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Living by Faith (Vol 24) - Abraham's Faith - The Call #2

Sunday English Service - 27 JAN 19


I'm going to read Hebrews chapter 11 verse 8 first and then I will read Genesis chapter 12 verse 1. Hebrews chapter 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. Genesis 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.”

We began last week to teach from verse 8 from Hebrews 11. We're going verse by verse teaching on living by faith. And the first seven verses, I want to remind you the first three verses were about what faith is and how faith works. The fourth to seventh verse we’re given three men to look at, so that we may understand faith from their lives. One is Abel, through him we understand salvation. And then Enoch is the second one, and you understand Christian life through Enoch. And the third one is Noah, from him you understand Christian witness. The Bible says that, by the way he built the ark, he condemned the world. That means he showed to the world that they were living in sin and was calling them to God. He was a witness before the world in that way.

Now, we looked at that then we happened to come to verse 8 last week. And last week we began to talk about the call of Abraham. Today I want to continue because it's quite a large thing to talk about, the call of Abraham. First of all, let me say this, with this verse begins a new section in chapter 11. We begin a new section now with Abraham. Now, Abraham and others hereafter are used to show some more details about faith. I told you Abel showed about salvation, Enoch showed about Christian walk or life, and Noah about Christian witness. But here, further details are given about the life of faith, the Spirit of God illustrating it through this author using the various Old Testament personalities. We are able to view it from so many angles, looking at various aspects of faith, exhibiting the different trials that they went through, and the triumphs that they've had because of faith. And all of this is by faith. That is the main point there. And now, when it comes to verse 8, as he goes into greater details about various trials and triumphs, and so on, he wants to go into it and look at it from various angles and show more things about faith, he begins with Abraham, and rightly so.

And there's a new division I would say. Why do we say this is a new division? There are two reasons why. The first reason is this, with Abraham a new era began. I showed you last week chapter 1 to 11 of Genesis contains the first 2,000 years of history; chapter 12 is a remarkable beginning because God who dealt with the human race in general until that point now stops to deal with the human race in general, and begins to deal only with one man and his descendants, and through his descendants He deals with everybody. Because they've deteriorated into sin. First through Noah in Noah’s flood. Everyone had to be destroyed except Noah and his family, God had a fresh start. Again, things deteriorated and came to the Tower of Babel but men tried to exalt themselves against God and so on. So, again God abandoned them to their ways and now chose a man and begins a new era. That's why this is a new section.

So, in this new era this man is very important, his descendants are very important. Hereafter in the Bible it's all about Abraham and his descendants and through his descendants only Jesus came. Jesus is one of the descendants. And through that descendant, who’s Jesus Christ, now the blessing will go to the entire human race. So, it is all through Abraham now, in and through Abraham. That is why this is a very important beginning and we must kind of understand that. I showed you last week how it's very important to understand gospel through Abraham otherwise you'll go wrong. The whole story of redemption begins with Abraham and the whole story of the gospel is explained through Abraham in the New Testament as Abrahamic blessing and so on. So, if you fail to understand Abraham, you will not be able to understand the Bible, the New Testament, the new covenant and the blessings that are there in and through Jesus Christ and so on. So, Abraham is all important figure that's why I'm concentrating some time on Abraham, his background and his call.

The second reason why we consider this as a new section is this, in Romans chapter 4 verse 11 we are told that Abraham is the father of all them that believe. Which means that for all of us, Abraham is the father. There are physical descendants called the Jews and there are spiritual descendants which are the people of faith, people that believe just like Abraham. The Bible says all who are of faith are the children of Abraham. So, we are all children of Abraham, to all of us he's the father. To everybody who believes, who's in Christ today, Abraham is the father. Now, the children are supposed to be like the father. There is a likeness of the father found in the children. A father takes a child out on the street, people who meet him say, “He looks exactly like you,” but the child is only five years old, he looks a lot different from the father. Height is not the same, weight is not the same and so on. But still they say, “He looks exactly like you.” What do they mean? They can see the likeness of the father in the child. In some important way, the child even though height and weight and all of these things are different, he is exactly like the father. By designating Abraham as our father, father of this entire race of new creation, the Bible is saying that whatever you see in Abraham, the likeness of that father must be in everyone that believes today. In every one of the believers, some of the qualities of Abraham must be found. So, that is why the story of Abraham, the life of Abraham, everything becomes very important.

So, we're just like the father Abraham in our faith, in our faith walk, in the way we inherit the promises of God. The promises of God given to Abraham are our promises. These are things in the Bible that are very clear. He's our father means that everything that is promised to him, given to him, are for his descendants. Which means we are his descendants.

Let me just go to a few verses quickly show these things because these are the things on which the whole salvation, redemption is based. So, let me ask you to turn to Galatians first chapter 3 and verse 29. See, Romans 4, Galatians 3, Galatians 4, all these are very important chapters when it comes to Abraham. The whole chapter is devoted to Abraham. Galatians 3:29 says, and if you are Christ's, he’s talking about the Christian believers of the New Testament times. If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham's seed. You and I are Abraham's seed. Why is that important? It says, and heirs. That's why that's important. To be Abraham's seed is very important because that makes you the heir according to the promise.

So, to be the seed of Abraham is not a very ordinary thing, is not to be taken very lightly. If you are the seed of Abraham that means you have the right and privilege of receiving and enjoying so many things that are promised to Abraham, you are the heir according to the promise. So, all the promises that God made Abraham are yours also. Promises for your spirit, your body, your soul, and your family, for your social life, for the work of your hands, for your financial life. The promises of God that God made to Abraham, very much applies to you. But this is where we got cheated, I believe. When I was growing up, I remember sometimes when you read the promise God to made Abraham and say, “What about this promise?” They said, “That’s for Abraham. That's Old Testament.” “What is ours then?” “Well, when you die, you’ll go to heaven. That's the new covenant.” That makes the new covenant, a lot lesser than the old covenant. But the Bible says the new covenant is better than the old covenant. That means it must include everything that Abraham had under the old covenant plus some more because Jesus has come. That is what will make it a better covenant. All the promises of God that God made to Abraham are ours. You should take a look at them and understand them in the right way because some of them are put forth in a way to convey a spiritual truth.

For example, the land of Canaan, I'll talk about it next week very clearly. The land of Canaan is a very interesting thing. That is what was promised to Abraham. So, what are you going to do as an heir of Abraham? Are you going to leave India and go to Palestine, and occupy? Already they got a lot of problem there. You don't want to go there and try to occupy that place. Nobody's going to allow you there. So, it is not to be taken in that way. Canaan land was promised to Abraham but Canaan land represented all the blessings that God wanted to give to the new creation by way of the spirit, soul and body, work of their hands, finances, social life in every way. Victory in all realms of life is included in that land of Canaan. It is described in the Bible most beautifully as the land that is vast and a good land. Everybody say, vast and a good land. That's a lot of stuff there. That's what it means. And a lot of good things there, vast and a good land. And it says, it's flowing with milk and honey. That's what God promised Abraham and that means a vast and a good life, a life that has the milk and honey of God's blessings in every realm of our life. So, you need to go and dig it out and understand the Abrahamic blessings and the promises of Abraham in that way, in order to benefit from this study and from the Bible and what it teaches about Abraham and the whole story of redemption.

So, we are his children. Abraham is the father, we are his children, we have his likeness. So, we are heirs and we are heirs to the promises of Abraham. Now, Abraham was richly blessed. Now, if you are heir to some guy who had nothing that doesn't mean anything. You get nothing from him. Abraham is the most blessed man. Abraham is known for two things, the blessings of Abraham and the faith of Abraham. These are the two things that he's famous about. So, the blessings of Abraham, the famous blessings of Abraham, I've spoken about it in great detail are blessings that belong to us. Don't miss that, don't believe these people that say that's Old Testament, that's Abraham, that's gone and we don't have none of that now. No, we have every single one of Abrahamic blessing for us today. And we need to learn to understand it and apply it and receive it and appropriate it and walk in it and possess it just like Abraham walked in it. All right.

So, Galatians 3:29 we read and just look at 3:7, look at what it says. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. Only those that are of faith are sons of Abraham. He’s saying that because some Jews are thinking that if you're born as a descendant of Abraham in the Jewish race you are a son of Abraham and you are entitled to all the blessings. He said, “No, only those that are of faith are sons of Abraham.” So, we are sons of Abraham. Now, when Jesus was in this world, in john chapter 8, John chapter 8 is a very interesting chapter. That's the chapter that gives you the reason why Jesus was really crucified. They hated him because of the things that happens in John chapter 8 very contentious relationship he had with the Pharisees and the Jews of his day. Big fight is going on between Jesus, big argument is going on there. So, at one-point Jesus said, “Well, I'm only telling you what the father tells Me,” and they said, “Just shut up. Our father is Abraham, we don't know who your father is, our father is Abraham.” They're so proud that their father is Abraham. You know what Jesus said to them? He said, “If your father is Abraham then we'll be able to see the works of Abraham from you. We don't see that. Your works show that Abraham is not your father. There is no likeness between your works and your father's works. You’re not like your father,” He’s saying. Your works are showing that Abraham is not your father.

And later on, if you just go to chapter 8, that one is verse 39 in chapter 8 but then if you go to verse 44 it gets more heated up, and it says, Jesus says, “You are of your father the devil.” Whole discussion is about who your father is. They're saying, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus is saying, “No, no, no, you are of the devil your father.” He says, “No, your father is the devil.” How does He know? “And the desires of your father you want to do.” “I can tell by what you want to do who you are. You are not the son of Abraham,” He says, “You are of your father the devil because you carry out the desires of your father.” Because they were living in sin, they were not living for God, so their works showed that their father is not Abraham. Even though they were born in the Jewish race Jesus simply told them, “No, no, no. Your father is not Abraham. Your father is the devil,” He said.

So, it’s a father issue. Our father is Abraham. Our father is Abraham means that we are people of faith. Faith is one of the finest qualities of the Christian life. Now, since Abraham is our father, everything that took place in Abraham's life was meant to be a foreshadowing of what a Christian ought to experience. Everything that took place in Abraham's life, that's the way we're going to approach it. Everything that took place in Abraham's life is meant to be a foreshadowing of a Christian’s experience today. In other words, our life is lived out way before us, way before Jesus came, long before the cross ever happened our life, this Christian life is lived out by Abraham. Since he is the father, he becomes the pattern, the paradigm, the model for what a Christian life is all about.

So, that is the way we need to look at everything. So, in other words, in this father, that is Abraham, God set the pattern for everything, from the Christians call to salvation... You see how a call to salvation happens in Abraham's life. From Christians call to salvation to regeneration, new birth, new life, sanctification, all the issues that have to do with our life is there in Abraham's life. It’s exemplified in Abraham's life. Even the walk of faith, how to believe the promises of God, how to inherit the promises of God, how to possess the promises of God, how to win victories by faith, how to overcome obstacles and difficulties and impossibilities, all of these things that we go through are exemplified. It's all done long before our salvation through Jesus Christ ever happened. It’s all foreshadowed through Abraham.

So, this week also we're talking about Abraham's call because there's much to talk about it. And in taking up this verse, our first concern... we’re taking up verse 8 in Hebrews chapter 11 which says that when Abraham was promised the place which he will receive as an inheritance, that's the promise from God that came to Abraham. That he will get an inheritance of a place. A place was promised, the land was promised. And what did Abraham do? He obeyed and he went out not knowing where he went, he says. Now, when we look at this, our first concern is to understand its meaning and message for us today. What is its meaning and message for us today? The meaning and message in one line, if you want to say, is that it is all talking about our call to salvation. How a man that lives in a background of idol worship, not knowing God in utter darkness, comes into the light of the gospel.

1 Peter chapter 2 verse 9 says we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, whom God has taken out of darkness. We are here to show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into marvelous light. So, we are all people that came out of darkness into marvelous light. You know what that is? It means that at one time we didn't know God, we lived far away from God. We were so far removed. We didn't know who the real living God was. But God made the light to shine in that situation. All of a sudden, we became enlightened, we came to Christ, we gave our life to Christ. We found out God who's the living God. Before that we were worshipping this and that, whatever we thought was God, whatever they told us was God. But then light came, knowledge came, revelation came, understanding came and that is what it is talking about. It is talking about how a man comes in salvation out of darkness into light, and how he lives it out.

So, let's consider this, let's go back now to what Abraham was, the state of Abraham until the time that God called him. What was he like? What kind of life did he have? Now, last week we looked at a passage, I want to go back to it again. Isaiah 51, God is talking about the origin of the Israeli people, right? Isaiah 51 verse 1 and 2. He’s telling them because they're so proud that they are... they’re thinking too much about themselves. They're thinking they're so special because they're so good, that God has blessed them and given them the promises and blessed them because they're such fine, righteous people, self-righteous bunch. They think all the nations of the earth they're all scum of the earth. And these are the blessed ones because they're so righteous and so good. So, God tells them, “Hey, I want you to go back and look at where you came from. You were not always like this.” He said, “Listen to me.” Verse one chapter 51 Isaiah. “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord, look to the rock from which you were hewn.” You were cut out. “And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.” What is He talking about? What does He want us to look? He’s telling us to look at the rock from which we were cut out and the hole from which God dug us out. What is He talking about?

Next verse. “Look to Abraham your father.” In other words, he's talking about the roots of Abraham, where he came from. “Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.” He’s talking about the roots of Sarah and Abraham and He says, “You know, I cut him out of a rock and dug him out of a hole. Look to that from which hole he came from, from which rock he came from.” He was part of a society and I showed you last week, I don’t want to read the verses again. The verses showed that they were serving other gods. Joshua Chapter 24 verse 2 says that they lived on the other side of the river and Abraham's father and his ancestors were serving other gods. And I showed you how there is proof in the Bible that they actually became idol worshippers somewhere along the line, so far removed from God. Darkness filled their lives and they were part of that society. They lived in that way. So, God is telling them, “Look at the rock from which I cut you out.” Now cutting a piece out of the rock in those days was not an ordinary thing, even good instruments were not available. Now, to think of cutting a piece out of the rock is unthinkable and it's very difficult task. And God says, “You were like part of a rock that is solidified,” that means you were into idol worship, you were into darkness, you were into sins, you were into a different kind of lifestyle. You didn’t fear God, you didn’t have no idea of God. Your life was filled with darkness. It was like a rock solidified, cannot be easily broken, cannot cut a piece out of it. “But I cut you out.”

God can cut people out. When He wants to cut people out, He can do it. God can take us out of all those backgrounds. God can bring us out of the darkness. God can deliver us from the sins. God can deliver us from that kind of life and surroundings and everything and bring us and make us something. That's what God did. He dug him out, He says. So, Abraham belonged to a family that didn't know God, dwelt in a great city until he was 70 years old, and it is no doubt that he lived after the same manner in which all his ancestors lived. 70 years he has already lived there. Now, in English they have a saying that says, “You can't teach an old dog new tricks.” You can't teach people that are 70-year-olds to live another way. It's the most difficult thing. Have you ever tried it? If they’re 70 years old, leave them alone in their own ways because you can't change them unless God changes them. It's very difficult because they're set in their ways. They’ve become like a rock, their practices, their thinking, everything is solidified, set. Abraham was well-set in that culture, well-set in that religious background, well-set in idol worship, well-set in worshiping other gods and following up to the practices of his society and community at that time, and God comes and cuts him out.

Now, why is He saying that? Because that's the way with all of God's children until God calls them. We were all from that background. I shared with you about how my grandmother was from that background. God really cut her out of that rock. I come from that. He cut us out of that rock. God cut us out of that rock. God dug us out of a hole. Really, we came from that hole. My father used to often say, “Think about where you came from. You came from that hole, you didn’t fall from heaven. You're not something special. You came from that hole. God took you and made you what you are. It is God who showed grace and God who lifted you. God who blessed you. It is God who is everything to you. This God of Abraham.”

So, Abraham was in that background. And in that background as he was living and getting more and more into it and already solidified in that life, all of a sudden something happened, an experience happened to Abraham. Read about it, Acts chapter 7. And remember Stephen is now accused of blasphemy, the first martyr of the Christian church in Jerusalem, brought before the authorities, inquiry is happening. He is accused of blasphemy. Now, he stands before the Jewish authorities. The high priest is asking him, “Are these things so? Whatever you're claiming in your preaching are these things so?” He's already preached and they're saying, “Are these things so?” And now he begins to explain himself to the authorities. And he says in verse 2, And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran.” You remember, Abraham along with his father, when God called him from Mesopotamia, he left and came up to Haran. And they say it may have been his native place. He came over there, they lived there until the father died. Then only again, he picked up the bags. He knew that he had to go and answer God's call. So, he left and went to the land that God showed him. So, there was a stop at Haran. “So, before Haran, our father lived in Mesopotamia,” he says, “And at that time, the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham.”

Now what does that mean, the God of glory appearing to the father Abraham? What happened really? We are not told what happened really. Here, he was living in his own darkness, having his own religion, following the practices that he had known for years and years, he’s already 70 years old. You can't change that man just like that. All of a sudden, he has an amazing experience. What was that experience? He has the experience of the God of glory appearing to him. Now, I don't know what happened in that. Is that a vision that he had or a voice from heaven that he had? Or is there a dream from God where God came to him in the dream and spoke to him? A number of things could have happened. I don't know; therefore, I will not go into it. But you can say two things for sure. One is, when the Bible says, the God of glory appeared to him, to this man who lived in darkness, worshipping idols, in his own ways, living in sin, and not knowing anything about God, did not care even to look and to find out whether there is a true God, all of a sudden, an enlightenment came. The God of glory appeared to him at least means this. An enlightenment came, his eyes were opened, he began to see God in a new light, he began to understand that there is a true and a living God. That the gods he's been worshiping are not gods at all. He's been trying to do his best to worship something. Wherever men are there is religion.

Everybody is religious. Why? Because we're made for God. We seek a relationship with God. So, people of all kinds of persuasions and religions and faiths, they're looking for God. They're doing their best going here and there worshipping whatever they can, as far as they can understand. You must understand that. They are in a sincere search for God. But that search comes to a point where he finds god. That is what has happened. You can say that there came a point in his life, in the life of this man who lived in utter darkness about God, had no knowledge of God, living in his own world, all of a sudden, he began to see and understand that there is a living God. That much you can say. We don't know a vision came or voice came or what, something happened to him. He had an encounter with God. He knew that there is a living God.

The second thing you can say from the sentence that we have, that one sentence, the God of glory appeared to him. Second thing you can say is that, he understood that He is a glorious being. What do we mean by glorious being? Glorious means that He is an all-powerful, all-sufficient, good, wonderful, amazing God. He understood that. He’s a glorious being. He understood there is no one like Him. No one like Him in love, no one like Him in ability, no one like Him in power, no one like Him in splendor and magnificence. He began to understand there is no god like this God. You can say it like that. That is why Stephen puts it like that. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham.

Now, what do we have here? Here's a man living in darkness, following something, worshipping something, having his own way, doesn't know God, utter darkness, all of a sudden has an encounter with God. Now, isn't this the experience of every one of us? Isn't that what happens when a true conversion takes place? A true conversion is not where someone comes and tries to convert somebody. The whole world is mistaken in this way. You cannot convert anybody. If we can convert somebody by this time it would have been done. Somebody would have converted everybody. It’s the most foolish thing to think that people can convert somebody. The Bible does not teach conversion like that and we do not believe in a conversion like that. The Bible teaches conversion is something that happens by a divine act where a person has a divine encounter with God. A person who lives in utter darkness about God, with the lack of knowledge of God, is not even seeking God, nobody's trying to lead him in that direction, nobody's trying to push him into that, nobody's trying to win him over or anything like that but God appears to that person. God speaks to that person, speaks to the heart. Something happens where a person has an encounter with God. That is how conversion happens.

One man came to me after one of our Christmas services that we have out as a large combined service. He came to me few weeks after the Christmas service. He said, “Sir, I came to see you.” He came with a bouquet of flowers and all that, never knew this guy. So, he was standing at the door and I invited him in and he said, “I've come from far away. I just flew here to come just to see you.” I said, “What is the matter?” He said, “You know, I am totally against this Christianity. I am in the business of hunting and destroying Christians and I work completely against this. And lately I've been having some problems in my family, and so on, some distress. And because of that, my heart has been searching for answers. And one of my relatives comes to your church and they said, ‘Watch this man preach, you'll understand something.’” So, he started watching and he got attracted by whatever he heard. He never thought Christianity is like this. So, he's heard about the Hallelujah people and all that bunch but he has never heard that Christianity made any sense. So, as he was hearing preaching, in his heart something was happening. In his heart I think he started to have some lightcome in. He was having an encounter with God, the God of glory that appeared to Abraham, that God is having an encounter with this guy. His heart has been touched. So, he decided to come for our Christmas service. And he said, “I didn't tell our relatives. I came straight to the service and I participated in it. And after the preaching was over, when the altar call was given...” I think that day Jeevan was preaching. An altar call was given and he got up and he said, “Something in me said, ‘Go. Go forward.’” And he said, “I came forward and I gave my life to Jesus.”

Now, I don't even know who this guy is. If I tried to convert him, I probably will get killed. Yeah, I can't convert him. I don't even try to convert anybody. What am I doing now? Am I trying to convert anybody? I'm preaching. That's all, I'm preaching. The guy said, “God met me. God showed Himself to me. God made me understand. In my darkness that light shined. I began to see that there is a God. I began to see that this is the God of glory. He is the true and living God. I began to believe in Him, and I just wanted to see you and I want you to pray for me,” he said. I couldn't believe how God reaches out to people. The God of Abraham is a real God. You don't have to worry about converting somebody. He is converting a lot of people already. Even if there is not one preacher. In Abraham’s day there was not one church, not one preacher, there was no missionary movement, nothing happening. Nobody's trying to convert anybody and Abraham was converted. What are you going to do about that? Abraham was totally changed.

Here is a man in the midst of his worldliness, self-seeking, self-pleasing life, one day he encounters this God about whom he never cared about, never thought about. He appears before him, awakening him, attracting him, speaking to him. That's true conversion. See, already you see yourself there in that story. That's what salvation is all about. You see in Abraham salvation foreshadowed or shown even before Jesus ever came. So, let me ask you this, do you have an encounter like that with God? Do you remember in your life that you didn't care about God, that you didn't go up to God, that you did not care about anything spiritual, that you didn't care to go to church, you didn’t care to read the Bible, you didn't care about anything and you didn't have no knowledge of God? But somewhere, somebody came in contact with you, somehow you came to know, something was kindled in your heart, a fire was lit in your heart, a desire was created in your heart, that you were attracted to God, you turned to God, you gave yourself to God. I believe that's the experience of everyone who has had true conversion. It may have been just one day dramatic experience or it may have been over a period of time it that may have been happening. In this man, I think, over a period of time it's been happening. It consummated in him coming and receiving Jesus, but God has been dealing with him.

So, this is how God touches people. This is how God reaches out to people. And right there you see our story there. So, this is one important aspect of regeneration. What is regeneration? God graciously makes a personal revelation of Himself to the soul of people, to people's heart. He reveals Himself, speaks, reaches out to people. They all of a sudden begin to feel the call of God, they begin to see the truth. 2nd Corinthians explains it like this, very famous verse. 2nd Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 6 talks about it like this, puts it in the most beautiful way. For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness. Now, Paul is having in mind Genesis 1 where earth was filled with darkness and God said, “Let there be light,” he’s thinking about that when he says this. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The same God who stood in the midst of the darkness and told light to shine, that God has shined in our hearts.

What did He shine in our hearts? In our dark hearts where there was no knowledge of God, He shined the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. What does that mean? It means all of a sudden, we began to understand how glorious God is, how good God is, how great God is, how wonderful God is, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God began to shine in our hearts. That is how conversion happens. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Glory of God means the excellencies of God, the nature of God, the love of God, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Everybody say with me, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, the excellencies of God, the love of God, the greatness of God, the goodness of God, the power of God shined in my heart, the knowledge of that shined in my heart. God made that knowledge shine.

See, that's what salvation is all about. I think that's the kind of encounter that Abraham had with God. Look at another verse. 1 Corinthians chapter 2 verse 14, because you need to understand what kind of condition men are in when they are not saved, when they are in their sin and when they don't have the knowledge of God. 1 Corinthians chapter 2 verse 14. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. See, the natural man's condition is like that. Does not receive the things of God, they’re foolishness to him. Have you ever shared the gospel with somebody, the truth with somebody? You think this is the plain truth and you share. And you can easily understand that he’s in darkness but he doesn't understand his darkness because what you're sharing with him is foolishness to him. That's why Charles Spurgeon said, “If you're preaching the street and somebody slapped on your face, don't be surprised, you ought to be expecting it.” Because these things sound like foolishness to many others. That is why many people hate the preaching of the gospel because this thing sounds like foolishness. Because they think it's foolishness, it's not foolishness. It is their darkness that makes them think that this is foolishness because it is the lack of knowledge that makes them think that this is foolishness. These things are spiritually discerned. Unless God touches a man's heart, reveals Himself, begins to speak in his heart and let the light shine in his heart, that man, no matter how intelligent and educated he is, he cannot understand the truth of the gospel because these things are spiritually discerned.

One more verse, Ephesians chapter 4 verse 18, having their understanding darkened, being alienated... he’s talking about people that are in sin and people that are fallen in sin. He says, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God. See, the understanding is darkened, that's where the darkness is, in understanding. Alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them. Oh, my goodness, what ignorance occupies the mind of man? Ignorance, darkness, alienation far away from God, from the knowledge of God. That's the plight of the man without God. All right. So, this is what happened to Abraham. Can you imagine that this man lived like that? Dark heart, hardness of heart was there. This man had no knowledge of God, alienated from God and so totally ignorant and blind in their heart, verse 18 says. Blindness of their heart was also there. So, he's blind, darkened, ignorant. How much more can you say? So totally far from God and the knowledge of God. All of a sudden light comes, shines, he’s beginning to see very clearly that this is the true and living God. That is how conversion takes place.

Here is a wonderful story of how conversion takes place. It all starts with Abraham. God begins to describe. Now, look at the terms of the call that God called Abraham with. The call had terms. God called Abraham to go to the land which He will show him that He's going to give a land. But there are some terms attached to it. So, Genesis chapter 12 verse 1 gives us the terms that he must leave the country, the place where he's from, and leave his family. Now, how do we understand this? To leave the place of your birth or place where you belong to and leave the family your father, mother, brothers and sisters, relatives and everybody, these are the two demands that God makes upon Abraham, unbelievable demands. Now, again, you have to understand what is meant by this demand. Just like Canaan land doesn't mean Canaan over there, don't take flight and go there tomorrow try and occupy that and say, “This is mine.” You got to understand what this is talking about. This also has a meaning. What did God mean when He said, “Leave your country, leave your family and come and go to the land which I'll give you”? We're not preaching saying when you get saved, when you get converted in your heart, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you must leave your country, you’ll leave your family. No, no, we love our country. We love our family. The Bible even teaches if a man does not take care of his family, he’s worse than an infidel. He has even denied Christ, he says. That kind of a person is not even a Christian. A person who leaves his family in the lurch. That's how the Bible teaches.

So, the Bible teaches that God made families, God cares about families. It's not about leaving your country and leaving your family. Then what does that mean? It means cutting off yourself from the old life. See, God is trying to, through Abraham, show us the best possible way how when a man is converted, how when a man believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and has a revelation of Him and has an encounter with God and is truly converted there is a break with his past. It like cutting him off of that rock where he belonged. It is like digging him out of the hole. He doesn't belong in there anymore, brings him out. How to demonstrate it, how to show it in very natural ways for people to understand. That is why God says, “Leave your country, leave your family.” This doesn't mean that everybody that comes and believes in Jesus Christ must leave their country and family but everybody that believes in Jesus Christ must leave the old life. The kind of life which they lived, the kind of life which became solidified. Abraham lived there 70 years, it became solidified. The practices, the kind of life, the kind of beliefs, the kind of thoughts, the kind of practical living, all of that must be left. He must now begin to live a new kind of life.

That is what this is talking about. It’s talking about a complete break from old life, both inwardly and outwardly. And when a person does that, and becomes a different person, you see that he’s newly born, he is born again. He's not like what he used to be before. Because when God calls a person to salvation, we're talking about the call of God to Abraham. When God calls a person, there is a definite remarkable way in which the person responds. We must be able to see the response of that person. The person responds to the gospel. How does he respond? The response you can see every way. He's got a new object before him now. He's got a new relationship that is now established. He's got new desires that fill his heart and he's got new fields like new vision and new responsibilities are awaiting him. That he must do something different from what he's been doing. He must live his life in a different way? His goals become different, his aspirations become different, his desires become different. What happened?

Have you heard some people say about you or somebody that's become a Christian say, “You completely changed”? Has somebody ever said, “That's a good certificate, I tell you, by the way” When they say, “You're completely changed,” thank God. You can go home happy because you have completely changed. Christianity is like that. A person is completely changed in his thought life, in his practices, in the way he thinks and does things, in the way he lives his life, in his aspirations, in his ambitions, in his desires, in his goals, in terms of what is important to him, every way he changes. That is what is called a radical change. That's what Paul says Christianity is. He says, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away. All things have become new.”

So, God wanted to show this, demonstrate this, help us see this. That is why he takes Abraham from that rock, from that background, from that darkness, from that ignorance, from that lack of knowledge, from that faraway land where nobody cares about God. He picks him up, brings him out and brings him out of the country, out of his family to make a new race, a new people through him, the Jewish race through him, so that God can demonstrate to us how that we come from our backgrounds and belong to a totally new life and a new family, and a new future is there waiting for us.

In order to understand this coming out of the country and out of the family, leaving the country and leaving the family you need to understand it in two ways. One is doctrine and you must understand it, doctrinally or legally. Then the other way is practically or experientially, it must become a reality. Let me explain. See, there are some things legally true but has not become experientially true. If a person is in jail and he's been released by the court of law and the release documents are signed that very same minute that man is not released, it takes some procedures to go and get him out. Suppose it happens to be a weekend you're finished. You got to wait till Monday. And then if you mess up something then again there's some delay. There's got to be proper procedures to be followed. The man on paper is free but in reality, he’s not free. That's what I'm talking about.

In the same way, legally, the Bible says that we are free. We don't have to serve sin anymore. What happened through the cross of Jesus Christ in our salvation is that God severed our connection with the world and with sin so that we don't have to be obligated to serve sin anymore. That connection has been cut off. Legally that is true. But many times, practically, that's not true. Legally, the Bible says this, listen to this, Galatians chapter 1 verse 4. The legal standing of a believer is this. Galatians 1:4, talking about Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age. In Tamil it comes to evil world. According to the will of God our Father. If He wants to deliver us from the present evil world does that mean that we should all die and go to heaven immediately? I think that's what some Christian people think it means because they're in a hurry to go to heaven. Some of them are really in a hurry, praying, “Lord, either you come or I come. You come quickly or otherwise, I come to be there with You. Because I want to be delivered from this world.” They think you need to get out of this world to have any kind of blessing.

See, we are to compare scripture with scripture. Jesus said, “You’re made as a light to this world, salt of this earth, and so on.” He left us here. Salt is needed, light is needed in this world, there are important functions that we are supposed to fulfill here. We have a purpose for being here. We're supposed to go all over the world, preach the gospel and so on. So, the point is not to go out to the world when it says, “He died on the cross to deliver us from the present evil world,” it's talking about a world without Christ, the world that is totally ignorant of God, the world that is full of darkness, the world that is blind to the truth, the world that lives in its own ways, fulfilling its own desires, going its own way, that world. When Bible talks about world, these are terms you have to be careful. Sometimes the Bible says, “Mortify your flesh.” That doesn’t mean to cut off your hand or something. Like one fellow said, “Bible says, ‘If your hand is giving you trouble cut off your hand.’” Now, if you try do that today you’ll cut off this hand, tomorrow this hand will go. Because if you don't have this hand, this hand is the only thing available for sinning. Next day this leg will go the other leg will go then you'll have nothing to cut off. It's not about cutting off that... “Cut that out” we say all the time. Cut that out doesn't mean literally cut it off. It means to cut out that kind of activity, cut out that kind of action by cutting out that kind of a thought, that kind of a life out of you.

And that is what happened through the cross of Calvary. He delivered us, cut us out of that rock. That rock is the world. We got solidified by its ways, by its methods, and by its philosophies, by its approach to everything. We were there as part of that rock and He cut us out of that rock. We read another verse, John chapter 15 verse 19. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you're not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Have you ever wondered why you find some people in the world hate you? Now, we are not terrorists or we are not doing anything bad, we're not really bad people doing bad things, why should anybody hate Christians? Why? Because we are not of the world. We don't identify with their philosophy, with their way of life, with their way of doing things, with their way of belief, with their practices and so on. Therefore, we are not of that world. We don't belong to their world. And just since Jesus has taken us out of this world, the world hates us. So, don't be surprised Christians that without doing anything you can get trouble. Without doing anything wrong, people may hate you because simply you are not of that world. But legally, this has happened. God has taken us out of that world, but are we out of that world? That's another story. That's practical.

The cross has cut us out of the world, but are we out of that world? Or are we still of the world? Are we still living a life of the world, a worldly life? Now, this is spoken here in so many ways. Let me just quickly read some verses. 2nd Corinthians chapter 6 verse 14. Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. Verse 17. Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” “Therefore, come out from among them,” God says. In the Tamil language, interestingly, the same word is used in English, it's slightly different Maybe some versions will use the word come out from among them. When God told Abraham in chapter 12 verse 1 of Genesis, in my translation, I'm using New King James, it says, “Get out of your country. Get out from your family.” That's the way he uses. And that is exactly the same kind of word that is used here when it says, “Come out from among them.” Same language. In Tamil, very interestingly, I preached two services in Tamil so I get a double dose, you know. “Purapattu po” that's the expression that is used.  “Purapattu po” God told Abraham. “Literally start your new journey, get ready, leave.” That's what He said. Purapadu means get ready, po means leave.

And in 2nd Corinthians chapter 6 where God says, “Come out from among them,” exactly the same words are used in Tamil - Purapattu poThat means, get out of there. Get out of where? Get out of that old life, the old kind of life, the kind of philosophy, the kind of thinking, the kind of practices, the kind of beliefs, the kind of thing that you used to do. Get out of that. Have you gotten out of that? Some people have not even packed yet to get out. Some people are parked there. Like one fellow said, he was deep into sin and all that, I was talking to this guy he said, “Well, just wait till the new year comes, brother.” Now, with new year is yet another two, three months away, he said, “I think in the new year I will have a new start.” So, he's buying time two, three months to enjoy the same sins and to live in the same condition. He’s not ready, he’s not packed at all. He doesn't understand the biblical command. The biblical command is God says, “Look, I have revealed Myself to you, I am the true and living God. I've given you light. I’ve shined light inside of you. Get out of that old life. Get out from that life that you've been living all these years which has been solidified inside of you, that philosophy, that thinking, that practice, all that foolishness, get out of that,” He says. Everybody say, get out.

Get out from there. Get out from the old life. That is the meaning of leave your country and leave your family. Hello. That's what it means. And it is taught in so many ways, practically it must be and legally it’s done. Legally, He cut us out of that, but practically, are we free from that? Turn with me to James chapter 4. I'm just going to read a few verses and then close and I'll continue next week. James chapter 4 verse 4. Adulterers and adulteresses! Can you believe that he is talking to believers like this? So, there's something wrong in the people that he's talking to. They’re all Christians, believers, but they're still parking there in the old life. They have not even packed, they have not gotten out, they're living the way they used to live. They used to live that kind of life, they're still living that life. He says, Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. So, it is possible that a Christian who has been severed from his deep connection with the world through the cross of Christ... because the Bible says we have been crucified along with our sinful body on the cross of Calvary, sinful flesh has been crucified. Even though crucified, still some people are continuing in that direction. Practically, it has not come into effect in their lives. Legally, we’re declared free. We don't have to serve sin.

Romans chapter 6 says that we do not have to serve sin anymore. But still Christians end up serving sin. So, he says, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.” Romans chapter 12, now this is a scripture that I can never forget because as a 20-year-old young man, I went to Bible College and the first day in Chapel the principal stood up and said, “Memorize this particular verse.” And I memorized it that day and I remember even to today. It says, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God. We said it every time we went into the chapel. But I didn't understand for a long time why he was doing this. Why Romans 12:1 and 2? Didn't he get any other verse? We were memorizing stuff that's more like promises and so on. Why is he wanting us to memorize this? Finally, I understood that all these guys have come into ministry, all these young fellows are there but some of them are still meddling with sin, not living a victorious Christian life. They have become believers, God has cut them out of that rock, but practically they have not come into living a Christian life. So, to emphasize the fact that you need to live the victorious Christian life over sin and so on, he emphasized this, “beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as living sacrifice.” Many people are ready to die but God wants us to live with our bodies as a living sacrifice. Do something for God. Be a vessel in the hands of God. Be a vessel that God can use.

God cannot use vessels that are not clean. So, that is a point made there. And how do you do that? He says, “Don't be conformed to the world. Don't be like the world in the thinking. Be renewed by the renewing of your mind. So, that is how you become clean, you begin to think new thoughts, have a new approach, have a new outlook. That is how you live for God,” he says. Couple more than I said.

Romans chapter 13 verse 14, the next chapter. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. All these verses are talking about the practical side of it. Legally, yeah, we’ve been freed from sin, but now to the people that are freed from sin, that are Christians, believers, he is saying, “Make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.” Give no room for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. Now, this guy was giving two, three-months room. Give no room. What you need to say is, instead of saying, “Two, three months I'll quit that,” instead of that you say, “From today I'm going to make sure, I'm going to do everything to protect myself from that kind of activity. I'm going to do everything to keep myself for God because this is so important. God is commanding me. He’s a glorious God who has revealed Himself to me. Therefore, I'm going to start today. The moment He commands that's when I start. I'm going to do it right now.” That's the approach. “Make no provision for the flesh,” he says.

Colossians chapter 3 and verse 5. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. He’s writing to believers who are still into this. He says, “Hey, you are cut out of that rock. God has severed you from that, cut you out of that. Legally, he has set you free from the domination and dominion of sin. Now, begin to enforce that, begin to live like that,” he says. And every one of us have that obligation to live in that way. I’m going to stop right here and just say one thing and close. And I will continue next week and we're going to talk about the obedience of Abraham and that he obeyed and went not knowing where he was going. We're going to talk about that. But I will cover some of this thing also that I'm leaving out today.

But let me say this, when you look at regeneration, from Abraham, and from the entire scriptures, see, we're looking into Abraham then coming to New Testament. This is a miraculous thing. Regeneration, the way God cuts a person out, gives them a revelation of Himself, draws him to Himself, makes him a child of God, and then changes him so totally and completely, is a miraculous thing. How miraculous? It's as far above the reach of nature as the heavens are above the earth. It’s not anything natural at all. It is completely supernatural, it is something amazing and miraculous. When God reveals Himself to a person like He revealed to Abraham, it is accompanied by God's grace. God doesn't simply appear to a person, talk to a person, attract a person, speak to his heart and draw Himself to him and then leave him without any power. Grace is given. And that means, grace not only to do things that are above the natural, that we can do impossible things, achieve great things and so on, grace is for that also. We'll talk about those things later on. And we know it very well that we can do impossible things, things that are far beyond us, beyond the natural. We can go into the supernatural realm and do things. But the grace also means that it gives us the ability to live against our evil nature. Our nature that is inbred in us as human beings born in sin.

When a call of God comes to a person, and a person turns to God and receives the light of the gospel, I am telling you a supernatural ability by way of grace is available to that person to live against this nature. What is living against your nature? To leave your country and family and go, for example, in Abraham's case is not part of his nature. No man's nature is like that. It’s against nature. He does that boldly because faith has come, grace has come, he's able to do something that is impossible naturally. He goes against the human nature. Not only that, when grace comes it helps a person to go against that evil nature, the sinful nature that wants him to do and pursue things in a self-willed manner, pursue our own desires and so on. It stops a person from doing that so that he can now do the will of God, so that he can completely deny himself and live completely in subjection to God. It is not in human nature to put the flesh down. It is not the human nature to act against the desires and things that are prompted within us. Human nature says, “Go along with it. If you feel like it, do it.” That's a famous line that everybody says. “Do what you feel like. If I feel like it, I'll do it.” Everybody takes pride in that but Holy Spirit in you, the grace of God in you, makes it such that even when you feel like it, you don't do it because the power of God is more than enough to keep you from doing what is not right. That is the grace of God. Amen. Let's continue next week.

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