Monday, January 4, 2016

"THE Covenant ... "

Day #4

Scripture Reading:  Genesis 12 - 15 ...

From the flood to the Tower of Babel the judgment of God upon mankind’s sin and rebellion is well-deserved.  Sin deserves judgment, indeed, EARNS judgment.  God is holy and just and cannot allow sin to go unpunished, either in this world or in the next.  Yet as God chose one man, Noah, and his family to continue the human race after the flood, God now chooses one man with whom to make a covenant that continues until this very day … Abraham. 

Genesis 12 - 15 forms the foundation for God's plan of salvation throughout the rest of the Bible ... throughout the rest of history, until the return of Jesus Christ.  Without these chapters the rest of the book of Genesis, the remainder of the Old Testament and the entire New Testament would be impossible to understand and to tie together.  Without these chapters and God's promises to Abraham, the wisdom and glory of a sovereign God who orders all things according to His plan cannot be seen in all their beauty.

The New Testament begins this way:  "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David, the son of Abraham ..." (Matthew 1:1).  If you don’t know who Abraham was or about God’s covenant with him or the promises God made to him and to his descendants you will find it impossible to understand the heart of the Gospel:  GRACE!!  The Apostle Paul explains the relationship of believers to God in his letter to the Galatians by saying, "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29).  What promise?  To understand the importance of God’s Covenant of Grace (as we have called it) with Abraham, we need to look at God’s call to Abraham and the promises He makes.

We call this covenant the "Covenant of GRACE" because it is God who initiates the covenant, it is God who makes the promises, and the promises are received by faith not by works.  It begins in Chapter 12 when God calls a man named, Abram and tells him to leave his country, his people and his father’s household and go to the land God will show him.  God then makes several promises to Abram:   "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (12:1-3).

God also promised to give the land of Canaan to Abram and his descendants:  “To your offspring I will give this land” (12:7).  Abram was 75 years old when he received God’s promises, but he and his wife Sarai (Sarah) had no children.  But God came to Abram again and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.”  Then He said, “So shall your offspring be” (15:5).  Then verse six:  “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”  Do not miss the significance of these words!  Abram believed God and God CREDITED Abram’s faith to him as righteousness … a righteousness that is received by faith!!

The entire New Testament and the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, the “seed of Abraham,” are based on this verse.  While all the other religions of the world teach that we must do enough good works to be good enough, to be righteous in God’s sight, the Bible teaches that there is another way, a new way, the only way to be righteous before the holy God who cannot look upon sin.  The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:21, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.”  He then goes on to say, “We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:9), and “It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith” (Romans 4:13).

Going to Paul’s letter to the Galatians we read, “So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:10).  In verse 16 of Galatians 3, Paul explains that the promises were spoken to Abraham and the inheritance of the land, the promise that God would be a God to him and to his descendants, the promise that his descendants would be as the stars of the sky and the sand of the seashore, and the promise that all nations would be blessed through him ... ALL of the promises would come through the "SEED" of Abraham – JESUS CHRIST, and would be received by faith!!

God chose Abram (father of a nation) ... Abram did not choose God.  God would later change his name to Abraham, (father of nations).  God was with Abraham and his descendants.  God promised to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation.  He promised to give them the land of Canaan.  He promised to bless all nations through the “Seed” of Abraham and He promised that He would be “their God” and they would be “His people.”  And once again, the key to the covenant God made with Abram, the key that opens the door into the very presence of God for all who believe, is the words found in Genesis 15, verse 6.   "Abram believed the LORD, and He (the LORD) credited it to him (Abram) as righteousness" (Verse 6).

"Credited it to him as righteousness!"  Abram wasn't righteous.  YOU aren't righteous.  I'm not righteous, but God's promise to Abram ... to Abraham and all who believe in the promised SEED of Abraham - JESUS - is that God "credits" righteousness to us (to all who believe His promise) by faith in Jesus.  Paul explains in Romans 4:16: "the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring - not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.  As it is written: 'I have made you a father of many nations'" (Romans 4:16-17).

By faith in Jesus believers are righteous before God and heirs of eternal life!  Understanding the Bible begins here.  Understanding God's plan in our world today revolves around God's fulfillment to the promises He made to Abraham, then to Isaac and to Jacob ... and in Jesus, to us!  Rejoice in the LORD and live daily to serve Him, knowing that by faith YOU are a member of THE Covenant!!

"Heavenly Father, Your wisdom and power are seen throughout all creation.  In Your covenant with Abraham You have revealed Your plan to gather a people to belong to You and to proclaim Your name to all the earth.  May we be found carrying out Your purpose as we proclaim the name of Jesus to all, rejoicing in being children of Abraham!  In Jesus' name, Amen    

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