|Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Acts 20:26-32.|
|Grass Roots Of The Church
by Emerson A. Wilson
Galatians 3:9 reads, So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. What did the writer mean when he wrote that we are "blessed with faithful Abraham"? What IS the blessing? What did God mean when He said to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, ...in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed?
Let's go find out. Turn with me to the Third Chapter of Acts. The lame man had just been healed, which gave Peter an opportunity to preach (to the literal Jews who were gathered at Jerusalem because of the Passover). I also want you to notice the CONTENT of the message, notice the words--coming from ole' rough and rugged Peter who was not renowned as what the world defined a learned or scholarly man (thus we know it was the Holy Ghost which spake through him):
The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Acts 3:13-26.So what was the blessing of Abraham? Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
I want to show you how a "religious" world is missing it. The greater percentage of our religious world FIGHTS holiness. That's right--they do NOT believe in living a HOLY life before God. They do not believe that you can be delivered FROM sin! They follow the teachings of Luther and Calvin which teach that Jesus saves IN sin, NOT FROM sin! The blessing that God promised through Abraham, HOWEVER, is that through Jesus Christ EVERY ONE of us can be turned FROM our sin and iniquity and SET FREE FROM it!
That is the GREATEST blessing that ANY family can have! Brother, what an awesome blessing for a family to have a loving Dad who has been TURNED FROM his sin, is living for Jesus and has the sweetness of the Holy Spirit directing his life! And to have a Godly Mother who finds, through the power of God, that she is delivered FROM her sin. The same is true with the children. What is the blessing? The blessing is turning every one of you FROM your iniquity and setting you FREE from sin!
That is only half of it though. What is the other half of the blessing? According to Galatians 3:14, it is That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. What was the blessing God had in mind when He prophesied that through Abraham all families of the earth shall be blessed? He sent the seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die, that through His death, burial and resurrection, we could be cleansed and purged from our iniquity. The second half of the blessing is that we can receive the very Spirit of God, the very Holy Ghost right in our heart and life so that we can live for Him. That is the blessing that God predestined to fall upon all families of the earth. If God had His way, there would not be a family short of it today.
Someone might say, "I'm afraid I can't make it." Romans 8:30 tells us, Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. That glorification is not a new body and it is not Heaven--it is having the glory of God, through the Holy Ghost, in your life right here. You are glorified through the Holy Spirit, and the glory of God shines in and out through your life right here in this present world.
So my friend, the blessing that was to come on all families through Abraham was the blessing that comes through Jesus Christ who was the seed of Abraham. That blessing was to turn a power loose to turn men from their iniquity. John 1:11-13 says, He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The other half of the gift was that He would give us, Thank God, the very Spirit of God to live in the cleansed temple. Oh, what a blessing God had in mind for all families of the earth to be blessed with.
Look To Abraham
Abraham counted it a high privilege to walk with God. He was a rich man and had a fine home. He lived in Ur of Chaldees, the most respected and highest civilized city on the face of the earth, a city of great commerce and wealth. But God appeared to him one day, telling him to come out and leave all that and walk with Him. Why did Abraham obey God? There had to be something forceful, something great. People are holding on to a whole lot less today, and will not walk with God.
Abraham counted it a great privilege to walk with God. First of all, he realized that he was a man, and that all the glory of man is transient. On every line, the glory of man is transient, or very undependable. Abraham wanted something everlasting.
Stephen, when he stood there that day and gave his testimony, kept on laying down the truth to the literal Jews until they smashed the stones upon his head and killed him. He said, in the 7th Chapter of Acts, Verses 2 and 3: ...Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia [Babylonia], 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. I want to encourage some of you who may not [yet] have this blessing today. I want you to look at the state that Abraham was in when God called him. Isn't it strange, but throughout the Bible, God took people who were discouraged, who felt that God would not have mercy on them, who felt they were too ugly or too lost for God to ever save them, and reminded them of Abraham?
Israel, the very seed of Abraham, had failed and rejected God, and when they finally woke up to their sad plight and turned back to God, unbelief struck their heart that God would never forgive them. So God had Isaiah tell them, 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. Isaiah 51:1,2.
What kind of condition was he in when God called him? Someone might say, "I'm in too bad a shape. God wouldn't deal with me." Well, look at Abraham. My friends, he belonged to a heathen family! The Grace of God begins to shine forth in the fact that the God of glory condescends to draw near and reveal Himself. To whom? Not to a fine, upright Jew, a person of good morals, or a person who had attempted to worship God. To whom did God appear through His Grace? To a person deep in sin, staunch in idolatry, and having no concern for the divine honor of God. There was nothing in Abraham to "deserve" God's notice of him!
Notice the sovereignty of God's Grace, singling Abraham out among many people. Some people feel that God would never speak to them. We have already made the statement that He directs and blesses only the seed of Abraham, but He still speaks to men and women outside the fold to bring them in. When He first spoke to Abraham, He was speaking to a man deep in sin, staunched in idolatry, and wrapped up in riches and worldly things. Down in the midst of several hundred thousand people, the God of Glory picked out a man severty-five years old, Abraham, to come out from his kindred and family to walk with Him. He promised to bless Abraham and that in him, all families of the earth were to be blessed.
A Complete Change
Do you know what happened? In my imagination, I can hear this conversation when Abraham went home for dinner that evening:
"Sarah, get your clothes together; we are moving."Now what do you think his wife thought of him? Well, she had faith too, and she lived like the Bible says for a wife to live: she looked to Abraham as lord over the household.
Abraham kept right on going, too, right into Canaan. He did not know where he was going, so after he got there, God said to him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. Genesis 13:14,15.
Today, it seems that so many people have so much trouble with this walk by faith. We are in a day and time when too many who go to the altar are not getting regenerated. There is an evidence to be seen in regeneration. If regeneration is really working in your heart, there will be a conversion, or a change. If there has not been a definite change, you have not been regenerated. The real evidence of regeneration is that you are converted or changed. Regeneration is a COMPLETE BREAK with the OLD LIFE, both inner and outer, which furnishes the proof of a new birth.
When a soul has been favored with a personal and real manisfestation of God (through the Holy Ghost), it is impossible for that soul to continue in the old manner of life. Brothers and Sisters, Abraham's life CHANGED. We have already clarified that he did not enjoy the experience of a New Testament salvation, yet he traveled by faith. He so traveled by faith that a move took place, and his life was just changed completely. It was changed from living in a mansion to a tent that could be picked up real quickly and moved somewhere else because God never left him long in one spot, showing us how we grow spiritually.
Too many people have stopped and built a house (put down roots) where God never intended for them to be. You need to tear down that house (pluck up those roots) and simplify--get a tent again, where you can get on the move as God speaks and directs. By this, we don't mean literally live out of a tent (but even so, it would be the thing to do if God so directed you, you know), but don't get so rooted and grounded in one place, spiritually, that God cannot move you to another. This is why so many of us NEVER grow spiritually--we get to a certain spot in our relationship with God and that's it. That's where we settle--that's our comfort zone and there's no budging us out of it. I say again, when a soul has been favored with a personal, real manisfestation of God (through the Holy Spirit's moving in his or her life), it is impossible that he or she should continue the old life. Why? A new object is before him (or her). Abraham was living out under the sun, moon and stars. His objective of life had been finance and pleasure, but after God moved on him and called him out, he had to follow God. The farther he followed God, the further he got away from the old life, the old home, the old acquaintances. Every day put him further and further away as he walked with God, so he had a new object, a new relationship, a new desire to fill his heart.
There must be a RADICAL change. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW creature: old things are passed away; behold, ALL things are become new. II Corinthians 5:17. I say, Abraham left the highest that man could attain to walk with God. What was the object of Abraham leaving Ur of Chaldees, the greatest city in Babylonia? Hebrews 11:10 is the answer to that question. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. He looked for it, and he died without ever finding it. He did not get into it until Jesus died on the cross, but you and I are come unto that city of the Living God, whose builder and maker is God, "the Church" of God (body of Christ).
We, Individually, Must Seek That City
Brethren, when you get real salvation, that city, "the Church", will hold a greater place in your life than it holds in too many people's lives who claim to be Christians. The house of God, "the Church" of the Living God, means no more to many who claim to be first-class Christians than nominal religion means to a so-called Christian out in the world. Brothers and Sisters, I am here to tell you, one of the marks of true salvation is that you will start looking for that city. You may have to go through ALL of Babylon (false religion) trying to find it, but if you are a true Christian, you are going to be searching for that city whose builder and maker is God. Why? When a person is "born again", they become a citizen of that city. They no longer belong to Babylon. They are a citizen of "the Church" of the Living God, the city of God. I dare say, any who have experienced this kind of salvation in which their hearts and minds have been changed and centered on following Jesus Christ, will be on the hunt for that city just exactly as Abraham was.
The Gospel call has never changed. It is STILL, "Get ye out!" One of the biggest falsities of religion today is to make men feel that they can have Christ and real salvation, and still live in the old places that they lived in when they were in sin. Brother, the first message of the Gospel is, "Get you out!" No, this does NOT mean abandon your family and walk away from those responsibilities--it means don't go to those old places that you used to go, don't do those things that you used to do, anymore! It may mean "get you out" from amongst the friends you used to have. The Gospel has NEVER changed, not one bit. Men may try to "modernize" the Gospel--THEY may lower the standards, but God does NOT change and sin is STILL sin!
God's communication is to solitary souls, did you know that? Isaiah 51:2 tells us, Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. God does not always call husband and wife to turn to Him. When He does, it may not be at the same time! He may speak to the husband when the wife feels no call whatsoever. He may speak to the wife when the husband feels no call. He may speak to one of the children when neither parent hears a call from God. God has dealt with solitary souls from the day of Abraham on. Before, He dealt with nations, but since Abraham, He deals with individuals. You, alone, must decide about your walk with God. 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. Philippians 2:12.
He Will Direct Your Paths
Abraham did not know whither he went. I want to touch on this because too many get hung up here. Friends, you cannot figure it ALL out BEFORE you start: then it would not be a life of faith. People want a "guarantee" of MATERIAL security--Abraham would have never gotten out of Ur of Chaldees if he had said, "Now Lord, I have to know which route I am going to take. I have to know where I am going, how long it is going to take me to get there, and what I have to live in when I get there." No Sir. He had to STEP OUT BY FAITH, not knowing where he was going or what he was going to be doing when he got there.
The devil works on the mind of the sinner yet, trying to get everything figured out: "How am I going to pay this debt? How am I going to work out this restitution? How am I going to straighten out this situation?" You have NOT heard the Gospel! The first message of the Gospel is to COME OUT, through repentance and confess and leave your sin. You must plead the blood of Jesus Christ, be cleansed by it, and stay there until the power of the Holy Ghost infiltrates and takes hold of your life. You then walk step by step with the Lord. The Bible tells us: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Proverbs 3:5-8.
If we go out as Abraham did, God will show us the next step. I want to show you that this is true. You are never going to see Holiness as long as you still live in sin. You have to get OUT of sin BEFORE you can see Holiness. Anybody who is wrong cannot see anything wrong in wrong and anybody who is in wrong cannot see anything right in right! You have to get out of Babylon (false religion) to really see the glory of "the Church".
A lot of people have the kind of faith that SUPPOSEDLY delights in the promises of God, but they have no delight in His commandments. Religion is full of that kind of people. THERE IS NO PROMISE FOR YOU, HOWEVER, UNTIL YOU KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS. You must COME OUT in order to see the promise, repent in order to feel mercy, and walk in the light so that you can be blessed. Do NOT let the devil deceive you!
Oh that we would be willing to WALK BY FAITH. What is faith? One step at a time, not knowing where God will lead, but sold out from the very beginning that where He leads, we will follow. Someone may say, "I think that is a terrible way to live, not knowing where you are going." Friend, many things of this earth are run that way!
When I got ready to go overseas, I was on a ship called the Marine Falcon. I had never been overseas in war before, and I was plenty nervous. One of the things that all of us wanted to know was, "Where are we going?" We thought the captain was lying when he told us the first two or three days, "I don't know, men." I thought, "What kind of government is this, heading out into the Pacific, not knowing where we are going?" Well, about the second or third day, the captain saw that we were getting nervous, so he told us, "Men, this is the way we operate. I just have commands to go longitude so-and-so and latitude so-and-so until I get to a certain point. When I get there, I will open a specific envelope with orders that will tell us where to go from there." We were going to Japan, Korea, and several other stops, but we did not know it until we reached a certain place FIRST. Once we got to that particular place, the captain came over the loudspeaker system and told us where we were headed.
Well? That is EXACTLY the way we walk with the Way Of Faith: "Get thee out...unto a land that I will shew thee." Some people feel that walking by faith is a hard walk, but it is the most blessed walk there could ever be. The best walk there is, to walk with God. Someone may say, "You do not know what will happen to you." Neither do you know when you DON'T walk with God, either! Yet Christians have a blessedness that God is our ever present help in time of need. Thank God, we do NOT have to plot our own course. All we have to do is to seek His face. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6.
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