On 10th of April, Pastor Nicky Gumbel – developer of the global Alpha Course and pastor of Holy Trinity Brompton in London – came to Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang (HTBB), Lot 10 to share about the tests of faith that come before the fulfilment of a dream.
God promised that Abraham’s descendants would be as many as the stars (Genesis 15:5). But before this dream came true, he went through many trials.
“You can be sure of this – bad things may happen to you. But in everything, God works together for the good of those who love Him and called to His purposes (Romans 8:28).”
“You are never too young to get a dream from God. And you are never too old to get a new dream.”
And whatever dream you have, it will be tested. Nowhere in the Bible did people get a dream and see it fulfilled immediately, without trials.
Moses had a dream to lead the people to the Promised Land, but he wandered 40 years before seeing the land. Joseph went through slavery and imprisonment before his dream came to fulfillment as well.
“The bigger the dream, the bigger the test. Whatever the dream is, it will be tested. This is because a faith that has not been tested cannot be trusted.”
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
“Faith works like a muscle. It grows when it is stretched. And Abraham was strengthened in his faith through the tests.”
What are the tests that Abraham faced that some of us will face at some point in our lives?
God asked Abraham to leave his country, to go to the land He will show him (Genesis 12:1). But Abraham did not know where he was going. He lived in tents.
“There will always be uncertainties in life. Most of our anxieties comes from uncertainties. But faith is trusting God in the uncertainties of our life.”
For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Abraham went to Egypt when famine struck the land. But because he feared the Egyptians for his life, he told his wife to lie that she was his sister (Genesis 12:10-13).
“Sometimes, we do ridiculous things because we are afraid. And sometimes, we let our fears stop us in using our talents.”
In the Bible, the man who had one talent buried his talent because he was afraid (Matthew 25:24-25). But in burying his talents, he exposed his fears. Instead, we are called to bury our fears and expose our talents.
After Egypt, Abraham moved with his nephew Lot. At one point, their herdsmen quarrelled because the herds grew too big for the land to support both of them (Genesis 13:5-7).
“Disunity in any context is a sad case. Do everything in your part to live in peace (Romans 12:18). Get rid of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind (1 Peter 2:1).”
“Unity is so key to every relationship. Unity is where God commands His Blessings (Psalm 133:1-3).”
The first to apologize is the bravest, the first to forgive is the strongest, and the first to forget is the happiest.
Abraham was given the promise of a great nation at 75 years old (Genesis 12:4). But it took 25 years before his dream was fulfilled (Genesis 21:5).
Although Abraham messed up by taking Sarah’s maidservant to bear a child (Genesis 16:1-2), God was still faithful in fulfilling His promise to him.
Abraham was credited as ‘righteous’ not because of his acts, but because of his belief in God (Genesis 15:16). Likewise, although we mess up in our lives, God sees us as ‘righteous’ when we believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. And that is how we should see ourselves – ‘righteous’ in Jesus Christ.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. (Romans 3:22a)
The most difficult test is the test of blessing. After God blessed Abraham, he was asked to sacrifice the blessing – his son (Genesis 22:1). Yet, we know that God did not intend for child sacrifice, as that is an abomination to God (2 Chronicles 28:3).
“But God tested Abraham because He wanted to make sure that we prioritize our relationship with Him above the dream.”
“Whatever it is that you are facing today, that is not the problem. The problem is actually a test of your faith.”
So, Abraham went up the mountain with his son Isaac. And Isaac asked him where the sacrifice was. Abraham replied that God would provide the sacrifice (Genesis 22:7-8).
“It is a good thing that Abraham is still listening to God. God might have spoken to you yesterday, and that is good. But listen to God today. Because Abraham listened to God, he heard Him say that He will provide the sacrifice.”
Had Abraham stopped listening to God, he would have made the grave mistake of killing his son.
“As Abraham and Isaac went up the mountain, a ram is going up on the other side of the mountain. And at the right time, God provided the sacrifice.”
Likewise, we will also find the solution at the right time in our God, as we trust and obey Him.
No test that we are going through is bigger than Jesus’ crucifixion.
The climax of the story comes when God said to Abraham that Isaac will not be sacrificed. But God Himself would sacrifice His own Son – Jesus Christ – to be the slained lamb. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Do not give up. God’s given dream will be fulfilled by God Himself in His Time and His Way.
“The problems you are facing now are not problems, but only a test of faith.”
| Share the Good News |
Note: All pictures of HTBB are credited to HTBB. This article has been written based on the recording without the vetting by the church.