“The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Faithfulness”      Genesis 22:1-18                    July 9, 06

 

SI:  This summer studying the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.

“Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .”  The fruit of faithfulness

   We’re going to read the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of son Isaac.

   Besides the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the most powerful story in Bible.

 

INTRO:  There was an elderly man in our church in Florida.

He once came up in a conversation I was having

   with someone who had known him for many years.

“I admire Jack.  He’s a man of integrity.  Let me tell you a story

   that will give you an idea of the kind of man he is.”

 

He proceeded to tell me of how when Jack was a young man up north,

   truckload of product had been stolen from business he was working for.

Even though a number of extenuating circumstances, Jack was not to blame—

   he said that he was responsible, this had happened under his watch.

   Worked for years to pay back every dollar to the business.

 

You might call that integrity, as the person did who told me the story.

   But you could just as well call it faithfulness.

Faithfulness is keeping your promises (stated or unstated),

   it’s reliability, it’s trustworthiness, it’s follow-through.

 

Faithfulness means that you don’t necessarily follow your instincts, or emotions,

   It means you don’t always claim your rights.

   It’s loyalty and obedience to God in daily decisions and over the long haul.

 

In book of Revelation Jesus Christ says to the persecuted church:

   “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”

   He means be faithful to Me to the very end of your life.

   Also means, faithfulness to Me sometimes leads to death.

Faithfulness can be one of the most difficult and costly fruit of the Spirit.

 

Now let’s think about faithfulness and Genesis 22.

   I hope you have noticed by now in our study of the fruit of the Spirit,

   each fruit is an attribute of God Himself. 

Bible speaks of God’s love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness.

Theologians divide God’s attributes into two categories:

   His incommunicable attributes and His communicable attributes.

Incommunicable attributes are those that set God apart as God.

   eternity, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence.  True of God alone.

 

Communicable attributes are those that God passes along to his people.

   A “communicable disease” is one that you can catch.

   You catch it by being around a person with it.

God’s communicable attributes are those we “catch” from Him.

   When you become a Christian, drawn into union with Christ,

   His nature rubs off on you.  More around him, more catch His attributes.

 

So a large part of cultivating the fruit of the Spirit is asking what is God’s love like?

   What is God’s goodness like?  What is His faithfulness like?

   How do I draw close to Him so that I catch it?

 

This story in Genesis 22 is so helpful because in it we see both

   what God’s faithfulness looks like and

   what it looks like in the life of one of His people—in this case Abraham. 

We also see how powerful and costly faithfulness is.

 

This might not seem to be a practical passage for the study of faithfulness

   There are so many other good passages in Scripture that focus on things like

   being a faithful spouse, keeping promises made to children, faithful employee.

But it gives us a big picture of God’s faithfulness to us

   and then the resulting fruit of faithfulness in our lives. 

 

Study this famous story under two headings:

1.  God’s faithfulness to you

2.  Your faithfulness to God or The fruit of faithfulness.

 

   What I want to do with each of these points.

   Examine in general—things Scripture says about each.

   Then look at the story of Abraham and Isaac.

   Make some application.

 


MP#1  God’s Faithfulness To You

Let’s consider God’s faithfulness to you.

   A huge theme in the Bible.  Look up words faithful/faithfulness in concordance.

   Used numerous times, most of the time to describe God.

In the Old Testament there is a family of Hebrew words that

   communicate God’s faithfulness with many nuances—

   reliability, commitment, firmness, steadiness, promise-keeping, trustworthiness.

 

The word “Amen” is in that family of words.

   When end a prayer with “Amen” you mean “So be it” or “Let this be done.”

   Statement that God is faithful to hear and answer prayers.

 

The Scripture presents God’s faithfulness as something that He has woven

   into the fabric of His creation.

Just like God’s goodness which looked at last week.

   The goodness of all things whether a good meal, good person from God.

   Same with faithfulness—everything reliable, trustworthy is from Him.

   Every day you see God’s faithfulness if you will just open your eyes.

 

Why is there a day and a night that comes with regularity?  Why are there seasons?

   Why does the earth orbit the sun, not get sucked in, flung out into space?

As the old hymn says, paraphrasing Genesis 8:

   Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,

   Sun, moon and stars in their courses above

   Join with all nature in manifold witness

   To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

 

People talk about the laws of nature (fine to use that terminology).

   But what are the laws of nature? 

   According to Scripture, regular habits of a faithful God, promised to sustain

   So we see God’s faithfulness to His creation.

 

In spite of sinfulness of mankind, also see God’s faithfulness in the human race.

   If there was no faithfulness, would be utter chaos, race would cease to exist.

But event though there is lots of unfaithfulness—

   God has graciously poured out His faithfulness in a general way on all mankind.

   We have faithful policemen, faithful pharmacists, faithful spouses, parents—

   that makes human society possible. 

God is faithful to his creation, faithful to the human race as a whole.

But God’s faithfulness is most vividly seen in His faithfulness to His elect people.

   That brings us to the story in Genesis 22.

 

“Some time later, the Lord tested Abraham.”

Told him to take his son Isaac, his only son, whom he loved—and sacrifice him.

   Isaac was not only Abraham and Sarah’s son.

   He was the child of promise.

 

You remember that Sarah laughed when God said that He would give them a son.

   Abraham was 100 and she was 90.

   But God was faithful to his promise and Isaac was born—name means laughter.

All of God’s promises of future blessing and happiness for Abraham

   and for the nations rested on Isaac the promised child.

 

Isaac foreshadowed Jesus Christ. 

   Jesus is the promised son through whom blessings come.

   Jesus came to bring laughter to world cursed by sin.

   Came to make all things right. 

But then God decided to test Abraham:

   Take Isaac, Laughter, son of promise, son you love,

   and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.

 

Abraham took Isaac to Mt. Moriah, placed him on the altar.

   At the last moment—the Angel of the Lord spoke, ram provided as substitute.

   “So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.”

By calling that place “The Lord Will Provide” Jehovah Jireh,

   Abraham making a statement about God’s character

 

He was saying:  The Lord is a promise-keeping God. 

   Will see to it that nothing derails His promise to save us.

   He is trustworthy, He is reliable, He is faithful.  .

   God is the giver and keeper of promises.

 

What we have in this story is one of the earliest clues in the Bible

   that eliminating sin and evil would require a great sacrifice.

And God Himself would see to it that it happened

 

Abraham could see not see all the details, looking forward by faith.

   He knew that God would provide a very precious sacrifice, human sacrifice.

   Knew that God was going to be faithful until the very end.

 

What Abraham saw only dimly, looking forward in faith,

   We can see very clearly, we have the whole story recorded in the New Testament.

   Know that the sacrifice was God’s only beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

   Know it was God’s will to crush Him.  Jesus went faithfully to death.

The difference between Isaac (foreshadowing) and Jesus Christ (the reality),

   For Jesus, there was no ram in the bushes, He was the substitute for our sins.

 

If God was faithful in keeping his most costly promise, you can be sure He

   will keep all of His promises to you.

   Not a promise in Scripture He will not keep, absolutely trustworthy.

 

Practice among Christians in earlier times (1800s, perhaps earlier) Promise Box.

   A small box, like a match box.

As Christian read the Bible, over years, whenever found a promise:

   “My God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ.”

   “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion to day of Christ Jesus.”

Or any of the other hundreds of promises in Bible.

   Wrote in tiny letters on a slip of paper, rolled it up, put in Promise Box.

Then, in troubled times, would take one out, read that promise.

 

Some people criticized—like opening the Bible and pointing.

   Not really—an exercise in praising God for His faithfulness.

Believe you are so trustworthy, going to collect your promises, rely on them.

   All these promises are trustworthy, because biggest, most costly promise,

   You saw to it and provided your Son Jesus Christ.

 

Maybe the reason the church is so weak, we don’t magnify God’s faithfulness.

   How many of God’s promises are precious to you?

   How many do you quote to yourself, open Bible and read over and over?

Do you often thing of and count on God’s faithfulness to you?

 

Leads us to your faithfulness to God or the fruit of faithfulness.

 

 

MP#2  Your faithfulness to God or the fruit of faithfulness

The fruit of faithfulness is simply when God’s faithfulness to you in Christ,

   takes root in your soul and begins to grow and flourish

   in all your relationships,

   every one of your responsibilities and callings,

   and every moral decision you make.

It’s when the Spirit of Christ makes you a reliable, trustworthy,

   promise-keeper who always follows through.

 

Means that you will find yourself taking God’s faithfulness and

   acting on it in the face of world’s wisdom, and criticisms,

   often even acting on God’s faithfulness in opposition to your own emotions,

   your own instincts of self-preservation and self-gratification.

 

In other words, you will find yourself challenging everything that tempts you

   to be unfaithful, break your promises.

Motivation will be—because God has been faithful to me,

   Because God has been faithful to me—

   I am going to be loyal and obedient to Him no matter what the cost.

And even if it is costly, I know God can be trusted.

 

Let’s look at Genesis 22 again

   Question that always comes to mind when read this: 

   How did Abraham feel?  Such an American question.

   Was he in emotional turmoil?

 

Picture Abraham and Isaac walking to Mt. Moriah,

   like Andy and Opie walking along together to the fishing hole.

   Was each step closer to the mountain like a dagger in Abraham’s heart?

   He was a man and a father, we know there were emotions.

 

But a more helpful question is:  What was Abraham thinking?

   We can answer that question because the Bible tells us.

There is a commentary on this story in Hebrews 11.

   Tells us what was going on in Abraham’s mind.

   He was thinking about God’s faithfulness.

 

   By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.  He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It will be though Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”  Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead and figuratively speaking , he did receive Isaac back from death.

 

Abraham was reasoning this way:

   God has promised to bless me and nations through Isaac, only through Isaac.

   Now He has commanded me to sacrifice Isaac.

So how do I reconcile God’s command with promise.

 

Conclusion Abraham came to was remarkable.

   There can only be one conclusion, God is planning to raise Isaac from dead.

   Actually see this in Genesis 22 itself, says to servants, “We will return.”

 

This conclusion went against the wisdom of the world.

   Certainly went against Abraham’s emotions.

   But he said:  God is faithful to His promises, so I will be faithful to Him.

   Acted in faith, what happened, figuratively speaking, did receive Isaac back.

 

Faithfulness and faith go hand in hand.

You believe what God says, act on it, knowing that God will be faithful.

   You reason it out, and then look for Him to follow through as He always does.

What are some of the things that God tells us to do that the world says is foolish?

   Just jotted down a few—can make your own list.

 

What about God’s commands concerning marriage?

   “Wives submit to your husbands as unto the Lord.”

Foolish, sounds like a recipe to become a door mat for a mean man.

Christian wife reasons that out—Lord is trustworthy.

   Going to be faithful and look for Him to follow through.

 

What about His instructions concerning child rearing?

   “He who spares the rod, hates his son.”

Foolish, Can’t teach children not to hit their siblings by hitting them.

   Heard that on National Public Radio—expert in child rearing.

Christian parent reasons that out—Lord trustworthy, understands little hearts,

   Knows what is best for my children.  Going to be faithful in discipline.

   Let him see to it that it does its work.

What about all of His instructions about money and stuff?

   “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Foolish.  Of course you can give enough to make self feel good.  Give a token.

   Deep down everyone knows that money buys happiness.

   If you give enough that your lifestyle suffers, some things can’t buy, not blessed.

Christian says I’m gives generously, decide on a percentage of income sacrificial

   some things not going to be able to buy, lifestyle going to suffer a little

   Let God take care of that.

 

What about many teachings on self-perception?

   “Let each esteem others better than yourselves.”

That is foolishness. 

   Everyone knows that lack of self-esteem cause of all our problems.

   Try to live like this, won’t get anywhere.

Christian says, I’m going to try to grow in humility

   and judge myself with sober judgment.  Let Lord take care of my psyche.

 

Could go on and on—Bible says something about every part of life.

   Calls us to faithfulness that rests on the faithfulness of God and

   that goes against the world and often against our own judgment. 

 

One more issue:  What if you have been unfaithful to Lord in some big area?

   You feel weighed down by guilt.  I haven’t been faithful.  I’m a failure.

 

1.  You are forgiven of your unfaithfulness if repent in Jesus name.

He was faithful all the way to the cross so you can be forgiven all sins.  Repent.

 

2.  If people have been directly hurt by your unfaithfulness ask their forgiveness.

 

3.  Remember even the great faithful saints were unfaithful at times but God

forgave them.  Abraham himself, twice was unfaithful concerning Sarah. 

Also was unfaithful in trying to secure the promised son through slave Hagar.  But God forgave and made Abraham into a faithful man.  Consider David, Peter, others.

 

Remember faithfulness in big things is learned by faithfulness in little things.  Seek God’s strength to keep all the little promises and commitments this week.

These will build reserves of faithfulness to draw from in times of crisis.

 

CONC:

Many of the enduring hymns of the church were written in response

   to dramatic experiences with God.

But the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

   was not written out of a dramatic experience.

   It was simply the result of the authors “morning by morning”

   realization of God’s faithfulness in his daily life.

 

Thomas Chisholm was born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky.

Without the benefit of high school or advanced education,

   somehow followed the calling to be school teacher.

At age of 16, began teaching in same country school where he received

   his elementary education.

 

After he became a Christian, he became the editor of “The Pentecostal Herald”

   and later ordained as a Methodist minister.

 

Shortly before his death, he wrote this:

 

My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  But I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.

 

Thomas Chisholm learned faithfulness by leaning on a faithful God.

   What is the Lord’s judgment of his years teaching in country school?

   What is the Lord’s judgment about his years as Methodist minister in Kentucky?

   What is the Lord’s judgment about that famous hymn?

No doubt the words we all long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

   You have been faithful to death, here is the crown of life.

 

Grow in faithfulness.  Lean on God for all things.

Be loyal to Him, obey Him.  He is a faithful God, to Abraham, Chisholm, and you.