Sermon – April 21, 2019
Christ is risen! This statement is simple, and yet for Christians since that fateful morning some 2,000 years ago, it is the most profound thing we can utter. It is the core and center of our faith, and thus of our salvation. But if this is true, why is it such a New Testament phenomenon? The Old Testament didn’t make much out of the resurrection, did it? Today, we think through the nature of the promises that God made to Abraham, and what it was that Abraham believed in. Abraham was not just trusting in any God, but a God who “gives life to the dead” (Rom 4:17). Today, we see how Abraham’s faith is indeed our faith, a faith in the resurrection.
1. Believe like Abraham did in Genesis 12 and 15
Abraham’s faith is what justified him – not any keeping of the law. This ought to mean much to us – for what is required of Abraham is what is required of us! If our father Abraham, for if we follow him in faith he is indeed our father, was justified by believing in the amazing promise of God, so shall we.
2. Believe like Abraham did in Genesis 17
But saying this says nothing of a resurrection. But the miracle for Abraham did speak of a resurrection, for Abraham didn’t just believe in God, but he believed in a God who gives life to the dead. He knew this, because Isaac was given through a man whose body was as good as dead and a woman whose womb was more of a tomb. Abraham sees this as a resurrection – and so should we.
3. Believe like Abraham did in Genesis 22
But I don’t think that Paul is done with Abraham just yet. Saying that he “grew strong” implies, to me, a longer period of time than just the year he waited for the birth. Rather, I think it points towards Genesis 22 and the offering of Isaac. When Abraham does this, he doesn’t do so with the thought that Ishmael could just inherit instead, or that Sarah would become pregnant again. Rather, he did it knowing full well that Isaac was his ONLY child, and the promised one at that. Only a resurrection would keep him there.
God does this, again and again, to show that our salvation cannot be achieved by us. But why focus on resurrection? Why not give Abraham some other impossible task that only God can do? Precisely because of what we are saved from – our sin! Sin requires a death, and salvation requires life. The only way we can be saved from our sins is through both a death and a resurrection. The resurrection is therefore central to our faith – for it is impossible for us to be saved without it.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ has carried our sins into death, and was brought back out of the grave in resurrection. As Paul says, he was delivered over because of our sins, and raised for our justification!