The churches of our day are in a mess due to a missing principle in many professions of salvation. I call that missing principle the Abraham principle. Rom. 4:3: “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” When did this happen? Paul is quoting Gen. 15:6 (“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”) which occurred nine years after Abram entered the land of Canaan. Yet Heb. 11:8 states he left the Ur of the Chaldees by faith. (Heb. 11:8 “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”) That raises a question. What kind of faith did he have? One thing we know for sure, it was not saving faith.
In Rom. 4:12 the “steps of faith” Abraham walked are mentioned. What are these steps of faith? First, there has to be an intellectual faith that God is or exist. (Heb. 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”) For this faith to be imparted to a person there has to be a human instrument that proclaimed truth to them. Does not Rom. 10:14 state, “How shall they believe in him they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” This is God’s way. We do not know for sure who came and proclaimed truth to Abraham when he was in the Ur of the Chaldees. I believe it was Shem who lived several years into Abraham’s life. And when he believed God existed, the Lord spoke to him and told him to, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.” (Acts. 7:3)
James 2:20 states, “that faith without works is dead.” Therefore, intellectual faith worked a seeking faith in Abraham for Heb. 11:10 states, “He looked (seeking) for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.” Therefore, he left Ur but he did not do as the Lord said for he took his father and nephew with him and settled at Haran--which is still in his country. He may have stayed there as much as 32 years without the Lord speaking to him, at least it is not recorded if He did.
When Abraham was 75 years old, his father died and the Lord spoke to him again. “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee. (Gen. 12:1) He left the country but took Lot with him. Yet, the Lord was good to speak to him again when he entered Canaan land. “And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. (Gen. 12:7) This is the first time “thy seed” was mentioned and he did not fully understand. When a famine came, he went to Egypt and passed his wife off as his sister for fear of his life. The Lord caused Pharoah to send Abraham away. The Lord also caused the circumstance to arise that separated Lot from Abraham. (Gen. 13) And then the Lord enlarged the promise to him. Gen. 13:14-17: “And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from 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. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.”
During the first nine years in Canaan, Abraham made some mistakes, but he did some right things such a building altars and calling on the name of the Lord even though he was not yet saved. He trained 318 servants that were able to deliver Lot and his family from Chedorloamer who had captured Sodom. (Gen. 14) The main thing he did right was that he never went back to his homeland.
Therefore, the Lord spoke to him again, nine years after he entered Canaan, in Gen. 15:1: “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Abraham still did not understand the promise the Lord had told him. One cannot believe something they do not understand. So the Lord explained who the seed was and granted him saving faith and Abraham was saved in Gen. 15:6 (“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”) nine years after entering Canaan. He had “walked the steps of faith”--intellectual faith leads to a seeking faith, which leads to a saving faith. I call this the Abraham principle which is missing in many professions of salvation.
1. The Lord taught this principle.
One day in John 8, the Lord Jesus was speaking to a group of Jews which included the Pharisees. After He revealed Himself as the light of the world (John 8:12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”) and told them the truth, the Bible says “many believed on him.” (John 8:30) The Lord who knew their heart knew that this principle was missing for He told them, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) The result was that these Jews who said they believed on the Lord, got angry and said, “We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” (John 8:33) They did not exercise seeking faith nor continue in His word and the result was that Jesus said in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil.”--they were not saved. Therefore, the Abraham principle was missing in their professions.
2. Paul experienced this principle.
When Paul, in Acts 7, heard Stephen preach and pray and watched him die, he was pricked in his heart. Paul already had intellectual faith--that God existed. And he immediately started doing what he knew to do--making havoc of the church. In doing this, he was seeking to find something to fill that emptiness and void inside. He thought he was doing right until he met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. The Lord revealed Himself to him that day but he was not saved until three days later on the street called Straight in Damascus. How do I know that? By Acts 22:16 when Ananius come and said “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16) His sins had not yet been washed away (by the way, this does not occur in the baptism water but by calling on the name of the Lord)--he was not saved until that point. What happened at that point? Saving faith was granted to him and Paul believed unto salvation. Paul experienced the Abraham principle in his salvation experience--walked the steps of faith--intellectual faith leads to seeking faith, which leads to saving faith.
3. We need to practice this principle.
Jesus taught this principle, Paul experienced it, and we need to practice it as we deal with others. For if we fail to practice it, we will short circuit the work of the Holy Spirit in sinners’ lives. And they will come up with a false profession due to the missing principle--the Abraham principle--in their lives and we will have their blood on our hands.
The Abraham principle is missing in many professions of salvation. This article just skims the surface of this truth. If you would like to have more information concerning this topic or any of the sub-topics contact us and we will be glad to send you either the article, tapes, or cds dealing with this principle. They are free for the asking. You can also find this material on our web-site www.the persuader.org. If we can be of help please let us know. We care.
THE PERSUADER - April-June, 2006