When we look at our less-than-perfect faith today, what are we to learn? We know we believe. We know we have faith. We know we want to walk more faithfully than we do, but what we are we to conclude when we see ourselves — again — throwing our God and our neighbors “under the bus” while we selfishly and recklessly worship ourselves? I am fairly sure the story of Abraham and the words of Paul will be of great assistance to us today.
Abraham proves to be a man of great faith. When reading his life story, there are times when Abraham seems to stand head-and-shoulders above most worshipers. God commands him to leave his family, his country, his people and all that is comfortable to him. God then instructs him to travel to an undisclosed location, and faithfully Abraham believes God, forsakes his old life, and marches forward to the Land of Promise. Abraham hears, believes, trusts, and obeys. He has great faith and proves it by faithfully embarking on God’s new adventure for him. Upon arriving in Canaan, he finds it filled with kings and kingdoms. Questions are surely filling his mind. Surely he is tempted to doubt the wisdom of God, but God meets him again and tells him to stay the course. Again, Abraham hears, believes, trusts, and obeys. He has faith and faithfully pitches his tent at Bethel. He is a faithful worshiper of the God. However, in rehearsing Abraham’s life, it does not take us long to realize that Abraham has weak-knees. Like all worshipers on this side of heaven …
Abraham proves to be a man of great faithlessness. After following his Father’s direction, he finds his family in a land with too many people and too little food. It is at this point that he takes matters into his own hand. It is at this point that the man of faith, walks by sight, and has his first crisis of faith. The scriptural account does not expressly state the journey to Egypt was a faithless sin, but this author feels it is a definite step in the wrong direction. After leaving the chosen neighborhood, it does not take him and his wife long to regret this decision. However, if heading towards Egypt is not a faithless act, that which transpired in Egypt surely is. Upon arriving in the “not promised land,” Abraham leaves his wife in the hands of another. You see, a faithful worshiper and husband leaves and cleaves to his wife; they are one flesh. A good man honors and cherishes his bride. It is a faithful household leader who guards and protects his wife from all harm; he fights to the death for her safety and is willing to sacrifice all to present her spotless and blameless before God. This is what a faithful husband, patriarch, leader, and worshiper does, but this is not descriptive of Abraham. He thinks in accordance with his flesh. On this sad day, he is conformed to the world; the “old man” controls his thoughts. Consequently, filled with thoughts of self-protection and self-exaltation, Abraham coaches his bride to hide her marriage vows, take up residence in a lusty man’s brothel, and place herself as close to sexual fornication and adultery as possible. He encourages her to distrust God, trust in him, and plot and scheme in a faithless manner. And Abraham acts so faithlessly towards God and Sarah because he is most concerned with feeding his stomach and saving his skin. Throughout Abraham’s faith journey, there will be many more stumbles. He will sleep with Hagar, prefer Ishmael, and doubt God’s Word. Ouch! Such faithlessness from the man of faith. However, there is good news …
Abraham proves to have a faithful God. God remains faithful to the wayward couple despite their faithlessness to him. God hinders the lusty monarch, protects the abused wife, corrects the faithless patriarch, enriches the wayward couple, and puts them back on track towards enjoying and glorifying him. And in the end, God takes the faithless couple of faith, and further increases their gratitude, adoration, and faith.
Brothers and sisters in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy:
The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
Perhaps, the Apostle had Abraham’s faithlessness in mind; perhaps he had Timothy’s; perhaps he had his own. (For there has never been a perfectly faithful man of faith this side of Paradise.) It really does not matter, for the truth applies to all.
As Christians, we are people who have died with Jesus Christ. His sacrificial death takes the place of our spiritual death.
As Christians, we are people living with Jesus Christ. His holy life and his resurrected live are ours. We are alive in Christ Jesus, and we are set to live with him forever more.
As Christians, we are given the promise of endurance, and then we are given a promise based upon endurance. The Bible tells us that all in Christ Jesus will endure. It tells us he never loses one of his elect. All those who are being preserved, they will persevere to the end. All those foreordained, predestined, justified, and sanctified, they are irrevocably and immutably set for glorification. Therefore, all who have died with Christ, and all who live in Christ, and all who endure in Christ, they have a celestial destiny to reign with Christ.
As Christians, we are not to deny the Son. Believers have several telling signs; one such sign is they believe, they are not found amongst those who deny Jesus. This is the exact opposite of what we do. We are those who confess and profess him. And this is a blessing, for eternal denial is the lot of all who will not bow the knee, kiss the Son, and proclaim allegiance to him. This is not us.
As Christians, we will have many episodes of faithlessness. Biblical theology proves this to us. Just keep reading my friends. All our saints are sinners. Systematic theology proves this to us. Total Depravity is the condition of our fleshly nature; Paul lied not when he said, “I know that within me nothing good dwells.” Church history proves this to us. Many are the fallen in each and every generation. Personal history proves this to us. We were not faithful this last year. We want to be faithful this year, but we are a faithless fall — in some regard — waiting to happen. There is not a perfect man or woman reading this blog. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Tragically, we are like Peter before the servant girl at the fire. We are like David before Bathsheba and Uriah. We are like Moses before the rock. We are like Abraham before the king of Egypt. We are prone to wander; we are prone to leave the God we love.
As Christians, though we are faithless, God remains faithful. Faithfulness is a trait of God. He has never turned-back on any of his promises. And in regards to our salvation, his promise is conditioned upon the performance of Jesus Christ. The Father has sworn to save those redeemed by the Son. He has written their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life with permanent ink. The Son has sworn to save all those whom the Father will give. And the Spirit breathes regenerative life into all those foreordained by the Father and atoned for by the Son. They have plotted. They have covenanted. They have worked, and they are always successful. They are effective. They are irresistible. They are sovereign. They are batting one-hundred percent. They have never lost one, and never will they. They hymn is correct, “Great is THY faithfulness, O Lord my Father; there is no shadow of turning with THEE.” So friends, rejoice in the Gospel of Jesus and not the non-gospel of personal performance. Join with Abraham and Paul, and rejoice in the fact that even with we are faithless, God is faithful; he will not deny himself.
Now what? In the words of Dr. Harry Reeder, “Remember, repent, and recover!” Rejoice in this — faithfulness is a fruit of God. Therefore, let’s rejoice in what he is doing. Let’s be prodigals returning to the Father. Let’s hear God, believe God, trust God, and do the next right thing. Let’s confess our sins, forget our sins, forsake our sinful manner of living, and pray for a more faithful walk. Let’s enjoy walking in the righteousness of Christ, and pray more fervently to walk in the image of Christ. And then, tomorrow, let us be ready to preach the Gospel to ourselves again. Our scriptures are full of beloved men and women of God, who are faithless and double-minded. This is us. We are not odd. We are not apostate. We are children of promise, children of Abraham, faithless men and women of faith saved, secured, and sanctified by the Covenant-Keeping God of Grace.
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