Feb 2008

Five Essential Bible Passages

Genesis 17:1


Bryan Kimsey

1st Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM


Welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio.  I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines.  This week we’re looking at 5 essential Bible passages that I picked as personal favorites of mine.  I hope you enjoy and learn from this little study and if you miss any of these messages and want to catch up, check out our website at www.fbcdesmoines.or or call us at 575.278.2421.  I’d be happy to burn a CD with all of this week’s messages on it for you at no charge.  And if God impresses it on you to come visit us, we start our main service at 9:30 on Sunday morning in Des Moines.  Before we start today’s message, I like to ask God to bless it and give me the words to speak and give you understanding of this message.  To His glory through Christ, Amen.


Yesterday we looked at Genesis 1:1 and today we’re going to go a little further into Genesis and also into Exodus to see what God has to say about Himself.  I’d like to start with:


Genesis 17:1  When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.


Now, up to this point in Genesis, the LORD God has appeared to Abram and given him an idea of the mighty things He’s about to do through Abram, but something very significant happens in Genesis chapter 17.  We’re looking at verse 1 in the message, but take a quick look at what happens in verse 5:


Genesis 17:5  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.


God is changing Abram’s name.  If you read through your Bible and study the times when God changes people’s names you’ll see that something very significant is about to happen to that person and this name change is a sign of this change.  In this case, God is making a covenant with Abram to make him the father of many nations.  Abram is about to become Abraham, the father of faith.  His faith has already been demonstrated back in Chapter 15 where we’re told in verse 6 that God told Abram that his descendants would be greater than the stars and “Abram believed God and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”   If you know this story, you know that Abram’s wife Sarai was barren.  They have had a child through Sarai’s handmaiden Hagar, but God told them that this child is not the child of promise. Here, in Genesis 17:1, when God is about to accomplish His promise through Sarai, He appears before Abram and says “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.”  This is the first time in the Bible that God identifies Himself as “Almighty God” and this is the phrase that I want to look at today.


What does this phrase “Almighty God” mean and what is the significance of it?  God says “I am God Almighty”, and we certainly know that phrase even in today’s language (although we usually break the 2nd Commandment in our use of the term).  However, today we so often fail to grasp the full meaning of the word “Almighty.”  When we look at the Hebrew word behind the English word “Almighty”, we find that is “Shaddai” which means “almighty, most powerful.  “God” in the Hebrew is “el” which, taken together, gives us a literal translation “el Shaddai” or “God Almighty”.   If we go to Webster’s 1628 dictionary, we find that “Almighty”, as used in the sense of God means:


ALMI'GHTY, a. [all and mighty. See Might.]


Possessing all power; omnipotent; being of unlimited might; being of boundless sufficiency; appropriately applied to the Supreme Being.


ALMI'GHTY, n. The Omnipotent God.


Webster is expanding on the Hebrew for us.  We so often fail to grasp that the word “almighty” is serious.  Webster clarifies this: “possessing all power, omnipotent, being of unlimited might”.  What do those words “all”, “omnipotent”, and “unlimited” really mean?  If there is the slightest failure in those words- that is, if the being under discussion fails to control even the slightest particle of dust in the universe, then we cannot use the words “all”, “omnipotent”, and “unlimited”.  Rather we have “almost all”, “not quite omnipotent”, and “nearly unlimited.”  But, that’s not what the words mean. 


Thus, when God makes the claim “I am God Almighty…” He is making an absolutely huge…well, he is making an infinite claim regarding His powers.  We can argue and examine the validity of this claim at another time.  I have done that, and every believer in Christ should do the same, but for now, I will rest on the accuracy of God’s statement.  God is The Almighty and as such, there is not a speck of dust in the universe (and He created both dust and universe, by the way) that is outside His control.  This is a truth that we must grasp if we’re to even glimpse the Holiness and righteousness of God.


God then says to Abram, “walk before Me and be blameless.”  Abram will be blameless only if he walks before God, that is, if he walks in the path that God has set for him.  To do this will require faith.  Recall that the whole occasion for this meeting between God and Abram is that it is now time for Sarai to bear the child of promise, that is, the child from whom Abram’s descendants will spring.  Yet, Sarah is barren and past the age of child-bearing.  She is as good as dead, as far as child bearing goes.  For her to bear a son to Abraham will require nothing less than a miracle.  Yet, God has promised and Abraham believes that God is able to deliver what He as promised.  Abraham has faith that when God says “I am God Almighty”, that He is, indeed, what He says He is, in spite of physical circumstances which scream “impossible!!”  This is faith.  We walk by faith, not by sight.


Keep in mind that we’re not talking about physical descendants- if that were the case, then Ishmael, the son of the handmaiden Hagar would suffice.  Abram, in fact, asks God to use Ishmael for this purpose in Genesis 17:17-18.


But God’s reply is:


Genesis 17:19-21  Then God said: "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.  (20)  And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  (21)  But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year."


Later, in the New Testament, it is clear that the children of faith, the children of promise, are the true descendants of Abraham and this is why God told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations.   We can read about this in several places in the New Testament, but especially in Romans 4.  There is much in this chapter, but try to stick with me as I read it. 


Romans 4:1-25  What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh?  (2)  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  (3)  For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."  (4)  Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.  (5)  But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,  (6)  just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:  (7)  "BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS ARE FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS ARE COVERED;  (8)  BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM THE LORD SHALL NOT IMPUTE SIN."  (9)  Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.  (10)  How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.  (11)  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,  (12)  and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.  (13)  For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  (14)  For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect,  (15)  because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.  (16)  Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all  (17)  (as it is written, "I HAVE MADE YOU A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS") in the presence of Him whom he believedGod, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;  (18)  who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE."  (19)  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb.  (20)  He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,  (21)  and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.  (22)  And therefore "IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."  (23)  Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,  (24)  but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,  (25)  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.


We could spend the next 15 years discussing just this passage and never get to the end of it, but the main points to bring up right now are:


  1. Righteousness does not come from works.  Our works are good and fine and all that, but they do NOT make us righteous in the eyes of God.  This is clear from verses 1-5.

  2. Instead, righteousness comes from faith.  It was because he believed God that “it was accounted to him for righteousness”.   Basically, then, Abraham believed and trusted in God.

  3. Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90,well past the age of child bearing.  Their bodies were basically dead.  And yet God claimed that He would bring life from them.  In the same way, when we die, God claims to bring about a resurrection and He uses the resurrection of Christ as a demonstration of this. 

  4. And finally, Paul in Romans 4 clearly links the Old Testament Abraham with Christ in verses 23-25 where he says  “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,  (24)  but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,  (25)  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”


And there we have the gospel message!  Abraham believed that God could and would make him the father of many nations even though his wife was barren and past child-bearing age.  Abraham believed that God could bring life from death.  Christians believe that Christ’s resurrection is further evidence that God will do that for us.  We believe that Christ was delivered up as payment for our offenses- payment for our sins and transgressions- and that He raised so that we might be justified.  We are not righteous and never will be, but Christ was and, as Paul tells us here in Romans, Christ’s righteous is imputed or laid to our account.  That is the gospel message.  Do you accept the payment that Christ has made on your behalf?  If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth this truth, then you will be saved.  Today is the day of salvation.


I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church, Des Moines.  Join us tomorrow at 9:45 am as we look at another fascinating and essential text from the Bible.  May this message glorify God in Jesus’ name.  Amen!



5 Essential Bible Passages- Genesis 1:1

5 Essential Bible Passages- John 3:1-21