Editor’s Note: E.W. Abraham is one of the old-time Bible scholars who made a tremendous impact on the movement through his lectures, artciles and books. One book, “The Perfect Prayer” is still carried by the Association Bookstore. Mr. Abraham’s wife, Dorothy, was an author as well and her children’s book, “The Forest of Happiness” is also carried by the Bookstore.
‘If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise?’ (Gal. 3:29).
What promise is St. Paul referring to but the original and entirely unconditional promise which God gave to Abraham and his seed for ever? This promise is found in Genesis 22: 15-18, and is repeated to Isaac. Abraham’s miraculously born son, and to Jacob, the specially chosen son of Isaac, who was afterwards given the name of Israel, meaning ‘a prince with God’, or ‘ruling with God’. The promise is so important that it must be quoted in full:
‘And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.’
Perhaps we do not take time enough to think out what this promise means; or that, whether we are of Abraham’s seed or not – whether or not we can trace our descent back to Isaac, in whose name God said that Abraham’s seed should be called; whether or not we are directly descended from Jacob, whose choice by God before that of his twin brother Esau was another example of God’s selection; whether or not we can trace our descent down through the most minute geneological details from all the great patriarchs – nothing will avail us one iota unless we ‘are Christ’s’. To be Christ’s means that we must be true Christians – true believers that He shed His blood for us on the Cross, that ‘there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’ – and true followers of Him; obedient to His commands, and heeding all His teachings. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: ‘Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock… And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand…’ (Matt. 7:21-27).
St. James’ Epistle is not very popular with some people, because he says so emphatically: ‘Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.’ It is the easiest thing in the world to deceive ourselves, by making much ado about what we read or hear, and about our belief in God; but, no matter how much we believe in God, unless we do something about it we shall find our belief a little avail:
‘For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteh… But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed’ (James 1: 23-25).
It will avail us nothing in the final reckoning to claim Abraham as our father, if we have done nothing about it. God chose Abraham so that, through his seed, he should be a blessing to all mankind; and we know that Jesus Christ, the most illustrious Seed of all, has done everything that God the Father willed that He should do towards that wonderful world-wide blessing. ‘It is finished’, our Lord cried upon the Cross, only a few hours after he had prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, ‘Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done’. Jesus Christ accomplished all that He had come to do. All that He did was for our good, for our salvation and redemption, and for our example. Henceforth the world was to be divided into Christian and non-Christian; while our Lord Himself, we are told, is waiting at the right hand of the Father, ‘from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool’.
Remember how Jesus had said to Philip: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.’ That wonderful 14th chapter of St. John’s Gospel contains so much instruction for us today which we have either forgotten or ignored; because, although Jesus kept His word, and sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, ‘to teach all things’ and to bring the Power with which to accomplish everything according to the promise given; yet today we have little left but the name of Christian – we are being without doing: we claim to be Christian; we claim to be Israel, either natural descendants of the scattered tribes, or adopted believers in Jesus Christ; we claim to believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, yet what are we doing about it? Where are the ‘healings’, the ‘signs following’, and the ‘mighty deeds’ God promised to ‘them that believe’? (Mark 16: 17). We do not see many signs of that Power of the Holy Spirit today; and, although the Holy Spirit came to guide us into ‘all truth’, what have we accomplished? Today, our witness to God and the truth of His Word is more needed than ever before.
St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that there would be a ‘falling away’ before Christ’s Return. Ferrar Fenton’s translation of the passage makes ominous reading: ‘For the apostasy must come first, and the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction…’ Surely there has been a terrible ‘falling away’ in the last few years; in fact, ever since the beginning of the first ‘Great War’ and even before that time, there have been increasing signs of falling away, and of many more ‘scoffers walking after their own lusts’, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming…?’ There has been vastly increased lawlessness and almost incalculable destruction already; and now, with the threat of Atom and Hydrogen bombs and all the most modern and secret diabolical weapons for the destruction of lives and property, we must surely be very close to that event for which all Christians ought to be eagerly looking – the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ in ‘power and great glory’, to take for Himself the Kingdom of God, and reign over it, sitting upon the throne first occupied by David of old to whom was given the immutable promise that he should never want a man to sit upon the throne, ‘until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him’.
All signs today seem to point to the near approach of ‘that great day of God Almighty’, and the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ Who told His disciples, in parable, to “Occupy till I come’, meaning surely, to carry on the Lord’s business during His absence, just a though He was present in the flesh among them. Many centuries before, in the days of Sodom and Gormorrah, which were just such days as these, the Lord had said, when He was visiting Abraham His friend:
‘Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him’ (Gen. 18: 17-19).
How many of us, today, command our children ‘in the way of the Lord’? Alas, while there may yet be ‘seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal’, it would perhaps be very difficult to find them, and certainly the nation cannot be said to be doing justice and judgment according to the Word of the Lord today, but far rather do our Lord’s words describe it:
‘As it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed’ (Luke 17: 28-30).
The third World War may begin without a moment’s notice – tomorrow may be too late. St. Paul’s warning to the Romans was never so timely as it is today:
‘Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof’ (Rom. 13: 11-14).
One greater than St. Paul, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, warned:
‘Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh… Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing (Matt. 24: 44-46).