Genesis Sermons from Gospel Chapel Ministries HOME SERMONS SERMON NOTES
#340 SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON #9 GENESIS 12
ABRHAM, AN ILLUSTRATION OF ALL WHO BELIEVE
Before embarking upon this chapter, it would be very helpful to read all of Genesis 12. Genesis 12 brings forth the beginning of the history of Abram who is referred to by the apostle Paul in ROM 4:11 as "...the father of all them that believe." Understanding the history of Abram is necessary because he is the symbol and illustration or type of all those who believe. In other words, it is the beginning. It is the place from which all saving faith sprung forth. As we study the faith of Abram, we see how God leads and deals with Abram. From this, we learn how God deals with and leads His church.
The apostle James refers to Abraham as "the Friend of God" through his faith being imputed to him for "righteousness." We need to understand the significance of being called "the Friend of God." It was Abrams faith that was imputed to him for righteousness. JAM 2:23 says, "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God."
To understand what is meant by being called "the Friend of God," we need to understand the meaning of the word "righteousness." Sometimes we take very common words for granted; it isnt until we thoroughly understand what the words mean that we see the significance of them. The word "righteousness" comes from the root word "dikaios" in the Greek which means "equitable (in character or act); by implication it means innocent, holy." How can you and I understand what it means to be the "Friend of God" until we understand what it is to be able to stand innocent before God? How is it obtained? It is obtained by faith, by faith in the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ being imputed to us. Therein, you and I can stand righteous or innocent before God.
Now lets consider what it means to be justified. It is an important principle. For example, if you come before a court charged with a traffic violation, you can be justified in two ways. One way is to be acquitted, found not guilty. The other way is to satisfy the penalty of the law so the law is no longer charging you. The law must be satisfied by payment in full. When we talk of being justified before the courts of heaven, we must be justified in both ways. In the first instance, we must have the blood of Christ to make the payment in full. The appeasing of Gods wrath must be paid by Christs blood, His sacrifice. However, we must also stand righteous before God in total perfection of innocence. How is that possible? It is by Christs righteousness being imputed to us. It is by faith that we have the righteousness of Christ, or the obedience of Christ, imputed to us. Now by faith, Abram was able to see that perfect righteousness of Christ being imputed to him, thereby becoming "the Friend of God." We cannot be friends of God outside of perfect righteousness. This is the principle we must understand when looking at Abram as the father of all who believe.
We must understand that by nature, Abram was not perfect. He was no different than any others; he and his fathers also served idols. He was not perfect. See this in JOS 24:2-3, "And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac." Do you see that it was not Abrams righteousness? It was not the result of something Abram did. Christs perfect righteousness was imputed to him. Abram was an ordinary person, just like you or me. He was a man of like passions as you and I, or the prophet Elijah was. By nature he was a sinful man. His acceptable obedience and his perfect acquittal are the imputation of Christs righteousness by faith.
As we read in ACT 14:16, the Lord "...in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways," which included Abram. It was not Abram who chose the Lord, nor was it Abram who separated himself from the world. Abram and his fathers lived in a land where they served idols. Abram did not take it upon himself to serve the Lord rather than idols. The Lord chose Abram.
Now see the distinction between the friends of God and those who are the friends of the world. They are identified by their walk of life. God "...in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways," but in ISA 51:1-2 we read, "Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him." Those who follow after righteousness are those seeking perfection and having a desire to be delivered from the power of sin; they are seeking the Lord. Now their instruction is to look unto "the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged." By nature, you and I are in the pit of corruption. The Lord called Abram out from among the rest of mankind. He drew and led him to Himself.
Herein, we see the sovereign electing love of God Who had abandoned all nations to walk in their own ways of confusion, but sorted out Abram and called him to come out from among them. See Abrams special calling in GEN 12:1, "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fathers house, unto a land that I will shew thee." This calling did not include any other people, not even his father, Terah, or Lot or any other person. Gods call was to Abram personally. If we are to be the children of Abraham, the father of all who believe, then we must have that personal, individual calling from the Lord to call us out of the world of serving self or idols. We are called to serve the living God.
In the story of Orpah and Ruth, they traveled to the very border of the Promised Land where they had to choose between serving the God of Israel or the idols of Moab. Orpah was a borderline Christian. When she counted the cost, she made the decision to go back to her people and idols; but Ruth would not leave Naomi. She stayed with and continued on with Naomi. We can see Gods sovereign grace in Ruths better choice. RTH 1:15-18 says, "And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her."
It was not that Ruth or Abram of themselves would have been different than any of those around them, but it was Gods electing love that made them turn from serving idols to serving the living God. Abram believed because God chose Abram. We see the same principle with the Gentiles under the preaching of Paul. ACT 13:48 says, "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Pauls preaching prospered. The distinction of Gods electing love did not bar any person who believed. Any person who will come unto Christ may come. There is no prohibition. Gods electing love takes those who are not willing and makes them willing in the day of His power. They have a new heart, a new desire, and a new understanding.
If you and I have a desire to come unto the Lord, the election of Gods grace is not a barrier. The gospel is filled with invitations to those who will. Those who are Gods elect are distinguished as the ones whom He has made willing. PHI 2:13 says, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." By the exercise of God-given faith, Abram obeyed. He put his faith into action or exercise. The apostle Peter speaks of the blessedness of faith being tried as gold and silver are tried. The trial of ones faith is more precious than gold or silver. What is the trial of faith found in Abram putting Isaac on the alter? It was a trial of his obedience of faith, and therein lay the preciousness of the trial of our faith.
The Lord leads us into circumstances whereby we must denounce and crucify everything of the flesh in the obedience of faith. Do we have faith? When faith comes into exercise, we are able to crucify everything of the flesh, everything that is near and dear or is an idol to us. Satan set up idols of the heart. Remember GEN 3:22 in which Adam and Eve became as gods knowing what is good or evil, i.e., they would be able to decide what was right or wrong. Where is the idol? It is the ugly monster, Self. It is to serve self and those things which gratify the flesh. It is the biggest and most difficult idol we must remove.
When the Lord gives us faith, then what happens? We have a humble obedience of faith to crucify everything of the flesh that we might obey. When the Lord brings a trial of our faith, He brings us into circumstances which causes human reasoning to say, "No, I cant do that; it would destroy me." So it was with Abram; the Lord told him to leave his country, kindred, and home. He had to leave every person he loved. To obey, he had to give up everything and leave, not even knowing where he was to go. HEB 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." That was a trial of faith, and by faith Abram obeyed.
It was by the exercise of this God-given faith that Abram obeyed when he was called to go out from his country and his people. It was Abrams obedience of faith that resulted in his becoming the father of the faithful. Those circumstances came against all human reasoning. If the Lord loves you, He will break down every idol in your heart. The first one to go is often the ugly monster, Self (which comes from GEN 3 to become as god). Instead, we will become humble beggars before the throne of grace. We will know we are unworthy without any right or title to anything. After our idols are gone, we can walk in the footsteps of our Saviour in the way of obedience. Therein is the trial of our faith.
As we pointed out, the distinction between faith and unbelief is obedience. Abram "obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." That is not walking by sight, but by faith! If he had needed or demanded a visible conception of where he was going, he would have been walking by sight, not faith. He walked, obediently, not knowing where the Lord would lead him.
Genesis 12:1 does not tell of the Lords appearance unto Abraham. Nothing says how the Lord appeared unto Abram. Instead GEN 12:1 says, "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fathers house, unto a land that I will shew thee." We do not have a complete revelation of what happened or how the Lord spoke to Abram.
Stephen in ACT 7:2-3 clarifies this. "And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee." Here we see that the Lord had revealed Himself unto Abram as the God of glory. We can now see what moved Abram to obey. It was not just a notion he had.
This "God of glory" was in vivid contrast to the "other gods" mentioned in JOS 24:2, clarifying the significance of Abrams call. His call was to stop serving idols and serve the God of glory. Whom do we serve? That is the distinction between Gods true people and the borderline Christians. Remember Orpah was on the border between serving the living God and the idols of Moab when she had to make her decision. She was unwilling to give up her idols.
When we come to the border of serving the Lord, we cannot serve the Lord and the idols of our own heart. We must be able to crucify the old man of sin and everything that pertains to the desires of our heart. We must be able to give that all up. Idols must be removed to serve the God of glory.
This title, "The God of glory," is a kingly title which points to an entrance into a new service in the kingdom of God. The Saviour began the gospel saying, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," MAT 4:17. Enter into that kingdom today! How? We enter His kingdom by entering into His service. The God of glory appeared unto Abram, and he could no longer serve idols.
We see in PSA 24:3-10, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? [Who will be the Friend of God?] He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in."
That is where we find salvation, my friends. When we are able to open up those gates, the doors of our hearts, and the service of our God becomes our highest priority. Then the King of glory shall come in." Who is the king? The king is the one you serve.
Verses 8-10 continue, "Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah."
When the Lord sits upon the throne of your heart, you must serve Him. All other idols must be banished. You must not serve any thing or anyone that exalts the flesh. Things that make us feel good are not necessarily of the Lord, but often are things of this world. Everything of the flesh must be cut down.
The scattering of the nations at Babel was followed closely by the call of Abram to be the father of a divinely governed nation, a nation walking under the government of the Lord. That call was one to come out from the service of idols and come into the exclusive service of the Lord.
This call which God gave Abram in GEN 12:1, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fathers house, unto a land that I will shew thee," was a call which demanded absolute confidence in, and obedience to, the authority of the Word of Jehovah.
HEB 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." Abram obeyed, but he also believed. He went forth as an act of faith. He went with total confidence.
What is faith? First, it is to believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder. HEB 11:6 tells us, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
The calling of Abram, who is referred to by the apostle Paul in ROM 4:11 as "...the father of all them that believe," illustrates the heavenly calling of all Gods dear children who walk by faith and live as pilgrims and strangers on this earth. The call of Abram to come out from among those who serve idols comes to Gods dear children. That same call comes to you and me. You and I each have idols by nature; we have big things in our hearts that hold our affections. These must be put down.
The call of Abram to come out from among those who serve idols comes to all Gods dear children as we see in 2CO 6:16-18, "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our hearts, it means that we, personally, become the temples of the Holy Spirit. We cannot serve things of the flesh and God. The message of the gospel is a message of serving the Lord. There is no such thing as saying you are saved and serving the world.
How do we know God is in us? We know by our walk of life! It is shown in our attitude toward the "God of all glory" and the authority of His Word, which commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Does the walk, the footsteps of Christ, reveal itself in our walk of life. We must know who our God is. It is that which is our highest affection. A person can make a god out of any trifling thing: friends, money, position, family, or anything. It means coming out from these things and being separate. You cannot serve idols and be friends with those who are serving idols and continue to serve God. He must hold the highest place in our hearts. This is what the Word means by coming out from among them even if it means being all alone. God called Abram alone, "...be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
That message means we cannot serve two masters. We must come out from among the unclean. It was already in Gods leading of Abram, the father of the nation of Israel, that we see the truth of what God told Balaam. Now I want you to see something very important. What did God tell Balaam? In NUM 23:21 we read, "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them."
What does it mean that He did not behold the iniquity of Jacob? Many of Abrams shortcomings are recorded in the Old Testament, but not one of them is recorded in the New Testament. Why? God does not remember our shortcomings. Often we must come before the Lord to confess our guilt and foolishness. We cannot raise our eyes. Asaph said in PSA 73:22, "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee." However, in the New Testament, there is not one mention made of Abrams sin, although we see it in the Old Testament.
It was already in Gods leading of Abram, the father of the nation of Israel, that we see the truth of what God told Balaam in NUM 23:21. "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them." Who was Jacob? He was a trickster, liar, and cheat; he supplanted. He was a wretch, but the Lord said he had not beheld iniquity in Jacob. Was Israel perverse? Oh, yes. They were a perverse nation. Why did the Lord so behold them? When the Lord looks upon the Lord Jesus Christ and you and me, then all of our sins are cast behind His back in the sea of everlasting forgetfulness.
One time, I committed such a foolish thing. I couldnt raise my eyes to the Lord. Then the Lord showed me He had pardoned that sin. A week later I began again praying about the foolishness. The Lord stopped me like a thunderbolt. The first thing the Lord showed me was if He put that sin behind His back and covered it with Jesus precious blood, then I could never raise it again. It was gone. This is what we see with Abram. All his foolishness and guilt was covered in Christs perfect satisfaction. Now the Lord can say He does not behold iniquity in Jacob. If the Lord has forgiven us, we may not raise that sin before Him again. When we are passed from death unto a newness of life in Christ, we have come into a new service. We are no longer serving idols or self. Now we see "the shout of a king is among (us)."
HEB 11:8 speaks of Abrahams obedience, but no mention is made in the New Testament of his failures and disobedience. Lets look at GEN 12:10, "And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land." Why didnt he stay in Canaan and trust his God? Why did he flee to Egypt? Do you see his weakness? This is never mentioned in the New Testament; it is all covered in Christ. Next Abram does another foolish thing in GEN 12:11-12. "And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive."
There is the father of the faithful, the man with such faith, but look how foolish he is. He is trying to tempt the Egyptians to take his wife innocently. Why? Didnt he trust God? He had followed his God from his native land to the land of Canaan. I want you to see how Abram acted foolish so often, but no mention is made of this in the New Testament. Why? It is because the Lord says He does not behold iniquity in Jacob, the heir of the promise God made to Abram.
We must not look at Abram as a pattern for our walk of life as though he had no sin. Oh, that man had many grievous sins, but the Lord forgave them. The Lord chose Abram and brought him to the place where he would stop serving idols. Through the process of sanctification, conversion was worked in his heart. Abraham needed conversion to continue working in his life; he had the work of regeneration after the Lord had called him. By faith Abram followed the Lord, but, in a progressive manner, the Lord was still working conversion in Abraham.
Still another example of Abrams lack of faith is recorded in GEN 11:31. "And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his sons son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abrams wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there." Was that the obedience of faith? The Lord had told Abram to leave his father, kindred, and friends, but he tried to take everybody along with him. So often that is our reaction; we want to take the familiar and those close to us along. We want to take our idols with us to the Promised Land, which is what Abram tried to do.
Abram "came unto Haran, and dwelt there." Where was that? It was at the border of Canaan! He came near the border and stopped, like a borderline Christian. He was not yet able to give up everything involved in the serving of idols; it was not yet possible for Abram of himself to give over all those things of the flesh. What happened at Haran? The name of Abrams father, "Terah," means "delay." Abram allowed this delay to drag him down; Abram dwelt at Haran at least five years. How did the Lord wean him from this delay? His father, Terah, died. He was removed from Abrams life; the Lord would not allow the hindrance any longer. Haran was the point where caravans left the Euphrates to strike across the desert into Canaan. Abrams obedience of faith was not complete at first, but the New Testament doesnt mention that; it says that by faith, Abraham obeyed. His sin is not mentioned.
We see from ISA 51:2 that God called Abram "alone," yet at first he took his nephew Lot and his father along. They became a hindrance to him; he insisted upon keeping things of the flesh with him. It is so normal to have close ties to ones parents, but that tie had to be cut because the Lord wanted him to walk in obedience to the Lord.
Gods command was not grievous. God said to Abram, "Get thee out," and we see the fruits of Gods grace in Abram spoken of in 1JO 5:2-4. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous [or burdensome]. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
When we are able to cut all fleshly ties, we can walk unconditionally in the Word of the Lord. Then we know we love the children of God. The Lord has no pleasure in our service if it is done grudgingly. If we serve the Lord out of compulsion, the Lord has no pleasure in it. We must serve Him out of a motive of love. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." What is our faith? It is the exercise whereby we come into absolute, unconditional surrender to the will of God.
Did you ever consider the idea that the Lords commandments are seldom accompanied with reasons? The Lord does not tell us to do certain things and then add His reasoning. Why? We are not to walk by sight, but we are to walk by faith. The Lord does not give us reasons when He commands us, but those commandments are often accompanied with promises of reward. HEB 11:6 explains, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek out His will. That is the meaning of the phrase, "diligently seek him." When the Lord commands us to do something, then in most cases, there is a promise to follow. Why? The exercise of faith takes place with the eye on the reward.
HEB 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." Going on to Chapter 12, we read of Gods command and His promise of a great reward. GEN 12:1-3 says, "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fathers house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation [Notice the rich promises held forth as the object of his obedience of faith.], and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
Abram received rich and great promises, but he went not knowing where he would go. The Lord did not give him any details or even that Canaan would be his inheritance. Verse 4 tells us, "So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him." Abram acted upon the revealed will of God with the promise as the reward. Abram was not only to receive a blessing, but his obedience was to become the channel through which others would be blessed.
GEN 12:2-4 gives the promise, "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him."
Through the seed of Abraham "shall all families of the earth be blessed." Who is the seed of Abraham? GAL 3:16 says, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds [plural], as of many; but as of one [singular], And to thy seed, which is Christ." The Lord had promised that Abrams seed would be the coming Messiah. Now Abram was to go forward.
It was not until after the death of Terah, i.e., delay, which is the meaning of the name Terah, that Abram came out of Haran. The Lord had to cut off everything that caused Abram to drag his feet. ACT 7:4 says, "Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran [which is the Greek word for Haran]: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell." After Terah died, all delays ceased, and the Lord led Abram to a place of rest.
So it is with all the spiritual children of Abraham; as long as they want to be borderline Christians, they will never enter the Promised Land. As long as we are attached to Terah, those things of the flesh, we will never know the liberty in the Lord. Liberty from what? It is liberty from confusion. We will live in confusion until we are able to cut every idol that comes against the will of God. When we are able to cut off the idols, we do it because the Lord gives us the grace to do so. Then we are able to serve the Lord in the land of peace.
GAL 6:14-16 says, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ [We are to take up our cross daily to follow Him.], by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. [That was what happened to Abraham at Haran where the fleshly ties were broken.] For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision [the ceremonial circumcision in the flesh] availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. [That is where grace reveals itself, in the desire to do the will of God.] And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." Do you understand that it is a persons walk of life according to this rule that will lead to peace? Do we want peace in our heart, in our home, and with God? Then we must walk according to His rule.
Haran was on the border of the Promised Land, i.e., the crossing point of the great River Euphrates. It was the point where Abram had to cut off everything of the flesh to enter the land of peace.
GEN 15:18 says, "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates." The Euphrates was the boundary, the borderline. When Abram obeyed, he entered the land of peace. As long as Abram remained with Terah at Haran, as long as he delayed, unable to leave his idols, he was but a borderline Christian. He had not yet entered the peace of God or peace for his soul. He was halting between two opinions.
Here we see the distinction between Terah and Abram is the same as we see between Orpah and Ruth at the border of Judah. RTH 1:14-15 tells us, "And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law." Orpah followed Ruth and Naomi until she came to the very border, the final place of the cutting off of the flesh. What happened? She kissed her mother-in-law and Ruth good-bye and returned to her gods and ways. It is a trial of faith. Who will we serve?
Who will we serve when we come to the border? The Lord will lead us to our own border where we must cut off the flesh. We must cut off everything that pleases the flesh, denying ourselves as we take up our cross to follow Christ. We can be like Orpah and return to our old self, or we can, with Gods grace, follow the Lord.
Our Lord wants a heart religion. He says in PRO 23:26, "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways." Have you ever tried to entertain a friendship with people whose heart is not with you? It doesnt work. You can be as nice as possible, but they will only tolerate you until they are able to sever the friendship. Do you think the Lord wants us to walk with Him if our heart is divided? If our heart still clings to idols and the things of the flesh, we will not understand the peace of God. It is not possible. The Lord our God is a jealous God, and He will not accept a divided heart.
Lets read PSA 12:1-2. "Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak." A double heart is one that can be nice to your face and stab you in the back. The Lord has no pleasure in that kind of company. We cannot have the fellowship of Christ as long as our hearts are divided and cleaving to the things of this world.
God the Father can only be pleased with those who worship Him in the Spirit of Christ. That Spirit of Christ means total, unconditional surrender. JOH 4:23 says, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him." We cannot worship God in the right spirit if our hearts have not cut off the things of this life.
When King Saul was rejected as king, Samuel told him in 1-SA 13:14, "But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept
that which the LORD commanded thee." The Lord had no pleasure in King Saul because he had a divided heart; the Lord sought out a man after His own heart . How does the Lord know if our hearts are with Him? It shows if one has a holy reverence for His Word and will; it is manifested in total, unconditional surrender to the will of God. Saul had not surrendered to Gods will; he would not obey. He was not a man after Gods own heart.
David, the man after Gods own heart, said in PSA 9:1-2, "I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High." The Lord finds acceptable worship when it comes from ones whole heart.
The love between Christ and His bride is illustrated by the intimacy and affection which occurs between a husband and wife. The most intimate relationship between a husband and wife reflects the love union between Christ and His church. The apostle Paul had many rich experiences, but he could not rest short of this intimate relationship with Christ. Paul was not content with his experiences; he wanted the immediate, blessed presence of Christ.
PHI 3:8 says, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ."
Paul was able to cross the borderline and give up everything, including his most blessed experiences, to win Christ. The love between a man and his wife is mutual; the love between Christ and His church is mutual. See how Scripture, in SON 4:9-11, describes the mutual nature of the love between Christ and His bride when our hearts are totally dissolved in his will.
See how the Father was so glorified by the unconditional, humble obedience of His Son unto death, even the death of the cross. PHI 2:9-12 says, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Pauls desire was not selfish; Christ had already revealed Himself to and in Paul, but Paul had set out to win Christs heart and affections by seeking out and doing His will.
Christs heart is ravished by the love of His bride when her heart is dissolved in His will. King Solomon is portrayed as a type of Christ, as He speaks of His "spouse," in SON 4:9-10. "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!" It is the love one has for Christ, and if you love Him, you will keep His commandments. Our total, unconditional surrender to His will is so pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.
Our loving Saviour is constrained [moved upon irresistibly] with the true love of His "spouse." Our loving Saviour cannot resist the love of His bride, His church, because His love goes out to the love of those who love Him. If we love Him, we keep His commandments. To see what this means, turn to JOH 14:23. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Do we want the presence, love, and the nearness of our God? Then our will must be totally dissolved in the will of Christ. Read that again and notice what comes first.
We see how the Saviour is constrained by this love, the true love of His spouse as is evident from what He says to her in SON 6:5. "Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead." Love between Christ and His bride is mutual. See how she responds in SON 7:10-12, "I am my beloveds, and his desire is toward me. [Look at the blessing of walking in Gods favor.] Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves." Do you see the exchange of love between Christ and His bride? First, we must cross the border. All of the flesh must be crucified. Our heart must be totally dissolved in the will of God. When our love is expressed by our total, unconditional surrender to the Lord, the Lord is so glorified.
Nothing is more blessed than to know the Lord is pleased with our humble submission. We read in PHI 2:9-12 how the Father gave Jesus the place where He would sit above all principalities and powers, where every knee would bow before Him. His throne is above all thrones. Where is His throne? ISA 57:15 says, "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Do you realize all our Saviour has suffered and done to obtain salvation for you and me in order to have His place on the throne of our hearts? The place of the Saviors throne is our humble and contrite spirit; it is the place He purchased. He has redeemed us from all iniquity, from all sin, to the end that He may find His throne. Satan and the ugly monster of Self must be dethroned. Then Christ can be enthroned upon our hearts. Amen.
These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.
We pray this sermon has been a blessing to those who read it. If you share this sermon with a friend, please let us know. Thank you.