“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children; and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing; I pray thee go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened unto the voice of Sarai.” Gen. 16:1, 2. This was the great mistake of Abraham’s life; but he learned a lesson from his mistake, and it was recorded to teach that lesson to all. In the first place, we should learn the folly of man’s trying to fulfill the promises of God. God had promised to Abraham an innumerable seed. When the promise was made, it was beyond all human possibility that Abraham should have a son by his wife, but he accepted the word of the Lord, and his faith was counted to him for righteousness. This in itself was evidence that the seed was not to be an ordinary seed, but that it was to be a seed of faith.
The fifteenth chapter of Genesis contains the first account of the covenant made with Abraham. “The word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not Abram; I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Notice the statement that God said that He Himself was Abraham’s reward. If we are Christ’s, then we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Heirs of what? — “Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” Rom. 8:17. The same inheritance is mentioned by the Psalmist: “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance.” Ps. 16:5. So here again we have a link to connect all God’s people with Abraham. Their hope is nothing else but the promise of God to him.
Everywhere Abraham went, he built an altar to the Lord. As you read this, remember that the promise that all nations should be blessed in Abraham, specified even families. The religion of Abraham was a family religion. The family altar was never neglected in his household. This is not an empty figure of speech, but comes from the practice of the fathers to whom the promise was made, and of which we are partakers if we are of their faith and practice. An Example for Parents: God said of Abraham, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (Gen. 18:19).
The Promise To Abraham: In studying this promise, two portions of Scripture must ever be kept in mind. The first is the words of Jesus: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:39, 46-47 NKJV). The only Scriptures in the days of Christ were the books now known as the Old Testament; these testify of Him. They were given for no other purpose. The Apostle Paul wrote that they are able to make men wise to salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15); and among those writings the books of Moses are specially pointed out by the Lord as revealing Him. He who reads the writings of Moses, and the entire Old Testament, with any other expectation than to find Christ, and the way of life through Him, will utterly fail of understanding them. His reading will be in vain.
Redemption means to buy back. And what is to be bought back? Evidently that which was lost; for that is what the Lord came to save. And what was lost? Man, for one thing; “for thus says the Lord: “You have sold yourselves for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money” (Isa. 52:3). What else was lost? Necessarily all that man had. And what was that? “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:26–28). This was man’s original dominion, but it was not retained. In the Epistle to the Hebrews we have these words of the Psalmist quoted in the following passage: — “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower [or, “for a little while lower”] than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower [or, “for a little while lower”] than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:5–9 NKJV & R.V.).
When the humble shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem were astonished by the shining of the glory of the Lord round about them, as they watched their flocks by night, their fears were quieted by the voice of the angel of the Lord, who said, “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2.10,11. The words, “good tidings,” are from the one Greek word which elsewhere is rendered “Gospel;” so that we might properly read the message of the angel thus: “Behold, I bring you the Gospel of great joy, which shall be to all people.” In that announcement to the shepherds we learn several important things. 1. That the Gospel is a message that brings joy. “The kingdom of God is . . . righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Christ is anointed “with the oil of gladness,” and He gives “the oil of joy for mourning.” 2. It is a message of salvation from sin. For before this time the same angels had foretold to Joseph the birth of this infant, and had said, “Thou shall call his name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1.21. 3. It is something which concerns everybody, —“which shall be to all people.” “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3.16. This is assurance enough for everybody.
Faith is produced by God's love for you. When you learn how much He loves you and believe it, this changes you! Therefore your faith in God or not, shows how much you love Him. Like any child who learns to love their earthly loving parents, their faith in their parents grow as they learn that their parents love them, if their parents take good care of them. The child’s faith in their parents is a product of their parents love for them, as their love for them grows. This is how it is with every soul, if they learn more and more of His love, their faith and trust in Him grows! Are you ready dear reader for your love and faith in God to grow? Then read on!
"Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Gal. 5:16. What a blessed promise! And as sure as it is blessed, to everyone who believes. Think of the lust of the flesh. How all-pervading it is! How stern are its dictates! How oppressive its rule! How dismal is the slavery that it lays upon man! Thank the Lord, there is deliverance. It is found in Christ Jesus and in the Spirit of our God. Rom. 7:25; 8:1,2.
"In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love." Gal. 5:6. With those who were in mind when this scripture was originally written, circumcision was everything, and it was everything simply because of what it represented. And what circumcision represented to those people was works and works only. It was the greatest of all works -- greater than creation itself -- because, as the rabbis put it, "So great is circumcision, that but for it the Holy One, blessed be He, would not have created the world." "It is as great as all the other commandments," "equivalent to all the commandments of the law." -- Farrar's "Life of Paul," chapter 22, para. 5, note; chapter 35, para 4, note. Yet this which to them was so great, the Lord sweeps away, as with a blast, in the words, "Circumcision is nothing," and in Christ Jesus, circumcision avails nothing. And, in view of what circumcision meant to them, this was simply to say that works are nothing and in Christ Jesus works avail nothing.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 KJV. The key here is that ‘He is faithful’. Who is faithful? God is faithful. Our salvation and all the good things now and forever depend on the love and faithfulness of God to keep His promises to us, to forgive us and to help cleanse us from all unrighteousness and to provide all the other gifts that He wants to give us.