Theme: Faith (Part 2)
(Key verses: Gen 11:31-32 to Gen 12:1-3)
We continue with our theme relating to the faith of Christ which was typified in the life and journeys of Abraham. We will walk slowly through the life of Abraham to pick up the key elements and aspects which relate to our own walk in the faith of Christ and its growth in us. This foundational theme of faith helps us to appreciate God’s work of grace by which we are being made accepted in the beloved Christ, to be a pleasing sweet savour to God (Eph 1:6; Php 3:9; Heb 11:6; Eph 2:8-9).
Rom 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Everything in this creation has a beginning and an end, and so it is with faith. Christ is indeed that beginning and also the end of this whole physical creation. He will surely fulfill His God-ordained task to bring everyone in the generation of the first physical Adam to be conformed in the spiritual image of Himself and will present them perfect before the Father (Gen 1:1-31; Gen 2:1-3; Joh 1:1-4; Col 1:15-19; 1Co 15:22-28):
Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Rev 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last….
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Faith and hope have this important temporary purpose to work God’s will in us while we are in the flesh as they operate closely together with the love of God in us. We know that the love of God is the ultimate spiritual operation that we need in order to keep His commandments faithfully to the end:
1Co 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity [love].
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Heb 11:1 ASV Now faith is assurance [Greek: “hupostasis” = substructure, foundation]of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.
This “faith toward God” is an essential part of the first principles of the doctrine of Christ (Heb 6:1-2). Faith is that invisible solid foundation which starts with sowing the good seed of the incorruptible Word of God and not the giving of money or sacrificing physical things as some believe and proclaim (Rom 10:17; Mat 13:37; Luk 8:11; 1Co 13:3; 1Ti 6:10). Faith provides the spiritual foundation of what we believe about God as revealed in the Word of God, and this foundation helps us not to be “carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Heb 11:6; Rom 12:6-8):
1Pe 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
While milk is the first and only food a baby consumes for a limited period, milk remains an essential part of a balanced diet, especially for strong bones and teeth, amongst other benefits. Faith is also in that sense not only a foundational truth, but it also needs growth or increase (Rom 11:33; 1Ti 6:10):
2Co 10:15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly.
Faith is a gift from God – nothing is ours, and that applies especially to faith. It grows only through a fiery process to produce God’s righteousness in us, which is the goal or the end-purpose of this faith (Eph 2:8; Rom 9:30-31):
1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
1Pe 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
1Pe 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
This faith of Christ gives us access to the all-important chastening grace as we have peace with God and learn how to rejoice and glory in tribulation (Tit 2:11-12; 1Co 13:1-13). This long process of spiritual sanctification and justification is making the life of Christ a practical experience, even now while we are here in the flesh:
Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Rom 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
Rom 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Through every phase of Abraham’s life and journeys we learn about our own sanctification process which causes faith to grow stronger:
Gal 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Gal 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Gal 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Gal 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
While Abram (only later called Abraham) lived in Ur, God reached out to him – no-one in the flesh seeks after God by their own fabled “free” will at any stage (Psa 14:1-3; Rom 3:10-18). It is God who drags us even when we are “on the other side of the flood” and while we are serving other gods as Abram did (Joh 6:44):
Jos 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
Act 7:1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
Act 7:2 And he [Stephen in front of the Jewish counsel] said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran.
God made it clear to Abram that He is calling him with a definite goal in mind which He will fulfil through Abram. Nothing God does is without purpose or left to chance as some in their blind ignorance believe (Zec 4:6; Eph 1:11; Isa 46:10). God’s goal is to bless all mankind through the faith of one man, Jesus Christ, typified by the faith of Abraham:
Gen 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
Gen 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
Gen 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
A few things are mentioned in these verses that need our closer attention because this forms an important foundation of how the faith given to God’s elect will be used to bless others. God always speaks to us through commandments coupled with promises. But He first makes provision for us to enable us to do those commandments which will fulfill those promises. Knowledge alone is not the fulfillment – it needs the complete work of God that we will be able to reach “the end of our faith” which is the salvation of our souls to obtain the life of Christ to give to others (1Pe 1:7-9; Oba 1:21; Rom 11:30-31). Here is where it all starts:
“Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house…”
Abram was commanded by God to leave his land or “thy country” and that is what he did without hesitation. But Abram went through a process even in this act of leaving. It took a few years for Abram to reach Canaan as many things still needed to happen during that process. Abram started in the house of his father, Terah, in Ur in the land of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia from where Terah also moved with Abraham to go to the land of Canaan. But they stopped halfway in a place called Haran – also called Charran in the Scriptures, which was still in Mesopotamia (Act 7:2-4):
Gen 11:31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
Gen 11:32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
Haran means “mountaineer” or a dry and mountainous region typifying the many obstacles in our wilderness times where we tempt the Lord “ten times” – our entire time in the flesh (Num 14:22; 1Co 10:1-13). This is when the attachments of the flesh still have a strong pull on us to reconsider our move toward Canaan. That is when we are still under the protection of our old man, typified by Terah. God spoke to Abram – also through his father Terah as we all hear God’s message first while we are dwelling in the habitation of our old man. But we slowly learn that the old man cannot enter the promised land of the spirit (Act 7:2-4; 1Co 15:50; 2Co 5:1-2). The faith of Christ enables one to do things contrary to our natural wills as it reveals to us our self-righteous fleshly works as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). The faith of Christ moves us beyond our physical parameters:
Act 7:4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
This all relates to our own dying to the flesh as the grain of corn is placed into the “good ground” to die in order to bring forth good fruit (Joh 12:24-25; Mat 13:8). The hedge of flesh is progressively removed as we can enter into the all-important time of judgment to subdue and conquer internal kingdoms through which our faith also develops to be resilient:
Heb 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Heb 11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
The faith and life of Christ brings division, and that is what the sharp and powerful sword of Christ does. His Word alone gives us spiritual discernment of what is of the soul (sensual and emotional things) and what is of the spirit of Christ (Joh 3:6; Joh 6:63; 1Jn 4:1-6). The faith of Christ brings the difference between those who think they know (those who are deluded and puffed up by their own leaven) and those who truly know the truth (1Co 4:6; Joh 14:6; Joh 17:3):
Mat 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The faith of Christ produces a strong desire and yearning in our hearts to obey God rather than the pulls of the flesh and other outward distractions (Heb 11:1; Heb 12:2). Even as “little children” we are humbled to see that we can indeed overcome because the Christ in us is stronger than the calls outside:
1Jn 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Luk 17:6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
Here is the second command God gave to Abram:
“Get thee….unto a land that I will shew thee”
In our development in the faith of Christ, we learn that obedience to God is paramount. Abram obeyed God without questioning God and left for the unknown. Abram (and his family) indeed reached and saw physical Canaan, which is the fleshly application of this promise. But for those with spiritual eyes it is still a land of promise as we are looking for a city far beyond physical interpretations and carnal applications:
Heb 11:9 By faith he [Abram] sojourned [being still a stranger] in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
Heb 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
The “land of promise” is exactly what it says it is. Nothing in the physical can be the fulfilment of what God promised Abram. The land of promise links to the spirit of promise, meaning God’s spirit life is not given in its fullness while we are in this flesh. God just gives us a downpayment or an “earnest of our [spiritual] inheritance” which we will only get at the first resurrection which is the “dispensation of the fulness” for the elect of God (2Ti 2:18; 1Th 4:13-18; 1Co 15:51-54):
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Eph 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
The fullness of the spirit life of Christ is the true “promised land” which has nothing to do with anything physical:
1Co 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1Co 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
The third thing God said to Abram at his calling is….
“I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
This promise also has a physical application through the offspring of Abram as through his son, Isaac, the physical Jewish nation was used by God to bring forth the Christ “after the flesh”. In His time in the flesh, Jesus went on to do good in all the land wherever He ministered, even loving His enemies (Mar 3:4; Luk 6:9; Luk 6:27-38;
Mat 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
Mat 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Mat 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
But the Christ “after the spirit” will indeed do much greater things than the physical good works (Joh 14:12). Through an open heaven the faith of Christ moves into a higher heaven where His messengers or angels ascend and descend:
Joh 1:50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
Joh 1:51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
The elect of God causes divisions wherever they are, although they do not deliberately cause division and strife – it just comes to those who are spiritually blessed by God to be seated in His heaven, as God works that also (Eph 2:6):
2Co 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
2Co 2:15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
2Co 2:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who issufficient for these things?
The elect is first taken up in the cloud to be with Christ to be used to bring all in the Adam to spiritual salvation and be a blessing to all:
Act 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
Act 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.