Christians Leaving their Comfort Zone

Abraham left his comfort zone:

 

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee’.  ‘By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. … For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God’.  ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’ (Gen 12:1Heb 11:8,10,  Rom 4:3)

 

Ruth left her comfort zone:

 

‘Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.  Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem So they two went until they came to Bethlehem’. (Ruth 1:16-19)

 

Peter left his comfort zone: 

‘But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind wascontrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

 

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God’.  (Matt 14:24-33)

 

Our Comfort Zone 

 

We visited some brethren in Yorkshire in July.  They gave us a photocopy of an article entitled The Modern Smooth Cross    It spoke about a new comfortable type of Christianity,  pleasant, at peace with the world with an entertaining form of evangelism to go with it.  It contrasted this with the True Cross, the one about which the Lord said, ‘Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.   For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’  (Mark 8:34-36).

 

Everything around has been designed to make us comfortable.  No doubt Ur was a comfortable city.  I was told that in many ways it was more advanced than Babylon 1400 years later.   We have become accustomed to a comfortable kind of Christianity – good meetings, good social relationships, and an ecclesiastical structure we can relate to, the church or meeting where we gather, rather than Christ, being the centre of our lives.  The church, to use the modern expression, has become ‘our comfort zone’.

 

The True Cross separates us from the principles of the world – including the religious world  It is the end of man according to the flesh, worldly, intellectual, religious, political, sectarian – whatever.   But we have to leave our comfort zone to take up the cross.

 

Darby and others did just that when they separated from the organised church in the early part of the nineteenth century.   They eschewed what was sectarian, seeing fellowship based on the one body – not a voluntary association.  When two or three gathered to the Lord’s name, His presence was real and experienced, and they were greatly blessed and added to.   They gathered in simplicity around the scriptures and found a Teacher in the Lord Himself and a Guide in the Holy Spirit.

 

Many are experiencing the same things now.  They have left thier ‘comfort zone’.  They meet in smallness and dependence, and pray that others they love might share thier joy.

 

Like Abraham, Ruth and Peter, we need to leave our ‘comfort zones’.  If we do, it is a step in faith – ‘But without faith it is impossible to please him [God]’ (Heb 11:6).   Of the future, if the Lord does not come, none of us knows.  We follow Jesus – ‘the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God’ (Heb 12:2) – yes, the true cross.

 

‘But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him’. (1 Cor 2:9)

 


With greetings in Christ’s blessed Name

Sosthenes

September 2017

 he old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather it is friendly pal, and if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference.

Darby on Romans 4 – Christ’s resurrection as sealing His work

Law requires power in man to fulfill it. A dead person has no power; resurrection is by God’s power, and Abraham believed that. If God spoke, the thing was certain. That is why his faith was imputed to him for righteousness. When man justifies God not himself, God justifies him. Abraham believed that God was able to perform what He had said; we believe that He raised Christ from the dead – delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.

RomeThere is more in Israel’s history than the law.  Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness. (See Rom. 4:3). He was reckoned righteous because of his faith.   Also, David said, ‘Blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed the man to whom the Lord imputeth no sin.’ (Psalm 32:2). No sin was imputed to him. He was held to be wholly clear of it before God; it was forgiven and covered. The responsibility of man was fully met, and he knew it.

Faith was counted for righteousness to Abraham. Circumcision was only a seal of the righteousness he had already before he was circumcised.   Therefore he became the father of all who believe (including uncircumcised, believing Gentiles), and more than that, the father of those truly separated to God – circumcised in spirit, not in letter.

The promise to Abraham that he would be the heir of the world was a matter of law, but of the righteousness of faith. Promise is not law: promise and faith go together. If promise had been on the basis of law, faith would have been void – man could not have had an inheritance because of transgression. But the inheritance is of faith, not law, that it might be by grace. Faith just believes in grace.

When Abraham received the promise, as far as having offspring was concerned, he was as good as dead. But he believed what God had said as to his seed. So we have another important principle: grace and promise on the part of God, and faith, and the redemption that is in Christ, on the part of man.   God’s power comes in; God raises the dead, and makes them to be as He calls them. This applies to Abraham’s seed, to the Gentiles’ blessing, and to Christ’s physical resurrection.

Law requires power in man to fulfill it.  The law being given to the sinner, wrath was the consequence of its imposition.  A dead person has no power; resurrection is by God’s power, and Abraham believed that. If God spoke, the thing was certain.  That is why his faith was imputed to him for righteousness. When man justifies God not himself, God justifies him. Abraham believed that God was able to perform what He had said; we believe that He raised Christ from the dead – delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. God glorifies Himself in grace by granting  divine righteousness to man, when he had no human righteousness before God.

As to ourselves, righteousness is imputed to us, as we believe on the God who raised up Christ from the dead. We do not merely own Christ’s work, but God’s acceptance of that work, and His power to quicken the dead. As John said, ‘God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.’ (Matt 3:9).   God demonstrated His power in raising up Christ from death, the state into which our sins had brought Him through grace. Of course, God could not leave Him in death, for He was satisfied as to the matter of sins, and righteously raised Him from the dead – in public testimony.

 A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans 

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – Genesis

Creation is first treated of; then innocence, lordship, and marriage, the figure of union with Christ. Next we have the fall, man’s sin against God, and then in Cain man’s sin against his brother. There is, at the same time, a witness of certain righteous persons: Abel in sacrifice, Enoch in life, and Noah in testimony of approaching judgment. You then get the complete corruption of the whole system, and the deluge.

GENESIS.

Ilay-preachingn this book we have all the great principles of God’s relationship with man, without bringing in redemption which makes a people for God and a dwelling-place for God in man.   You never, save in chapter 2:3, get the word “holiness” in Genesis; and you never have God dwelling with men.

Creation is first treated of; then innocence, lordship, and marriage, the figure of union with Christ. Next we have the fall, man’s sin against God, and then in Cain man’s sin against his brother.   There is, at the same time, a witness of certain righteous persons: Abel in sacrifice, Enoch in life, and Noah in testimony of approaching judgment.   You then get the complete corruption of the whole system, and the deluge.

Having had in Enoch a figure of the church, we get in Noah deliverance through judgment.   Then a new world begins, God entering into covenant with it, and government introduced to prevent violence.   But the governor fails, and God’s plans as to the races of men are brought out.  We find God making nations, in consequence of man’s attempt to remain united so as to be independent.   In the midst of these nations we have, in Nimrod, imperial despotic power in an individual.  It is connected with Babel, the place of man’s wickedness.   In point of fact, the division of mankind into nations comes by judgment.

Shem’s family having been owned on the earth – the Lord God of Shem, national existence is recognized as God’s principle of the constitution of the earth.   He now begins an entirely new thing.   He calls out an individual to be the head of a blest race.   Whatever individual saints there had thus far been, there had been no counterpart of Adam as the head of a race.   Abraham was called out to be this.   Election, calling, and promise are connected with his calling.  Consequently you have Abraham here, as a stranger and pilgrim, with nothing but his tent and his altar.   He fails, like everybody, but God judges the world – Pharaoh’s house – for him.

We then get the distinction between a heavenly-minded and an earthly-minded man; the world having power over the earthly-minded (Lot), and the heavenly one (Abraham) having power over the world.  In connection with this we have in Melchizedek the future priest upon his throne, linked with God’s supremacy over heaven and earth.   Abraham’s separation from the world having been demonstrated, Jehovah presents Himself to Abraham as his shield and reward.   We first get the earthly inheritance and people, that is, in promise.  Abraham looks for the promise in a fleshly way, and that is all rejected.   We have then the promise to Abraham of being the father of many nations, God revealing Himself as God Almighty.   We have also His covenant with Abraham, and the principle of separation to God by circumcision.   Chapter 18 gives the promise of the heir, the judgment of the world (Sodom), and the connection of a heavenly people (Abraham) with God, by intercession.   In chapter 19 we have the connection with the judgment of the earthly people (Lot), saved as by fire through the tribulation.

What follows this, in chapter 20, is the absolute appropriation of the wife, whether Jerusalem or the heavenly bride, as the spouse of the Lord.  The old covenant (Hagar) is cast out, and, the true heir (Isaac) comes.   He takes the land (chap. 21).

Chapter 22 begins another series of things. The promised heir having being offered up, the promise is confirmed to the seed.   Sarah dies (chap. 23): this is the passing away of the old association with God on the earth.  Hence, in chapter 24 Eliezer (in figure the Holy Ghost, or His work on earth) is sent to take a wife for Isaac (Christ), who is Heir of all things.  Isaac is not permitted to return to Mesopotamia.   So, Christ, in taking the church, cannot come down to earth.

However, the moment we get Jacob, we get the head of the twelve tribes.  He goes to Mesopotamia for Rachel and Leah, typical of Israel and the Gentiles.  Jacob is the elect, but not the heavenly people.   He goes back to Canaan, gets the promises, with all sorts of exercises, as Israel will, but, if he does, he must give up old Israel (Rachel) to get Benjamin, the son of his right hand.

In the brief notice of Esau’s offspring we find the world in vigour and energy before God’s people are.   Then another history commences, that of Joseph.  This portrays Christ, though connected with Israel, rejected by Israel, and sold to the Gentiles.  He now comes to be the head, having the throne, and governing all Egypt.  God has done with Israel, receiving a Gentile wife, and calls his children by names typical of Christ’s rejection and blessing outside Israel.   He receives back his brethren in the glory.  This part closes with two distinct testimonies, the will of Joseph about his bones, and Jacob’s prophecy that they will all be back in the land and the promises to Israel be fulfilled.

Lightly edited by Sosthenes, May 2014

The Irrationalism of Infidelity – Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac

Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is not presented as a rule of morality nor of conduct in any way, but as a special case in which Abraham’s faith was put to the test. There is no kind of analogy with “those who sacrificed their children to Moloch.”* Jer. 32:35. In their horrid barbarity, they sought to assuage their consciences to placate their vengeful god.

The Sacrifice of IsaacObjection:  Abraham’s preparedness to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22, makes him no different from idolaters of the worst kind – practicing human sacrifice.

Answer:  Abraham’s sacrificial act was a rule of morality nor of conduct in any way, but as a special case in which  God put Abraham’s faith to the test.   There is no kind of analogy with “those who sacrificed their children to Moloch.”* Jer. 32:35.   In their horrid barbarity, they sought to assuage their consciences to placate their vengeful god.

In Abraham’s case it was different.   God had placed the promises in Isaac.   In Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac,  he was now tested, to show that he had such confidence in God, that he would give up all the promises he possessed and obey God implicitly, whatever the cost.  When this was proved, God would not suffer Isaac to be touched.

According to Hebrews 11:8-12 Abraham believed that God would somehow raise up Isaac again, in order to accomplish His promises.