Abraham and the Torch – Gospel in Life

Abraham and the Torch

Tim Keller |  November 3, 1996

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  • Jesus' Death & Resurrection
Genesis 15:1-21
RS 272-07


We’re looking in the Bible at people who have had direct encounters with the raw presence of God. But this situation in which Abraham has a meeting with God is one of the weirdest stories in the Bible. It’s also the most significant passage for me in all of the Old Testament.

In this passage, Abraham asks how he can know that God will do what God’s promised. When God responds, Abraham knows what’s going on: a covenant ratification ceremony. This was the making of a contract. Abraham knew right away, but he didn’t figure what would actually happen. No one on the face of the earth would figure what would actually happen.

We’ll look at what happened. And then to apply this, we’ll see 1) the problem is we need an anchor for our souls, and 2) how we can get it.

Genesis 15:1–21

The agreement God made with Abram, which assured Abram’s family would inherit the land of Canaan, teaches us about trusting God’s promises and finding spiritual stability in Him. The story also explores unique experiences people in the Bible had with God, with Abram’s interaction being quite mysterious. This reinforces how important promises are, comparing it to the serious consequences of breaking promises in old times. It also shows the lengths God went to keep His promises.

1. Go to God and say, “How do I know?”

Abram and a man wanting his son to be healed both openly admitted they struggled with their faith. Instead of punishment, God showed them kindness and helped them, showcasing the heart of the gospel – those who admit they can’t see clearly are the ones who end up seeing the truth. Real faith begins when we admit we aren’t enough on our own and ask for God’s help, who then responds with compassion and assistance to our doubts and questions.

2. Major in the major, not major in the minors

The main point of faith isn’t about arguments over how the world was created, the rights and wrongs of abortion, or whether the miracles in the Bible really happened. It’s about who Jesus is. If we believe that Jesus is the one who experienced God’s anger and the feeling of being cut off from life, everything else falls into place. Meeting Jesus personally, not just knowing about Him in our heads, is what truly stabilizes our faith. This is because Jesus is not just a prize we get, but the greatest prize of all.



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