Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Gospel According to Abraham

Salvation is ineffectual except by faith, and learning from the father of faith, Abraham teaches us that only by the way of faith are we made righteous.  The gospel according to Jesus Christ is the consummate good news rooted in the burgeoning good news initiated by and in Abraham.  Abraham, in seed form, began the process which ultimately matured in Jesus Christ.  Let us therefore look back to Abraham in order to illuminate the future in Christ Jesus.  
Before Abraham was Abraham he was Abram; Abram means “exalted father,” whereas Abraham means “father of a multitude.”  From a name that stretched upward/vertical, and might have been a great name in monumental and transitory import (exalting his own name, his own family, and his own country) came a greater name in momentous and permanent impact that laid down sideways/horizontal and blessed the entire stock of man.
According to Oswald Chambers, “The greatest thing in Abraham’s life is God, not ‘Abraham-ism.’  The whole trend of his life is to make us admire God, not Abraham.”  Thus, the humble or meek—which are destined to inherit the earth—have a father in Abraham.  Humility that comes before honor, prostration before erection, brokenness before wholeness, and death before life, are states of heart that can only be accomplished by someone who sees beyond the obvious and natural world. 
Abraham is rightly dubbed the father of faith because he progressively enlarged each of those proper states of heart and perpetually searched for a better country in which to express those states of heart yearnings (he searched beyond the natural into supernatural reality).  The seed God gave him for his obedient faith (Isaac) has blessed all the families of the earth and has immortalized him far more than he would have ever been immortalized if he had remained within the restrictions of his own country seeking his own glory as Abram.  “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

The far-reaching impact that God intended through the obedience of Abraham was beyond his understanding and imagination; the increased light he received as he obeyed each command in sequence eventually caused him to see Christ’s day (“Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my [Jesus’] day; he saw it and was glad”—John 8:56).  A proper faith is never wholly blind, irrational or ridiculous (it only appears that way to natural unbelieving hearts); it is, however, always stretching the limit of reason and imagination beyond their present capabilities in hopes of grasping something more than was known previous. 
Abram, when he was first called, was required to leave “Ur of the Chaldeans;” to leave country, ethnicity and family out beyond the familiar familial ties or connections to a place not yet revealed (Genesis 12:1-3).  God promised him that his name would be great, that he would be blessed and that he would become a great nation.  So, having just been commanded by God to leave the very familial connections required to accomplish a promise like that—country, ethnicity and family—Abram goes out by faith (not sight) “not knowing whither he went.”  

But please note what he left!  “Ur” means “shine or flame” and “Chaldeans” means “as it were demons” (rooted in a word meaning “to lay waste, to destroy”) or “magicians” or “astrologers.”  Essentially, God called Abram to leave the flame or shine (the natural light) of magic alluring and demonic deception derived from the stars (a secondary light) or the inner light of self energized by Satan rather than God.  In other words, come out of the smoke-and-mirror-reality of all natural familial ties; come out of the natural light that family, ethnicity and country give to a place where God enlarges vision, influence, and reality.  Come out of the natural connection to the supernatural connection; come out of the earthly to the heavenly.  This is THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ABRAHAM and the pattern of the gospel according to Jesus Christ. 

In contrast to where God is taking us, our family, ethnicity and country reality is delusional.  That is why Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).  Assuredly, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6 NASB).  To leave the shining flame of one’s own fire is to be reignited and fueled by another source; natural light is darkness compared to spiritual light and reality.

“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant?  Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.  But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze.  This is what you shall receive from my hand: you will lie down in torment” (Isaiah 50:10-11 NIV).

Regrettably, too many walk in the passion of their own hearts and the enlightenment of their own minds rather than in real faith like Abraham.  Those who continue in natural connection in the face of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ are stridently proud and in danger of the unpardonable sin: unrequited love!  To never respond to the divine love as expressed by the sacrificial act of the Father sending His only begotten Son to die in order to save us, in the end, proves unforgivable.  “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4 NASB).  “Let the one who walks in the dark [and] who has no light” admit it!  That is trust.  That is faith.  The soul that is right in man is not enlightened, but rather devoid of understanding.  “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains” (John 9:41 NASB).

The gospel of Jesus Christ is outlined and demonstrated perfectly in the life and call of Abraham.  Come out, come out, come out (of three layers of delusion) was Abram’s call to becoming Abraham by progressively leaving in sequence the influence of his nationality, extended family (ethnicity or bloodline), and his immediate family (progeny).

The good news is caterpillar to butterfly, the second Adam resurrecting from the dead and confining first Adam cocoon.  It takes faith to die and trust the resurrection process.  Abraham coming out of all natural familial ties is symbolic of any and all who desire a better life, a spiritual and endless life.  Adam is condemned; God’s only plan is the last Adam or second man.  It is good news that we need not be outlined and defined by our natural man; it is even better news that we who believe are outlined and defined by Jesus Christ, God’s second and final chance.  THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ABRAHAM is the revelation of Jesus Christ, the consummation and goal of our faith.