Before I share these lessons with you online I teach them to an adult Bible class at my church. Some of the class members are relatively new to following Jesus and have never read through the Bible before. I encourage questions as I teach, and we have discussion following the presentation. I’ve found their questions and comments absolutely invaluable as they help me see things in a new light.
For those of us who have read the Bible many times and with the rose-colored glasses of church interpretations, we can forget how shocking some of the behavior is of the so-called “heroes of the faith.”
I had already planned on discussing this prior to her comments, but I wanted to emphasize in sharing the lesson with all of you that the key teaching I pray people get out of this lesson is that there are NO human heroes in the Bible.
There is only ONE true hero of the faith, and that isn’t a human. The true hero of our faith is our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In this lesson (Lesson #3 in Through the Bible) I use the life of Abraham to illustrate the balance of grace on God’s part in that we did not earn or deserve anything that calls us into the faith and yet our responsibility to take action based on that grace.
We end the class quoting James 2:21-24, Msg, “ Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that weave of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?”
I hope the explanations helped and I encourage you to listen to or watch the entire lesson as we look at Abraham’s life (including a fascinating side trip into the archeology of Ur) and place it next to Ephesians 2:8-10, where in addition to the passage in James, we see the combination of grace and responsibility in our lives.
This is by no means the final answer to the question of why does God use the stories of flawed humans to tell His story and I warned her, “If you think Abraham was bad—the dreadful stories are just starting—wait until we get to Judges.”
That concluding comment wasn’t very hopeful I realize as an encouragement to keep reading the Bible; I also tried to assure her it’s actually quite hopeful because in our heart of hearts we are all capable of great evil, and God who loves, forgives, saves, and uses these flawed people, loves and saves us also.
For the entire lesson, here are the links:
Link to the blog, video, and notes: https://wp.me/pazrJD-ES
Links to the Podcast: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/u51dC6MjJwb
Link to the Video: https://youtu.be/SiYiytfukWI