The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Genesis 12-25: Learning the Secret of Living by Faith

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What is the secret to an obedient life? A faith that trusts in God. The life of Abraham offers a powerful look at how obedience through faith can change us and impact the world. This study examines Abraham’s journey from an everyday person to the patriarch of faith, and shares foundational principles for obedient living.


Wiersbe Bible Studies deliver practical, in-depth guides to selected books of the Bible. Featuring insights from Wiersbe’s Be Obedient commentary, this eight-week study features engaging questions and practical applications that will help you connect God’s word with your life.   

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780781406352
  • Publisher: Cook, David C
  • Publication date: 7/1/2012
  • Series: Wiersbe Bible Study Series Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 727,893
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the popular “BE” series of Bible commentaries, which has sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Learning the Secret of Living by Faith

By Warren W. Wiersbe

David C. Cook

Copyright © 2012 Warren W. Wiersbe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7814-0858-5


New Beginning

(GENESIS 11:27—13:18)

Before you begin ...

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read Genesis 11:27—13:18. This lesson references chapters 1 and 2 in Be Obedient. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

Salvation comes because God calls in grace and sinners respond by faith (Eph. 2:8–9; 2 Thess. 2:13–14). God called Abraham out of idolatry (Josh. 24:2) when he was in Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:28, 31; 15:7; Neh. 9:7), a city devoted to Nannar, the moon-god. Abraham did not know the true God and had done nothing to deserve knowing Him, but God graciously called him. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you" (John 15:16).

Abraham was seventy-five years old when God called him, so age doesn't need to be an obstacle to faith. He trusted God for one hundred years (Gen. 25:7), and from his experience, we today can learn how to walk by faith and live to please the Lord.

Abraham was married to Sarah, his half sister (20:12), and they were childless. Yet God used them to found a great nation! "I called him [Abraham] alone, and blessed him, and increased him" (Isa. 51:2). Why would God call such an unlikely couple for such an important task? Paul gives you the answer in 1 Corinthians 1:26–31.

Be Obedient, page 20

1. In what ways was the call of Abraham a new beginning? What made Abraham an unlikely candidate to be the focus of a radical new work of God? What does God's choice of Abraham tell you about God?

More to Consider: We are not told how God appeared to Abraham, but in Genesis 12:1–3 we see that when He spoke to Abraham, it brought about the miracle of faith. "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). It was a call to separate Abraham from the corruption around him. Read 2 Corinthians 6:14—7:1. What do these verses teach us about true faith and the role faith played in Abraham's story?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Genesis 11:27—13:18 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

There are at least three reasons why God called Abraham and Sarah. In His love, God was concerned about their salvation; so He revealed His glory and shared His gracious promises. But even beyond their personal salvation was God's purpose in blessing the whole world. This was accomplished when God sent His Son into the world through the Jewish nation. Christ died for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2; 4:14) and wants His church to tell the good news to the whole world (Mark 16:15).

But there is a third reason: The life of Abraham is an example for all Christians who want to walk by faith. Abraham was saved by faith (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:1–5; Gal. 3:6–14) and lived by faith (Heb. 11:8–19), and his obedience was the evidence of his faith (James 2:14–26). Abraham obeyed when he did not know where (Heb. 11:8–10), how (vv. 11–12), when (vv. 13–16), or why (vv. 17–19); and so should we.

Be Obedient, pages 21–22

3. What are some possible reactions a person could have to being told "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen. 12:3)? What might Abraham have expected this blessing to look like? In what sort of time frame? How did Abraham live by faith? What does living by faith look like today?

From the Commentary

Faith is not based on feeling, though the emotions are certainly involved (Heb. 11:7). True faith is based on the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). God spoke to Abraham and told him what He would do for him and through him if he would trust and obey. "Great lives are trained by great promises," wrote Joseph Parker, and this was certainly true of Abraham and Sarah. God's covenant gave them the faith and strength they needed for their lifelong pilgrim journey.

Be Obedient, page 22

4. Review Genesis 12:1–3. What's the difference between making promises to God and believing God's promises to us? What was Abraham's response to God's call? (See Heb. 11:8–10.) How does our response to God determine our path?

From the Commentary

First steps of faith are not always giant steps, which explains why Abraham did not fully obey God. Instead of leaving his family, as he was commanded, Abraham took his father and his nephew Lot with him when he left Ur, and then he stayed at Haran until his father died.

Whatever you bring with you from the old life into the new is likely to create problems. Terah, Abraham's father, kept Abraham from fully obeying the Lord, and Lot created serious problems for Abraham until they finally had to agree to part. Abraham and Sarah brought a sinful agreement with them from Ur (Gen. 20:13), and it got them into trouble twice (12:10–20; 20:1–18).

The life of faith demands total separation from what is evil and total devotion to what is holy (2 Cor. 6:14—7:1). As you study the life of Abraham, you will discover that he was often tempted to compromise, and occasionally he yielded. God tests us in order to build our faith and bring out the best in us, but the Devil tempts us in order to destroy our faith and bring out the worst in us.

Be Obedient, page 24

5. Review Genesis 11:27–32 and 12:4. What are the practical steps for walking by faith? What evidence do we see in the life of a person who is walking by faith? What are our priorities when we choose to walk by faith? (See also Luke 14:25– 27; Isa. 51:1–2.)

From the Commentary

In the pilgrim life, you must go "from faith to faith" (Rom. 1:17) if you would go "from strength to strength" (Ps. 84:7). G. A. Studdert Kennedy said, "Faith is not believing in spite of evidence; it is obeying in spite of consequence." "By faith Abraham ... obeyed" (Heb. 11:8). Faith without obedience is dead (James 2:14–26), and action without faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). God has wedded faith and obedience like the two sides of a coin; they go together.

This does not mean that sinners are saved by faith plus works, because Scripture declares that sinners are saved by faith alone (John 3:16–18; Eph. 2:8–9). Dr. H. A. Ironside, longtime pastor of Chicago's Moody Church, was told by a woman that she expected to get to heaven by faith plus her good works. "It's like rowing a boat," she explained. "It takes two oars to row a boat; otherwise you go around in a circle."

Dr. Ironside replied, "That's a good illustration except for one thing: I'm not going to heaven in a rowboat!"

Be Obedient, pages 27–28

6. How does faith prove itself in good works? (See Eph. 2:8–10; Titus 2:14; 3:8, 14.) What are some of the tests of faith and obedience that Abraham faced? What are some of the tests that believers face today?

From the Commentary

In leaving his family and traveling to an unknown land, Abraham took a great step of faith. After he arrived, he saw God a second time and heard His word of promise. Abraham and Sarah probably expected to settle down and enjoy their new home, but God would not let them. Instead, God permitted a famine to come to the land. There is no record that Abraham ever faced a famine in Ur or Haran, but now that he was in God's land, he had to find food for a large company of people, plus flocks and herds (Gen. 14:14).

Be Obedient, pages 31–32

7. Why did God allow the famine? How is this an example of the principle "tests often follow triumphs"? What are other examples of this? (See Ex. 12—17.) How does this principle play out in the church today?

From the Commentary

Once in Egypt, Abraham faced a new set of problems, for if you run away from one test, you will soon face another. Once you enroll in the "school of faith," you are not allowed to "drop out" just because of one failure. God has purposes to fulfill in you and through you, and He will do all that is necessary to make you succeed (Ps. 138:8; Phil. 1:6).

In Canaan, all Abraham had to deal with was a famine, but in Egypt, he had to get along with a proud ruler and his officers. Pharaoh was looked on as a god, but he was not a god like Abraham's God, loving and generous and faithful. Abraham soon discovered that he had been better off dealing with the circumstances in Canaan than with the people in Egypt.

Be Obedient, pages 33–34

8. Review Genesis 12:11—13:4. How did Abraham move from trusting to scheming? From confidence to fear? From "other-minded" to selfish? From bringing blessing to bringing judgment? What caused these changes? Where was God in these circumstances?

More to Consider: Abraham learned his lesson, repented, and left Egypt (Gen. 13:1). What does 1 John 1:9 tell us about the right way to respond after we've disobeyed God's will? What does the opportunity God gives us for a new beginning teach us about His character?

From the Commentary

I wonder how many family fights have been caused by the love of money. The newspapers often publish reports about families battling in court because of an inheritance or a lottery winning. People who used to love each other and enjoy each other start attacking each other just to get money, but money cannot buy the blessings that families freely give.

Abraham may have failed the first two tests, but he passed this third test with great success.

Be Obedient, page 36

9. Review Genesis 13:5–18. What was the test Abraham faced in this passage? How is this similar to the kinds of tests many Christians face today? How did Abraham respond? What lesson(s) can we take from his response?

From the Commentary

Not only did Abraham lift up his eyes and look (Gen. 13:14) and lift up his feet and walk (v. 17), but he also lifted up his heart and worshipped God and thanked Him for His gracious blessing. He pitched his tent from place to place as God led him, and he built his altar of witness and worship. The people in Sodom were proud of their affluence (Ezek. 16:49), but Abraham had spiritual wealth that they knew nothing about. He was walking in fellowship with God, and his heart was satisfied.

Be Obedient, pages 39–40

10. What did spiritual wealth look like in Abraham's economy? What does it look like in the church today? How is spiritual wealth measured?

Looking Inward

Take a moment to reflect on all that you've explored thus far in this study of Genesis 11:27—13:18. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.

Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don't press for people to speak if they're uncomfortable doing so.

11. What are some ways you feel called by God? What has God called you to do? How have you responded?

12. What does it mean to you to live by faith? What are the greatest roadblocks to living by faith? How easy or difficult is it for you to live by faith?

13. Have you ever experienced the "tests often follow triumphs" principle? Explain. How did you deal with the tests that followed? What lessons did you learn about yourself in this season? What did you learn about God?

Going Forward

14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you'd like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It's better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don't try).

Do you need to grow your faith? Do you need to deal obediently with a particular test? Be specific. Go back through Genesis 11:27—13:18 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.

Real-Life Application Ideas: Abraham faced many tests in his life. Some of these he passed with flying colors; others he struggled with. Take inventory of some of the things you've faced in your faith life. Note the tests you're facing today. What have you learned about faith from the way you responded to past tests? How can you apply those lessons to what you're facing today? Spend some time in prayer, focusing specifically on seeking God's wisdom for the tests you're facing and asking Him for a greater portion of faith to deal with those tests.

Seeking Help

15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you've noted in the Going Forward section. Be honest about your desires and fears.

Notes for Small Groups:

• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you've read and studied.

• Before you start the next lesson, read Genesis 14. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapter 3, "Faith Is the Victory," in Be Obedient.




Before you begin ...

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read Genesis 14. This lesson references chapter 3 in Be Obedient. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

When you walk in the light (1 John 1:5–10), you can see what is going on, and you experience variety in your life. But in the darkness, everything looks alike. No wonder unsaved people (and backslidden believers) are so bored and must constantly seek escape! The life of faith presents challenges that keep you going—and keep you growing!

In Genesis 14, Abraham, the man of faith, fulfills three special roles: the watcher (vv. 1–12), the warrior (vv. 13–16), and the worshipper (vv. 17–24). In all three roles, Abraham exercised faith in God and made the right decisions.

Be Obedient, pages 43–44

1. Review the three roles noted in the previous commentary excerpt. How did Abraham exercise faith in each circumstance? What would have been the wrong decisions in each case? How did he know right from wrong in each role?

More to Consider: God wants us to mature in every area of life, but maturity doesn't come easily. There can be no growth without challenge, and there can be no challenge without change. If circumstances never changed, everything would be predictable, and the more predictable life becomes, the less challenge it presents. William Cullen Bryant wrote, "Weep not that the world changes—did it keep / A stable changeless state, 'twere cause indeed to weep." What is it about change that frightens believers? How was Abraham's response to change a model for all God followers?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Genesis 14 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

Genesis 14:1–12 records the first war mentioned in the Bible, and it would not be included here had it not involved Abraham. The Bible records a great deal of history, but as Dr. A. T. Pierson said, "History is His story." What is written helps us better understand how God worked out His great plan of salvation in this world. In the Bible, historical facts are often windows for spiritual truth.


Excerpted from THE WIERSBE BIBLE STUDY SERIES: GENESIS 12â?"25 by Warren W. Wiersbe. Copyright © 2012 Warren W. Wiersbe. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Lesson 4 Detours and Names (Genes

6111 Lesson 5 B

7711 Lesson 6 A Time to "We

9111 Lesson 7 The

10711 Lesson 8 A Ti

12501 Bonus Lesson: Su


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