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Living by Faith (Vol 37) - Abraham: The Perseverance of Faith # 2

Sunday English Service - 05 MAY 19


Hebrews chapter 11. Let me read to you from verse 13 to 16. 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 as city for them. 

Now, we've been teaching about life of faith, living by faith from Hebrews chapter 11, as you know. And the biggest portion in Hebrews 11 is devoted to the story of Abraham from verse 8 all the way to verse 19. Abraham is set forth as a model for all those who believe, he’s the father of all those who believe. So, greatest section is about Abraham. And if you look at what the author of Hebrews says about Abraham, you can clearly tell that he's talking about Abraham's faith in four stages. Four stages of faith are what I've been sharing about. The first stage is what you find in 8, 9 and 10.

The first stage is the call of Abraham from a background of idol worship, not knowing God, living in absolute ignorance about God, he has an encounter with God. Stephen later on says in Acts, that the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, he says. So, there must have been a tremendous encounter that Abraham had with God which changed his whole life. God invites him to follow Him, gives him certain promises, tells him to leave his country, and leave his people and come and go to the place where He would show him. And that encounter must have been a real encounter, real meeting with God, that so transformed his life, that he puts away everything to which he’s used to until that time. His tradition, his upbringing, his nation, his family, everything, and leaves the place and goes to the place where God calls him which is about 1,000 miles away. And in those days, that's a big travel, that's a major step. And therefore, that was a very real experience to Abraham that caused him to leave his country as well as his people to go to the place where God had called him. That's the first step.

The second step of faith is where he goes, and sojourns in the land that God had showed him, and in that land, he dwells as a pilgrim and a stranger. And I explained to you what a pilgrim stranger is. And I'll talk about it a little more today also. Dwells there as a pilgrim and a stranger. And in those days to go to a foreign country and live among an alien people is very difficult. And he encounters a lot of problem. First, he faces hunger. There was a famine, and God saves him from it. God meets his needs there. And then he encounters some enemies. He had to fight against some kings. And God helps him and delivers his enemies into his hands. So, he has some wonderful faith experiences with God. That God is not only one who calls you to salvation, but God is also one who meets all your needs. When famine comes, he makes sure that the famine doesn't kill you. The famine is not for you. God can provide even in the middle of the famine, and actually made him rich in the midst of the famine. And God can save you from the hand of the enemy, because He has called you. He's got a purpose for you; He’s taking you somewhere. So, no enemy can stand against you. If you follow God and walk in His will, that no man can touch you, that God will save you from your enemies. He learned that. He learned that this God can be trusted. He was walking by faith, he’s come to the second stage, he’s got this wonderful experience.

And then the third stage is where he experiences the God of the impossible, where Abraham and Sarah being very old, he was 99 and his wife was 90 by this time, still they did not have a child. The whole world says they cannot have a child, “His body is as good as dead,” the apostle Paul says. And the Bible says that his wife’s womb was now dead. So, taking a man whose body was as good as dead, and a woman whose womb was considered to be dead, God took these two people, useless cases, nobody can give any hope and through them produced kings and many nations out of them, made them the father of many nations, and mother of many nations. God of the impossible. Now, all of us, I think, need to come through the third stage also and learn at some point in our life, that our God is a God who makes all things possible, He’s the God of the impossible. There is nothing impossible to God. That God can do anything. If God has called us and taking us places, and if that is His will, and whatever is in the way, whatever is hindering that, whatever is needed to accomplish God's purposes, it doesn't matter how big a miracle it takes, God will see you through and give you those miracles that you need to accomplish God's purposes. That is for sure.

Now, we're going to go to the fourth stage. But before the fourth stage, the first stage is in 8, 9 and 10. CHECK AGAIN. And the third stage is 11 and 12. And 13, 14, 15 and 16 are four verses that is found just before you go into 17, 18 and 19, which is the fourth stage where God tells Abraham to go and sacrifice his son Isaac. And that is the ultimate test of faith. And the greatest lesson that Abraham learned and reaches the pinnacle of faith there. At that point, that's the fourth stage of faith. Before you go there, there is 13, 14, 15 and 16. These four verses that we have to deal with.

Last week we dealt with 13 and 14. What did verse 13 say? 13 said these all died in faith. Talking about Abraham and others, they all died in faith, not having received the promises. And I explained that. It doesn't mean that God didn't fulfill the promises and they simply got the promises, never realized the promises, and they died in the process. No, that's not what it's saying. I showed you how the promises included many things. For example, the promise to Abraham was not only a promise that he will have Isaac as son, but it was also promised that he will have another seed called Jesus. And that it was also promised that he will be the father of many nations. The only way that is possible is that when Jesus who’s the son of Abraham becomes the Savior, through Him, people from every nation, every tribe, tongue and nation will come and believe in Jesus Christ, and through that become children of Abraham. They will call Abraham their father. He will become father of many nations. That's the only way you can interpret it.

So, the promise had three elements in it at least. I believe there is a fourth element also of eternity with God. That is the fourth element you may say. So, the first element is Isaac, second is Jesus, third is the Gentiles being added as children of Abraham, and fourthly, eternity with God. All of this was promised. All of this cannot be realized in his lifetime on this earth. The promise of Isaac was realized. God fulfilled that promise. The rest of the promises, for example, Jesus was born 2,000 years later, gentiles were added after that, into Abraham's family, and so on. So, it's not that God didn't fulfill the promises. They had to walk by faith and die in faith believing that God will do what He had promised. God doesn't disappoint anyone. God doesn't promise anything and lets you die without realizing the promises. God is a great promise keeper. Amen. He’s the greatest promise keeper. And He's always true. He fulfilled the promise in his lifetime and continues to fulfill promises until this day. All right?

So, we saw that. So, these all died in faith not having received the promises but having seen them afar off. I explained that to you, that Jesus Himself said to the Pharisees, “Abraham, your father, rejoiced to see my day, and he saw and rejoiced in it,” He says in John 8. He saw it afar off even though he did not see it with his natural eyes, he saw that one day, that what God has promised will come to pass, that he will become the father of many nations, Jesus will be born, Gentiles will be added, and so on. And then, seen them far off and assured of them, embraced them. Embraced them means they owned those promises. They took it as their own, they rejoiced in it, they were glad about it. They believed that these promises will come true and confessed.

Now, this is a very important part, confessed. What was their confession? Confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims. What does it mean? Confessed that this world is not their home. This is not the permanent dwelling place, that God has an eternity with him, made ready for them. That He is preparing a city for them, that He's preparing a country for them, for which He has called them. They have the hope of eternity and they confessed it by saying that they were pilgrims and strangers. And I showed you how this has been taken. And the whole thing has been spun into a new narrative that strangers and pilgrims means that you have nothing in this world, that you own nothing, you have nothing. And you almost live like a sanyasi in this world. That's what stranger and pilgrim is. That kind of thing Bible never teaches. Abraham, in fact, was very rich. But he said, “I'm a stranger and pilgrim.” David was very rich. He said, “I am a stranger and pilgrim. So were all my forefathers,” he says. None of them were poor, they were all rich, but they called themselves strangers and pilgrims. Why? Because there are different kinds of strangers and pilgrims.

So, I spoke about what a stranger and pilgrim is. You know what they are? They are pilgrim possessors. They had everything, every blessing of God, they possessed every blessing of God, but they did not set their heart on anything that is in this world. They enjoyed everything, every blessing of God, they had everything, lived in the blessing of God, but they did not sell their heart to those things. Their hope was in eternity with God. They considered that greater riches than the riches on this earth. Amen.

So, the Bible is very sensible book, it's very wise and it's teaching something else. And people have spun it and made it into a new narrative. In the last 150 years, they've used it to preach poverty through that. The Bible does not preach it. All these guys were strangers and pilgrims, none of them were poor. That is for your information, you can show me which stranger and pilgrim was poor, including Abraham. Nobody was poor. So, since they could not make any of them poor, now people have made Jesus poor. That's very sad. The one who fed 5,000 they say now is poor. No, no, no. Though he was rich, yet He became poor on the cross of Calvary, because He took my curse of poverty upon Him. That's the only way He became poor. The Bible says, though He was rich yet He became poor. We should not give it a new spin; we should just take the Bible and see what it really says. Otherwise, we'll be losers. A lot of people have lost a lot, have come to nothing, believed in this kind of narrative that you got to be poor in order to be a Christian. Bible does not teach that.

But now we come to verse 15. Now, verse 15, wonderful truth is revealed here. Let me quickly cover it. What is it about? You must not forget the situation in which the Hebrew Christians were at that time, the first century. This is written to people who came from Judaism to Christianity, Hebrew Christians, that is why it's called the epistle to the Hebrews. The author is writing to them because of a particular situation that they faced. What is the situation that they face? What is the context? These people were taunted by the fellow Jews, they are laughed at, ridiculed because they’ve put their faith in Christ. They're saying, “You believe in this Jesus who hung on the cross naked, couldn't save Himself, He was accused as a blasphemer. And you believe in Him, you follow Him, you call Him Lord and yet He died almost naked on the cross of Calvary. Aren’t you ashamed of this? What a great and grand religion we come from. We have Moses as our leader, we have Abraham for our father, we have this great temple,” and the temple was still in existence at this time when the epistle was written. “We have the temple, we have the priests, we have the festivities, the festivals, and we have the observances of all the sacrifices and all of these things. What a great and grand religion we have. Look at our temple, what a great building it is. Look at our priests, how they are dressed. Yet you believe in this Jesus who died naked on the cross. Aren’t you ashamed of it? Come back to Judaism. If you've gone astray and believed in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, come back.”

This is a kind of ghar wapsithey tried to carry out. They wanted everyone to come back to their original religion. Tempting them, taunting them, ridiculing them into coming back to Judaism, away from Christianity. This is what they faced. And what is the message of the book of Hebrews here? One of the messages that the author here gives is, he says in verse 15, truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, that means if they were mindful, one translation says, of the country from which they came, they would have had opportunity to return. In other words, he says, “They didn't even think about going back, they left and they left forever.” The message is, you don't go back. He’s trying to tell the Christians of the first century, “Hey, don't go back. Abraham is your father of faith, follow him. He left his country, he left his people, everything walked out, never went back. You never go back. You have begun to follow Christ; all this temptation will be there. These enticements will be there, these people will threaten you, ridicule you, talk to you back into coming back, do not go back. Why I say this, because Abraham, your father, left that country and he did not keep that country in mind at all. He never had a desire to go back. He never went back.” They now 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.

I'm going to talk next week about why God was not ashamed to be called their God. That's a big subject. We'll deal with it next week. But we'll deal with verse 15. Verse 15 then is about how we also were called by God, just like Abraham, we left our life of sin, the world, and our former way of worship practices, and our tradition, and the way we were brought up and the things that we followed foolishly. We left all that, we put our faith in Christ, came out of that into Christ. Came out from darkness into light. We've come a long way. We've been called by God. God has literally appeared to us, just like He appeared to Abraham. Touched our lives. We had an encounter with God. We've been saved. As people who are saved and are in Christ today, we must never even consider, never think about returning back to the sin and the world from which we came. The things that we forsook and left; we should never return to. That’s the essence of the message.

But there is a little more in it. Not only is the message telling them not to go back to where they came from, because Abraham never went back, and you as saved Christians shouldn't go back, that's the primary message, but inside that there's a lot. That is, there is a clear message about your responsibility that is there, what you must do in order to not return to what you came from. Now, this is very important because there is a kind of doctrine which says that there is nothing you do. That once you're saved, God will see to it that you are always saved. It is totally God's responsibility, that you don't have any responsibility, there is no human responsibility or involvement. Once you're saved, you just sail through. That's it. God will take care of you. And God will make sure that you reach that eternal destiny that He has for you and so on. But that is not true. See, that is what this passage clears up, I think. It shows what Abraham did, what these people did in order to not return. That there was some personal involvement, there was a responsibility that they were careful to carry out. Their involvement was there. Because God always respects us as human beings.

God doesn't treat us like Tanjore dolls. Have you heard of Tanjore dolls? I was born in Tanjore, so I know about Tanjore dolls. They just shake their head like this all day. You buy them and put them there all day for nothing at all they’ll be shaking their head. God didn't create us like Tanjore dolls just to be shaking our head for everything. God made us a people with a mind, with an intellect, with a will, with an emotion, with an ability to think, analyze, deeply think and decide and determine… all of these abilities. That is why the Bible says we are made in the image and likeness of God. The image and likeness of God has to do with all of these extraordinary capacities. Even monkeys think and dogs think and even animals have some kind of minimum language and all that. They communicate with one another. All you got to do is just watch Discovery Channel and they'll show you how wonderfully they communicate and how they get together and all kinds of things. So, there is some ability in them. But man exceeds anything that you can ever imagine. Man can literally think deeply. Animals cannot analyze, determine, decide, and execute what he has planned and purpose to do and so on.

So, man is created in the image and likeness of God. I believe that the work of salvation is completely God's, 100% is God's work. I wouldn't give any credit to man. Because I didn't have to die on the cross, I didn't have to shed my blood, I didn't have to be whipped for my sins, I didn't have to be punished for my sins, I didn't have to die there, I didn't have to be buried, I didn't have to be raised from the dead. All that God sent His Son and took care. 100% it’s His work. That's the way the Bible teaches it. There is nothing that I did. Nothing that I am able to do will be worth anything even if I'm ready to shed my blood, I cannot even save a fly with my blood because my blood is tainted with sin. But with the blood of the Son of God, the precious blood of Jesus, the sin of the whole world can be wiped clean and erased. That is the power of the blood of Jesus. So, I do not in any way want to minimize the work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. I believe that 100% of it was done by God.

But even though He has done all the work of salvation, that His Grace has provided everything without my involvement in it, in receiving that salvation, there is a little part that God gives me because He has not made me like a Tanjore doll. He has made me a thinking person, a deciding person. I must reach out to Him. I must respond to Him. See, in Christian faith there is two things. One is grace. Grace is what God gives, is what God has done. The whole work of redemption is grace, what God has done. Faith is my response to what God has done. If God has done everything, and you don't show any response to what God has done, then all that is done has gone to waste. It's like money in the bank and you never wrote a cheque. What's all the money in the bank worth? When you don't know how to write a cheque, when you don't even know that it's there and that you can write a cheque, you can die of hunger while money is sitting in the bank.

God has provided everything for mankind. No one has to die because of their sin. No one has to perish and go to hell because of their sin. Everything is done, finished, provided, given. Our response is expected. That much we must do. That is a small part. The hardest part, He has done. He’s given the easiest part. That's a good deal, isn't it? I like God. He always takes the hardest part. And He tells me to do the easiest part. He gets on the cross, He dies, He does everything. I tell these legalistic people that teach legalism, I say, “Well, if you're teaching legalism, go all the way, man. Get on the cross and die. Hang there.” You can't do it. Even if you did, it's not going to save anybody, including yourself. It’s grace of God. It's the absolute grace of God. But faith is our response to God's grace.

See, even in salvation, God works it like that. Never leaves out man in the whole scheme of things. God didn’t say, “I’ll do everything, you just shut up, you’ll just be like an automaton, just be there. And I’ll just usher you into the kingdom and take you to heaven. You don't have to do nothing. There is no responsibility on your part to do anything, no involvement. You just hang in there and I'll just take you.” No, no, no, no. Faith is something very real. And God expects faith from us. So, these are things that are brought out in this passage. Let's look at it quickly.

The first thing I believe that it shows is, that Abraham and others, Abraham and Sarah went to that promised land, the land which God had shown them and lived there as strangers and pilgrims in the land of Canaan. Not out of necessity, not because God has picked them up by their neck and dropped them there and there is no way for them to return and they have no other option. They very well had an option to return. If they wanted, anytime they could have packed up and returned. They traveled all the way there. They know how to get back. They had all the money they needed. If they had only willed and wished and wanted it, they could have come back if they wanted. So, God did not compel them. God commanded them to go, but yet did not take away the option from them, they could have returned. So, it is not out of necessity they stayed in the Canaan land, it is out of their own consent also. They consented to God and His will. They came to know God's will and they consented to it, wholeheartedly agreed to it.

Now that is found there in all three verses 13, 14 and 15. Verse 13 says they all died in faith. See, that shows their consent, because they had faith. They believed God's promises. They were responding to God. They responded to the call of God. They packed up and left. They not only packed up and left, went there and even though they had not seen some of the promises fulfilled, and they could not see them because it has to be fulfilled thousands of years later, they still lived in that land and died with faith. That shows their involvement, their personal responsibility. It’s a very important Christian teaching because when you think you have no responsibility, then it's dangerous to live like that. You have certain things to do. Otherwise, you become too loose, “I have nothing to do. Thank God. He's going to carry me.” No, it's not like that. There is something for you to do. And it's important for you to understand.

So, there they had faith, it says, and another thing it says secondly, it says they made a confession. They were always speaking and saying something about their status on this earth. What were they saying? They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims. In other words, they were always saying, “This world is not my home. And I'm just a stranger and a pilgrim. I'm just passing through here. God has kept me here for a purpose, brought me here for a purpose, kept me here for a purpose, given everything that He has given me for a purpose. I'm going to do what God asked me to do. I'm going to bear this child called Isaac. And Isaac is going to bear children. We're going to have descendants. We're going to give birth to Jesus centuries later. We’re going to do all this. We’re going to live it out this life on this earth for God. He's got a plan, plan of salvation. So, we're involved in that. We're busy on this earth working for God. And through that, Jesus, salvation will come to the whole world.

So, we are here for a purpose, we understand, but our ultimate aim is our eternity with Christ in heaven. It's not just this world as it is but eternity with Christ. This they were confessing. How they were confessing? They were saying that they were pilgrims and strangers. And they were also demonstrating it by living in tents. Just imagine what a difficult time Abraham's wife would have had living with this very rich guy. The Bible says very clearly, in Genesis chapter 13 verse 1, that Abraham was very rich. Not just rich, he was super rich. Just imagine living with this rich man who wouldn't build a house. I'm sure he had a lot of problems with his wife. If you had the money and didn't build a house, boy, you're finished. You will not have peace at your house. You had to live somewhere else. The man wouldn't build a house. He lived in tents, his son lived in tents, his grandson lived in tents, they all spent their life in tents.

Again, a lot of people have taken this and said, “If you build here, then you won't have a place there.” We believed it for a long time. I come from such a background. We believed all these things for a long time. That is not the point. Because the same God later on tells the people of Israel, “You will live in houses that you never built and enjoy water from the wells that you never dug and eat out of the plantations that you never planted.” What is that all about? God gave them house, their God made them landowners. Hello. Did you know Abraham never owned a land, except the land that he got for his wife to be buried? But God made the Israelites, all of them landowners. Everyone was a beggar. In Egypt, they were all slaves, had nothing. God took them and brought them and made them landowners. That's why I say, “May Your kingdom come, Lord.”

Everybody promises, “We’ll give you land; everybody will get land.” It's going to happen when Jesus comes. Others I don't know. I can't guarantee for them. But Jesus, I can guarantee, He will surely give land. But the thing is this, they lived as strangers and pilgrims and they confessed it. They showed it, demonstrated it. They lived in tents only to demonstrate that, “I'm just passing through. I am not building a house because I'm just passing through.” They wanted to get this message across therefore they lived like that. Not because they didn't have the money to build. They were all rich. Isaac was rich, Jacob was rich, Abraham was rich. They didn't build a house because they wanted the generations after them to know that they lived for that country in heaven, that their hope was the hope of eternity, that their mind and their heart was set on that. They wanted to show that and demonstrate that. So, here they are responding by faith, they left their home. I'm sure they had their own land, place and everything back there wherever they were from. But they left all that and came and lived in this way, showing that they were strangers and pilgrims. Even though they had all the riches in the world blessed by God, they wanted to show that they belong to heaven, belong to God, eternity with Christ. All right.

And then thirdly, they had the option to return, but they never return. Anytime they would have packed up and gone back, nobody tied them down. In fact, there were many reasons to go back because the local people hated them. Remember, when Isaac went and dug a well, everywhere he dug a well they drove him out. They were not wanted there. The people would be glad to be rid of them. They didn't want a foreigner coming and living there among them and prospering and doing well and all that. They looked at them with enmity many times. But they never went back. They had all the reasons to go back. They had their own country, own place, own people there, all the reasons to go back and had the legs that would walk back all the way and the money to go back and everything they had, but yet they never. They had the opportunity, but they didn't even think about going back. That's what the Bible says.

So, there was a personal involvement. There was a personal responsibility. They took that responsibility, they made sure they never return. It's a message for all Christians. What is the message? We also left a world, we also left some practices, we also left a pattern of life, a lifestyle which we followed. We also left a culture, we also left some traditions, we also left some things that we believed in and followed blindly for generation to generation, we left that. Our family comes from that kind of a thing. We left that and we came just like Abraham. And I'm sure you’ve left that and you’ve come. And the message is, you have a personal responsibility. There are certain things that you need to do to make sure that you never go back to what you left. That you determine to stay in the course that God has for you, and go where God wants you to go and be what God wants you to be, and never go back to that life and those traditions that you left to come. And there is a personal responsibility there on your part that you have to carry out in order to fulfill that purpose. Amen?

So, God always involves us. Some people don't believe in personal responsibility, put everything on God. “It's all God. If it's God's will, it will happen. It will happen if it's God's will.” What will happen if it's God's will? It’s God's will that you go to church on Sunday. If it will happen because it's God's will then everybody will be here. Some people, you cannot make them go to church, even though it's God's will because no personal involvement. They won't take that responsibility to carry that out. They will not make the decision, they will not determine, they will not say, “Yep, I'm going to do it in the name of Jesus. I'm going to do it. I'm not going to stay away from the church. I can do it.”

Many things God wills, but we don't do. That shows that there is a personal responsibility. Without your personal cooperation, just because it's God's will it is never going to happen. That notion that it's all God's will, if it's God's it will happen. A lot of people say that, “If it's God's will it will happen, brother.” No, no, no. Only when God's will becomes your will and your determination and your decision, then only it will happen. It is not going to happen just because it's God's will. God wills a lot of things, it never happens. God wills that we shouldn't sin, but a lot of people continue to sin because they had never willed. They never made sure that they will never go back to it. They were never determined.

So, our responsibility is there. See, God doesn't take away our will whether in salvation or in Christian life. Our will is always involved. God respects our will because He made us in His image and likeness. One of the greatest treasures that God has given to us is will, the ability to will. In the fall, something terrible happened to the will. Did you know that? In the fall, the devil could not take away the will. But the power to do what a man wills was taken away. Terrible. It's like a policeman having uniform but has no authority. You're dressed in a policeman's attire; you got the uniform, but you can't do a thing. People think you got all authority, but you have no authority. Will is there but you cannot do... Read chapter 7 of Romans, I don't have the time to go through it, try to read chapter, I've taught it verse by verse here. It says, the thing that I want to do, and I know that it's right, and it's the will of God, and it's the commandment of God, the commandments of God are good. They're righteous, he says. And I know I must do it. But yet, I'm not able to do what I know to be good.

He's got the will. You can't say he doesn't have the will. He's got the will but he's not able to do it. “I don't have the power to do it,” he says. And then he says it like this, “The very thing that I don't want to do, I end up doing.” Have you experienced that? You don't have to lift up your hands, or shake your head or anything. I understand. Let me just go on like that. This is every man's testimony, I'm telling you. The thing that I want to do, not able to do, I'm powerless. I know it's good. I know God's word is right. I know God's will. I know God says this, I want to do it. There is a will that says I want to do it. But sin has damaged men in such a way that the power to do it is lost. This wonderful ability to think and will and to do is lost.

One of the greatest things that happens in salvation is that the power to do what you will is restored back. When you are saved, that's the thing that happens. You not only can use your will now and will things, but you can do what you will. It is possible for you to do what you will. Paul says, “I’ve found out what's the problem. Why I'm not able to do what I want to do, what I know to be good and want to do and why I end up doing the thing that I don't want to do. I found the problem”, he said, “because sin resides in me.” What a wonderful truth. He says, “I have found out that there is this alien power called sin that has come into me, I found that this power called sin is a greater power than the power of my will. It resides in me. It hampers my will, though I will I cannot do it. The power to do is not there. I found that sin resides in me restricting me from carrying out the thing that I want to do.” Then he cries out saying, “Who will deliver me from this wretched condition?” Read that. Chapter 7 around verse 15 to 25 or so. “Who will deliver me from this wretched condition?” He says. Then next verse he says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He’s found answer also. The answer is Jesus is the deliverer.

See, that's the problem with people. You see people drinking and going to waste. I see arrack shops all over the country. And one of the things I've been seeing lately is that a lot of people are drinking just going to waste. I saw one whole community that depended on a company there. There is a wonderful company that paid well, people bought land and built houses there. They all worked for the company. The man that met me there, when I went there for a meeting, told me, “Our fathers, they came to work in this company, they all bought lands and built houses. That's how we came here. They were all fine. But today, arrack shops have come. House to house everybody is drinking, men and women are drinking. We’re destroyed completely. It's like a ghost town literally.”

Now, people talk about willpower and they take such pride in willpower, what happened to their willpower? Why can't they stop? As soon as they enter the arrack shop, before they enter it says kudi kudiyai kedukkumkum. That means, this will ruin you. They read that and enter it. The government has put an announcement saying, “This will kill you man. This will destroy you. You will lose your wife, your children, your wealth, your honor, your respect, everything you will lose. You’ll become like an animal. Don't do it,” it says. Right on the shop. Yet they go in and drink.

Paul was right. “The thing that I will, I'm not able to do.” That’s why when you talk to a drunk guy... There used to be a drunk guy who used to sleep here in our compound here. Those days it was free for all. It was all open and this guy he went to school with me when I was really young. And I found him sleeping here. He’s all drunk and drugged and so on. Can't go to his house, left everything, lost wife, children all gone. He's just in the last stages. He’ll sit there. One day he said, “Sam, I don't want to do it, but I end up doing it.” I said, “Yeah, I understand. I know Romans chapter 7. You don't want to do it, yet you do it. The very thing you don't want to do, that's what you will do because you have no power to do what you want to do. You need salvation.”

But Christian preachers, sometimes we preachers and Christians, we don't understand the essence of the Christian message and the essence of sin and what the problem is, so we start big lectures, “If you drink, you’ll lose your family.” All that, government is already saying. That is not Christian preaching. Christian preaching is not morality preaching, that, “You’ll lose your family, you’ll lose your money, you’ll lose this that and all.” All that is fine. It's good. But all that the government itself does without the Bible. Hello, are you there? Yeah, there is such a thing called moral teaching. All that, all religions do without the Bible. It's called moral teaching. How many have heard moral instruction in your schools? Be good, don't steal, don't do this. Moral teaching, that's good.

But the problem with people is, “Yeah, all that moral teaching is good but I'm not able to do what you're telling me. You are telling me, ‘Don't do this but do this,’ I end up doing exactly what you said, ‘Don’t do.’ And I end up not being able to do what you told me to do. What's the problem?” So, the Christian message is not a moral teaching about just what is right and what is wrong, and so on. The Christian teaching is a message about the one who is our deliverer, our Savior, who can free us from this bondage of sin and cut the chains of sin away from us and set us free from that bondage. So, the Christian preaching is about Jesus, His cross, His salvation, the power of the cross of Calvary to deliver and save a person. That's what Christian preaching is all about.

Don't sidetrack from Christian teaching. Don't go into morality. Know the difference between moral teaching and Christian teaching. Christian teaching is about this person, Jesus Christ. How He delivers, how He's the only one who can deliver, how He's the only one who can save. And He saves to the uttermost. So, there is a savior. So, to the drunk, we need to tell, “Hey, you need to be delivered from it. There is a savior, do you know that? There is a person who delivers people from this? Do you know that? There is a person who heals, delivers, sets you free. He can do it.” That's what he needs to hear. But even if he can do it, this guy must want it.

It’s like one fella said, “It's not that I am holding on to Jesus, that I'm going to make it to eternity with Him. It's not that I'm holding on His hands very strongly. Not because I'm holding on to Him very strongly, I'm going to make it. It's because he's holding on to me.” That I agree fully because no matter how strongly I hold His hand, I may let go. Some wind may carry me and throw me away. But when He holds me, His grip is different. He will never leave me. Nothing can take me away from Him. He holds me in that way. But even in that case, when He's holding everything depends upon His power and His strength. Still, I must stretch out my hand to Him. I must say, “Lord, hold me. I need your salvation. I need you. I need you right now. Help me.” If I say, “No, don't touch me. Don't come into my house. I don't want you here. Don't do anything for me. I don't need your help.” Even if the Almighty God, the Savior is there, he cannot do anything to such a person. See that?

We're not Tanjore dolls, we have a part to do. There is a decision that we have to make. And there is a determination that we have to make. There is a part that God has given to us in that God honors man. God doesn't treat man like just a thing. Treats man as man made in the image and likeness of God. He believes that I can think, I can decide. And he knows that I have a will but no power and he's ready to give the power. In salvation, that's what happens. That if I can reach out with my will, He gives the power and the ability in that will that was missing until that time. His help was not available until that time. But when the Savior comes, all of a sudden, you begin to have the power to do what you want to do.

That’s how salvation happens. That's how Christian life is also, it’s the same. It's a partnership. He does the major part, that's the most difficult part and you do the easy part. How does Christian life work? It's the same way. On the one hand, there is sin, the attractions of the world always drawing, enticing, calling. Right? Don't shake your head. The Tamil service I was preaching, I said, “Is sin attracting, calling, enticing?” Some people are looking like this to the person sitting next. I said, “Don't bother. I asked a wrong question.” But we all know that it does every day. And every day we have to say, “No.” No to sin, and yes to Christ. No to sin and yes to God. There is a helper, there is one who aids us, helps us, always with us. There is a one who gives power. There is one that helps us to escape from all the snares of the devil. He’s always ready to help us.

See, if you want to sin, you can always end up sinning. That's how people sin. It's not because God doesn’t help them. Don't ever believe that. It is not because sin was so powerful and God never helped them. If you're a believer, God is able to help. The only way people sin is they want to take a leave from God. They say, “God, from tomorrow I'll be faithful. Just today, I'll take care of this and come.” That's how they sin. Don't bother with me today. You close your eyes and I'm going.” That's the way they sin. So, it's always a partnership. In Christian life also, it is a partnership. All right.

So, Abraham left everything, came, became a follower of God, totally sold out to God, living for God.  In his faith life, he demonstrates this fact that in order to stay the course and continue in the direction that God has called him and commissioned him, every day, he's got to make a determination to follow God, determined to do what God says. That there is a part that he has to do and that God does His part very well. All we have to do is do the easy part that He has given to us. God always honors us and respects us. Any Christian teaching that says, “You don’t have to do anything, God will take care of everything,” is wrong. It's not like that. God always gives man a little part to do. It's not that He saves you by worksor anything, I'm not talking about that. He saves you only by His works. But He gives you an opportunity to respond by faith, that part He gives you. That's what I mean. He respects you as human being because you are made in the image and likeness of God. Believe in the God who believes in you. The true God who made human beings believes in human beings that they can decide, they can determine, that if they are only given the power by God, that they'll be able to carry out and so on. All right.

The second thing is this is a great example for us. This is a great model for us. The fact that they did not go back even though they had the opportunity to have returned, they did not go back is a big model for all of us. Why? Why do people go back? Let's talk about that. Why do people ever go back after coming into salvation? We read about in the Bible how people go back. Peter writes and says, “For those who have tasted this, and then they go back, their latter condition is worse than the former condition. It's better that they have not tasted this first. A dog returns to its vomit,” Peter says. “Not good to return,” he says. Your latter condition will be worse than your former condition.

So, why do people return? Why do people taste salvation, taste God, taste God's grace in their life and goodness in their life, and then return to their vomit, so to speak, what they left as filthy and dirty and sin. Why do they return to it? They return to it because they consider the earthly pleasures which is but for a moment, temporal pleasures as greater than eternal pleasures that God gives us. They are not able to decide between the temporal and the eternal. They're not able to value the eternal as against the temporal. They choose the temporal, the satisfaction now, and lose out on joy forevermore. Very sad.

Esau was like that. Remember Jacob's brother? For just a little pot of food, he gave up his birthright. What a thing to sell? What a blessing that he had. He gave it up just because he was hungry and he wanted to fill his stomach. Just want to fill his stomach. That's the main thing. “Forget about God and hallelujah later, forget it. Let me just satisfy my lust for food, let me just eat it and consume it. Let my stomach be filled with it. Think about everything else later.” He wouldn't die just because He fasted one time or didn't eat this afternoon. All he has to do is just wait a little more time, the food would have come. Hurry, he just wants to eat it. He was lusting for it, for temporal satisfaction and lost out on a great thing.

Children of Israel were like that. Here is this Pastor Moses. Brought them out of slavery and brought them through this Red sea and all that. They wouldn't enter the promised land. They disobeyed and got to stay there 40 years. And then they got tired of going around the wilderness 40 years eating the manna. They started remembering all the onion and the garlic and the masala… must be Indians, I think. They said, “Food was so nice back in Egypt. That was nice and spicy. What happened to our biriyani? None of that we can get here, we are only getting manna every day. Secret and tired of it. Let's go back. Let’s go back. Food is very important. That is very important. They got together and they spoke to one another saying, “Let's appoint another pastor who will take us back.” What a mentality. This great man brought them out and they wanted to go back into slavery, go back into nothing. They couldn't determine which is better. The Canaan land or Egypt? Simple. They’re like a little child. A very little child doesn't know the difference between 50 rupees and 2,000 rupees. You can't even teach him that. They're like that. They cannot determine which is better, which is the right, “That we must possess the promised land that God has for us. God is taking us somewhere. Our God is a good God. He’s brought us this far. He split the Red Sea and He's pouring manna from heaven, water from the rock. I must go with this God.” They couldn't decide that. They could not discern which is better. That’s their problem.

Another very remarkable story is the story of the Gadarene, the demon possessed guy in Jesus’ day. Remember? Living in the cemetery, tearing himself up because he was demon possessed, possessed with thousands of demons called legion. Jesus comes there and delivers him. And when He drives out the demons, the demons are praying now to Jesus saying, “Let us go into the pigs.” Now, some people have taken that and said Jesus also hears demons’ prayers.  That's not the point there. He allowed them. He granted their request to go into the pigs. So, the evil spirits went into the pigs. And all the pigs from the mountain ran through the slope and went into the ocean. Number was about 2,000 pigs. You have to have imagination when you read the Bible.

You know what 2,000 pig means? Have you been anywhere where 10 pigs are there? You can't stand it. This is 2,000 pigs. If you brought 2,000 pigs and parked them here, this place will not be enough for you. 2,000 pigs ran from the slope of the hill, went into the ocean, died, floating everywhere. All the guys who had taken care of the pigs for somebody, their owners, went back into town, reported what happened. The whole town rushed to where Jesus was. And they see this demon possessed man who they were all afraid of. Nobody will go by that graveyard. They were all afraid of him because he was hurting others and himself, madman, demon-spirit filled, now set free in clear mind, sitting there with Jesus. And they're looking at Jesus. And everybody says, “He’s the man that delivered him. He has set him free.” They should have joined and rejoiced. And they looked at the pigs that are floating in the water, all dead.

Why did Jesus allow demons to go into the pigs? Because if they looked at this man, they will understand what demons will do. He was tearing himself and others up, destroying, ruining himself. That's what devils do, until you die, they'll tear you up if you give place to the devil. Now, Jesus wants to demonstrate it with a visual demonstration that can be as powerful as it can be. So, he allowed the 2,000 pigs to drown and be killed by these demons so that He can show the village people, “Look. If you allow this demon into your life, this is what it's going to do to you. It's going to run you to death.” He came to steal, kill and destroy. That's the devil's job. That's what he's going to do. Don't let this devil have his way in your life. Don't allow him into your life. That's the message. These devils will harm you, tear you up, kill you.

But they saw that. You know what their response was? They just could not decide which they want. They looked at Jesus and the man that was healed, they looked at the pigs, they said, “Boy, you killed our pigs big time. Please leave our town. Pigs are very important. After all, 2,000 pigs he has killed today. Please leave our town. We don't want you to disrupting our peace here. We were living happily with 2,000 pigs. You disrupted it. Don't worry about your lesson that you're teaching us about the devil and all that, how it will tear us up. All that we’ll take care.” What they should have done is, “Jesus, thank God you came. God has sent you. You come to our village, never leave our village. Come into every house. We want you drive out the demons from here. Give us peace, give us joy, give us happiness. Let your peace and joy come into every...” That's what they should have done. They never did that. Instead of that, they drove Him out.

God has sent the answer to all their problems right to their village, but they drove Him out. They rejected the heavenly blessing, the answer for all their problems wanted the earthly thing that they were holding on to, their tradition, their way of life. They didn't want it to be disturbed. They could not consider these things properly. One translation puts verse 15 in this way, Hebrews 11:15, And truly or verily, it says, if they had been mindful, that means if they had their minds frequently dwelling upon that land where they left which they left, if their hearts had decided, they would have gone back. See, that's why it's important what you set your mind to. If you don't want to go back to where you came from, go back to that old life, mind is very important. That's why the Bible talks about the importance of girding up the loins of your mind, disciplining our thoughts. Because if you want to stay the course, if you want to follow God, live for God, “Do that,” he says.

Proverbs 23:7 says, as a man thinketh so is he. Thoughts affect us. What we are thinking about, that's where we'll go eventually. It will not happen in one day. But if you allow the thinking to continue, you'll reach in the direction of what you're thinking. What you're thinking will become the reality. John Owen, a great personality from 350 years ago said this, let me read this to you. It's good that you are all English speaking you understand it. I had to translate it in Tamil for Tamil service people. But it's a wonderful statement. He says, “It is in the nature of faith to mortify,” to destroy that is, “not only corrupt and sinful lusts,” listen to this, “but our natural affections.” That means the affections that God has given to us, there’s nothing wrong with them. It is the job of faith not only to mortify sinful, corrupt lusts. “But our natural affections” which are legal, which are legitimate, “and they’re most vehement inclinations, though in themselves they're innocent.”

See, there's nothing wrong with those natural affections. But faith sometimes has to destroy even that, he says. Why? If they are any way uncompliant with duties of obedience to the commandment of God. See, when the natural affections, the things that we like naturally, and there is nothing wrong, it's not sinful, it's not corrupt, if they are against us doing the commandment of God, will of God and walking with God, and it's a hindrance to our life, it must be destroyed. “And faith does it,” he says. He says, “Our lives, parents, wives, children, houses, possessions, our country are the principal proper lawful objects of our natural affections.” There's nothing wrong with loving your wife, loving your children, loving your parents, loving your house, loving your possessions, the nice things that you have in this world. After all, they’re God-given, they’re blessings of God.

God doesn't tell you to forsake all of that. Some people say that. Bible never says that. Abraham never left all that. He had all that, still lived as a stranger and pilgrim. That's the Bible. Let's not divert from it. There's nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with earthly riches. There is nothing wrong with having a good house, having a good life and having a good education. Nothing wrong with all of that. The Bible never says anything like that. Nothing wrong with having a good family and loving the family, being very affectionate with the family and so on. I know there are some people. I came from a background where there are people that even tell you to despise your own family in order to live a spiritual life. No, the Bible doesn't say that.

But if it came in the way of obeying God... see, that is why Jesus said, “I've not come to bring peace, I’ve come to bring a sword between parents and children, between one and another.” Didn't come to bring a war or anything like that but He says, “It so happens because people believe in Me, sometimes there is a sword.” And John Owen says that – “there are objects of our natural affections, but when any of them stand in the way of God's commandments, if they are hindrances to the doing of His will, faith does not only mortify, weaken and take off that love for those things, those legitimate things, but gives us a comparative hatred of them.” Tremendous statement.

You must understand it in the right way. The Bible does not teach you to hate your family, does not teach you to hate the good things that God has given to you. The Bible does not tell you to throw away in the garbage all the good things that God has given to you. But the Bible tells, but none of those things that you enjoy in the world should come in the way of you following God and living for God wholeheartedly. That's what the Bible teaches. So, the author of the book of Hebrews says they might have had the opportunity to have returned, they would have really returned. The opportunity arose many times they could have returned, but they never returned. Amazing. They lived as strangers and pilgrims.

Finally, let me just say this. In 1 Peter 2:11 Peter says, as aliens and strangers. He uses the same language, the Old Testament language that Abraham has used to describe himself, David has used to describe himself. He says, aliens and strangers, that means strangers and pilgrims. That's what he says. As aliens and strangers in the world, abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. David, at least three times he says that he’s a stranger and foreigner. One time he’s in big trouble, nigh unto death, his enemies have surrounded him, he says, “I'm a stranger and pilgrim.” I can understand, maybe he felt that he's going to die or something. But when everything was going well, also, he said he's a stranger and pilgrim. That's what amazes me. When he made it to the end of his life, and he’s a grand old man, had got a lot of wealth... in fact, in 29th chapter of 1 Chronicles if you read it, it says that he had accumulated and stored up wealth like he couldn't even count the gold and silver and the good things that he has gathered as far as wealth is concerned. So much, no time to count. He tells his son, “If you want it for the temple, take it and use it. I got plenty.” Became very wealthy, very honorable man, towards the end of his life. Reached grand old age.

And at that age, if you read verse 15, he says, “I am a stranger and a pilgrim just like my forefathers.” He not only says he's a stranger and pilgrim, all his forefathers were, and all of these guys had everything. None of the Tamil Nadu strangers and pilgrims there. I don't know which Bible they got that from. They all had everything. David was super, super wealthy, had everything. He says, “I'm a stranger and pilgrim.” Everything was going fine. His son is going to build the temple. He's got all the material. He says, “I'm a stranger and pilgrim.” I say to you, that is the kind of Christian life the Bible teaches. You have everything but have no attachment to anything in this world. Enjoy everything for God's glory and use everything to do God's will and what God has commissioned you and called you to do, but never attach yourself to anything but God. Live for God and live for eternity with God and for nothing else. Amen.

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