This spring Dwell is offering a new 5-week class called Abraham: The Man of Faith, taught by Nick Hetrick. Nick shares with us about his burden for the class, which starts March 31st:
What is the class about?
We will study Abraham's biography through the lens of the New Testament's characterization of him as "the father of all who believe" (Romans 4:16). We will try to get a clear sense of what it meant for him to live by faith in God's promises. We'll also situate Abraham's life in its historical context and address some challenges to the historicity of the Genesis account (mostly in the first week of the class).
What prompted you to pursue this topic?
I was thinking about the way Abraham is held up as a model in the New Testament and thought, "It must be pretty important to understand what Abraham's faith is like." As I started reading his story in Genesis, I realized this would make for an interesting, rewarding class.
What made Abraham's faith so great?
What stands out to me is how Abraham had to ponder God's promises very deeply in order to live by faith, since God's promises were all he had to go on (at least at first). When he first set out to follow God, he had not (as far as Genesis tells us) encountered God, witnessed miracles, or been taught about who God was. When God continued to say unambiguously that Abraham and Sarah's offspring would bless the whole world, the couple had to hold that promise (and the implicit action they needed to take...) in tension with their advancing age and their decades of inability to have a biological child. When God told Abraham to offer his miracle child as a sacrifice, Abraham grappled not with the question of whether God would keep his promises regarding that child, but how he would do so. It's not that Abraham never doubted or wavered or faltered--as we'll see, he often did--but what's remarkable is how he kept thoughtfully setting his sights on God's promises and continued to walk by faith in them. I think most people, myself included, are not good at deliberately, thoughtfully, regularly meditating on God's promises and their implications, and this hinders our spiritual growth, closeness with the Lord, and willingness to step out in faith to serve him. Abraham's life has a lot to teach us in this regard.
What is your burden for it? What do you hope people get out of it?
I want people to see Abraham not as a remote, ancient figure they can't relate to, but as a real person who had real, on-the-ground faith they can emulate. He was also an adult convert to faith in the God of the Bible who didn't start his walk with God until he was 75, so obviously his story teaches us that it's never too late to grow and serve God. I also want people to be encouraged to engage their questions and doubt and come out on the side of trusting God, like Abraham did.
You can sign up for Nick’s class, and see a list of other upcoming spring quarter classes at xenos.org/classes.