Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 17 – God’s Promise to Abram

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 24th June 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life has it preached in Mandarin with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 15

Failures of young people always begins from over-confidence. The psalmist said if God does not build the house, its builders labor in vain. Happiness contains danger. So young people with great talents and great ambition need to be careful or else they will be trapped. But many people take grace for granted and treat parents’ love and sacrifice as though they are the things they deserve. This is the way Lot treated Abram.

God started to speak a lot to Abram when Lot left. God did not let Lot have a part because he had chosen what he wanted. God did not allow Lot to hear His word. If we learn the sovereignty of God, we have to learn to think antithetically else we misinterpret the Bible because we are trapped the letters.

The Bible says that the letter kills but Spirit gives life. The Bible is full of paradoxes. We need to understand from its entirety. It is very hard to understand because it looks conflicting but essentially harmonious. We cannot understand using ordinary logic, like the truth about Trinity. But God use paradoxes to filter away the proud people. Here the sovereignty of God is demonstrated.

God spoke to Abram in a paradoxical way. Abram was old and God promised him a son. It is very difficult to follow God because we need to learn to see the unseen. But if we are impatient, we will follow God halfway and then do things our own way. When we complain and rebel saying God is not logical, we are idolizing our own mind and using it as a final judge.

God wears the mask of paradox and waits upon those who will obey Him. Abram was asked to leave a prosperous city. God promised to give him the land between the river of Egypt to the river of Euphrates, and the plain between these two rivers is called Mesopotamia. Meso means “in the middle” and potamia means “plain”, hence this refers to the plain in the middle of two rivers.

But he never had a son till this time. And God still said He would bless him. What was the use of blessing him when he had no descendant? But Abram believed in God.

Verse 6 says Abram believed in God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. Here is an important verse regarding man’s relationship with God. This is a key verse which the Apostle Paul used to explain justification through faith.

In the Scriptures, there are two key statements which express human’s relationship with God.

1. Sinners are justified by faith
2. After justification, the just shall live by faith

Hence we can see that it is salvation that is from faith to faith (Rom.1:17). And Hebrews 12:1-2 says that Christ is the Author and Perfected of our faith! The term “faith” appears 270 times in the New Testament and 99 times in the gospel of John. But the most comprehensive and concise statements about faith is written by the Apostle Paul, where he expounded on how sinners are justified through faith in Christ who took all our offences upon Himself.

This doctrine sparked reformation in the 16th century. Martin Luther summarized 5 Solas during the reformation: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone, no other supreme infallible authority), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone, not by works), Sola Fide (Faith Alone, not by human rationality), Solus Christus (Christ Alone, not by other saints or Mary) and Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone because all are from Him).

The Scripture speaks of how we grow from faith to faith. The first faith is basic faith in God’s existence, which is part of common grace. The next level of faith is saving grace, which is faith unto salvation. And the next level of faith is the faith that enables us to live a righteous life after we are made righteous, that is the faith that leads to obedience.

After Abram believed, God asked him to prepare sacrifices. This shows that Abram’s faith in God does not rest on empty ground, but unto Someone who would die human race. There is foundation to his faith which is not directed to empty space, but to Jesus Christ. God revealed step by step, and led Abram to abundance. At that time, Abram did not understand fully but progressively God reveal to His people His plan of salvation, and finally we understand that all the sacrifices point to Jesus Christ. This is God’s progressive revelation in history.


At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mejlina,
Did you intentionally modify the posting date?
It can't be that you posted this on July 2nd.
When I checked several days back, this 'Part 17' didn't exist yet.

Guess, you must be a fan of sci-fi movie :)

At 1:30 AM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Nope, I typed much earlier but only had the chance to post later, which explain the date discrepancy.

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see. The same situation happened when you posted 'Part 16th'. I read 'Part 15th' (without Part 16th) on either June 26th or 27th.
Later on, I was surprised when I saw Part 16th "had been posted on June 25th". I wonder myself, how could I missed 'Part 16th' when I read your blog earlier.

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should consider yourself very blessed to be able to listen to Rev.Tong's sermon every week.

His influences were everywhere. I met a white man in his 40's in a Free Presbyterian church, Sunday evening. He was saved by preaching of Rev.Tong when he visited UPenn in 1980's. He was so impressed of how smart Rev.Tong was, and how God has used him.

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Thanks for the reminder. =)


Post a Comment

<< Home