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RCCG Miracle Land Dundalk
Wednesday, September 08 2021

Contributor: Martins Olubiyi

Last week we studied about the “Faith of the Patriarchs”. We learnt that faith is indispensable; it gives substance to spiritual things and the things God is doing in our lives. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God’s gift of salvation (Eph. 2:8; Acts.16:30, 31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal 2:20). Faith sees the invisible and believes the impossible. In today’s study, we want to learn the motive behind the faith of the Patriarchs.

Verse 13: Motive That Transcends the Ephemeral.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

This verse might appear to express tragedy. For instance, Abraham and those with him spent their whole lives longing for things they were promised, longing to have a land of their own. They trusted God for this and believed the promises He gave them, yet they died without having received them. What a travesty of tragedy! What an appalling commendation for the faith they professed and represented! If this is what our faith is about, dying with only unfulfilled hopes, then we are, as Paul said “of all men most miserable” (1Cor. 15:19). One thing this tell us is that Christianity is not a religion focused on the mundane and this present life. Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

Dying in faith: Writing about “These”- “Saints” Spurgeon made this startling remark in his devotional from Morning and Evening- “In faith they lived-it was their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the same spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song. Dying in faith has distinct reference to the past - They believed the promise and assurance of their sins forgiven and blotted out through the mercy of God. Dying in faith has to do with the present - These saints were confident of their acceptance with God, they enjoyed His love and rested in His faithfulness. Dying in faith looks into the future - They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely and He would on the last day appear upon the earth, they would rise from their grave to behold Him. To them the pains of death were but the birth-pangs of a better state”.

Jesus taught, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20). This run contrary to a view that that is prevalent in our time: a packaged version of Christianity that offers mainly temporal benefits. Such as, if you trust Jesus, you will get this; you will have that. Of course, Christianity does give us spiritual resources that transform this present life. Resources like righteousness, peace and joy. But we are quick to forget that to be a Christian means to be persecuted in this world. Our blessings are
spiritual rather than material (Eph. 1:3). To be a Christian means: living as an alien and a pilgrim; it means not being able to fit in with others who are slaves to sin; it means denying yourself and picking up your cross; it means a life of struggle and fellowship in the suffering of Christ. The Christian life means, peace with God, but war with the flesh, the world, and the devil. The primary blessings Christianity offers do not lie in this life at all, but in the life to come, in the resurrection from the dead. Indeed, even our present blessings, abundant and wonderful as they are, are located in heaven, and are accessed by the exercise of faith.

The Vision of Faith: The characteristic of those living by faith is that they have a “Visionary Faith” in other words; they see the promises from afar off. Through our vision with eyes of faith, we get a proper perspective on this short time on earth versus the time forever in the future. It is obvious that the Patriarchs have eternal perspective in their expectation of God’s promises. Their perspective informed what they see with the eyes of faith. Their perspective informed their persuasion. It informed their acceptance (embrace). It informed their confession. It also helped them to know who they are and where they were. We could learn and gain from Job’s encounters on God’s eternal perspective on death and judgement. Read Job. 1:21. Job kept eternal perspective in a temporal world. He speaks of three profound realities: (i). “Naked”- he knew material blessings are temporary. (ii). “My mother’s womb”- he knew life is brief. (iii). “I will depart”- he believed in heaven.

Verse 14 & 15: The Patriarchs Were Goal Getters:
"For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned."

When Abraham came to Haran, he could have turned around and journey back into Babylon. But with the eyes of faith, he obeyed unquestionably the commands of God, from whom he received repeated promises and a covenant that his seed would inherit the land. Recall, Col. 3: 2: “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. Similarly, in Luke 9:62, Jesus said “No man who puts his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Verse 16: Desire That Births Expectation
But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.
It takes grace and desire to obey God. As we step out by faith, then our expectation will be on God’s promises. Here the ultimate promise is heaven.

Things to Do:
We Must See God’s Promises - Before we can believe in God’s promises, we must see them. Before we can see them, God must open our spiritually blinded eyes (Mat 13:11-15; 2Cor 4:4, 6)

We Must Welcome God’s Promises - Having seen God’s promises, the Patriarchs welcome them. They greeted God’s promises with open arms.

We Can Only See and Welcome the Promises from a Distance - This means that the patriarchs did not receive the total fulfilment of God’s promises in this life. They only received a taste of them. The same is true of all believers. God Has promised us eternal life and yet, like the Patriarchs, we all die. The only exceptions are those who will be alive when the Lord returns.

Seeing And Welcoming God’s Promises Alienates Us from This World - The reason that Abraham left his homeland and migrated to Canaan was because he had seen and welcomed God’s promises. When he left his family and friends, he then lived as an alien in the land of promise, casting down shame and reproach because of eternal reward of a prepared city.

As Christians, we need to think of ourselves as travellers who are just passing through this sinful world. We are not permanent residents, but Pilgrims on a journey to a better land. Therefore, we need to “travel light”, not burdening ourselves with an undue attachment to the material things of life. The more we care for the luxuries and possessions of earth, the more difficult will be our journey to heaven. Christians must centre their affections on Christ, not on the temporal things of this earth. Material riches lose their value when compared to the riches of glory. (D.C. Egner).

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