If you're a Christian today, you are blessed with a spectacular abundance of Christian content transmitted by Christian broadcasters, by publishers, Christian and secular, printing and distributing millions of books by Christian authors, and search engines that instantly take us to commentary and background formerly available to only the more disciplined seekers.
However, as a Christian, you're also kind of cursed by the availability and velocity of the above; error travels on the same paths as truth! And even if it's not error, per se, doctrines can be born on the charisma and doggedness of a single writer. Hal Lindsey, author of the compelling
"The Late Great Planet Earth" presented a synopsis of end time prophecy that served as The Interpretation of end time prophecy for a generation! If it's not totally truth, it's become a formidable obstacle to truthful revelation .
But thank goodness, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, despite our tendencies to trust in man. A truth that I feel He continues to bring me back to, that He might instruct me in, is how our Christian walk is to be spent in Abrahamic faith; looking for the promise- whatever that promise is in your life- to be fulfilled while the very passage of time testifies to the unlikelihood of it ever coming to pass. At least in the southern United States, the influence of the Baptist/ Protestant church is pretty strong. So much of the thrust of their teaching comes from the 4 gospels and Paul's epistles somewhat neglecting the fact that the human authors , through whom the Holy Spirit wrote, presumed the Old Testament to be the sum total of written scripture and had no idea that what they were authoring would be added to it; the apostles looked to the Old Testament writings as alive and teeming with new revelation while the Baptists, without articulating the idea, dismissed the Old Testament as superseded with the new and improved New Testament. So the importance of the Abrahamic covenant was minimized.
But in my life, it keeps coming up.
In John, when asked what was the work that we as believers, disciples ofChrist, worshippers of the one true God,were to do, Jesus answered," ...believe in the One Whom He has sent". He had just admonished them about being totally absorbed in toiling for the perishable. We have mistakenly taken that directive to mean that once we believe in Jesus as our savior, we're done. I would say in a day when billions around the earth are confessing Jesus as savior and Lord, there's not that much faith involved. It might have taken a great faith to walk to the front of the church, and publicly accept the Lords salvation from an eternity in hell. It might have taken a great faith to embrace the fact that the shed blood of this historic holy man could make a horribly stained sinner acceptable to God, but to walk in acceptance of salvation from hell is not a great test of faith- to preach it week after week as the sum total of Christian doctrine is silly. The writer of Hebrews says as much (Heb 5: 11-14,Heb 6: 1-2), where the readers of his epistle are chastised for not being receptive to new revelation as they had stagnated into requiring the milk of basic doctrine week after week rather than moving on to teaching and receiving the freshest revelation from the Holy Spirit. We are to grow constantly - from faith to faith and glory to glory so that when we see Him , we will be like Him( 1 John 3:2).
We become like Him in large part by walking in faith to obtain the promise. We know Abraham began with a desire in his heart to rule over a nation, largely composed of his progeny. His kingdom would begin in a foreign land outside of Ur. He trusted the Lord to take him there and show him. For 20 some years, Abraham not only did not have 10's of sons to begin this teeming kingdom, he owned no land! It didn't take a whole lot to have a kingdom in those days. As I read through Genesis, when Abraham can defeat 4 or 5 kings with some household servants, I'm guessing a kingdom could be like a neighborhood gang. But if you grew up in Ur, the king was more like an emperor ruling over a great land and a great people. I'm thinking Abraham's vision had to shrink to accommodate his abilities and his reality; he lived in a tent and had not the first child. That may describe about where you see yourself in relation to your dream, the promise of God that He placed in your heart seems farther away than ever after you have walked years with the Lord, hoping you were moving towards its fulfillment.
I believe reading the story of Abraham greatly helped Jesus in His time on earth. Jesus was not omniscient- his human brain was formed from a single cell like ours was. He was informed by experience and the whispering of the Holy Spirit; the latter probably much more than the rest of us. He had a great desire to rule- and the promise to Him was to rule over ALL nations. At the age of 30, He had not even greatly influenced one or two tribes ( Judah and Benjamin) much less the Davidic realm of the 12 tribes or the Solomonic expanse of much of the known world! So how did Satan tempt the future King of kings and Lord of lords? He was like , " Let's get this show on the road! Fly off the temple and show them a sign so that they'll make you their king, or hey, let's not waste any more time, just desert God, bow down to me, and I'll make your promise happen right now!" These things were tempting to a young man whose desire to rule was palpable- but He dealt with each fiery dart with the sword of the Spirit. He then walked in the Spirit and in obedience. In His three years of ministry, He barely could rule over 12 men. His followers were fickle and easily discouraged. It is part and parcel of our Abrahamic experience to come to the end of ourselves; as it describes in the book of Romans,
" human reason for hope being gone, he hoped in faith." Walking in this faith towards something on which your heart is set, teaches a patient endurance and steadfastness that our New Testament writers advised us to covet. When Abraham had done all and finally had the son, the child of promise, God instructed him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, which in those days was probably something if not routinely done, it was certainly not uncommon. When walking towards the promise, even after a lot of the glitter and allure has been knocked off of it, we have to completely give it up to God: for Him to define it - Abraham would long be away from this earth before he would see that the fulfillment of God's promise was so eternal, so spectacular in relation to whatever Abraham could have imagined, well, God just blew his mind I'm sure.
Jesus, so much better informed by the Holy Spirit, was guided by inner prophecies that He would be offered up, killed, and rise again; or that a grain of wheat must die before it can reproduce, or that His kingdom is from above and that his followers would not storm Pilate's stage to rescue their king.but I don't think any of this was easy for Jesus- so contrary were his desires and expectations to God's method of fulfilling them that the crisis in the Garden resulting in His sweating actual drops of blood, was the death of whatever self remained in Jesus. I don't suppose Jesus could be our High Priest if he didn't know that moment of horror of having no choice but to walk a path that every fiber of his humanity recoiled from- like Abraham raising his razor sharp knife to plunge it into the realization of all that he had depended on God for so many years, he also acting in obedience against all that his humanity held dear.
If you're reading this with any interest, you're probably someone who has not given up, but like myself, had no idea how grueling this covenant of trust can be. Abraham didn't have the books, the tapes, or the televised teachings of our gifted faith teachers, but he didn't waver. God is wanting to develop a people who will walk towards their specific promise as they die to their humanity and carnality along the way. To continue to believe in God's faithfulness and truthfulness when physical evidence is lacking, when all our yesterdays testify that the promises will NOT come to pass requires the death of all that would doubt, all that would fall into resentment, self pity, or despair; in short, the death of you that He might live within you. BUT!!, He'll give you the desires of your heart! Abraham has enjoyed a fulfillment of his dream so far beyond a neighborhood gang or a worldwide empire! He is the father of all who believe in the promise, who will one day comprise the eternal Kingdom of God! So let patience have its perfect work, and human reason for hope being gone, hope in faith and strengthen your body by giving glory to God!
He will not fail you!