to go fishing, but it looks like he forgot his fishing equipment, because here it sits.” “The boy than asked, “Well, why doesn’t he just row back in and get his stuff.” The father replied, “I think he would, son, except he forgot the oars too!”
B. Preparation for the test is as important as the test itself
C. Abraham took with him some essential items for the sacrifice:
i. Essential attitude (4-5)
a. Dedication (4)
b. Worship (5)
ii. Essentials tools (6)
a. The wood for the burnt-offering
b. The fire
c. The knife
D. We prepare for testing by:
i. Being aware that testing will come – 1 Peter 4:12 - Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
ii. Leaning on Christ for your strength to get you through anything - Philippians 4:13 – 13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
iii. Walking with God:
a. Being in His Word and His Word being in you
b. Clinging to Him and your only source of strength
c. Living each day in the joy of the Lord
4. The Proof of Testing – 22:10-12
A. Faith is verified by God’s interaction
B. Abraham was interrupted from doing the unthinkable because he trusted God
i. Abraham never questioned God’s command, even though this was the promised son
ii. Hebrews 11:19 gives us the only indication of what Abraham thought - Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
C. The test is successful:
i. When we have learned to trust without hesitation or regret – Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
ii. When God approves and acknowledges our faith
a. In His provision
b. In His unseen hand guiding
c. In His Spirit giving us inner evidence of faith
5. The Product of Testing – 22:13-18
A. Successful faith brings blessing beyond your expectations
B. Look what God provided for Abraham in response to His faith:
i. A substitute sacrifice (a type of Christ) (13)
ii. A place of remembrance – He called the place Jehovah-Jireh “The Lord will Provide” (14)
iii. A posterity that is eternal (17)
iv. A blessing to all nations [only if they are friends to the people of God – Gen. 12:3] - 18
C. Look what happens when our faith emerges deeper and stronger:
i. A greater readiness for the appearing of Christ - 1 Peter 1:7 – That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
ii. A deeper, more productive Christian life - James 1:3-4 – 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
iii. Of greater value and respect - Job 23:10 – But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
iv. The reward of the Crown of Life - James 1:12 - Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
What are you being tested in?
Is your faith able to stand up or will it collapse under the pressure?