This is Thompson. He’s pretty quiet, but has begun to open up with me some. And today he was quite talkative and contributed some good things to the discussion.
Today we talked about Abraham. As is my custom, I read/told the story starting with God calling Abraham; then the multiple times restating the promise; then Hagar and Ishmael; followed by Isaac’s birth; and finally the sacrifice on Mt. Moriah. Having talked about all that, knowing that I had the guys cued up right where I wanted, I asked “At what point did God call Abraham righteous?” Kawage answered, “When he lifted the knife and was about to kill Isaac.” I confirmed this with the rest of the guys to make sure there was a consensus and then I crushed them. Not really. I explained that this is what lots of people think and this what I wanted them to assume, but it’s not what the Bible says. It seems logical to us, but according to Genesis 15:6, God reckoned Abraham to be righteous when Abraham believed God.
After this we talked about these facts:
- God called Abraham righteous because of his faith, not because of his actions.
- Abraham’s actions followed his faith.
- As people, we can’t know what someone believes until we see their actions, but God does not need that.
This discussion went really well and the guys openly admitted that these were things they had not heard or understood before. Their contemplation led to the question, “Was Abraham’s relationship with Hagar a sin? If so, knowing that it came after the reckoning, what consequence does it have on Abraham’s righteousness?” What an excellent question! It is so encouraging to see them think this through seriously and try to reconcile it with what they have believed so far. But I didn’t give them an answer. I said they would have to wait for that one. We are all eager to continue on Monday.
P.S. One of the guys is convinced he is Jewish, as in a descendent of Abraham. I’m not sure I cleared that up today, so we might have to circle around to that again.