From Abraham to Christ Jesus! (Hebrews 6:13-20)
The Certainty of God’s Promise
13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews is a book of warning AND encouragement. There is a warning not to discourage nor threaten us, but to give us hope in patient faith, continually. Remember the end of last Sunday’s sermon? This book encourages us not to be lazy, but diligent with hope and patience in faith. After giving this encouragement, this passage gives us a sample to imitate: Abraham.
One of the key words here is “promise.” God gave this word continually to Abraham.
Actually God does not need to swear to speak an oath – because he never lies. There is no one greater than God. So what does this mean, God taking an oath by himself? This means this is DOUBLE emphasis of importance.
Also today, Jesus says, “Truly, truly I tell you…” – Jesus doesn’t need to say this actually, because all things he speaks are truth. “I’m the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” So what does this mean? this is Jesus vow / oath to give us double certainty.
This passage is from Abraham to Jesus. Also in Matthew 1 – the genealogy of Jesus, it begins with Abraham and ends with Jesus. So this passage gives us an example to imitate Abraham.
Several times, the Bible mentions:
- “Abraham is the father of all who believe.”
- Galatians 3:7 “Those who believe in Jesus are children of Abraham.”
- Romans “Abraham is the father of all who believe.”
What does this mean?
Abraham is not perfect in his character – he told several lies about his wife “she’s my sister” to keep his life. Also, he was NOT the first person to be saved by faith – who believed in God. MANY people believed and were saved before Abraham. So then, why does the Bible introduce us to Abraham as the “father of faith” so often?
What does this mean to you / me personally? “Abraham is my father.” – this means there should be a very close relationship, right?
This passage wants to make it clear, all who believe are children of Abraham, and children of God.
Abraham is the Father of all who believe (2 points):
#1 God gives
(promise is a keyword)
- First, Abraham is the first public example of how we can be saved and declared righteous / justified. In this fact, he is our father, we are his children.
Second, we are heirs of Abraham’s promise. Still today, if we believe in Christ, we are sharing Abraham’s ultimate mission / inheritance.
“so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”
Not only this sentence, but also another promise that Abraham did not receive. (Make a note beside this sentence.)
The OTHER promise (he did NOT receive) – even until today, we are receiving and sharing that promise. That promise is BEING fulfilled through those who believe in Christ.
#2 God saves
- Abraham is our public, official sample of how to be saved (there is a gap of 4000 years between him and us – but we are saved by the same faith by which he was saved).
Let me share HOW he was saved and declared righteous. Listening to this, we must continually remember we are saved in the same way.
His salvation story is the SAME as ours (3 points)
1. By faith
(Genesis 14 – today’s message is “solid food”) – Abraham was saved by faith, not works
In Genesis 14, he defeated allied kings to save his nephew Lot – and he was wondering if they would return to fight him again.
At that time, his name was Abram – and called him, “Do not be afraid. I’m your shield and your very great reward.” At that time, the thing Abram wanted most of all was a son. God gave him a promise – took him outside to see the stars and said, “So shall your offspring be.” He was 85.
Abram believed this promise. “Amen.” (“It is true.”)
So, saying Amen is SO important – God receives glory simply when we say, “Amen.” “I believe” means “Amen.”
“Abraham believed God and God credited it to him as righteousness.” (credited = imputed / like a credit card – banking term – to put to his account). For example, a man works, earns money, and the money is credited to his account.
But, Abraham did NOT work for his promise. God spoke, Abraham believed, and THAT FAITH was counted as righteousness and justification to his account.
It was Jesus Christ who did work for him on his account. And it was the work of Jesus on the cross that was credited to his account.
Like this, we also do nothing for our salvation. When we believe / accept Jesus as Savior, his righteousness is transferred to my account. His righteousness becomes my righteousness. Like whenever someone transfers money to my account, that money becomes my money.
- “…in him we might become the righteousness of God…”
- “…Jesus Christ is our righteousness…” (Corinthians)
#2 By Grace
Not by circumcision, not by keeping the Law.
When he believed and God credited it to him as righteousness, he was 85 years old – in Genesis 15.
In Genesis 17, when he was 99 years old, he became circumcised.
This circumcision happened 14 years AFTER he believed in the promise of God – so it is clear that his circumcision did NOT affect his salvation. And also, the Law was given through Moses – who lived 500 years later.
So circumcision, observing the Law, had nothing to do with Abraham’s salvation. God only gave him a promise, and he responded with “Amen.”
- Why did God give him a promise?
- Was Abraham worthy of it?
- Did he deserve it? Did he earn it?
God gave him a promise for a son BY GRACE – for nothing – this was a gift.
Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved, not by works, so that no one can boast. This is not of yourselves…”
3. By the power of Jesus’ Resurrection
Not by his own power.
We know God appeared to Abraham and said, “I’ll give you a son” when he was already 85 years old in Genesis 15. So…. maybe he would expect a son, pretty soon…. Seems a bit old….
He knew God was so faithful and capable of keeping his promise. “Your children will be like the stars.” So, he should expect to receive this promise immediately. Yet, God delayed and delayed and delayed until Abraham became 100, and his wife was 90 years old. Humanly speaking, this is unimaginable – impossible.
In chp 17, when he was still Abram, and 99 years old, he came to him again and said, “I am God Almighty. Walk blamelessly before me. I *have made* you the father of many nations.”
*have made* = present perfect (already)
Yet… no son.
God said, “No longer will your name be Abram – change it to Abraham.” (This name means “exalted father.”)
Abraham did not walk by sight but walked by faith. One reason God delayed and delayed (we know he is good, so faithful, and NOTHING is impossible)… So WHY delay? To wait. To commit ALL their physical strength and natural energy to decrease and disappear completely. Then, at age 100, he had a son. Then he had a rejuvenation of his body – this is a symbol of the resurrection power of Christ.
Abraham believed God’s promise, and it was credited to him as righteousness. The application is very clear.
As long as a sinner believes he has SOME power to save himself, he cannot be saved by grace. ONLY when we admit and confess: I’m totally helpless on my own – Only then, can God’s holy, helping, saving power help us.
We can see the situation of Abraham in Genesis, 4000 years ago.
There was no Bible; no church history books; no devotional books; no witnesses; no fellowship with other believers – he was almost completely ALONE – surrounded by unbelieving pagans. And yet, in this hard, terrible situation, he believed God’s promise. So, God honored and rewarded his faith.
Abraham’s faith in God’s promise did not diminish as time passed.
If we have true saving faith – it becomes stronger and stronger and stronger as time passes, regardless of our surrounding circumstances.
If you have faith, what is the basis of your faith?
If your faith is based on WHAT Jesus has done on the cross, it will become stronger and stronger over time. But if your faith is based on your own performance – your own work for God, it becomes weaker and weaker over time.
- If your faith is based on GOD’S promise, it grows stronger and stronger.
- If your faith is based on your feelings or circumstances, it becomes weaker and weaker as time passes.
Hallelujah~ One example.
If your lover is now far away in Africa or America, and he gave you a promise: I will return to you within 10 years. Our initial faith can be very strong: YES – I believe this. You will be full of expectation to see him.
One year, two years, three years, four years, five years, he does not come.
In this situation, your initial faith will become stronger? Or weaker? Depends on your heart / attitude.
If our initial faith becomes weaker and weaker – it means that our faith is based on our feelings – not on believing his promise. If we believe the PROMISE, then as the time passes, we believe stronger and stronger.
So, after one year passes, the probability of his return is 1/10. In the second year, 2/10 probability or returning. In the 3rd year: 3/10. In the 9th year: 9/10. In the 10th year: the probability of returning is 100% (10/10). So, as time passes, our faith becomes stronger and stronger with patience and hope.
Hope is a symbol of an anchor – an absolute standard.
Jesus also promised: “I am coming soon.” at the end of Revelation (3x). He gave this promise already 2000 years ago – and although we do not know the limitation of the period of time in which he will return, there IS a limit. So if we believe in his PROMISE, our initial faith will become stronger or weaker? Stronger. Because the period of time left is smaller and smaller and the probability of his return becomes bigger and bigger.
Still today, Jesus gives us a promise with an oath. “Truly, truly, I tell you…”
“Whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.”
“To all who received him, … he gave the right to become children of God.”
“If you believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth, you will be saved.”
The meaning of “Abraham as father”
“so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”
This is why one of the 9 spiritual gifts is patience.
There is yet another promise which he did not yet receive. WE are receiving that promise given to Abraham.
This is very important – this is very close to the end.
God’s promise was for a son – but this was not the only promise.
Abraham received his one son, Isaac, but this was not God’s only promise: “You will be the father of many nations.”
Genesis 12 – the Calling of Abram
God called Abram and said, “Leave you house and your hometown and go to the land I will show you.”
“I will make you into a great nation; I will bless you. I’ll make your name great. I’ll bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, and ALL people on earth will be blessed through you.”
This promise is the gospel.
The ultimate promise of God given to Abram is “ALL nations will be blessed through you.” (saved through you)
Gal 3:9 “God preached the gospel in advance to Abraham.” There was no gospel preacher at that time – God preached to Abram in advance: “All nations will be blessed / saved through you.”
We know God is so faithful and almighty. God gave his promise to Abram 4000 years ago. This promise has been fulfilled through Abram in his lifetime? NO.
Since that promise was given, 4000 years have passed – and this promise is BEING fulfilled.
This promise: “All nations will be blessed / saved through you.” – only by Jesus Christ.
Title: From Abraham to Jesus Christ.
We are now between Abraham and Jesus Christ. This ultimate promise / mission given 4000 years ago is now being fulfilled through those who believe in Christ. That’s why we are called his children – because we are sharing in this promise and his inheritance as his heirs.
Hebrews 11: Faith chapter (more than 20x “by faith”)
“39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Remember, today, through us, that ultimate purpose given 4000 years ago is being fulfilled.
You are given the same mission: “World blessing / mission / evangelisation.”