Last Sunday night I preached on the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22. But because the audio recorder stopped recording partway through the message, I didn’t upload it to Sermon Audio.
So I thought I would post the application of the message as two separate blog posts here. I found Genesis 22 to be a challenging chapter to me personally, and I want to challenge and hopefully help you, too. But before you read the next pages, go ahead and open your Bible (or your Bible software program or your phone!) and read Genesis 22:1-19. Go ahead; I’ll wait.
OK, so now you’ve read the first 19 verses. Now, how do we apply this chapter to ourselves? It is important that we do this correctly.
Here’s the key to doing this: Remember that God spoke to Abraham with words and commanded him to do sacrifice his beloved child for Him. So don’t think, “Is Pastor Karding saying that God wants us to give up my child, or my wife, or my house?” I’m not talking about some mysterious liver quiver that means God is “speaking” to you – as we so badly use the word “speak” today. I mean right here in the Bible is where God speaks to you. God requires absolute submission to His written Word.
When Jesus was travelling in Israel preaching the gospel, at one point thousands of people were following Him. What did He say to them? Did He water down the message? Did He try to get as many people as possible to follow Him? No! Here is what He said: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
He doesn’t say, “I won’t let him be my disciple”; no, that person “cannot be my disciple.” It is impossible! You can’t refuse to wear an army uniform and be part of the army; you can’t even refuse to wear a Tim Hortons uniform and work at Tim Hortons, for crying out loud! Jesus is saying, “This is what being a disciple of mine requires: forsaking all.”
He doesn’t mean that you have to hate with anger and spite all your family; no, what He means is that you must put Him above all; if forced to choose between loving Jesus and loving anyone else, you will choose Jesus every time. You must carry a “cross” – an instrument of execution – with you at all times. You are not to follow your own desires, your own will; you are to follow Jesus’ desires, Jesus’ will.
I remember a friend of mine in Mississauga talking about a Catholic relative he was witnessing to. She was a teacher in a Catholic school. She told him, “Well, if I accept Christ as my Saviour, then I would have to stop teaching here; I would lose my job.” What should he have said? “No, no, just believe in Jesus and worry about that later.” No! He said something like this: “That’s right.” If she is not willing to lose a job for Jesus, she is not ready to get saved.
But this isn’t only for getting saved – it is for daily Christian living! Complete obedience to God’s Word proves that you are truly saved. James wrote that Abraham’s justification by faith was proved “when he … offered Isaac his son upon the altar” (James 2:21). What if Abraham had refused? He would not have been a “carnal Christian”; no, he would have proved that he was not a Christian at all. I’m not saying that if you have failed in any way you are not saved; I’m saying that true Christians obey God. That is their habitual practice. They may sin at times, as Abraham did, but when it comes down to it, they are dedicated to Jesus Christ.
Does the way you live prove that you are a Christian? I was reading a booklet by evangelist Dr. Dan Knickerbocker, and he told of the time he prayed to receive Jesus as his Saviour. He told his dad, who was a Christian, what he had done, and said, “I got saved!” Here is what his dad said: “We’ll see.” Why did he say that? Because salvation is more than just praying a prayer; true salvation results in a transformed life!
Let me ask you: How is your heart responding to this article right now? Is there an area of life your life where you are living in disobedience to God? Are you willing to give that precious sin up? Are you willing to go through a painful separation from an ungodly friend, a sinful relationship, for Jesus’ sake?
If your heart is saying, “No, I want to go my own way,” then beware. Are you truly saved? Because Jesus’ disciples respond to God’s Word with unrestrained commitment. And if you are saved, God will continue to test you throughout your life; you need this – I need this.
But there is a second application that is tremendously encouraging – an application that enables us to give ourselves to God in unrestrained commitment. We’ll look at that next Thursday.