Abraham: Forerunner Of The Faithful

Why does Paul spend so much time writing about faith and then mentioning Abraham? It’s because, just like Abraham, we too can be justified by believing God.

Abraham Went

Perhaps more than most of the patriarchs, Abraham personified the statement that “the just shall live by faith,” and he was the prototype of living by faith, however God expected Abraham to be obedient before blessing him. Obedience would come first and only then would the blessings come. Here was Abram’s first introduction to God: “the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen 12:1-2). So did Abram (later changed to Abraham) stop and think about it? Did he consult with his family or father-n-law about leaving his nation, his old pagan religion, and all that was familiar to him? No, we read, “Abram went, as the LORD had told him” (Gen 12:3). He went to a place he’d never seen before, to go near people who he met, and to live serve a God he never knew before. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness, so who were those who were blessed by this and those who were cursed by this statement of God where it said that God would bless those who bless Abraham and would curse those who cursed him (Gen 12:3)? Those who believed God would have the curse removed in Christ, but those who rejected Him, shall live under and die under the curse. I understand that obedience precedes understanding and that blessing comes only after obedience, which is what Abraham showed when he left family, country, and everything that was familiar to him, so even after thousands of years, Abraham remains a supreme example of faith, and why he was so very blessed by God. I hope to show that Paul successfully linked Abraham with the present in writing to the Galatians writing that the blessings of Abraham are not only for “those who claimed to be his children” (Gal 3:7-8), but for those who trust in the Promised Seed of his. It is grace and not race, so like Abraham, we must believe God in order to be justified.

Separated from God

Paul clearly revealed that the boundary markers that inevitably provoke divisions between the Jews and the Gentiles are broken down in Christ, and that is this blessing spoken of, because we who were once afar are now reconciled to God through Christ. Romans 5:10 and Ephesians 2:13 say that we who were once the enemies of God, and alienated from him by our sins, were separated from God, but not by our race but by our unbelief, but now we are accepted by God through this Promised Seed. As it is written; “we are reconciled [and] shall…be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10b). This is the blessing of God given to Abraham, because after the fall in Eden, mankind was separated from God by sin. Isaiah 59:2 wrote; “your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” however “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal 3:13).

image: http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/files/2017/09/AbrahamCreditWikipedia-CommonsCopyrightJozsef-Molnar.jpg

AbrahamCreditWikipedia CommonsCopyrightJozsef Molnar

Nations Blessed

The blessings that God promised Abraham will come to all nations and all people who put their trust in the Promised Seed, but those who reject Him are still under the curse. This is what Paul meant when he wrote that “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed” (Gal 3:8). Notice that the gospel was preached even in the Old Testament, and in the Scriptures (the Pentateuch precisely) the promise is given by God to Abraham, but also to all who will believe in Christ. Paul even quotes Genesis 12:3 in writing Galatians 3:8, therefore there can be no mistake about it. The gospel is the message or good news of this blessing and this blessing is the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. That is how the nations or all people who trust in Christ will be blessed. It is more than land, it is more than wealth, it is more than children…it is eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Promised Seed

The story of Abram in Genesis 12 is a story that is interwoven throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament (Gen. 18:18, 22:18, 26:4, 28:15; Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8). Abram’s obedience to go from his country, his kindred, and his father’s house was a covenantal promise that was unconditional. The blessings are still being received today by those who repent and put their trust in Christ. These blessings are to continue into eternity, which means they will have no end. Jesus Christ’s obedience resulted in blessings that have I implications for us today, and for all time, and this blessing was given as a royal grant-type of covenant, and is the golden thread stitching together the whole fabric of Scripture. Even today, this “golden thread” of blessings is reaching the families of the earth…from every tongue and every nation. For those who have yet to be born, they too can become the children of God and into the endless tomorrows of eternity. Matthew addressed the Jewish people and was very much interested in the historicity of Abraham’s Promised Seed, writing that “the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham”  (Matt 1:1), indicating that the unconditional fulfillment of that Promised Seed was in Jesus Christ. If only more would believe.

Conclusion

Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness,” (Gal 3:6), so you can believe God and be justified, since “it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Gal 3:7). Clearly, “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed” (Gal 3:9). This means that “those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal 3:9), “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Gal 3:14).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is host of Spiritual Fitness and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

 

How Much Do You Appreciate The Life And Death Of Jesus Christ?

In short, it was only Jesus who backed up His claim of divinity with verifiable and truthful proof.

However, before Jesus has to become our Savior, He has to go through indescribable pain and suffering. From the time He was destined to die for our sins to the very moment He took His human breath, His life was filled with sorrow caused by sin.

In this blog, I want to ask you an important and serious question:

How much do you and I appreciate the sacrifice and death of our Savior, Jesus Christ?

How Much Do You Appreciate The Life And Death Of Jesus Christ?

How Much Do You Appreciate The Life And Death Of Jesus Christ?

Christ’s suffering started since the foundation of the world

Jesus Christ is a God who was made flesh. He came to this world of sinners as a perfect man who would be slain from the foundation of the world.

Ever since the world begun, God’s plan of redemption has already been laid. Jesus has already known that one day He would die for our sins. His suffering started long before He became a human being.

Even before Adam and Eve sinned, Jesus knew that He will one day suffer the most INDESCRIBABLE pain ever known within the human realm. He will be stripped of His divine power and live as a lowly person.

Do you know how hard that could have been? Imagining the emotional and physical pain He would go through just to save us?

Jesus’ grew up within a judgmental society

When Jesus was finally born into this world, He was not even born in a decent house, but in a humble manger.

He became a man of sorrow.

Before Mary was married to Joseph, she was found with a child. Thus, people thought of Jesus as an illegitimate child. In one discussion, the Pharisees claimed that they know Abraham as their father, but of you Jesus, they don’t know. It might have been difficult for Christ to live as a child to endure the ridicule and social stigma put upon Him as a bastard Child.

Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights

Before Jesus started His ministry, He has to fast 40 days and 40 nights. Because of the great wonders that Jesus Christ has done, we often forget that He is still a human being who can feel pain and emotion. Can you imagine how weak, dehydrated, and hungry Jesus Christ would have been? I would say that He is

Can you imagine how weak, dehydrated, and hungry Jesus Christ would have been? I would say that He was on the brink of death when He finally reached the 40th day of His fast.

To make things worse, within those 40 days and 40 nights, He was also tempted by Satan day and night! Some of us might have thought that the temptation happened at the end of 40 days, but it is not. Mark tells us that He was tempted 40 days and 40 nights.

When Jesus started His ministry, Jesus was entering an unfriendly territory. He would have to face the established religious system of His day. He will have to face opposition, mockery, ridicule, and shame.

Jesus was abandoned by His family and friends

JerusalemAnother thing that could have been more painful for Christ is the fact that even His townsmen, relatives, family and friends has deserted Him at the moment He needs them the most!

While He was still teaching, His family especially His brothers, did not believe Him! His brother would have told Him, “Who are you to teach us what is right or wrong? We were just playmates when we were still kids. You are not in the position to preach to us.”

His disciples. who have been with Jesus Christ for approximately 3 ½ years, were able to leave Him! For the disciples, it was unimaginable for them to see Jesus being tortured and eventually killed.

They might have reasoned in themselves: “Is it really true that Jesus will die? The same man who walked on water; the same man who was able to calm the roaring sea; the same man who healed the sick; the same man who cast away demons; the same man who miraculously fed more than 10,000 people; the same Jesus who has raised the dead to life? Will He die a death of a criminal?”

The Disciples could not believe it that even Peter rebuked Jesus Christ when Jesus was predicting His death!

The death of Jesus Christ

Then the day finally came when Jesus will have to offer His body and shed His life for us sinners. Jesus died the most painful death that no words can even describe.

Thus, people have to invent a word just to describe this type of death: Excruciating, which literally means out from the cross! Jesus has to die the death of a criminal. Imagine having to go through all those pain!

Jesus has to die the death of a criminal. Imagine having to go through all those pain!

Crucifixion is the harshest method of torture in the Roman world. Jesus Christ knew how terrible His suffering will in the hands of the Roman soldier to the point that His blood turned to sweat. According to modern medicine, this phenomenon is called hemathidrosis where tiny capillaries burst and blood starts to trickle and mix with sweat.

According to modern medicine, this phenomenon is called hematohidrosis where tiny capillaries burst and blood starts to trickle and mix with sweat.

After the arrest of Jesus Christ, He was presented to the high priest where He was bullied, struck, and mauled.

After that, all His clothing was removed to prepare the body for scourging. Jesus was then flogged with flagrum which is a device of evil designed to inflict MAXIMUM pain on its victim.

As the flogging continues, the whip will first cut through the skin, then the subcutaneous tissues, then the muscles. Blood will ooze from the torn veins and arteries delivering intense pain.

Eventually, the back of Jesus Christ will be unrecognizable that it will look like a shred of torn bleeding flesh. When Jesus seems to be near death, then the scourging stopped.

Scourging is so harsh that most people who are condemned for the crucifixion will die well before he is nailed to the post.

After the scourging, Jesus was mocked by the soldiers by clothing Him with a robe then putting a crown of thorn on His head. Again, this will result in profuse bleeding. As if that is not enough, the robe was again stripped off from Him leaving His wounds to open again and bleed.

The way to Golgotha is a long and enduring walk. Jesus was at His limit that He did not have the strength to carry the cross. He stumbled and fell.

The torture He went through is too much for His human body. When Jesus arrived in the place of crucifixion, He was then thrown against the beam where He will be crucified. The Roman soldier will then palpate the wrist of Christ and determine where to place the six-inch nail.

As the nail was push through the wrist to the wood, the nerves of Christ was crushed sending an indescribable pain signal to His brain. This is then repeated to the other wrist, then to the two feet. Each of these nails will surely make any heart to faint because of the pain it causes.

Dr. Metherell, an expert on how crucifixion is carried out, described Jesus’ suffering on the cross with these words:

“Once a person is hanging in the vertical position…crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position; basically, in order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot, eventually locking up against the tarsal bones.

“After managing to exhale, the person would then be able to relax down and take another breath in. Again he’d have to push himself up to exhale, scraping his bloodied back against the coarse wood of the cross. This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person wouldn’t be able to push up and breathe anymore” (Strobel, pp. 265-266).

Isaiah 52:13 through 53:1-12

Let us read Isaiah 52 starting in verse 13 until chapter 53:1-12 to get an idea of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

13Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

14As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

15So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3He is DESPISED AND REJECTED of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But he was WOUNDED for our transgressions, he was BRUISED for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

11He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Why Jesus have to Die?

The Law cannot save us. It can only tell us what is wrong and right, what sin is and what it is not. The law has pronounced a DEATH PENALTY to all of us. All of us in this world have sinned. Not a single person is perfect and even if you will keep the commandments perfectly from this day on, you will never erase the sin you have committed in the past.

Imagine yourself, you owe a man a debt that you cannot possibly pay and you are given a death sentence. No matter how sorry you are, pleaded to the court, and have done everything just for the court to withdraw the death sentence, still you will be executed. But here comes the man you have wronged, looked at you with a merciful and compassionate glance, and he said, “I will die for you!”

Through the grace, mercy, and love of God the Father, He offered His Son to die for our sin. Can you really do that? If you have a son or daughter, will you let your child die for a criminal? It would surely be difficult for us, right? Yet, that is what God and Jesus did for us, just to make salvation available for all mankind.

Jesus has to die to blot out our sin. We are the reason that Jesus has to die. Do you know who really killed Jesus? We shouldn’t blame the Jews or Roman soldiers. You don’t have to look far and wide to find the real killer of Jesus. It is you and I.

The one who killed Christ is us. It is because of our sins that Chrsit died.

Let us read Romans 5:6-11.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinnersCHRIST DIED FOR US. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”

Even after Jesus was resurrected, his suffering does not end there. I am sure that you don’t want to crucify Christ anymore, but still we crucify Christ every time we sin. The result and consequences of our sin bring sorrow and sadness to Him and God the Father.

Hebrews 6:4-6 tells us:

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are CRUCIFYING once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

Every time we sin, we are crucifying Christ over and over and over again.

Final words

After telling you the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ, can we now see the significance of what it really means for our Savior to die for us? Can we now see how God and Jesus love us to the point that They are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice?

OR are we so used to sin that we can’t even trust our conscience anymore? Are we too comfortable with our sin that we don’t seek repentance and change our lives? Will we come before the holy presence of God as a better person compared to the person we are last year?

Let us not become too comfortable with sin, that we don’t see the need to change. I know there is a lot of work to do. There is a lot of growing up to happen. I don’t see myself as better than any of you. I am as sinful as you are. However, that does not mean that we shouldn’t strive to overcome our sinful nature.

Let us HATE sin so much that we don’t want anything to do with it. Let us do our best to fight the good fight.

We are engaged in a spiritual battle, choose your side. In our battle against Satan, are we winning or are we losing?

We need to wake up each day and pray to God. Pray to Him to help you, help me, help us, help everyone to become more like Him and less like us. Let us present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

God expects us to grow.

Let us not waste the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our savior. Let us appreciate His life, suffering, and death. And that appreciation MUST lead us to repentance and to commit our lives to Him.

(P.S. If you want to learn more about the life of our Savior, please request your free copy of Jesus Christ: The Real Story.)


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Book title: The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus

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A seasoned journalist chases down the biggest story in history–is there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the son of god?

Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Lee Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools like Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields. Strobel challenges them with questions like: How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?

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The Only Debt Every Person Should Have

Millions of people are in debt. It is not only a problem of the poor but also for the rich. Most people think of debt as something negative. Rightly so because it means that a person in debt is living in the “red.” It means that an indebted person is under obligation to repay whatever he owes. Even the Bible is filled with passages that talk about how to avoid debt and how to overcome it.

However, do you know there is a kind of debt that the Bible promotes? Do you know that this sort of debt is so great that no matter what you do, you won’t be able to fully pay it? Nevertheless, the Bible talks about this type of debt as something desirablerequired, and necessary.

I am speaking about the debt of loving one another.

Romans 13:8 tells us:

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

The Only Debt Every Person Should Have

The Only Debt Every Person Should Have

Owe no one anything

What does the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “Owe no one anything except to love one another?” What does it really mean to owe no one anything? And most importantly, why do we need to love one another as if it is something that we must consider as a debt?

Let us now examine this one single, but powerful verse.

The word owe is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “to be indebted; to be obliged or bound to pay.” The Greek word for “owe” is opheilo, and Strong’s Dictionary defines it as “to be under obligation.”

Basing from these definitions, Paul is telling us that we should not be under an obligation or in debt to another person. We should not owe anyone anything.

Some people use this verse to teach that it is wrong to borrow any amount of money. For them, to borrow something is considered to be a curse from God. They think that all forms of poverty are a punishment from the Creator.

Of course, this is not the case. For example, the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) shows us that lending money for interest is not entirely evil (Of course, there are also moral standards to be followed here). Lending money involves borrowing.

In the Old Testament, God made sure that the Israelites should not charge interest on loans given to a fellow Israelite. Jesus even said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11).

So what does this mean? It means that we must do our best to pay off debts as early as possible. Psalms 37:21 tells us, “The wicked borrows and DOES NOT PAY.”

Admittedly, we don’t want to be considered as wicked, right? If it is within our power, we must pay all our debts and “owe no one anything.”

In line with this instruction, the Apostle Paul tells Christians to be diligent, productive, and industrious. Paul is instructing us that if we are to spend something, make sure that it is ours and not something we borrowed.

Paul is teaching us to be diligent in our work to prevent the necessity of obtaining debt.

Except to love one another

Now, here’s the main point of the Apostle Paul. He wants us to think about loving one another as something that we owe. He wants us to understand that loving another is NOT optional, but rather it is our obligation.

We will never come to the point that we love one another enough. Loving one another is a life-long process.

Loving others NEVER ends.

Loving one another is more than just what think, say or do. But rather, love should be the MOTIVATING power behind our every thought, word, and action.

We must be so engrossed and occupied in “paying” people with the currency of love to the point that love defines us – to the point that when people see us, they also see Jesus Christ.

As John 13:35 tells us, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Loving one another is a sign that we are Christ’s real followers. Again, love is not optional, but mandatory.

For he who loves another has fulfilled the law

Why is loving one another so important? Because loving one another help us to fulfill the law.

Keeping the law to the letter isn’t enough. Yes, it is easy not to commit murder. But Jesus magnified the law and included hating your neighbor is tantamount to murder.

If you love one another out of genuine concern, care, and affection, it helps us not just to keep the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law.

Commandment-keeping is important, but if you only obey the law out of necessity, then your conversion is only superficial. You need to go deeper. You need to follow God’s law from the heart, You can only do that if you overflow with love.

Final words

So, what is the best debt that we all should have? It is to love one another.

We need to feel that we “owe” and indebted to love others. This is a debt that we must all strive to pay every day. Loving others is not a mere duty, but it is actually the framework that we must all operate in.

Everything that we do must be done out of love.

Every day, we are called to do small things with GREAT Love.

I hope you remember the words of the Apostle Paul and its meaning as we all strive to “owe no one anything except to love one another.”

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