THE GOSPEL DELIVERED UNTO ABRAHAM
BY: ELAINE COOK
THERE IS A PATTERN
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
BEFORE THE LAW
SAVED FROM SIN’S PENALTY
MAN’S FREE WILL
IT HASN’T WORKED
THE NEW TESTAMENT COVENANT
A NEW COVENANT
THERE IS A PATTERN
Recently I said to Bill, “You know, I’d like to teach the gospel like I now understand it after walking with the Lord for forty years and learning to know His nature. This watered-down mixture that is presently called the gospel is not entirely good news. “It seems the Spirit of the Lord must have put that desire upon my heart, for a few days later I awoke with these words resounding in my spirit: “The Gospel Delivered Unto Abraham.” When I inquired about this word, the Lord showed me it was the title of the next booklet I was to write. With His help, I shall set forth what the gospel means to me and what I believe the Word actually said before man watered it down and added his own interpretations and laws to it.
Being invited to speak to a new group this fall, I asked the Lord what was the most important thing in His eyes that He wanted His children to know. I was quite surprised that He answered, and was amazed at the simplicity of the answer. He said: The SEED and the LAND.” These two elements truly make up the gospel. They are the essence of the gospel delivered unto Abraham! Do you know this gospel? It really is good news, as the angels proclaimed it to be.
Every Christian knows that Abraham received a covenant from God — a word that brought him out of idolatry and took him on a journey seeking “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Paul calls this covenant or promise of God THE GOSPEL!
“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.“ Gal. 3:8
This gospel delivered unto Abraham has been a truth that has been obscured in most of church teachings, which have separated the Old Testament, saying it was “for the Jews” from the New which, they say, is “for the church.” Some are even discouraged from reading the O.T., as if it has no relevance to us in this day. I declare unto you that the Lord laid down the pattern — His blueprint — in the ancient writings. His truths, His plan and purpose for mankind is all there, written upon the lives of men of flesh and blood as we are. I Cor. 10:11 (Phillips) tells us: “Now these things which happened to our ancestors are illustrations (or examples) of the way in which God works, and they were written down to be a warning to us who are living in the final days of the present order.”
The lives of God’s family, His “congregation in the wilderness” have been looked upon simply as the history of Israel and as Bible stories which are told and retold and never seen for what they really are. They are shadows — patterns — figures — examples — symbols — similitudes — parables — models — copies of what the reality of the SEED and the LAND shall be in their spiritual reality.
To be able to discern what the true gospel is, we must be prepared to look at the original – the gospel that was first delivered unto Abraham!
This mighty gospel is so high, so wide, and so broad that it cannot be given to man all at once. It is given by stages as he learns to walk in it. The covenant and the promises that God gave to Abraham were what Paul called the gospel, for they consisted of the good news of the SEED and the LAND. The word “gospel” comes from the Old English “god-spel “. It means “the good news concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation.”
Here are the first words of the gospel spoken to Abram: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee. “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Gen. 12:1-3
Now, if you had believed that Abram was a good man who was given these mighty promises because he loved the Lord, let me state that Abram’s family “served other gods” (Joshua 24:2). I heard of a college professor who taught a course in Religion using this fact as a reason why we should be “tolerant” of all religions and not claim that any one of them is the “truth “. The scripture is clear that Abram was a heathen and was called out of idolatry by the Lord. That is the first instance of the gospel of grace.
Abram had done nothing to make himself worthy to receive God’s blessing. It was given to him through grace — God’s unmerited, undeserved favor. It was nothing that he did that qualified him for this blessing. And he didn’t “choose” to serve the Lord, nor did he “make a decision for Christ.“ None of those things happened that we have come to associate with the gospel!
The Lord simply called him and he obeyed. The Lord‘s word was: “Get thee out ….“, and Abram obeyed, little by little, as the Lord enabled him and gave him understanding.
Compare this simple, basic scenario to the gospel as we know it today. Were we, before the Lord called us, heathen and idolaters? These may seem like harsh words, but a heathen is an “unlightened” person and until we know Christ personally, we are certainly unenlightened and caught in the idolatry of self-love. It would seem that we qualify, for Paul says, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed — sanctified — justified in the name of the Lord Jesus.“ I Cor. 6:11
What did the Lord speak to our hearts when He called us? Did He tell us “Get thee out… ?” If we heard the true gospel, we heard a word of both grace and truth. There is grace (undeserved favor) in the promise, the New Covenant “I will”, which said, “I will show thee a land. (“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God“– the land)
“I will make thee fruitful, I will bless thee.” (“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3:5) This fruitfulness refers to the seed of Christ coming forth in us — the life of that new creation Man!
There is truth in the separating word, “Get thee out. “ Abram’s obedience to this word proved that he believed it. This promise was the gospel. Paul, speaking of it, says that in it, “The gospel was preached unto Abram.“ Gal. 3:8
The true gospel is — now hear it! — a promise of God, a report concerning future glory and an inheritance. It is definitely not a question of where you will go when you die, but of the life that you will live while you’re here! The price has been paid for every man to walk with God and it is God’s will that he should do so.
Is He able to fulfill His will? The whole New Covenant, the gospel, is a belief in the Lord’s promises — that what He wills to do, He shall surely perform! Tim. 2:3-6 (Phillips) states this very plainly. “In the sight of God our Savior this is undoubtedly the right way to pray; for his purpose is that all men should be saved and come to know the truth. For there is only one God, and only one intermediary between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. He gave himself as a ransom for all men –an act of redemption which stands at all times as a witness to what he is.”
The work of reconciliation has all been done! There is nothing more that needs to be done. The finished, completed work of reconciliation should be the basis of the invitation to the sinner to be reconciled to God. Today’s modern “gospel” puts it the other way around. Preachers invite sinners to repentance and obedience in order that the work of reconciliation may be accomplished As Paul teaches it, we could say, “Tell the sinner that the work of reconciliation IS DONE. Therefore be ye reconciled to God!
The sinner is not redeemed because he repents, but he is called upon to repent because he has been redeemed!
This is indeed the glad tidings (the god-spel) of great joy “which shall be to all people.” It is God’s Word and faith alone is needed –not feelings, or works, or any such thing, but belief that takes God at His Word and rests on His unfailing “I will.”
The present-day gospel usually insists that a new convert join the denomination, attend its meetings, tithe faithfully, and keep himself “only unto their pastor” and none other, and keep the rules and regulations deemed essential by this particular group. One that was saved by grace and truth (hopefully), is now required to subject himself to church rules to keep his salvation. What a weariness to the flesh it becomes! In his day, Paul cried, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth… Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
Let’s look at the pattern — the blueprint again. What did Abram do as soon as he heard the gospel of grace and truth? He had faith that God would perform His will. “His part was to enter into the separating word; “Get thee out… He wasted no time in leaving religious Babylon (which means confusion), which was “his country” — the place where he lived when the Lord called him. Abram lived in Ur of the Chaldees. Chaldea is another name for Babylon, so he was called to leave Babylon!
This man of faith had to leave the place of reasoning by the carnal mind and learn to be led by the Spirit to that !and of promise — that realm of Spirit that is promised unto him. So “He went out, not knowing whither he went” Heb. 11:8. He learned to walk by faith. (I guarantee you won’t learn that in Babylon, because you are taught to follow a man rather than the Spirit of the Lord!)
I think that we must all admit that, once we come to the Lord, it takes us many long years and tribulations before we discern that we must leave Babylon! And while we are in its midst we are not encouraged to walk by faith. Rather, we are exhorted to put our confidence in the pastor to hear from God for us. There has been much abuse of God’s people in this respect. And, at last, when the word “Get thee out of thy country” is heard more loudly within than the many voices of Babylon, you are likely to be thrust out with many unkind accusations against your good name!
Next, you are called to be separated from your “kindred.” Some of the things we have to leave are outward; and some are more inward. The Lord took me to Phil. 3:4-6 and revealed “the kindred” that “men of faith” must leave behind.
Our “kindred” are the things that help us to have ‘confidence in the flesh.‘ Paul enumerated all his “kindred”: Circumcised — of the stock of Israel — of the tribe of Benjamin –an Hebrew of the Hebrews — a Pharisee — concerning zeal, persecuting the church — touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Oh, he had a lot of kindred! And what did he say of them? He counted them but dung that he might win Christ. He had embraced the grace of God and the truth of his promises and needed none of these things in order “to make some fair show in the flesh.” He knew he was called to leave it behind and to “Get thee out” from it! The church system agrees that you should separate from the “bad” things – the things of the world, but they have no comprehension of a separation from country, kindred or father’s house, for to them, all of these things seem good! They have never heard the gospel delivered unto Abraham.
Under today’s popular “gospel” we are encouraged to hold on to those things that “add to our stature” or make us feel better about ourselves! We still find some confidence in what our natural man can give us. If you will check the shelves of the “Gospel Book Stores” you will find them full of self-help books to improve your self-image and bind you ever more strongly to your “kindred,” – to anything that will give you more confidence in the flesh!
Here I will even go so far as to say that some who are strong in the Israel Identity message have refused to leave their “kindred” behind. Are they more spiritual because they come from the natural line of Israel? What could that natural birth offer them that would be greater than what the gospel of grace offers, which is His righteousness imparted unto them! Does one have to be an Israelite “after the flesh” to receive His righteousness? No! In fact, the only true children of Abraham that the Word declares are those who are born from above, from that new SEED, which is CHRIST. A flesh-Israelite or non-Israelite, profiteth nothing, “but a new creature” is what the gospel is all about!
Only the power of the indwelling spirit can cause us to leave our “kindred” and have “no confidence in the flesh.”
Thirdly, the separating word of the gospel calls us to leave our father’s house. This is probably the most difficult word of the whole call. Our father is the old adamic nature, even our “natural birth” and it is very strong. At first, we feel we can somehow “clean up” our old man and make him acceptable to enter into heavenly places. But God’s Word resists us steadfastly and blockades our way with this declaration: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God!”
Rom. 8:1-8 (Phillips) has this to say: “The truth is that no condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Christ Jesus. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ Jesus lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.
“The Law never succeeded in producing righteousness — the failure was always the weakness of human nature. But God has met this by sending his own Son to live in sinful human nature like ours. And, while Christ was dealing with sin, God condemned that sinful nature. Therefore we are able to meet the Law’s requirements, for we are living no longer by the dictates of our sinful nature, but in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit. The carnal man sees no further than carnal things. But the spiritual man is concerned with the things of the spirit. The former attitude means, bluntly, death: the latter means life and inward peace. And this is only to be expected, for the carnal attitude is inevitably opposed to the purpose of God, and neither can nor will follow his Law. Men who hold this attitude cannot possibly please God.”
Claude Allan, a precious man of God, had a vision in which he saw himself driving along the road with his father sitting beside him. His father started to sink down in the seat. Then he slumped over. When Claude observed this, he felt so happy inside. Then, as they continued on, his father slid off the seat and died. And then Claude was really rejoicing. This troubled him, for it seemed his reaction was quite uncaring. When he sought the Lord, He showed him that his natural father represented his “old man nature and the new man within was rejoicing at every evidence that the old man was expiring, for surely Christ had brought him to death on the cross!
The true gospel tells us to leave “our father’s house”, the nature of old Adam. Andrew Jukes says: “Like Abram of old, the spirit of faith in us endeavors to take with it into the land of promise the old man of our corrupt mind which has never truly known the call of God. But this old man, though ready to start for Canaan, never reaches it. It cares not to go so far. Nay, while it lives, even the elect, if he abides with it, cannot reach his destination.”
The scripture tells us plainly that Abram went only as ‘far as Charran and dwelt there until “the old man” died. He could make no further progress in the Spirit until he would walk in the new creation man, Christ, within, but when the old man, the adamic nature died, he set out for Canaan and got there without any delay.
The gospel does not tell us to try to “dress up” the old man so he will look good and be acceptable to God. It tells us he is dead and we are to live by that new Seed — that new nature — that new mind within! Have you heard this gospel? This is the true gospel first delivered unto Abraham! Can you begin to see it is a far greater gospel than one that says: “Now you are saved and going to heaven” and you put off all your joys until you reach “that happy land” in the sky.
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
We will start by saying what the gospel is not! It is not a choice between two places (heaven or hell); it is a choice between two seeds — two men — Adam or Christ!
The O.T. “blueprint” is full of allusions to these two seeds — the carnal and the spiritual. The scriptures start showing us the difference in the seeds through the lives of Ishmael and Isaac. One, born first, was a product of faith united with the Law (Abraham and Hagar).
Gal. 4:22-3l (Phillips) makes clear: “It is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave and one by the free woman. The child of the slave was born in the ordinary course of nature, but the child of the free woman was born in accordance with God’s promise. This can be regarded as an allegory.”
An “allegory” is a symbolic representation; emblem; a story made up to present ideas in a concrete, vivid way”).
“Here are the two agreements represented by the two women: the one from Mount Sinai bearing children into slavery, typified by Hagar (Mount Sinai being in Arabia, the land of the descendants of Ishmael, Hagar’s son), and corresponding to present-day Jerusalem — for the Jews are still, spiritually speaking, “slaves.” But the free woman typifies the heavenly Jerusalem, who is the mother of us all, and is spiritually “free ……. “
‘Now you, my brothers, are like Isaac, children born “by promise”. But just as in those far-off days the natural son persecuted the “spiritual” son, so it is today. Yet what is the scriptural instruction?
“Cast out the handmaid and her son: For the son of the handmaid shall not inherit
With the son of the free woman.”
“So then, my brothers, we are not to look upon ourselves as the sons of the slave woman but of the free, not sons of slavery under the Law but sons of freedom under grace.”
So many who have rejoiced in their “race, place, or face” have never seen this truth of the gospel! Only the seed of Christ, as typified by Isaac, is counted as THE SEED unto whom the promises are given… you cannot count all Israelites as the true Israel of God. Nor can all Abraham’s descendants be considered truly children of Abraham. The promise was that ‘in Isaac shall thy children be called.’ That means that it is not the natural descendants who are children of God, but that the children of the promise are to be considered truly Abraham’s children. Rom. 9:6-8.
That “seed of Isaac” are those who have been born from above, from THE SEED OF CHRIST! Believe the gospel! This is good news! It is both grace and truth!
Andrew Jukes, who wrote his masterpieces before the advent of the Laodicean Age, tells us clearly what the true, unadulterated gospel is. He says it is:
(1) a promise of God
(2) a report concerning future glory
(3) an inheritance
And, at no time are we told that these things can be ours only after we die. Abraham began to enter into them as soon as he heard them, just as we should do. But then, he had the assurance that he had received the righteousness of God by believing God’s Word to him — the gospel. I know that I believed that my sins were forgiven, but as for having the righteousness of God imputed unto me — nobody told me that was an integral part of this good news gospel. Not knowing this, I felt it would be presumptuous to claim that I was righteous through His righteousness.
After salvation I continued to think, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” In this mind-set, I had not fully embraced the gospel, and like thousands of other believers, I carried on my Christian life not-too-sure of my acceptance. If everything didn’t go right I would withdraw from fellowship with my Father from feelings of guilt or shame, which proves I was really counting on my performance — my works — to make me acceptable. At that point I had frustrated the grace of God and had, unknowingly, placed myself once again under the Law and must, through my own efforts, keep all the “do’s and don’ts” that I trust should insure my acceptance. In so doing, Jesus Christ the Savior has been set aside; His death has been in vain, for I am reconciled to God by “what I do” rather than through His Blood which redeemed me from all sin and from the sin nature.
Someone once asked Andrew Jukes what he thought was the greatest sin. His reply is very thought-provoking. He said, “It is the truth of God held Carnally.” Looking back on my own life, and the experiences of my friends, I see how true that word is. Could you believe I went for one whole year unable to face my Maker in prayer for myself? I would gladly pray for others, but I could not speak to the Lord personally, for I felt guilt and shame and felt unaccepted! What was my problem? Just what Bro. Jukes said. I had taken in a carnal, outward sense something that the Lord meant to be taken spiritually, and because it did not come to pass as I believed, I was disappointed both in God and in myself.
In another instance, Bill was sharing in a meeting about the coming of the New Day. One young woman got so excited and wanted to share. She said, “The Lord has been trying to tell me this, but I took it personally, as if it were something that was to happen in my life, and He has now told me that what Bill is saying is what He was trying to tell me. Again, she had been upset because it had not come to pass as she had believed it would. She too, had held the truth of God carnally and lost the peace of her acceptance in Him.
This summer, upon our return from Washington, we parked our trailer near a market-garden. In the morning we went to talk to the people and buy some produce. They were Mennonites, fine Christian people, so I felt free to mention the Lord in the way of how blessed we were to know Him. The lady solemnly agreed and answered, “Yes, it will all be worthwhile when we get to heaven.”
My heart was touched by that remark, because I could see that she was putting off enjoying her Christian life until she died. She had no idea that the true gospel said that she should have the life of Christ here and now! She could walk in the Spirit and search out that new land of promise — walk up and down in it and enjoy His presence walking with her. Standing there, I felt my hem so full of love for my Savior, and full of anticipation at the fulfillment of one after another of His promises in my life, that I was moved with compassion for her barrenness. I realized afresh that most of Christendom is standing in her shoes — putting off the promises of their inheritance until they die and go to heaven (as if it is all to happen over there).
That is a false gospel. You know, I have searched diligently both old and new covenants and I cannot find any place where Abram is warned that if he “doesn’t get it right”, he is going to hell. Nor do I see a place where he is promised heaven as a reward for believing the promise (the gospel). And, even more striking than this is the fact that Paul doesn’t use the word “hell” in any of his writings. If it is a basic teaching of the gospel, he should surely mention it many times. Actually, he reproved some with these words: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him; that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Gal 1:6-7. This concept of going to heaven and being saved from hell, is the only thing the lukewarm, Laodicean churches teach as the gospel. If does not fit the pattern of the gospel delivered unto Abraham, could it be another gospel?
I’ve asked many believers what their understanding of the gospel is, and unless they had been called out of Babylon and were taught of the Holy Spirit, their answers were all about being saved from some terrible place to go to some wonderful place when they die. People who believe this gospel are always ‘putting off’ enjoying their life with the Lord, always trying to maintain their “acceptance” with Him so that they will be sure to make it to heaven. They know nothing of the life of the seed of Christ that abides within, nor of the !and, that realm of spirit that is theirs to possess!
Carl Schwing says it so well: “Man weighs “progression” by the things he accomplishes rather than by what he becomes. Thus, the inventions of his hands have increased and excelled…as the nature of man and his desires have remained primitive and carnal Even the religion of man was conceived by natural thought, not by spiritual vision. Salvation became the path to a “heaven “… not to a life in the Spirit.
Now, when Abraham heard the good word of the gospel, “Get thee out of thy country (Babylon), and from thy kindred (self-works), and from thy father’s house (Adamic nature), unto a land (realm) that I will show thee, what was his reaction? What did he do? He did the same thing that we are called upon to do: “Abraham believed God…”
Then what did God say? He said, “… and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” You mean he didn’t have to promise to attend every meeting in the church, to tithe faithfully, and to read three chapters of the Bible every day? No! God counted him righteous by his faith, by believing His word unto him.
I like the way J. B. Phillips’ translation tells about this: “Well, if justification were by achievement Abraham could quite fairly be proud of what he achieved — but not, I am sure, proud before God. For what does the scripture say about him?
“And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.“ Now if man works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as a fair reward. But if man, irrespective of his work, has faith in him who justifies the sinful, then that man’s faith is counted as righteousness. This is the happy state of the man whom God accounts righteous, apart from his achievements, as David expresses it:
“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven
And whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin.” What does that mean to us today? It means that God is not holding you accountable for your sin. He said, in Isa. 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. And, in Isa. 44:22, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.”
The New Covenant confirms the word of the Old: “To wit, that God was in Christ, (there is the holy SEED), reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation, 2 Cor. 5:19.
Gary Sigler, in his booklet “Coming out of Condemnation” says, “The word impute means not held accountable, not charged.
Because of the Blood of Jesus, God is not holding us accountable for sin. Through faith in His Blood we are delivered from condemnation and guilt. I may feel like the lowest Christian alive, but God says, ‘When I look at you I see the Blood of Jesus.’
As long as you think that you must be justified by your conduct, as long as you think that your sin and habits continually separate you from God, you will never feel justified in His sight. You must see that the Blood of Jesus is the answer for the sin problem.
People that are born again have a heart-cry for God. They are looking for a way out of sin, but where they miss it is they try to get out by self effort, thinking that they have to some way make themselves conform to a certain standard to obtain God’s favor. This nullifies faith, puts them into the works of the flesh and self-righteousness. You can be a total failure, but you can cry unto God every day, ‘O God, the Blood of Jesus! Father, I am so thankful that Your Word says that You even justify the ungodly because of the Blood of Jesus.’
There have been times in my life before I knew this truth that I went for weeks in horrible depression because I never felt good enough or worthy enough to enjoy the sweet presence of God. I was trusting in my own conduct. I was hoping some way, some day I could become good enough to enjoy that close fellowship with my Father God. Oh, but how happy I was when I discovered that the Blood was enough to answer my sinful condition, that all I needed was faith in the Blood. I was justified, not because I deserved it, but because Jesus paid the price for it.
When I first heard this, it seemed too good to be true. We have a hard time believing God’s goodness. How could I be a failure every day, have habitual sins in my life and still enjoy the presence of God? Only through faith in the Blood of Jesus could I know freedom from condemnation. I was told by my teachers that my condition kept me from the presence of God. I was told that I had to live right and do right to enjoy God. This is putting the cart before the horse. If I learn the forgiveness and the cleansing of the Blood of Jesus, this will bring me into the enjoyment of the presence of God and will change my condition. Whenever I am in the presence of God, sin is never an issue. Even in Old Testament times, they were not saved because they were good, but because of the blood!” [End of quote]
Even the offerings the Israelites observed for 1500 years show us that the sin question was fully dealt with. There were two offerings for sin — one for the deeds and trespasses of sin, and one for the nature of sin. Too often we look, in hopelessness, at our deeds that are unworthy. But the Lord knows they are proceeding from the old man, the Adamic nature that was nailed to the cross with Him. We need to cease expecting good fruits from that source. Look unto the new man within, the true Seed that has come to abide, and start to live your life by Him.
If, at times, you seem to fail and the name or face of a person whom you have forgiven comes into mind, with accusations and distress, we ought to think, “That’s nothing. Jesus Christ has forgiven so-and-so through me, and therefore she is forgiven, no matter how I feel. That feeling is only the old thought-habit, and it will soon go away. I put it under the Blood of Jesus.” Then, I can bless that one in the name of the Lord and look for the changes that the Lord’s blessing will bring to pass in her. Until the new thought-habit of love (from our new man) becomes stronger than the old thought-habit of dislike, (from the old man), we must patiently correct each unloving thought that passes through our mind and replace it with a thought of love.
BEFORE THE LAW
The scriptures make it very clear that the promise, or gospel, was delivered unto Abraham 430 years before the Law was given. “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise (gospel, covenant) of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.“ Gal. 3: 17, 18
I’m sure we all know people who feel that if they keep the Ten Commandments that they are “right with God.” Not so, for the laws of God were not given to make us righteous, but to show us our sinful natures. We would not have known our condition unless the Law had been given to show us God’s righteous standards. Yes, we may be able to keep some of them, but will fail in the ones pertaining to relationships, particularly in loving the Lord with all our hearts. To keep them we need a new nature, the Seed of Christ, to come in and to change us.
The law, whether of Moses, or the rules of your local church, cannot make the gospel of no effect! A believer receives the righteousness of Christ when he believes the gospel, and if he doesn’t keep some church rule, it has no power to send him to hell as some would claim. The law is the perfect standard to be set up alongside of imperfect man that he may know how far he is out of the way, “that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God.”
I have a brother in the Lord who is as close to me as any brother in the flesh. I have watched as he strived with his carnal nature, always feeling he was unimportant and could never “measure up.” For the past few years, my brother has been feasting on the message of grace — the promise — that tells him that his salvation and his acceptance with God does not depend upon his works. It depends entirely upon what Jesus did.
I can testify with joy that he is now a different person – happy, positive, knowing his acceptance in God. He told me, “We have an identity crisis. We do not know who we are in God. Adam didn’t know anything else — he was just a part of God. When he sinned, then he became separated and became self-centered and man has had an identity problem ever since! Once we get our identity sorted out, we can get on with our life.”
I asked him how come it took so long for him to get hold of the fact that he was reconciled to God by Christ’s death on the cross. His answer was, “I didn’t really believe it. It just seemed too good to be true.” There you have it! We must believe this good news in order to know His imputed righteousness. Once we know we are fully reconciled and are in a loving relationship with our Father, then we can begin to be “saved by His life” as we daily walk with Him in the spirit. We find our joys are here — in His presence — not afar off
Without a doubt, Abraham was counted righteous simply by believing in the Seed that would come to be his Savior, and in the Land, the inheritance that would be his as a result of being justified by faith. If Abraham could embrace these mighty truths 430years before the Law came to define sin, why should we doubt our acceptance and our righteousness today? Why should we feel it still depends on what we do to keep it? We are told we are justified by faith when we receive Christ and then gradually the laws creep in that you have to keep in order to be assured of salvation. O Lord, deliver us! The Lord’s righteousness is not fully declared until He makes His creatures righteous with His own righteousness.
SAVED FROM SIN’S PENALTY?
The angels who comforted Joseph concerning the birth of Jesus had a message straight from the throne of God. Do you think we could believe what the angel said? He told Joseph why Jesus was to be born. Did he say, “For he shall save his people from going to hell?” No. The angel said, “… for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 2:2 1
Tradition teaches that Christ suffered as our substitute to save us from the penalty of sin. And that penalty, they say, is “hell.” They entreat people to come to Jesus so they won’t have to go to hell when they die. The scriptures are clear that the penalty of sin is d-e-a-t-h. That was the curse pronounced for partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Christ died, as our forerunner, to save us — not simply from the penalty of sin — but from sin itself. He did not die to save us from eternal death, for there is no such thing. He died to save us “out of death”, even that death realm that we walk in every day when we know not God.
Christ did not die that we might not die, but to deliver us out of a death in which we were already involved. He came to lift us out of our condition of death right here and now and bring us to a condition where we could walk m His life.
The question is not: “How shall a man’s sins be pardoned or how shall he escape the penalty of his sin?” The real question is: “How shall he change his nature from a ‘child of wrath’ to ‘a child of God?”‘ (Eph. 2:3) The answer is: by a new creation. Through that Seed of new life within, we are delivered “out of death” by the power of the eternal Spirit working within us. We find, in that spirit, power to die to that death realm which was all we knew in Adam, and to come alive to the realm of spirit and life which is in Christ. He gently leads us to that land which has been our inheritance from all Generations where we are “at home” with our Father in His realm!
MAN’S FREE WILL
“But,” some may chide me, “God made man with a free will to accept God’s love or to reject it, so that decision is here and now and it is a final choice.
I answer this objection with my own: the Bible teaches just the opposite! The term “man is a free moral agent” is not scriptural. You will not find it in the Bible. It is a theological expression, manufactured by man. Jer. 10:23 says, “I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Rom. 9:16 declares, “It is not of him that willeth or of him that runneth, but of GOD that showeth mercy.” The Lord takes full responsibility for man’s lost condition when He says, “No man CAN come unto Me, EXCEPT the Father which hath sent Me DRAW HIM.” Jn. 6:44
It couldn’t be any plainer. God refutes man’s traditions and says man has no free will at all. Man’s will is a slave to the flesh, and man, of his own “free will,” will never make a decision, for Christ. “Ye will NOT come to Me, that ye might have life.“ Jn. 5:40
Man is not saved by some mystical act of his own free will. He is saved by grace, the undeserved, unmerited favor of God who first gives him life and then imparts faith in his heart as a free gift. Saving faith is the gift of God, not an exercise of man’s “free will.” We are saved by a faith that is “not of ourselves” (lest any man should boast!) Once we are quickened, and receive the gift of life and faith, we find “… it is God who wroth in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.“ Phil. 2:13
IT HASN’T WORKED!
The in-pan, watered-down teaching that passes for “the gospel” in our day has proven to be a dismal failure. The worldly who looks at the Christian struggling to live for God and showing little joy or victory for his efforts, is not attracted to Christianity. There is a general malaise and disenchantment of the church system as it is. I find that people are looking for answers: answers of truth.
Some of man’s traditions have been self-defeating and have kept people in a state of continual uncertainty concerning their acceptance by God. We have traveled widely among God’s people and find that their single biggest problem is not sin. They desperately want to please the Lord! It is a sense of never “measuring up” to some standards that they have in their minds that will assure them of acceptance. They seem not to have heard that, as Abraham, when they believed God, He counted it unto them for righteousness. They don’t know they are “accepted in the beloved” through the finished work of Calvary. They feel they must add something to it, or have more victory over sin before they can hope to have fellowship with a holy God. They feel alienated from God and believe that His wrath must be toward them if their performance is not up to their expectations. They have never really heard the gospel that Paul preached!
God’s answer for sin is: “I will take out of you a stony heart and give you a heart of flesh and cause you to walk in My statutes!” The covenant is to Abraham and his Seed, which is Christ. If you have Christ, the Seed, the covenant will be kept in you! The only hope you have is Christ in you. In that Seed of God is everything that you need to manifest Him in your life! A kernel of corn has the complete program in it to bring it to fullness. All it needs is water and light. All you have to do is nourish the Seed! The very resurrection power is deposited in that Seed. It arises and pushes out everything of the old. The seed begins to grow through intimate fellowship with the Father.
God does not get angry with you when you manifest sin — how could you do anything else? He says, “I prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies (within you — e.g. lust, etc.).“ Eat the Bread of My Word and drink the Wine of My joy. In God there is no condemnation. When we’re enjoying God, sin is not a problem.
The first thing you learn to love is your self. When you learn that your wretched condition cannot keep you out of God’s presence, you will begin to grow and have victory over sin. He is not angry with you for what you are manifesting from Adam. He wants to encourage you to live by Him and look to your new man within rather than trying to get the old man to be “accepted.”
THE NEW TESTAMENT COVENANT
The Bible says of Paul that he was “separated unto the gospel of God.” And of this gospel, it says it was the one “which was long ago promised by the prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” That sounds like he was preaching the gospel that was first delivered unto Abraham –and if we could learn what that gospel is, we could learn what the true gospel is!
What does Paul say of the gospel? He says, “I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes it. I see in it God’s plan for making men right in His sight, a process begun and continued by their faith. For, as the scripture says: The righteous shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:16, 17 (Philips). Paul never makes reference to heaven or hell in his gospel.
The K.J. version says that in the gospel “is the righteousness of God revealed.” I believe every man on the street would acknowledge that, if there be a God, He would most certainly be righteous. The good news of the gospel then, is not simply that He is righteous, but that His righteousness is given to us as a free gift when we received the Seed — that spirit of Christ, by faith.
It is plain to see that mankind has been “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” “Alienated” means to “turn away in feeling or affection; make unfriendly, hostile, indifferent.” Bill and I say to each other, “If people could ever see how loving and caring the Lord is, there would not be one man who would not want to have Him for his Father!” And yet, man cannot know that because they have been “alienated and enemies in their minds by wicked works.”
The unclean works of the flesh that a natural man does because that is his nature, makes him feel guilty and ashamed. His conscience (which is not God!) will tell him that God is far from him and could never have anything to do with such a sinner as he is! Guilt may masquerade as the voice of the Lord to a Christian who is unsure of his acceptance with God. His teaching may be that God is full of wrath, ready to pour out upon the head of anyone who “misses it.” He has no idea that God has made a free gift of His righteousness to everyone that believeth — so that he is always accepted. God does not look upon his deeds or his old nature. He looks upon his new nature – Christ within him – and sees only His righteousness and is satisfied. And the believer is accepted in the Beloved.
Hear it in the scripture: “It was in Him that the full nature of God chose to live, and through Him God planned to reconcile to his own person everything on earth and everything in Heaven, making peace by virtue of Christ’s death on the cross.”
“And you yourselves, who were strangers to God, and, in fact, through the evil things you had done, his spiritual enemies, he has now reconciled through the death of Christ’s body on the cross, so that He might welcome you to his presence clean and pure, without blame or reproach.“ Col. 1:21, 21 (Phillips)
Paul goes on to say: “This reconciliation assumes that you maintain a firm position in the faith, and do not allow yourself to be shifted away from the hope of the gospel.“ Col. 1:23
Saint and sinner alike have been alienated from God in their minds by wicked works — they could not keep from sinning, and saw others sinning against them! Their minds turned away from God, concluding He was an impossible taskmaster who could never be pleased with them. But it was not true! It was not true in actuality — it was only in their minds!
The truth of the matter is that “(You) He reconciles by His body of flesh, through His death, to present you holy and flawless and unimpeachable in His sight…” Col. 1:22 (Concordant Literal N.T.) Now, this is the most important concept of the gospel — the good news! And we have, on the whole, missed it!
In very simple words, let me put it this way: man, because of his sinful deeds, felt that God was angry at him, so he turned away from him in his heart. To whom did he turn? To self. He made self his God! He would please himself since it was impossible to please God. This is the human condition.
What did God do? He did what He had planned to do before ever He had created man. He didn’t have to make a “Plan B” when man fell in the Garden, because He knew the outcome before it ever happened. “Plan A” remained in effect. That plan was: “… ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest (revealed) in these last times for you.“ I Pet. 1:20
What was it that was revealed? Simply, that Christ came into our place, our condition of death and sin and took it all to the cross. He crucified all that pertained to the old fallen nature — deeds and nature — and nailed it all to the cross. By this mighty act of love and condescension He reconciled us to God. Now, God sees us as righteous because Jesus gave us His righteousness as a free gift when He took our sin upon Him. This is such good news that many find it hard to believe that it could be true. Shouldn’t we have to do something to deserve this gift? Or do everything right to keep it?
The dispensation of the Law proved that man was incapable of living up to the righteousness of God’s nature. That is a settled fact. So, in God’s plan He provided a new nature — the Seed — for us so that we could walk in fellowship with Him and learn His loving ways. He first had to reconcile us back to Himself, and then give us His Life so that we could walk with Him and come into His image and likeness — fit offspring of the Majesty on High!
Put simply, it is thus: We are –“reconciled by His death””saved by His life” “Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us. Moreover, if he did that for us while we were sinners, now that we are men justified by the shedding of His blood, what reason have we to fear the wrath of God? If, while we were his enemies, Christ reconciled us to God by dying for us, surely now that we are reconciled we may be perfectly certain of our salvation through His living in us. Nor, I am sure, is this a matter of bare salvation — we may hold our heads high in the fight of God’s love because of the reconciliation which Christ has made.“ Rom. 5:8-11 (Phillips)
The King James puts it this way: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
What good news this is! “We see, then, that as one act of sin exposed the whole race of men to God’s judgment and condemnation, so one act of perfect righteousness presents all men freely acquitted in the sight of God. One man’s disobedience placed all men under the threat of condemnation, but one man’s obedience has the power to present all men righteous before God.” Rom. 5:17-19
Again, our test of whether these things be true or not, is to look at the gospel delivered unto Abraham. What does it say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.“ Rom. 4:3. The gospel couldn’t be any plainer than that!
The Lord gives you His righteousness — imputed (or credited) unto you — in order that you can be restored to fellowship with your Maker. Then He gives you His Spirit — His Life which will work His righteousness into your very nature. In fact, this happens as you learn to live your life by the new man within rather than the old man who was slain on the cross. Look at yourself in a new light — as a creation of God whom He plans to bring into the full expression of Himself. Now, that is good news!
A NEW COVENANT
In addition to Abraham, other prophets brought light on the gospel — the new covenant that God would make with His people. Jeremiah sheds great light on this subject, yet strangely, you will not hear these gracious words in any “gospel message.” But it is such good news that everyone should know it!
Jer. 31:31-34 says, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord.” That is, after the Law had done its work of convicting of sin and pointing to the need for a Savior. I list here the points of the new covenant separately for emphasis.
1. I will put my law in their inward parts.
2. I will write it in their hems.
3. I will be their God.
4, I will they shall be My people.
5. I will they shall all know Me from the least to the greatest.
6. I will forgive their iniquities.
7. I will remember their sins no more.
These seven “I Wills” of God declare in a nutshell the good news that He purposes for mankind. In case you thought this was just for the Old Testament because Jeremiah spoke it, it is repeated again in Hebrews 8:10-13. Paul repeats them all again when he is teaching the Jews about the new covenant that is now replacing the old “Thou shalt not… “ Now, it is God’s “I will” that is to be reckoned with what a changeover!
In Genesis 17: 2-8, God seven times repeats His “I will” to barren Abram: “I will make my covenant with thee, and I will multiply thee, and I will make thee exceeding fruitful; and I will make nations of thee, and I will establish my covenant with thy seed (Christ) after thee; and I will give to thy Seed the land wherein thou art a stranger, and I will be their God.” The Lord is making it clear that his covenant and the inheritance cannot be earned, or deserved, or snatched at by man’s strength, but it will simply be because “I will give it thee.”
The fullness of the gospel is not given to Abram when he is first called to follow the Lord. It is in following after Him, learning that not from self, not from any energy out of Hagar, shall he have fruit, that Seed of God that he longs after.
Andrew Jukes says, “God’s purpose is, out of the death of self, by His own power to bring forth a heavenly life; for He knows, if we know not, that the flesh profiteth nothing, and He would in our ruin show His resources. But without exception, though we are elect and chosen, — though through faith, righteous, — though we have stood beside the sacrifice, — though we talk about the cross, and profess to believe it, — yet have we not learned to distrust sense, and put away all fleshly hopes.
“The truth is on our lips, that by strength no man prevails, — that when we are weak, then are we strong, — that except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but that, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. As to our acceptance we may have learnt this: but as to our service, as to our fruitfulness, as to our obtaining Christ’s image, how few live in it! We cannot think that the death of our own strength, and of our own will, even when that will is to serve and please God, — that weakness, disappointment, failure, in self, — that this can be the right way, — this seems impossible.
“So we seek to live rather than to die and strive to call forth our own energies rather than to be patient at their dissolution. It is not till we have personally experienced the consequences of having seed by Hagar — till we have tried all we can do, and have heard God say that this fruit that is by the energy of the flesh is “a wild-ass man” and cannot be the heir, “for in Isaac shall the seed be called.”
Sarai speaks of the gospel dispensation when men of faith are to leave aside their schemes of obtaining the promise by doing rather than by dying. Ishmaels many may be brought forth, but Isaacs are not so born. The true gospel traces our pilgrimage through the receiving of the Seed of Christ — through dying to self, — unto the possession of the land of promise, that realm of Spirit for which we have so long yearned.
Just as our Father Abraham, at the outset of our journey we could not perceive the broad extent of this so-great salvation. At the first, we knew nothing of the death that would be required of us so that we might live by the life of that new Seed within. We had no idea that this Christ-Seed would so grow within us that Christ would, in His fullness, appear in our earthen vessels. We knew not that a life laid down, as an Isaac, would rise in a resurrection life not known hitherto.
We knew not the strength of God’s “I Will” to recreate us in a way we had never’ dreamed possible, bringing us into such an intimate, personal relationship with our Father that we may enter behind the veil into the Holiest of Holies and have sweet fellowship with Him there!
Ah, beloved! This is the true gospel! This is the gospel delivered unto Abraham! Settle for nothing less than this in your lives. Walk in all that “He wills” for you and possess both the SEED and the LAND as your inheritance!
As I was praying about writing this booklet, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to my heart, “This desire proceedeth forth from My Spirit, for I have opened thine eyes to see My Heart for My creation rather than to see only the fear that man knows from departing from Me. Not only do I desire My creation to return unto Me with all their hearts, but I desire to make them like Me.
“The first returning as from the ways of sin unto a forgiving Savior, leaves My people still in the relationship of a servant to his Master. This is necessary for a time that My people should learn righteousness and obedience unto Me. The Law served in this capacity, to be tutor and a governor to bring My people unto Myself.
But I am not satisfied, I am not fulfilled until that which I have brought forth has been made into My image and likeness. I would not have man continue to be subservient to me; I would have him to be like Me!
This vision have My people lost, and they have sunk into hopelessness and despair because they have not known My purposes for them. Tell Me: what father of you is content simply to have a son to serve him all the days of his life? Would he not desire that his son would be as he is — doing what he does — taking over the responsibilities of his life, doing all things as well as his father does them? Is it not this that brings honor and joy unto the father if this be true on the natural plane, how much truer is it on the spiritual plane?
I have not redeemed mankind from his sinful state simply so that he could be with Me after he dies. I have redeemed him that he might live always with Me — in this life and the next, reflecting and showing forth My nature and glory. Anything less than this is a travesty of My nature and My heart of love!”
GOSPEL DELIVERED UNTO ABRAHAM [Elaine Cook] 1