All scripture references are from the NASV unless otherwise noted.
Let's continue to look at the faith of "our father" Abraham. This is an example of the saving faith for which the scripture exhorts us to earnestly contend (Jude 1:3). "...that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised" (Rom. 4:11, 12). As an example of the steps of saving faith, we are going to look at some of the steps through which God brought Abraham in his journey to know God.
"Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you;'" (Ge. 12:1). Here, Abraham hears the call of God as God speaks a word of living faith into his heart, for faith comes by hearing God speak. Faith is a gift of God. The call of God to Abraham is the same call that comes to a lost sinner, calling them to repent of their sins, to trust Christ, and to follow Him wherever He leads at any cost. Abraham had an encounter with the living God that changed his whole life and destiny, and anyone who would be truly converted, must have an encounter with the living God that is just as revolutionary.
God came to Abraham and said, "Abraham, come follow me; leave every comfort and convenience of the familiar, including your friends and family, and follow me to a land I will show you." That is the same call that one truly born again will hear. "Unless one is born again", Jesus said, "He cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). One who is born of God will begin to see a new land; the kingdom of God, for which he will forsake this world and all that is in this world in order to obtain the eternal. Jesus said, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26). Jesus' call to one truly born of God is to leave all for Him, just as God called Abraham.
I want to ask you a question. Does Jesus call us to leave something to gain everything, or does He call us to leave everything to gain something? In other words, does Jesus come to us and say, "Now, if you'll stop partying, and believe in me and start going to church and reading your Bible, I'll bless you in every area of your life and when you die, you will live with me in heaven forever"? Does He call us to leave something, in this case partying, in order to gain everything: blessings in this life and heaven in the life to come? Or does He call us to leave everything in order to gain something? Does He say, "If you come to me and do not hate your own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even your own life, you cannot be My disciple."?
The true call of God is a call to lose everything of this life in order to gain Christ Jesus, the pearl of great price. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a man who found a treasure hidden in a field, and for joy, went and sold all that he had and bought the field. Jesus is our treasure. Someone who has never heard the call to give up all for Christ has never found the hidden treasure of the person of Jesus in the field that is the Kingdom of God. Which call have you heard? A Christianity that costs nothing is not true Christianity. Remember that to have the treasure, he had to go and sell all, and so will you, in whatever form that takes. Jesus said, "He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it" (Mat. 10:39).
The true call of God, like the call of God that came to our father Abraham, is a call to leave all to follow Him. It's a call to forsake everything of this world for a world unseen; a land that He will show us. It's a call to leave the familiar, the comfortable, and the dear, in search of something only seen with spiritual eyes. "Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you;'" (Ge. 12:1). That is the same call heard from the lips of Jesus when He said, "If you aren't willing to lose your family and friends and your own life also, you can't follow me."
You see, Abraham heard the call of God and that call of God birthed within him a desire for something unseen that was strong enough to cause him to forsake the seen. The scripture says that Abraham was in search of a "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10). Perhaps Abraham had seen the ruins of the tower of Babel and its great desert city, and was in search of a city that had foundations. He had seen the confusion, dispersion, and erosion of what man built trying to go up, and was in search of something more lasting. Foundations are hidden below the surface, and to build one's life upon Christ Jesus, the only true foundation, one must be willing to go down and not up. Abraham was willing to go down to find treasure, rather than go up to make a name.
No man knows, nor perhaps will any man ever know the hidden things that God has done in Tanya's and my life that have planted us upon a sure foundation. It's all hidden below the surface. Many great ministries have gone up very quickly and are massive and impressive. Until now, every "structure" has looked pretty sound, but now that the storm is beginning to blow, foundations are being revealed. Those planted on a sure foundation will stand, and those who never took the time to dig, but rather decided to build instead - those who went up instead of down - those who saved their lives in a thousand "little" ways, rather than losing their lives in graves of loss and obscurity, will suffer loss as the house falls with a great fall.
The confusion and misunderstanding in the church today is a direct result of ambitious men, who, like the builders of the tower of Babel and its city, could see their goal overhead, but heard no call to journey. These desired to go up, to make a name, to insulate themselves from the breakings and dealings of God, so they built great high monuments to their abilities and personalities, and these monuments contain many staircases, for their purpose is to ever ascend. However, for altar-builders like Abraham; for those who take the time to journey and to dig before they build, these will find the treasure that is Christ Jesus and a sure foundation that will stand the test of time. Like the wise man of Jesus' parable that dug deep; that went down while others were going up, these will build their ministries upon a foundation that cannot be shaken, even in this hour when God is shaking everything that can be shaken. Just as the waters of Katrina swept over New Orleans, "The city that care forgot", even so, the waters of the coming flood are about to sweep over everything called "Christian", revealing the sewage, death and toxic waste that flow hidden just below the surface of Christendom, the carefree city that dwells at ease (Zeph. 2:15-3:4). Nothing built without a foundation will be left standing. The storm will reveal foundations. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.
The call of God is a costly call. It will cost everything, but the treasure that is Jesus is a bargain at any price. He is the treasure that we seek. He is the pearl of great price. He is the fairest of ten thousand, and I can tell you from experience, that if the call you answered wasn't a call to lose everything, including your own life, then you didn't hear the true call of God. If the treasure you found didn't cost you anything, then you haven't found the treasure that is Jesus Christ. A Christianity that doesn't cost isn't true New Testament Christianity, and remember that I speak from the perspective of having lived both types of Christianity; the type that doesn't really work, and the type that does.
The call of God that Abraham heard is the eternal call of God heard in the heart of anyone who would be a friend of God. It's a call to lose all to gain Christ. It's a call to death to find life. It's a call that tears from our hearts the roots that have sunk so deep into the soil of this Earth and into our own lives and egos. It's a call that tears in order to mend, a call that uproots in order to plant, a call that wounds in order to heal, a call that tears down, impoverishes and kills in order to build, restore and resurrect. The call of God is a call to lose in order to gain, and to the extent that you follow that call into loss as it relates to the temporal and to the self-life, is the extent to which you will gain the treasure that is Jesus.
Have you heard the wonderful call of God? Have you left all to follow Him? Have you truly found the treasure that will cost you all that you have and are, and for joy of finding this treasure, have you set about selling all to have Him? Are you walking in the steps of our father Abraham?The True Gospel Series