“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Abraham had enough doctrine resident in his soul to say, “I am going to leave Ur.” The place was Canaan. By means of doctrine in his soul when Abraham was called he obeyed by going out to a place which he was about to receive for an inheritance. It refers to part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Abraham was motivated to keep moving geographically to the place where God would fulfill His promises.
The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant made up of all of the promises of God to Abraham and to his descendants. A covenant is an agreement made by one party, God, in favor of another party, in this case Abraham and his descendants. Nothing was required on the part of Abraham in order to enjoy the promises of this covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant coincided with the Age of Promise in the Dispensation of Israel.
The unconditional covenant was between God and Abraham related to the Jewish nation. Unconditional means there are no conditions which must be met. Like all covenants, it is a part of God’s divine decrees. The source of this blessing to Abraham and his descendants was not based on any merit in Abraham, but Abraham’s adjustment to the justice of God at salvation and beyond. The justice of God was free to fulfill this covenant to Abraham at the point of his adjustment to the justice of God through the attainment of spiritual maturity. It’s one thing to be in the covenant (via salvation); it’s another thing to know and understand the covenant (in maturity). Abraham understood the covenant.
The original declaration of the covenant is found in Genesis12:1-3. “Now Jehovah [Jesus Christ] had spoken to Abram, `Go from your land, and from your relatives, and from the place of your birth, to a land which I will cause you to see; and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will cause you to become great; therefore, you will become a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, but the one who despises you, I will curse, and all the races shall be blessed through you.’” Verse one emphasized Abraham’s necessary separation from Ur for the fulfillment of the covenant, for the development of the new race, and for the development of his spiritual advance, plus separation from his family to avoid personal distraction. Verse two was Abraham’s logistical grace support necessary to fulfill this promise. All four categories of blessing were given for the encouragement of his momentum, and in anticipation of his reaching spiritual maturity. Verse three had three clauses: a. blessing by association b. a curse on anti-Semitism and c. a messianic blessing clause.
The land promise in the Abrahamic Covenant is found in Genesis 13:14-16. “And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, `Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give to you and to your progeny forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can count the dust of the earth, then your descendants also can be counted.”’ This is amplified in Genesis 15:18-21, which gives the dimensions. The Jews will obtain this land when Jesus Christ returns at the Second Coming.
The confirmation of the covenant to Isaac is found in Genesis 26:3-4. This had to be done to prove the covenant would not be fulfilled through the line of Ishmael. This is the doctrine of blessing by association. Nations are blessed because of their relationship with the Jewish nation. The covenant was confirmed to Abraham’s grandson Jacob, Genesis 35:12. This is why the title of Jesus Christ is so important as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” This was the time for the formation of the Jewish nation. This covenant was the basis on which God delivered the Jews, a race in slavery, and caused them to become a nation.
The new Jewish race and the land are brought together in the covenant according to Genesis 17:8. “Furthermore, I have given to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your pilgrimage, all the land of Canaan, for an eternal possession; therefore, I will be your God.” Circumcision was the ritual of confirmation and acknowledgment that this was an unconditional covenant. (Genesis 17:9-14; Romans 4:13-18) Circumcision in Israel was a reminder that God keeps His word. Circumcision meant that any Jew in the Age of Israel, who believed in Jehovah (Christ), would be the recipient of this covenant, forever. The covenant therefore contained seven promises:
In verses nine and ten we see the motivation of Abraham to leave his home country of Ur and travel to a land that was alien to him. God was preparing Abraham for a big spiritual task. God was going to form a nation that would be responsible for preserving the Word of God and spreading the Gospel message to other lands. God needed a leader so He chose Abraham, a faithful believer. So Abraham obeyed God because of the doctrinal teaching in his soul and took his family and possessions and went to the land that God had promised him. Abraham lived as an alien in the land of promise until such time as God saw fit for him to possess the land. This was of course a test of faith. Abraham had enough doctrine in his soul to pass the test and to possess the land. The city for which Abraham searched was a heavenly one, and along with his son Isaac and grandson Jacob they remained faithful believing God would fulfill His promise. And God will fulfill the promise He made to Abraham during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
“By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful Who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”
Sarah grew up in a Semitic society where having male children and perpetuating the line was extremely important. We do not live in such a society and therefore cannot perhaps understand in full her frustration. But being beautiful and brilliant she also became very frustrated. She failed to fulfill the motherhood function and therefore the motherhood status, the male child being born, was denied her. Therefore she reacted to this and became very bitter. God’s Word tells us that Sarah finally attained spiritual maturity and this speaks volumes for her greatness, for her persistence, for the fact that she continued day in and day out to take in the Word in spite of reverses and failures of all kinds.
By means of doctrine resident in her soul even Sarah receiving the ability to conceive was a miracle from God based on Sarah’s and Abraham’s advance to spiritual maturity. We know this from the use of the Greek word for ability which is “dunamis” meaning inherent power. We also know this from the phrase, “she considered Him faithful Who had promised.” She received her inherent power (ability) to conceive by means of Bible doctrine. In other words, God was able to bless her with a child because she had the capacity to receive the blessing without becoming arrogant.
Sarah was a phenomenal woman, a woman of great courage, greater than most of the men of her time because she had a strong tendency. Sarah was barren. She was in a totally hopeless situation. Sarah, who originally failed in every part of her life, became an expert in the field of doctrine. And when she had maximum doctrine in her soul then she was able to draw proper conclusions. She overcame all of her problems by doctrine in her soul, and as the doctrine increased she became an expert. What did she do with her doctrine? She started to draw conclusions about the Lord! So her conclusions were based on doctrine. But notice, it was doctrine in her soul that motivated her. Sarah is a perfect illustration of how with all the handicaps, human viewpoint, frustration, all of the mental attitude sins collected, it is possible to break through these barriers and move to spiritual maturity, but it must be done by motivation from doctrine in the soul. Sarah reminds us all of the importance of Bible doctrine. We must be motivated by doctrine in the soul. Doctrine becomes the authority.
Once you truly understand from doctrine the faithfulness of God, you will be faithful to Him. Faithfulness begets faithfulness. How can you be faithful to God? Your faithfulness to Him is in how often you spend time studying His Word and how often you apply it. So your response to God’s faithfulness, by being faithful, by using your volition toward doctrine, results in spiritual maturity.
God chose Abram to establish the nation of Israel and the Jewish race. Abram (whose name was changed to Abraham) had left his home in Ur of the Chaldees with his father, his wife and his nephew Lot and settled in Haran. While Abram was still in Haran, God made the Abrahamic Covenant. At a very old age when both Abraham and Sarah were past the age of childbearing, God performed a miracle and Isaac was born. It would be through the line of Isaac that the humanity of Jesus Christ would be born. And the spiritual result would be that millions would be blessed by the coming Messiah Jesus Christ as the spiritual descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They would be all of those who trust Jesus Christ as Savior who number as the sand which is by the seashore. (Romans 4)
Abraham had believed in the Lord and it was credited to him for righteousness. Abraham had at the point of his salvation a working object for his faith — Jesus Christ [Jehovah]. Jesus Christ hadn’t gone to the Cross yet, but He would in the future and Abraham understood this. (Genesis 15:6, II Chronicles 20:7 and Isaiah 41:8)
Abraham had believed in Christ and Genesis 15:6 says that since he had already believed in Christ his faith must have another working object for his spiritual life. Faith must have a working object after salvation for spiritual growth. Therefore Bible doctrine was needed and Abraham and eventually Sarah had plenty. The completion of their faith was application of Bible doctrine. God expects every believer to complete his or her faith after salvation by learning and applying Bible doctrine. Being called “the friend of God” in Abraham’s case was used for the fact that Abraham was positive toward God and His Word and was applying it to the circumstances of life.
The high point in your life is that time when you use the most doctrine. Learning doctrine is not the end; learning doctrine merely makes doctrine the working object of your faith. When doctrine becomes the working object of your faith, divine works are produced and these works count, and these are the works that are preserved forever because they are divine production. The Word of God is preserved forever and the Word of God in your soul is preserved through the divine works that you do — gold, silver, and precious stones — and you will have them always. Throughout all eternity these works will be a monument to the fact that the Word of God was alive and powerful in your life.