In message 45 we come to knowing grace for the fulfillment of God’s purpose — God’s covenant with Abraham. God’s calling of Abraham was not merely that Abraham should exist; it was that God’s eternal purpose might be fulfilled through him. Beginning with chapter fifteen, God came in to show Abraham that he needed grace for the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose. Two things were needed for Abraham to fulfill God’s purpose—the seed and the land. When God promised Abraham that he would have a seed, Abraham believed God for this immediately. However, when God also promised Abraham that He would give him the land, Abraham fell short, saying to the Lord, “Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (Gen. 15:8). The principle is the same today. To believe that Christ is the seed is easy, but to believe that Christ is the land is difficult. It is easier to believe that Christ is our life than it is to believe that Christ can be our church life. Many Christians believe in God for Christ’s being their life, but when they come to the matter of the church life, the good land where we can rest, slaughter the enemies, and afford God the ground to establish His kingdom and build up His habitation, they say that it is impossible for us to have this today. Because Abraham found it difficult to believe in God regarding the promise of the land, God was forced to make a covenant with him (Gen. 15:9-21). In these verses, the three cattle signify the crucified Christ and the two birds signify the resurrected Christ. Abraham had to be one with all of the things that he offered to God. Similarly, we were terminated in Christ’s crucifixion and we were germinated in His resurrection. It is in this way that we are enabled to fulfill God’s eternal purpose. In the church life it is impossible for us, in the natural man, to be one with all the brothers and sisters, but we all have been terminated in Christ’s crucifixion and germinated in His resurrection. It is in this way that we are enabled to fulfill God’s eternal purpose.
In message 46 we come to knowing grace for the fulfillment of God’s purpose — the allegory of the two women. Sarah and Hagar, the wife and the concubine of Abraham, God’s called one, are an allegory of two covenants (Gal. 4:24). Although some Christians criticize the allegorization of the Bible, Paul took the lead to allegorize the Old Testament. If when God calls you you have nothing, that is very good, for if you have too much, that will frustrate God’s calling. When Abraham was called by God, he did not have a child and he lived in a condemned, demonic land, a land out of which God called him. After he was called, Abraham had no child and no land. In this discouraging situation, Abraham took Sarah’s counsel to have a son through Hagar and Ishmael was produced. But after the birth of Ishmael, God stayed away from Abraham for thirteen years (16:16; 17:1). The freewoman, Sarah, signifies the covenant of promise (grace), while the bondwoman, Hagar, signifies the covenant of law. Ishmael was produced by the effort of the flesh with the law. Without exception, every Christian is like Abraham. After we were saved, we came to realize that God wants us to live a Christ-like life, a heavenly life, a victorious life, a life that constantly pleases God and glorifies Him. However, all of us focus on the intention and neglect the grace. Although we may gain an Ishmael who is good in our eyes, we have the deep sensation that we are missing something. We have lost God’s presence. What we need is God’s presence. What we need is not the outward fruit of our outward work but the inward appearing of our God. Do you have the presence of God within you? This is a most crucial test.
In message 47 we come to knowing grace for the fulfillment of God’s purpose — God’s covenant confirmed with circumcision. Abraham might have thought that it was not serious for him to exercise his flesh to produce Ishmael, but according to God’s economy for His eternal purpose, it was very serious. In the eyes of God, our natural self is more dirty and more defiling than sin. When we do things by our self, our natural self, we put God aside. In Genesis 17:1, God charged Abraham with two things—that Abraham had to walk before the all-sufficient God and that he had to be perfect. What does it mean to be perfect? Without God, there is no perfection. Practically speaking, to be perfect means that we do not rely upon the strength of the flesh but trust in the all-sufficient Mighty One for our life and work. We all must learn to keep ourselves constantly in God. This is the way to be perfect. God is the perfecting factor. Without Him we are imperfect. However, in order for us to have God added into us and to be broadened we need to be circumcised. God wants to come into us to be everything to us, but our flesh, our natural being and strength, our old man and our old self, are a frustration to God’s being everything to us. Circumcision is a sign, a seal, of justification by faith (Rom. 4:11). Our self, flesh, natural strength, natural man, and old man must be terminated so that we might take God as our supply and that some of God’s divine being might be wrought into us to be the element to produce Isaac for the fulfillment of God’s promise. This is grace.
There are many precious points brought forth in these messages. Please use the comments section to share your enjoyment of them.
To read online: Living Stream Ministry
To listen to the corresponding radio broadcasts with commentary: LSM Radio