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Living by Faith (Vol 23) - Abraham's Faith - The Call!

Sunday English Service - 20 JAN 19


Please turn with me to Hebrews chapter 11. Today we're going to begin to talk about Abraham. Hebrews 11 is about faith. We're talking about living by faith, a life of faith. And since the subject is faith, Abraham becomes a very important part of this subject. I'm reading to you from verse 8 all the way to 19 because I just want you to get a sense of how important Abraham is to this whole teaching on faith. And for the next several weeks I'm going to talk about one of my favorite subjects, Abraham. One of my favorite personalities in the Bible, Abraham. There's a lot to learn from him, lot to learn about the life of faith. I've talked a lot about him but I expect to really get into much more in-depth teaching on Abraham than I have ever done in the past. There's so much. It’s like a big ocean, the information about him. So, let me read to you from verse 8 to 19, you just get a sense of how big this person is to the subject of faith and New Testament uses him to teach faith in a way that a lot of Christian people have never realized, that Abraham is so important. So, let me start reading from verse 8 and then we'll take it from there.

Hebrews 11 verse 8. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude— innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had the opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. 

Well, that's basically the story of Abraham. This new testament author wanting to teach faith brings in just about the entire story of Abraham into picture here. Because Abraham's life is basically a pilgrimage of faith. He begins his life of faith and lives it out before us. And God has made sure that he serves as a model for all of us in our life of faith, as we begin our life of faith and live it out and overcome all kinds of problems and difficulties. And live it out successfully until we reach the end of our calling. So, this is a very important passage. But we’re going to deal with only verse 8 today. Verse 8 is about the call of Abraham, that God calls him to leave his country and leave his people and to go to a place where he has called him to go. I want to talk about it. But the first part of this teaching is going to be about Abraham himself because Abraham is a tremendous personality. So, first let's talk about the importance and the significance of Abraham in the Scriptures.

For that, just the book of Genesis itself is a good sample. In the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis 2,000 years of history is given. About 19 generations of people, they say, have lived out during the 2,000 years. 2,000 years’ history has been covered in 11 chapters. Then the rest of the chapters of Genesis has to do with Abraham and his children, his story, him and his descendants. And out of that, just his story itself is several chapters. I think about, 14 chapters or so. Abraham's personal story is presented here. So important. The history of Abraham and his immediate descendants fill most of the pages of the very first book of the Bible. And thereafter, you find him everywhere. You find him a lot in the New Testament also, and I'll come to it in a while. He was a man of faith, and for this reason, he is considered as a great giant of a personality in the scriptures. Moses is a big man, Moses is also a big giant of a man for the Christians and for the Jews and so on. Moses was a great lawgiver. You remember he went up to Mount Sinai, received on a stone tablet the law of God, the Ten Commandments, written on a tablet with the very finger of God and brought it down to people and gave it to them and taught on the Ten Commandments extensively in the book of Deuteronomy. So, he was considered a great man. He's the man that brought the people of Israel out of the Egyptian bondage and so on. So, he gained a great deal of importance and he's considered very important.

Joshua was also very important as a military leader who was responsible for taking the people of Israel into the promised land that God promised them. He fought many battles. Won miraculous victories and overcame enemies of all kinds. And Joshua was a great leader. David was a great king. In his days, Israel prospered. In his days, Israel rose to be a big nation with a mighty king David. There's no king like David. And then you read about Daniel. Daniel was an important personality in the Old Testament time. A man who rose in stature in a foreign land under difficult circumstances, and attained to the post of a governor of a province there under the Babylonian kingdom, and ruled the place and gained importance and significance at that time. And there is whole book of Daniel here in the Bible. So, he's also very important. Elijah. Elijah’s story is an awesome story of an amazing prophet of God who did many mighty miracles and wonders and so on.

But each of these people and many of the prophets and leaders that you find in the Old Testament, each of them is a giant in their own right. But if you ask them, they will all point to Abraham and say, “He is our father.” Father Abraham is the way they called him. “That's how important Abraham is. That's where we come from. Abraham is our starting point. Father Abraham, that's where we all come from. We are all his descendants.” This is true of New Testament personalities as well. If you look at Paul, Paul specially looked back to Abraham as the greatest of all examples of how God's people are justified by faith and how we ought to live by faith. He looked at Abraham as the example of a salvation by grace and through faith. He presents him as a big example. And then he presents him as an example of how to live our life by faith as we overcome difficulties and so on, how to exercise faith like Abraham. And Abraham is taught by Paul extensively on these things.

In the early chapters of Genesis, if you remember, we are told that God’s promise to Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations. Now, we just read it and just go on that he’ll be the father of many nations, we don't really stop and think about it. How wonderfully God brought it about that through Isaac, that is one of Abraham's sons, came, what we call, as the Israelites today, the Jews, the Jewish race, the Jewish nation. We have a country named Israel today. A small nation but a mighty people. A people well-advanced in everything. That small nation produces all kinds of people and products. Unbelievable. I remember going to college and most of the professors in the secular university were guys that came during the Holocaust to America. They're the best in their field. Any field of study that you take, they’re the finest, they’re the best. They say in New York City if you've made $100 you will be paying $90 to a Jew. You want a good dentist you go to a Jew, you got to go to a good heart specialist you go to a Jew, you got to go to a scientist you go to a Jew, you want a professor you go to a Jew. Such mighty people. A small number but mighty in their influence, big businessmen control the economy of America and dictate things. And they have such power and might, it’s unbelievable. Some of the products that we use even here in our church, we use some very high-tech products for audio and so on, all developed by these Israelites. These are the products that is used in America and so on, Israeli products. They are amazing people, a people of God, the Jewish race came from Abraham’s son Isaac. Through the other son Ishmael came some of the Arab tribes. And so, they also claim him to be their father.

So, physically Abraham became the father of the Jewish people today as well as many of the Arab tribes and communities today. And spiritually, see the promise was fulfilled both physically and spiritually. Physically, yeah, you got a nation of Israel and then you got Arabian groups. But spiritually, just look at how God has made him a father of many nations so wonderfully. All over the world there are Christians who claim that they are also Abraham's descendants. Because Galatians chapter 3 says, if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham's seed, and you’re heirs to the promises given to Abraham. Do you realize that you and I here, seated here in India, we may belong to India, we may be of different groups in India, language groups and cultural and racial groups in India? We are ourselves many countries put together. But we have churches everywhere, Christians everywhere, even in our own country and all over the world. All of them claim Abraham to be their father, the father of their faith. They say that we are the seed of Abraham. That we are in Christ therefore, we are the inheritors of the promises given to Abraham. So amazing. When God said, “I'll make you father of many nations,” I don't know if anybody thought that this would happen physically and spiritually, literally like the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea. God has raised up Abraham as a father to many nations. All right.

And another important thing about Abraham is that you cannot understand the Old Testament without understanding Abraham. And in many ways, you cannot understand the entire Bible, I would say, without understanding Abraham. That is how important Abraham is. That's why I'm going to talk about Abraham the man himself. If you neglect Abraham, you will have problems with the scriptures. That's how important he is. In many ways, the history of redemption begins with God's call to Abraham. That's where the history of redemption begins. We know that the Bible is a story of redemption, the history of redemption. That God made man, God made a world and made man and put him in it, blessed him immensely, but man sinned and rejected God from his life, and he lived his own life. That is what sin is all about. And therefore, man has become a fallen man now and the earth is under a fallen condition. Now, God, the maker also has the responsibility to redeem and make right what has gone wrong. So, God is in the business of redeeming. So, He started redeeming and the redeeming work actually starts officially in Genesis chapter 12 where Abraham is called. That is where the redemption history starts.

So, let me read to you Hebrews 11:8 one more time and then we'll read Genesis chapter 12 verse 1 because it talks about the call of Abraham. And I believe that's the beginning of the story of redemption, the call of Abraham. All right. So, let me read to you Hebrews 11:8 so we can keep it before us. The author of Hebrews has read Genesis and he brings it out here. He says, By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. All right. Where did he get it from? Genesis chapter 12 verse 1. Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.”

Now, I told you the history of redemption begins here. Turn to chapter 15. I can show you how the history of redemption begins here. Chapter 15 verse 6 has a very important verse which contains a phrase that is often used it in the New Testament by Paul. It says, “And he believed in the Lord.” See God comes here and promises him that He will give him a son and he will be his heir and so on. Abraham is lamenting about how he doesn't have a child. His servant is going to possess all his properties and so on. But God says, “No, no, no, I will give you a son. He will be your heir and so on.” And He takes him outside and shows him the stars of the heaven and asked him if he can number them and he says, “No.” Abraham just looks at the stars and knows that he cannot number them. God says, “So shall your descendants be.” And Abraham believes that. Abraham believes God's promise. Verse 6 says, And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. He believed God and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Now, this phrase is used again and again in the New Testament and everywhere. He believed in the Lord and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

What does it mean to be accounted to that man for righteousness? You see, everyone has sinned, come short of the glory of God, the whole earth was a fallen earth, fallen man and not one righteous, no, not one, as Paul says in Romans chapter 1, that was the condition of man. And in that world God knows that no one can come and stand before Him. As Habakkuk says, God is one who’s so pure, that He cannot even look upon sin. If that is so, no man can come and stand before God, and have fellowship with God, and have any kind of relationship with God. Because man is a sinner and God is a holy, righteous God. So, the only way for man to have access to God, and can be a friend of God, and can have a relationship with God, and stand before God, is to have the righteousness that is acceptable to God. Now, this is the complication, this is where all Christian faith’s foundation is. If man must come to God and find a relationship with God and be called a child of God or a friend of God, have anything to do with God, he must possess a righteousness or he must present a righteousness that God is able to accept.

What kind of righteousness God accepts? This is where Martin Luther got into a dilemma and I mentioned it last week, worth mentioning again. Martin Luther really got into dilemma. He was a real moral man. He was a very sensitive person, they say. Very sensitive heart, sensitive spirit, that if he sinned just by word or thought, if he committed a small sin also, he will repent and pray and be remorseful about it, and so on. He was such a man. Very spiritually aware. He wanted to have the right standing with God, the righteousness. Righteousness is right standing. He wanted to be righteous before God, be able to stand before God. So, he tried his level best. They say he would climb the stairs with his knees, going to God, on his knees until his knees wore off. And one day God told him, it seems, “You can't come to Me like this. You can’t come to me on... even if your knee wore off it won't be acceptable to Me. Your righteousness is not acceptable. No matter how hard you try to be righteous, no matter how good you are, and what good you do, it is not counted as righteousness before Me. Because your righteousness, the human righteousness that human beings manufacture, is filthy rags before God.”

The best that we can produce is filthy rags before God. Because God is so immeasurably holy, He’s unbelievably holy, that holiness we cannot attain to. And He says, “Be holy even as I am holy.” He didn't say, “You try to be as holy as possible.” If that is so, then we can go stand before God and say, “Lord, I've done my best. Here I am. You got to accept me.” He says, “Be ye holy even as I am holy.” That’s the dictum. He says, “Just like I'm holy, you got to be holy. You want to have anything to do with Me, you got to possess the holiness that I have. You got to possess the righteousness that I have.”

So, Martin Luther tried his best, frustrated every time. So frustrated that one time he went to a priest that was older to him in the Catholic Church and wanting to take some advice from him and cried to him and said, “Look, I'm trying my best to be good. I'm trying my best to be a moral person, to do my best before God, to be righteous before God, but I read that my righteousness is nothing, it’s like filthy rags that God would not even accept my righteousness. My best is the worst that God sees.” He says, “This God is not a good God because He demands from me something that I cannot possibly give to Him. How can I as a human being give or present to Him a righteousness that only He has? I can never have that righteousness, I can never be so holy. But he says, ‘You come to Me only if you have that holiness, that righteousness, otherwise you're not acceptable.’ What kind of a God is He? He’s demanding something that I cannot give. I'm frustrated with this God, I’m vexed with this God,” he said.

And the old man comforted him and said, “Go pray. God is a good God. It's not like what you think.” So, he went back and prayed and started reading the Bible and he came across this truth that the just shall live by faith. And began to examine it and came to the conclusion of what it means. And all of a sudden, his eyes were opened, began to see the truth. He began to see, for the first time in his life, he began to understand this moral self-righteous man who manufactured the best righteousness that he could manufacture and was frustrated with it. He began to see that God knew that no man on this earth can ever come up with a righteousness that he demands. Therefore, what God has done is, He sent His own Son who has God's righteousness, sends His own Son, the second Person of the Trinity, the divine Person with God's righteousness into this earth and puts Him on the cross, and the cross becomes a place of exchange where all our sins are placed upon Him, and His righteousness is taken and given and placed upon us.

He says, “Oh my goodness, this is it. God is a good God. He knew that He's demanding something that I could never give. Therefore, He’s made the arrangements. He has made arrangements beyond anything that I could ever imagine. He sent His Son and made Him to be sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2nd Corinthians 5:21. Paul wrote it. He was similar to Martin Luther. He was a man of the law, very big pharisee of his time, wanted to live his best and prove to God that he is righteous and he says in Romans chapter 7, he laments over the same problem that Martin Luther lamented over. He said, “There is some power in me that is not allowing me to live righteously. I'm having a problem. I found there is sin in me. As long as sin is in me, how can I produce any holiness, any righteousness? I'm not able to. The very thing that I want to do I'm not able to do,” he says. “The thing that I don't want to do I end up doing.” I know the law is good, I want to follow it but I'm not able to do it.” Frustrated. And then he finds the answer, he says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ,” because he saw in Jesus the answer that Jesus solves that problem. God knew that we could not give that righteousness so He gave that righteousness through Jesus Christ free and full to us.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German preacher who was in jail during Hitler's regime and died there, wonderful preacher, he’s written a book. And in that he talks about this. And he says, “Just because it's free, don't think it's cheap.” It's free because it's too expensive for anybody to pay. That's the only reason it's free. It's not free because it's so cheap. It's free because it's too expensive that if we all sold everything that we got and brought it to Him, it will not purchase our salvation. People have come to the light of the truth. This is what brought about the rise of the Protestant movement and original Christianity from the first century. The original meaning was brought out.

So, here is the starting point. That is what is mentioned here. He accounted it to him for righteousness. God decided to take this sinner Abraham, the man who lacked in so many ways and considered him as righteous, saw him as righteous, treated him as righteous, imputed righteousness to him, and treated him like righteous. And he became a friend of God. So, that is the beginning point of salvation. He believed in the Lord and He accounted it to him for righteousness. This is what becomes a big subject in the New Testament. How shall a man become righteous? How is one justified? That's the matter in Romans and Galatians and so on. How is a sinner justified? How is a sinner made righteous? The answer is found through Abraham, through what is revealed through Abraham. So, here is a starting point. Starting point of redemption is found here with a call of Abraham, and then you find it in 15:6 where Abraham was counted as righteous before God. Here a man can now carry on a relationship with God and be a friend of God.

In three places in the Bible we are told that Abraham is a friend of God. In 2nd Chronicles chapter 20 and verse 7 we’re told that he is a friend of God. In Isaiah 51 we’re told that he’s a friend of God. In James chapter 2 verse 23, where again the subject is faith, how that without works faith is dead, and so on in that discussion again we are told that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness and so on. And then it says, he became the friend of God. He was called as the friend of God. So, for once a man from the fallen world has found favor with God, treated as righteous. Taken in as a friend of God. God is fellowshipping with this man. Why? Because God wants us to be a model for the rest who’ll believe and come to Him, as to how they will come to Him.

So, Abraham is very important. You cannot understand the history of redemption without understanding Abraham because the history of redemption begins with Abraham. That is, why Matthew's Gospel in the genealogy... Have you ever read the genealogy of Matthew? Usually we ignore the genealogy because it's got plenty of names that can't even enter into our mouth, we can't even pronounce it. But read the first verse, it is tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham. If you're going to trace a man's genealogy you got to go back to Adam because Adam was the first man. Why is he then tracing the genealogy from Abraham? Because he’s not tracing genealogy to show that Jesus is a man or a human being, he’s tracing the genealogy to show where this salvation of the Savior come from. Where is the beginning point? In Luke chapter 1 and in Matthew chapter 1 you will read that in verse 1, Matthew 1:1 you will read that, The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, who is the Son of Abraham. Abraham is a starting point. “You want to know the starting point of this salvation and this Savior Jesus Christ, He comes from Abraham,” he says. “Abraham is the starting point.”

So, this is something amazing in the scriptures that Abraham has such an important place in the scheme of things. Now, great significance is given to Abraham in the New Testament. Great sections of New Testament talk about Abraham. One is Romans chapter 4. In Romans chapter 4, how a man is made righteous, that's the discussion Paul talks about Abraham. He takes Abraham, we asked the question how was Abraham made righteous? And he answers and goes into arguments over it. Very famous in Christian teaching and theology that particular chapter about justification by faith. He uses Abraham fully to show that righteousness and justification comes by faith in Jesus Christ. Now, similarly in Galatians chapter 3 and 4, two chapters are devoted completely to Abraham. Romans 4 completely devoted to Abraham. Chapter 3 and 4 of Galatians, his other epistle which is very important, 3 and 4 is completely devoted to Abraham. Chapter 3 is about blessing. There he talks about what is the gospel? The gospel is nothing but the good news. That the blessing of Abraham is now available to all the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. That's what Paul says in chapter 3.

See, Abraham is known for two things. One is his faith; the other is his blessing. And we'll talk more about it, the faith and the blessings. That's what he's famous for in the whole of New Testament. The New Testament uses him to teach those two things, faith and blessing. A lot of people, if they have a problem understanding blessing today, they have a problem understanding Abraham, that’s the problem. People that stand against the teaching on blessing are people that do not understand Abraham, they neglect Abraham, they neglect what was said to Abraham, what is the promise made to Abraham, how important Abraham is, how significant he is to the whole scheme of salvation, what was said to him, and how it came to pass and came to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. They don't know that. See, they're not looking at Abraham. They're looking at salvation in a narrow thing and they decide no, “Oh, no, no, blessing has no place in salvation.” “Blessing is salvation,” he says, Paul.

If you read Galatians chapter 3, the good news is nothing but the good news about how the blessing of Abraham comes to not only the descendants, the physical descendants of Abraham, but to all who put their faith in Christ, all those who are of faith. Hello? Not just to Isaac, and Jacob and Joseph and that line, but to anybody that is to us, no matter what race you belong to, what nation you belong to, it comes to us through Jesus Christ by faith. That's the whole subject of chapter 3. That is where he says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. As it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree.’” Why did He hang on the tree? Why was he cursed when He hung on the tree? Verse 14 says, so that the blessing of Abraham may come upon the Gentiles. So that we may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. See, Abraham had all the blessings, only one blessing was missing, that is the spirit indwelling him. He did not have. In that way we are greater than Abraham. What we receive through Jesus all the blessing of Abraham, and then we receive plus one, that is what makes the new covenant better than the old covenant. That is one of the main things that makes the new covenant a better covenant.

Now, we have the Holy Spirit in us which Abraham never had because his sin was not cleansed and washed by the blood of Jesus, redemption had not yet come. All right. So, Romans 4, Galatians 3 and 4, full chapters devoted to Abraham. Chapter 3 about blessing, chapter 4 is about how we are justified not by works but by faith. And one of the longest paragraphs in Hebrews chapter 11, that is verse 8 to 19, which I read just now is devoted to the growth of faith in the life of the Hebrew patriarch Abraham. Longest passage is devoted to Abraham. And besides this, since we talked about blessing let me also mention this, Luke particularly mentions and makes note of the fact of the various facets of Abraham's blessing. See, a lot of people because they don't have to understand Abraham's blessing, they reject certain things. They reject healing, that it's not part of the scheme of salvation. They reject blessing as a part of the scheme of salvation. Why? Again, I say to you it’s because of a lack of understanding about Abraham. They have not studied Abraham. That's why this is so important.

Now, let me show you how Luke is very particular in showing what all is involved in Jesus coming and bringing the salvation. Now, you remember Luke's Gospel chapter 1 where Mary is told by the angel that she's going to conceive and have a child. And now she goes to Elizabeth’s house. Elizabeth is her cousin who's going to be the mother of John the Baptist. She's already pregnant. She's an old lady pregnant. This is a young lady who is not yet married. Both of them should not be pregnant, but both of them are pregnant. By a miracle they are pregnant. And so, Mary goes to Elizabeth's house, they both see each other, they're so full of faith and the husbands are not like that. Just making a point there. Joseph even thought about putting away Mary because she got pregnant and Elizabeth’s husband, angel had to make him dumb so that he won't utter a word anymore because when he opens his mouth it's so negative that even child maybe aborted. It may not work out. He can ruin pregnancy by just speaking. He's releasing such words so they made him dumb. So, these two ladies meet. These are two ordinary ladies, they’re meeting, they're so full of the Holy Ghost. They believe God and God's promises. It's amazing how they're having such fun and such good times. They're believing God totally. Because they're pregnant they know God has done this. And in that moment of inspiration Mary sings a song which we call the Magnificat. And look at the song, Mary said chapter 1:46, Luke. Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant.” She’s saying, “God has seen to it that I am raised up from this lowly state. I am way below the bottom of the ladder. I'm nobody. I'm nothing. But God is going to raise me up.” Why? Because that is why Jesus is coming.

And now she goes on and says, “For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. Again, exalting the lowly comes. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.” In other words, what is happening to both of them now is happening as a result of what God spoke to Abraham. That's how important Abraham is. God made certain promises to Abraham and to fulfill those promises God is acting now. That's why an old lady is pregnant. That is why a young lady without her husband is pregnant. Miraculously pregnant. Why? Because of the promise that God made to Abraham.

What is going to happen because of this promise? Jesus is going to be born. What is He going do? He’s going to raise up the lowly, He’s going to fill the hungry with good things, He’s going to be the person who brings up people that are down there with nothing and bring them up. That is Abraham's blessing. One of the blessings of Abraham in Deuteronomy 28 is that you shall not be beneath you shall be above only. Have you read that? You shall be above only. You shall not be the tail but you shall be the head. To be on top is God's destiny for men, for any man, for mankind. We are not to be at the bottom, we are not to be trampled by all circumstances, we are not to be trampled by our problems, we are not to be trampled by all kinds of powers in this world, we are not to live subservient to all these things, we are to be on top. He says, “Subdue and dominate everything.” So, that shows where man ought to be. Psalmist in Psalm 8 says, “What is man that you are mindful of them? You have crowned him with glory and honor.” The Psalmist is astonished at God's creation, the man. “You crowned him with glory and honor and Your mind is full of him. You're thinking about him. Crowned him with glory and honor, and You have created everything. And all created things have been placed under his feet so that he can have dominion over everything.” That's man. Man is on top and everything at his feet and under his feet.

That's the real story of the Bible. So, Jesus is coming. To do what? To bring man up back again, to put us back again on top, to raise us up from the bottom and bring us to the top. This is the amazing good news of Abraham's blessing. In Abraham's blessing, these things are mentioned. Let me open another passage in chapter 13 in Luke. Luke is very good in covering this. Particularly, I think he's got in his mind to show the connection between Abraham’s blessing and Jesus. That Jesus has come as a fulfillment of what is promised to Abraham. So, he begins with Luke 1 and then in chapter 13, I don't want to read all of it, there is the story of the woman who was bent over. Bent over is not an ordinary problem. Bent over means she was something like this. I even feel hurt to just bend over. Her head was somewhere like here and she could not stand up straight. And when you go home try to practice that for five minutes just change your clothes like that, just have your lunch like that, let's see how you do. Then you will appreciate that lady. For 18 years she was like that, 18 years. And Jesus comes into the synagogue and sees her and says, “Woman, I loose you from your infirmity.” Didn't even pray for her. Just looked at her and said, “I loose you from your infirmity,” and she straightened out. What a day it must have been for her. What a relief. It was a real Sabbath day for her. Sabbath is rest. And she was restless all this time. And when Jesus said, “I loose you,” she entered into rest. 18 years she was suffering without rest.

And the pastor there was mad. And he looked at Jesus and he said, in verse 15... in verse 14 he criticizes Jesus saying, “Six days are there for you to heal. You come here and heal on the seventh day, which is Sabbath day, you're not supposed to work. And a woman bent over standing straight is work. Healing a woman is work,” he calls it, “You should not do that work. It's all right for her to remain like that another day.” But Jesus looked at her and said, “Not one more minute. She should not be like that. 18 years she's been like that.” And the Lord answered him, I wish Jesus would come into churches yesterday. The Lord answered him and said, “Hypocrite!” He said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his donkey or ox from the stall, and lead it away to water it?” “Don't to take your cow and your dog and whatever you got to water?” Don't you respect the animals’ hunger and thirst and try to give it food and water on a Sabbath day? Or you don't do that because you're not supposed to work? You have enough sense to do that for an animal, this woman... then he says, listen to this. “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham...” Everybody say, daughter of Abraham. Luke particularly brings it in. “Being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, should she not be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” Sabbath is rest. Should she not come out of her pain and enter into rest, from her sickness and enter into rest?

But the particular thing that I want you to see is healing is Abraham's blessing. Jesus says that and Luke notes it. This daughter of Abraham, you doubt healing? You think healing is not for today? There are so many people that say today that healing is not for today. Healing is not the scheme of salvation. My friend, salvation is about the blessing of Abraham. And if it's about the blessing of Abraham, I say to you, healing is a part of it. You need to look at your sickness in that way. I’m a child of Abraham. I'm a daughter of Abraham. I am a son of Abraham. It is my right to be healed. See, healing is children's bread, Jesus called it in another place. See, when you read Abraham, when you study Abraham, your mind will clear up. You will not be talking against healing. Very simple way to make these people stop talking about healing is make them sick and tell them they’re going to die in 10 days. Boy! Then they'll be calling everybody, “Please pray.” They'll believe in healing all of a sudden. A lot of these people sit in their easy chair and talk about, “Well, I don't believe in healing and salvation, there's no...” The problem is they have not studied Abraham. If you know Abraham you know healing is there. Then how would Jesus say, “It’s the daughter of Abraham, she deserves and it’s her right.” That's why he never bothered to pray. He said, “Woman, I loose you.” They could have done that. They didn't do that. “I loose you,” He said, and she was straightened out.

One more thing, in chapter 16 of Luke, all from Luke. There is the story of the rich man and the poor man Lazarus, very favorite story for a lot of people. The poor man, the poor guy, in the story he seems to be a Jewish guy, Abraham’s son but he's poor, he’s not like his granddaddy. His granddaddy would be ashamed of him. See, what has happened in the meanwhile is he's been going to the wrong church. They've been telling him that if you're rich you can’t go to heaven. That's a very famous doctrine. That is a famous doctrine in the Christian circles, that if you're rich you can’t go to heaven and they have verses for it. And I've preached about all that. I don't want to deal with that. If you're rich, you cannot go to heaven. Rich people cannot enter into heaven, they say. Bible does not say that, I'm telling you. Abraham was rich, Isaac was rich, Jacob was rich, Joseph was rich. Everybody was rich. Heaven is not just a poor shelter.

So, this man was poor and he's been going to church and they tell him, “If you're rich, you're not going to go to heaven,” and he dies. And lo and behold, he lands up in heaven. And look who's there. Abraham is there and he lands in his bosom. He looks at Abraham and said, “Father Abraham, what are you doing here? They told me in my church you'll never be here. It's not a place for rich people.” And then he looks behind father Abraham, there is Isaac, another rich man, there is Jacob, another rich guy, there is Joseph, boy, he was rich. There's a whole lot of saints that are rich people blessed by God. It must have been a shock to him. But in that whole story I want you to note verse 22. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. This poor man was carried right into Abraham's bosom.

Now, the problem with people that don't believe that God even blesses people materially is that they have not studied Abraham. If you study Abraham, your mind will straighten out. I'm telling you, I challenge you. If you just go into Abraham and see Abraham's blessing, and see salvation is Abraham's blessing coming to you through Jesus Christ, mind will clear up in a minute. People don't study salvation in the proper way. Beginning point is Abraham. It is based on Abraham, it is based on the promise made to Abraham. Jesus came as a fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. Jesus is Abraham's seed and if you are in Christ, you are the heir to the promises that God made to Abraham. Amen?

I'm excited about this. People miss it because in their scheme of salvation, in their study of salvation, in their preaching on salvation, Abraham is missing. They won't talk about Abraham. If you bring in Abraham and interpret him correctly, you will see in Abraham all these things are there. One more example is chapter 19 verse 1 to 10. I don't want to read it again. Just want to point out one thing there. You remember, Zacchaeus the short guy who encounters Jesus. Jesus comes into his town and he hears. And this guy is a tax collector and he's ruthless in his work. He collects more than he’s supposed to, takes bribes and all that, earns a lot of money. And the whole town knows about it. And lo and behold, Jesus looks at him and says, “Zacchaeus, I want to come to your house.” Everybody is surprised and he goes to Zacchaeus’s house. Jesus never said anything. This man started talking. I think he heard Jesus’s sermon sitting on the tree. Before Jesus said anything, this man says, “Listen, I've done wrong. I'll give half of my wealth to the poor and if I’ve taken anything more than what I should take as tax, cheated people, I'll give it four times as much.” And you know what Jesus said in verse 9? Listen to this. And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.” And then look at this. Luke is writing, “Because he also is a son of Abraham.”

Luke considered very important he put it there. He is also a son of Abraham. He's got a right to salvation. Salvation is given to him, is one of the blessed privileges. “Salvation is of the Jews”, Jesus said. “It is to them it was revealed first; the revelation was given first.” So, here is a Jew, he's gone in the wrong way. He's been taking bribes and he's doing the wrong thing and amassing wealth and do it in the wrong way. And Jesus comes in and he repents. Jesus says, “Today, salvation has come into your house.” Because he doesn’t need any other clarification because this man already said, “I'll give half the wealth to the poor and four times as much to those people that I’ve taken in excess of the tax.” And why salvation has come? Jesus says, “Because he's the son of Abraham.” Abraham’s son. He's got a promise of salvation. “He is one of the guys that is promised salvation,” He says.

So, what we call as salvation includes like this, the forgiveness of sin and coming back to God, it is salvation. It includes healing. It includes blessing like in Lazarus’ case. It includes being raised up from the lowly state brought up so that you will not be beneath you shall be above. Luke particularly makes a point to observe all these things. Like this, in the gospels, there's plenty of references to Abraham. If you understand Abraham, that is why I say, you will understand the gospel, you will understand what the gospel really is. All right.

Now let me finally say this. Why did God choose Abraham? After an interaction like this about the person Abraham, it will be a shock to you to learn that the first thing that is said about Abraham is that there was nothing in Abraham himself that commended him to God. The first thing that we can say about Abraham is for sure that there was nothing really special about Abraham. He was not a better man than others, it's not that because he had a little bit of faith and others didn't have anything, it is not that he was more decent than others, he was more righteous than others, nothing. He was just like everybody else. He was the average man of the day. In fact, the Bible seems to say that his family and his ancestors were involved in idol worship. That's how much they've gone into that.

From Noah's time, there was a godly seed also who some of them may have lived up to the time that Abraham lived. We read about one person that is Melchizedek that Abraham met in 14th chapter so on. So, there may have been some people that knew God and they may have shown him or told him about this living God and so on. But nevertheless, the Bible says that he comes from a family where they did not worship the true and the living God. Let me just show you this because this is very important. Joshua chapter 24. We all come from our background. Joshua chapter 24 verses 2 and 3. Joshua said to all the people, they have come into the promised land, the people of Israel. Joshua now instructs them. He says, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.’” Joshua has an information. He says, “Hey, our grandfather Abraham, you know where his father comes from, his ancestors come from? They come from the other side of the river and they were not like us. They were not serving the living God. They were serving idols. They were serving other gods.” Then verse 3. ‘Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.’ God says, “I took him from there. He was serving other gods. He didn't have the knowledge of God. He was lost. He was in darkness. He didn't even know the living God. I took him from there and multiplied his descendants by giving him Isaac,” He says. All right.

The same thought is given in Isaiah chapter 51. There's a beautiful verse there, verse 1 and 2. “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord.” A very important verse. “Look to the rock from which you were hewn, or cut out, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.” Amazing words. “Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.” God is reminding them where they came from. He says, “You're not here because you are from a very righteous family or your grandparents were such good people and righteous people. In fact, Abraham and his father and his ancestors lived across the River and they served other gods. And from that rock I cut you out. And from that deep hole I picked you up.” I like the way it says, “From the hole of the pit.” Look to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. They were in a hole, they were in darkness, without the knowledge of God, not knowing anything about God. They were cut out from that rock and they were picked up from that hole of darkness.

My grandmother when she was 12 years old, received Jesus as Lord. She came from a non-Christian home and she refused to worship other gods. This became a big conflict and as a result she actually ran away from the house and lived with Amy Carmichael, in Amy Carmichael's children's home. And the entire family thought that she has changed and she's gone there. There was police case and all that went on. They thought and finally they allowed her to stay there because that was her wish. And they said, “She's a gone case. She’ll amount to nothing. She's like an orphan. She'll be like one who has nobody, has nothing.” But look at us today. Do we look like orphans? My goodness, what a blessing it has been. My father always used to say, “Remember the rock from which you were cut out, from the pit of the hole from which God picked you out.” My father used to say, “If it is not for Jesus we’ll be somewhere out there and nobody with nothing, and having nothing and having no future. Because of Jesus Christ we are what we are.”

God is so gracious. He doesn't choose us because we are such fine people. I didn't come from a great holy background. I come from my grandmother who did not even know God, lived in darkness. Her mother and father and all those people never realized who God is. They didn't know. But from that rock, what a difficult thing to cut out something from a rock, God cut us out. And from the pit, from that hole, God picked us up and made us so wonderful and such a blessing to many people today. Not only I'm preaching, there are so many in our generations that came from that one little girl that is preaching today, all over the world today preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe in the God of Abraham. I believe that if you took a step of faith, if you came from whatever background, even if you’ve come from a non-Christian background, started believing in Jesus. And you took a step of faith. And launched out with God, even in spite of others saying no to you, others rejecting you, I believe that God will honor your faith because He's the God of Abraham. God is in the business of cutting out from rocks. Cutting out from rocks means it cannot be separated very easily. Only God the master craftsman can cut out people. He cuts you out from your traditions and blindness and lack of knowledge and the ignorance, cut you out from it, picks you out from the hole and makes you His own and you begin your faith journey like this. That is why Abraham’s story is given. You begin your life of faith like this and I'm telling you it's going to be exciting. We’re going to study Abraham and you find that it's going to be exciting. Look at all the miracles that Abraham experienced. Hundred years of age he had a child. He has descendants like the stars of the sky, sands of the sea. He did the impossible. With just 318 household servants, he beat four kings and their armies. Nobody could stand against him. Famine came, it wouldn't kill him. He became rich while famine was going on. That's the Abrahamic blessing. That is the blessing of a man who trusts in God, who has faith in God. Nobody could destroy him. Nobody could kill him. Every enemy was defeated.

Joshua was trying to enter the promised land God said, “Not one person will even raise a finger before you. I will make sure. Just listen to Me and do what I say,” He said. One person will not be able to raise a finger against you. Do you believe in the God of Abraham, my friend? When you put your faith in God of Abraham, you're ready to start your life's journey. It's going to be the best, the most exciting life journey that you will undertake. You're in for a ride. It's going to be beautiful. It's going to be exciting. Every day is going to be a new day. Impossible things are going to become possible. You’re going to rise from the bottom to the top. You’re going to be healed, blessed and become a blessing to others. That's the life of faith. That's the journey, pilgrimage of faith that Abraham is all about.

God said, “Leave your country, leave your people.” Two things you must leave. Leave your country and leave your people. Why? Because God wanted to take this man, to really cut him out from that culture, from that people, from that nation where he comes from. He comes from a particular culture, a particular caste maybe or group of people, race and so on. God wants to make a new race out of him. So, He completely cuts him out. He says, “I want to take you and start with you a new race, a new kind of people, a special people. That's why I'm telling you to come out. Come out of your country,” He says. And it's very difficult to come out of the country. Because if you read about the Ur of the Chaldees, you read about in the Bible, from where Abraham comes. That place is a very luxuriant land. Everything grew so well there. Apples, pomegranates and grapes and so on just grew in the wild, it seems. And crops were very good there, it seems because of the two rivers, Tigris and Euphrates running through that place. And there was good trade there because of the waterways available. So, it was a very prosperous, luxurious place in which he lived. To tell that man to, “Come, leave your country,” is very difficult. We just read it and go on. We don't think about it. But if you read about it, it's a hard place to leave because it's so good.

And where is he supposed to go? Across the desert, Arabian desert, to a place that he doesn't even know what is there. He's got to go. He leaves and comes. That's faith because he trusts in this God. That this God will not disappoint. But he didn't learn it overnight, he had a struggle. We're going to talk about it. He had a struggle. See, God told him, “Don't take your people. Leave your people also.” But you know people tagged along. I'm sure he said to them, “You stay here, I'm going.” They said, “No, no, no, we're coming. How can we leave you alone?” So, they tagged along and came and Bible says they went and stayed in another place for some time until the father died. I'm sure he was putting a big stop to all this. He said, “Don't go, let's stay here, don't go too far,” And father died and then from there he came and came into the land that God promised him. So, he left his people and left his land. Very difficult things to leave.

Sometimes it so happens that in our life also we have to make these difficult choices. “If anyone wants to follow Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me,” Jesus said. That means, “Lay down your will, your wishes and whatever you want to do, and take up God's will and God's desire and God's wishes and follow Me,” He said. That's what Christian life is. Christian life is that in the middle of everything that is so important to us, we make them all last and put God first. God is first. We want to go where God wants to. We want to do what God wants us to do. We want to be what God wants us to be. That's what a Christian life is, that's what a life of faith is. And Abraham was beginning to learn. He came with some of his relatives, they were all problems. Sometimes you think all the relatives are problems. They were all problems, sometimes they are. But through it all he learned faith. He’s just like you and I.

Don’t we learn faith like that? We don't just overnight become faith heroes. We learn faith. We are afraid. We are afraid to take a step. We have people tagging along. We don't leave certain things and we kind of start with a hesitation and we start half-heartedly like Abraham. He tagged along with all his relatives and everybody. It is a half-hearted move. But then he became full-hearted. He began to serve God because he came to know God. And I believe that we also start like that. If you have started your journey with Christ, I'll tell you something, don't worry about the imperfections that you see. Don't worry about the struggles in faith and that you're unable to believe and have been unable to take a step forward. Just take a step forward. And as God guides you and leads you, take each step and keep moving on. And I will tell you, exciting things that are awaiting you. You will experience the miracles that Abraham experienced. You will experience the blessings that Abraham experienced and you will come to the ultimate end that Abraham achieved. May God bless you.

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