“Even so, Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT (his faith) WAS RECKONED (counted) TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham” [Galatians 3:6, 7]
Periodically I find myself changing my blog title here depending upon what circumstances I find myself in from time to time. The preface “inside the tent” is always used and precedes a title or phrase which accompanies it. It initially spoke of a remnant, then of a season of personal brokenness and now refers to a time where I sense my faith is being renewed. Each title is meant to reflect seasons that either I as an individual or we as in the corporate body seem to be reflecting upon or learning. Now you understand the reason for the recent change to the title this site bears as of this writing; Inside the Tent, of another son of Abraham.
Without minimizing the importance of having Christ’s righteousness credited to our account (as is true for every born again Christian), I want to use this study to specifically address Abraham’s faith and whether we are following in his footsteps in relation to the many promises of God that concern us. We know that once the issue of justification has been settled before God and harmony restored, we can now “reach out and touch” our inheritance through our union with Christ. Paul speaks of God’s work of reconciliation here in Romans 5:1, 2;
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exalt in hope of the glory of God” (the hope of sharing in God’s glory)
“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” [Romans 8:24, 25]
In short order, most of us that call ourselves Christians could discover a multitude of promises that God has given to us as His children. Although some of the promises of Scripture address specific groups of people (like national Israel) while other reflect time periods in the future, others to individuals such as Abraham (Genesis 15:5), their is no lack of God’s promises that are specifically addressed to God’s sons and daughters in this age we now find ourselves in. Some of these promises are unconditional, while others have conditions that must be met in order to enter therein. Either way, the question I want to ask in relation to these promises is blunt and yet simple:
Do we really believe God?
I would hope that most of us as believers would concur with this statement: We practice what we believe. If I believe the Bible to be God’s written word to mankind, I will treat those words with the utmost respect. I will not treat them as a casual thing or as if God didn’t mean what He said or had others write to us. In other words, I will not say I believe what God says while promoting the opposite of what I say I believe:
- God says there is one mediator between man and God, the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Timothy 2:5) Therefore, is it permissible for any man to be a middleman between God and myself without hindering or usurping Jesus’ mediation? Wouldn’t such an act be inconsistent with what the scripture above teaches?
- Jesus claims to be building His ekklesia upon which the gates of hell will not prevail. (Matthew 16:18) Therefore, is it permissible to equate His ekklesia with a modern day church that men build? Wouldn’t such an act be inconsistent with what the scripture above teaches?
- God says that the manner Christians are to assemble is to be interactive in nature- “as each one has” (1 Corinthians 14:26) and that the words of others are to be judged on the spot. (vs. 29) Therefore, is it permissible to forego the specific scriptural instructions for gathering and replace them with a “church service” where the majority are relegated to silent observers among the assembly? Wouldn’t such an act be inconsistent with what the scripture above teaches?
The fact is, most professing Christians don’t really believe what they say they believe. There actions prove what they believe, the three examples above are obvious examples of how people claiming to be Christians entirely ignore what God actually says and yet still claim to be following Jesus. Yet Jesus is not at the center of any of the above- He is not preeminent!
The three examples above are not promises to be enjoyed, but rather commands to be obeyed. It is not just a mere loss of the benefits of a promise, but a counterfeit practice that often hinders a promise from being able to come to fruition. Jesus warned religious men of his day who were esteeming their own practices (traditions) as equal or more important than His commands and what would result:
“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’
“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” [Mark 7:6-8]
PROMISES HINDERED BY MEN’S TRADITIONS ABOVE
Promise: “I will be a Father to you” (2 Corinthians 6:18)
The context of the verse is in relation to the command to not be bound with unbelievers (or those like those above who live hypocritically inconsistent and disobedient lives not according to Scripture)
There is a special relationship God desires to have with those He calls His children. He does not want that relationship impeded by other men, even religious men who far to often foster dependence upon themselves and to the religious institutions that they rule over rather than upon Christ. God calls those who do so antichrists- for they take the place of prominence in a Christians life that only Jesus deserves. Religious men all but guarantee the impossibility to be dependent upon Jesus as the one mediator alone because they are regularly encouraging the saints to walk in the pollutions of man’s religious inventions where his “open door policy” is standard. The promises of intimacy through “I will welcome you,” and “I will be a Father to you” hinge upon certain conditions spoken of here in 2 Corinthians 7:1;
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh (whatever might stem from the flesh like immoral behavior) and spirit (like false religious practices and traditions that oust truth and proper practice), perfecting holiness in the fear of God”
Promise: “I will build My ekklesia; and the gates of hell will not overpower them”
There is a special relationship God desires to have with those He calls His children- corporately. Jesus says that where two or three are gathered together in His name that there He is in their midst. (Matthew 18:20) The very word “ekklesia” refers to a corporate gathering of people who have been “called out” (in a Christians case from this world and system after being born from above, but later, even from man’s systems of religion as well). There is a special unity of relationship within these “two’s or three’s” where Jesus is uniquely expressed as “each one” plays their part (contributing their unique spiritual gift to the others for edification) It is this united core of believers functioning as a single man to which the word of promise is given: the gates of hell shall not prevail. Despite any attempt to make this relate to church or church related activities is mere fantasy land. The gates of hell are prevailing against everything church related as the statistics plainly show. Once again the promise relates to what God has actually said, not what religious men tell us or think God has said.
AN OBVIOUS INCONSISTENCY
When the average professing believer reads their Bible and compares what they read with their daily experience, well, what more needs to be said…..they just don’t compare. The church (ekklesia) we read about there doesn’t remotely resemble what we see today. The miracles we read there don’t remotely resemble what we see today. Even the Jesus of today’s Christians seems altogether different than who we often read about. How can this be?
Many a man, many a preacher would tell us that things have changed. That because we live in a different time, a different culture, a changing world, that somehow this warrants an altogether different gospel and different approach to those in need of it. Others are forever trying to fix or restore what appears to be a compromised or dying church, to try and resurrect what Jesus never put His life into in the first place. Neither of these will suffice. You cannot fix the gaping hole in men’s hearts with a band aid. There must be a return to the actual promises of God.
It goes without saying, that if Jesus promises:
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out,” that Jesus will keep His promise. Furthermore the Scripture says in relation to Jesus, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED” We are speaking here of justification, but is that all? Wouldn’t it be a disappointment to read promise after promise and yet never have those very promises fulfilled in our lives? Are you content to settle for that?
It also goes without saying that as Christians;
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” [Hebrews 11:6] This verse is found within a passage where ordinary people like us lived by faith even though:
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth”
Today we see, at least in part the promise of our God unto Abraham. Despite his circumstances, in hope against hope he believed (he still believed despite what appeared like a hopeless situation) so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.
Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;
with respect to the promise of God, he did not waiver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” [Romans 4:18-21]
Three things characterized this man Abraham to which we should take note.
1. He knew what specific promises applied to him personally.
2. He had a responsibility to believe what God had promised despite how long the wait and despite how seemingly impossible the fulfillment might appear.
3. His ongoing testimony to those around him was one in which he not only refused to waiver in unbelief, but grew stronger in faith despite waiting upon God for the fulfillment of what God had promised.
Now might we ask, “Which of God’s promises apply to me personally?” Is their not some promise I’m in need of at this very hour, at this very moment? What if God has promised-
- (Proverbs 1:33) Freedom from the dread of evil
- (Matthew 11:28-30) Rest
- (1 Corinthians 10:13) Escape from temptation
- (Philippians 4:7) To grant peace that surpasses all comprehension
- (Philippians 4:19) To meet ALL our needs
- (Romans 6:14) Sin not being master over us
- (Matthew 16:18) To build His ekklesia
- (Ephesians 4:13) To be built up to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
And just to cover those we forgot to mention……..“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power which works mightily within us, to Him be the glory in the ekklesia and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” [Philippians 3:20, 21]
Each day each of us as God’s sons and daughters have to decide whether we are to continue to believe God or whether we are simply going to give up hope. Just because we read in Scripture of how the final days of mankind are going to play out, the lack of love and the absence of faith, does that mean we must become those people? Are we to just assume that because so few faithful Christians live near us that we will always be alone? Because most professing Christians have compromised and rejected the fear of the Lord, holiness or repentance that God cannot alter this situation or their lives? That God can’t raise up from some rocks people who will adequately and worthily praise Him? What about His promise here:
…even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist [Romans 4:17]
Friends, trust God in believing with Abraham. Do we not see our own promises from a distance as well at times, do we not welcome them even though we still wait for their fruition? Do we not also confess that we are strangers and exiles on this earth? Are we not those who through faith and patience inherit the promises?
The promise of Abraham is for us, and to those of successive generations after us as well.
“In the same way, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us” [Hebrews 6:17]
We want to leave a testimony, we want to leave a legacy of those who not only believed God, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully assured that what God has promised He is able also to perform!
We want to leave the evidence that holiness does matter, true repentance is possible, that we can walk beyond the muck and mire of this world system all about us. We want to trust God to alter our lives, that we might alter our neighborhoods and leave the true message and practice of the gospel for all to see. Is that what you are believing God for, or have you allowed yourself to become a victim of the inevitable?
Oh Father, restore in us the faith that once characterized your son Abraham. Let us not resign ourselves to what might appear to be, but hold out for greater things, in your hands for all to see.
Use the few, the chosen, those holding no merit of their own, whatever the road, whatever the cost, may we trust You for that which is yet full grown.
For the time will pass, the day will be done, when no longer can we work or beckon grace through Your Son,
So while it is light, and the door open wide, may we seek You in faith, to convict as we abide.
Forgetting what was, and believing what is, Jesus in triumph, through all the days we may live.