“By Faith Abraham” – Three-fold Gift

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – Saturday, February 14, 1942


Sermon by Dr. J. Frank Norris, First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, February 15, 1942

(Stenographically Reported)

DR. NORRIS: I want to call your attention to this word of Scripture. Three words, as found in the 11th chapter of Hebrews, and 8th verse. Just three short words. Two short words and a man’s name. And these three short words sum up the whole plan of redemption, God’s plan concerning the ages – a message that we need at this hour.

Heb. 11:8, “By faith Abraham.”

I want to discuss with you briefly this morning the three-fold gift of Abraham to God.

There are three outstanding characters in the Old Testament history. Both Jew and Gentile, the world recognizes those three above all others.

First, Abram, the father of the faithful.

Second, Moses the law giver.

Third, David the great king.

You will find those three referred to and quoted in the New Testament more than any other three.

Abraham came from a great empire. Don’t think lightly of Ur of the Chaldees. Six great kingdoms were built in that land. Excavations show six different civilizations were established.

The custom was when one invading army or kingdom would overcome and destroy another kingdom, they would build a new empire on the ruins of the old city or kingdom that they had conquered and destroyed.

For instance, one of the most remote kingdoms, long before Abraham, was excavated, some thirty years ago, and they found where the king was buried seated on his throne, with all his wives lying around him, and all his nobles also lying around, and his cattle herds were lying around him.

When he died they took his wives, his nobles and his cattle into that tomb alive, and they died in that sealed tomb with their king.

Abraham came from that great civilization.

God appeared to him in a vision.

Oh, may we hear God’s call today and see His vision!

These were three offerings that Abraham made:

First, he offered himself.

Second, he offered the best thing that he loved, his only son of promise.

Third, he offered his tithes.

Those were his three offerings.

On the first proposition, when he offered himself, if you will turn and read in the 15th chapter of Genesis, there you will find where of Abraham it is said he believed in God and his faith was accounted or reckoned to him for righteousness.

Abraham was justified by looking forward to the cross, even as we are justified by looking back to the cross.

Jesus said, “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced.”

Paul in the 4th chapter of Romans sets forth the same

And in that same chapter he discusses this great principle of justification as it was exemplified or set forth in the life of Abraham.

Romans 4:1-4, “What shall we then say that Abraham “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath our Father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? whereof to glory; but not before God.

“For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.”

Justification has two great truths:

First, negative, and

Second, positive.

We find both in the life, conversion and justification of Abraham.

We are justified from something.

We are saved from something.

And we are saved to something.

It is a judicial act of God.

First, the sinner is declared guiltless, and

Second, he is declared righteous.

It is not enough to be pardoned from our sins, for then we would still be without righteousness.

We are not righteous by any merit of our own, but it is the righteousness of God – God-righteousness. God is the author of it. Therefore it is perfect righteousness.

We need the righteousness which we receive through faith, that it might be of grace. Faith is the channel through which we receive it.

Let me illustrate a two-fold expression or truth by which Abraham was justified and so are we.

First, “imputeth not sin,” and

Second, “imputeth righteousness” – as Paul discusses in the 4th chapter of Romans.

So the first thing Abraham did was to offer himself through faith.

And in that same 15th chapter we find where he takes a heifer, a ram, a kid, a turtle dove and a pigeon, and divides them in twain, and walks between them. That was the custom. It meant this:

That as these animals, once united, now divided, so God and Abraham, once separated, are now made one.

God has reconciled Abraham unto himself.

And through the broken body of Christ we are made one with Him as our Mediator.

The second thing Abraham gave to God was his only son of promise.

Abraham had said, “How can this covenant be fulfilled? I am an old man, and Sarai an old woman, past the age of child bearing.”

But God says, “With man it is impossible, but all things are possible with God.”

He had a child by Hagar, representing the natural generation of life.

But Isaac was to be a perfect type of Christ, and therefore it was a supernatural act of God. It was a miracle when Isaac was born.

When he was a lad some twelve or thirteen, God, in order to try Abraham that Abraham might know himself – whether he had that faith that God could trust – He commanded him to do the hardest thing that ever came into the life of any father or mother.

Yonder under the oaks of Mamre, surrounded by mountains – God came one day and said to Abraham, “What do you love most?”

As those three dwelt together yonder in Mamre – Abraham, Sarai and Isaac what a happy family!

God said, “Take this child of promise to Mount Moriah,” the future site of the temple of Solomon where the smoke of the burnt offerings ascended up continually.

After three days they came to the foot of the mountain, and Abraham said to the young man who went with him, “Tarry here.”

That is what Jesus said to the Three, “Watch with Me one hour while I go yonder and pray.”

It was a transaction into which no mortal eye should see, and only Abraham, Isaac and God would be on that mountain.

As they walked along, the lad looked up into his father’s face, “Father, here is the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?”

He said,The father’s heart was breaking and bleeding. “My son, God will provide.”

Abraham did not know then what was going to the place.

He took the wood that they had cut three days before and laid it upon Isaac, and he bore it up the mountain, even as Jesus bore His cross of wood until he was relieved by the Cyrenean.

And when they came to the spot Abraham took the wood and laid it in order on the altar, and then he bound Isaac, and Isaac resisted not – a type of Him who lay down His life of His own choice.

And Abraham laid him on the altar. Then Isaac knew he was offered. And Abraham with a steady hand takes the knife. And as he lifts it he hears a cry.

“Abraham, Abraham!”

He stops, and as he stands before the altar, God says, “Stay thine hand.”

And Abraham looks behind him, and there was a ram with his horns caught in the bushes, a perfect type of how Christ was led to the slaughter for us, and as a sheep before her shearers, He opened not His mouth, and did not resist.

Isaac was released and set free, and the ram was slain in his stead “For us”, “Sin for us!”

So in Christ we are set free from all past, and thank God from all present and future sins.

Oh, what must have been in his heart when with a steady and firm courage he knew he must obey the command of God!

Millions of men and women, fathers and mothers, today are walking up Mount Moriah with their sons, and they are asking as they say farewell to their boys in the greatest crisis of American history, and of human history – and it may be we are coming to that hour, I know not. – “Will I ever see my son again ?”

God is saying to the Abrahams and the Sarahs of America, “Give me your best.”

It is the hour of His judgment on a wicked world. And may God give us some of the courage and some of the faith that the old faithful father of Isaac had when he kissed Sarai goodbye under the oaks of Mamre.

He believed that God was able to raise him from the dead. And I have been certain for a long time that Sarai knew where he was going and for what purpose. And like Mary, she never saw her son and the Son of God die. And it was a special providence arranged by God that Sarai should tarry behind. And she knew, and so did Abraham, that he would bring him back home alive. They accounted that God was able to raise him from the dead.

Therefore Abraham comes and pays tithes to Christ. This is the language of the 7th chapter of Hebrews. Hear it –

“And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.”

Here is a Levitical priest that died. We are not paying tithes to the Levitical Priesthood; we are not under the Mosaic dispensation. But this man is living.


He lived in Christ as Christ liveth in him.

So therefore when Abraham paid tithes, he paid them to Him that was born in the stable of Bethlehem.

He paid tithes to Him who went to the carpenter’s bench.

He paid it to the lad of twelve who confounded the doctors of law.

He paid it to Him who calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee.

He paid it to Him who touched blind eyes opened deaf ears.

He paid tithes to Him who touched the incurable leper and the man was made whole.

He paid tithes to Him who stood beside the silent grave and said “Come forth.”

Abraham paid tithes to Him who stood before Jewish courts and was tried for blasphemy.

He paid it to Him who stood before the Roman court and met the indictment of sedition.

He paid it to Him who was stripped of His robe, and whose back was cut with steel lashes by the Roman scourge.

He paid it to Him who bore His cross until He fell under the weight of it and was relieved by a man from Cyrene.

He paid it to Him who sat down on the cross and extended His arms, and whose hands and feet were pierced with the cruel spikes of the Roman executioners.

He paid it to Him who was crucified between two nameless criminals.

He paid it to Him who took the place of Barabbas and Barabbas was set free.

He paid it to Him on whose crucifixion yonder sun that He had made refused to shine.

He paid it to Him from whom angels fled from Calvary though they were present at His birth and present throughout His life.

He paid it to Him who cried, “My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?”

He paid tithes to Him who shouted in triumph, “It is finished!”

He paid tithes to Him who was taken from the cross by the hands of two members of the Sanhedrin and who with tender hands pulled the spikes from His hands and feet and bathed and wrapped his body in clean white linen, and laid it in Joseph’s new made tomb.

He paid tithes to Him who on the first day of the week rose in power, despoiling principalities and powers and overwhelming Satan and his kingdom of darkness.

He paid tithes to Him who ascended back to the right hand of God.

He paid tithes to Him who sitteth at the right hand of God and maketh intercession for all who come unto Him by faith.

Abraham paid tithes to Him who one day is coming again in clouds and great glory to establish His kingdom on earth!

Oh, then what a privilege that we can reach back through the ages and go to the oaks of Mamre and fall at Abraham’s feet as he takes a three days journey until he comes to Mount Moriah, and get a vision of Him, and see Him the King of kings and Lord of lords!

When wars shall be no more, when dictators will sweep around the world no more, when no more we will hear the crash of heavy artillery or sinking ships, when we hear no more the screams of helpless boys as they go down in the cold cruel waters of war – thanks be to God He is coming again!

I close with this word, God help us in this hour that we shall have that spirit,

First, to give ourselves;

Second, to give the best that we have unto Him who gave all for us; and

Third, that we present unto Him that which is His.

God help us that we may.

In one of the campaigns of Alexander the Great, one of the hardest fought battles of his eventful career. He was going against many times over his number. The Persian army had over a million and he had only about twenty thousand. He won that battle after a hard fight.

Alexander heard that a private soldier had turned his back in that crucial hour, and that soldier’s name was Alexander – the same as his.

Alexander sent for him and said, “Your name is Alexander. I want you in the next battle to either show valour or change your name.”

The next battle was still more terrific. When they were surrounded on every hand by the archers and spears of the Persians and it looked like they were going to be overwhelmed and be cut to pieces, there was a small group of Greeks yonder to one side and surrounded by a thousand to one their number.

When it looked inevitable that they would die, suddenly there sprang from their rank this private named Alexander. He said,

“We will conquer or we will die; so follow me.”

And with sword shining, he cut a swath through the Persian horde. A little handful escaped, covered with blood and wounded.

After the victory was won, Alexander the great had this soldier of his name come before the whole army and he said,

“Your name is now Alexander, and you are no longer my soldier; you are my brother.”

Oh, when this hour is over, and when time shall no longer be, and the world shall be on fire, and they are coming from a thousand hard fought battle fields, when men like Adoniram Judson, whose home we saw yonder in Rangoon – and William Carey, and missionaries like Dr. and Mrs. Fred S. Donnelson, John Birch, Oscar Wells – and the many thousands of saints of God around the world – though they may bear in their bodies the scars of many a battle – it will be enough to hear Him say,

“You are my brethren.”

“That awful day will surely come,
Th’ appointed hour makes haste,
When I must stand before my Judge,
And pass the solemn test.

Oh, tell me that my worthless name
Is graven on thy hands;
Show me some promise in thy book,
Where my salvation stands.”