The Blessings Of Abraham
Rock of Offence Commentary
Children hear many things about God. When asked, "Why is thunder so loud?"--Some parents answer their children, "Honey, don't be afraid...it's just the angels in heaven bowling!" If you're raised in a Christian family you have a better chance entering adulthood with an undistorted conception of God. Yet, many people don't have that advantage. Those of us who commit our lives to Christ later in life bring a lot of baggage along. One of God's desires is for us to "renew our minds" about the "riches of Christ". These special blessings were purchased by the precious blood of Jesus for us. That's why its such a grevious act to either neglect or to be tricked into rejecting those things that cost Jesus such a high price. He didn't purchase these riches for himself. He purchased them for us.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him..."(Hebrews 2:3 KJV)Extraordinary changes occurred in the world through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The apostle Paul had this to say...
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is the grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him." (Ephesians 3:8-12 KJV)One of the first "surprises" I received as a new Christian was learning that God wanted me to be blessed. The second surprise was finding out that He had already given me every blessing that was possible--in Christ. God's blessing is not something He's going to do--it's something He's already done.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3 KJV)Most folks view spiritual blessings as something "intangible". We throw around sayings like, "I hope you're blessed today" or "Didn't that message just bless your heart?" Many of the spiritual blessings God "hath blessed us with" are not invisible--nor are they something we only get in heaven. God's blessings are for us to enjoy on earth. They won't be necessary when we get to heaven. David understood this in the Old Testament when he wrote...
"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psalms 23:5-6 KJV)We won't have enemies in heaven. David said that God prepared a table for him in the presence of his enemies. Obviously, this "table" was something visible and tangible. David remarked, "my cup runneth over", referring to an abundant supply of resources. Again, it was something visible and tangible. Another perspective of David's comments is that "his enemies" would take offense at God providing such abundant provisions. Those who oppose Biblical prosperity, calling those who preach it "heretics" and other slanderous names are operating from a spiritually dangerous place. Yet, they sincerely believe they're defending God's Word. Over and over God reinforces his will to bless his people...
"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32 KJV)"All things" is a term not limited to the unseen spiritual world. "All things" include everything visible and invisible. It includes (but not limited to) material possessions. It is true that some blessings take place in the unseen spiritual realm. Our great salvation, which affects "the heart" of man initially, takes place on the inside where no one sees. Yet, physical healing (another one of the "riches of Christ") is many times visible and tangible.
Recently, I listened as a prominent teacher in the church (through his national daily radio show) declared that "healing" in the Bible mainly referred to something we get in salvation when our sins are forgiven. He suggested that Biblical healing was "spiritual" in nature and had little to do with the healing of the physical body. He also suggested that "divine healing" of the body can actually be the work of Satan--who can also heal through false miracles. Jesus should be happy to hear this new revelation since he spent nearly half his earthly ministry healing all those who were "physically" sick and diseased. Then, after his death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus commissioned believers to go (pray) and lay hands on the sick. Jesus said, "they will recover" (Mark 16:15-18). I bring up examples like the one above to illustrate the dangerous ongoing effort by some in the church to restrict God's blessings to something "intangible" and redefine the tremendous blessings God bestowed upon us in Christ.
God plainly states the benefits His salvation provides...
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every One that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." (Galatians 3:13-18 KJV)There are three important things to notice in this Scripture:
It is important to know what the curse of the law is...and what the blessings of Abraham are. Without knowing these things anyone can make up anything they want and redefine God's blessing. The Bible gives us the answers in Deuteronomy chapter 28. It's important to know about "the curse of the law"--so we can understand what Jesus Christ has redeemed us from. These facts may surprise you as they did me when reading them for the first time over 30 years ago. You can read the lists from Deuteronomy 28 by clicking on the appropriate link below. I've not found a more detailed and plainly stated account of these two powerful spiritual forces anywhere in the Bible.
After reading Deuteronomy 28 you will notice some startling things. First, the list of curses are more numerous and detailed than the list of blessings. There's a reason for this. It makes it more difficult to redefine poverty and sickness as things God uses to mature us. It's more difficult because those conditions (along with many others) are clearly listed under what the Bible calls A CURSE! God never curses His children in order to discipline them. An abusive father might do that--but not God! Our heavenly Father does everything necessary to make sure we have the knowledge to live in His blessings. God's people experience the curse of the law when they step outside of God's grace and their position "in Christ". The curse is waiting to dominate all those who choose to follow a good-looking false religious way, rather than God's way. On the false religious way...the gate is wide and the travelers are many.
This reveals another crucially important truth. Deuteronomy is a book written under Old Testament (old covenant) law. We quote from its pages because it contains the most complete account of the blessing (also understood as the Blessing of Abraham) and the curse in one location. Yet, it is necessary to understand that conditions for living in God's blessing and avoiding the law's curse is no longer found in obedience to statutes and laws. We live under the New Testament (new covenant) where God's favor is bestowed upon believers through faith in Christ alone--not through performing the works of the law as stated in Deuteronomy 28. The list of curses and blessings are still valid and binding. The laws that govern how they apply have radically changed between the Old and New Testaments. This confuses a lot of people who attend a church organization that preaches legalism. We can see these changes in the Scriptures below:
The Way of the Old Testament
"But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:" (Deuteronomy 28:15)
The Way of the New Testament
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2:16 KJV)
"You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:4 NKJV)
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every One that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:13-14 NKJV)Justification and "righteousness" with God is part of the blessing. In the Old Testament a type of righteousness was realized through obedience to the Law of Moses and the practice of animal sacrifices to "atone" for sin. This thought is communicated in Deuteronomy 28...
"The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways".
Under the New Testament righteousness is bestowed upon an individual as a "gift" in response to faith in Christ (Read Romans chapter 5). The Old and New Testament represent two totally different Biblical systems for relating with God. The problem is...one is no longer valid for obtaining God's blessing and righteousness. Why? Because the new covenant of Christ (which fulfilled the Old Testament law) is different--and different rules govern it. Many people attempt to live under the New Testament using Old Testament legalistic principles. It doesn't work--and it invites the curse of the law, rather than the blessings of God into your life. This is one reason many Christians will never experience God's blessings.
Prosperity And Health--God's Will For You
"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. (3 John 1:2 KJV)
"The Lord will make the plague cling to you until you are consumed from the land."
"The Lord will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish."
"The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed."
"The Lord shall strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils which cannot be healed, and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head."
"...the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues--great and prolonged plagues--and serious and prolonged sickness. Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, will the Lord bring upon you until you are destroyed."
"You shall not prosper in your ways."
"Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land."
"You shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you."
"And they (the curses) shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things."
"Therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of all things; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you."
"And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you."
"The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow."
"The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you."
"And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath..."
Notice that sickness/disease is not listed anywhere as a blessing. Yet, it is listed as a curse. That means it's never God's will for you to have it--unless your conception of God is that of an abusive father. Unfortunately, lots of Christians think that way--and they sincerely believe they're walking in the "deeper spiritual life" by doing so.
""Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every One that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."Isn't that great news? I never get tired of reading that verse. It's a breath of fresh air. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit writes through David something that agrees with the apostle Paul's words in Galatians and the blessings of Abraham...
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed." (Psalms 103:2-6 KJV)Today, many good people who attend church organizations are living under religious oppression. It's tragic because they're spiritually starving while sitting in God's storehouse full of food. God is not holding anything back. He's already given everything He has. The problem can be identified in one of two areas: either you lack knowledge about the blessings of God and for that reason can't exercise faith for them--or, someone has cheated you through false teaching, which caused you to reject the blessings and believe the wrong things. Want to know a secret? Church organizations can correctly preach salvation and experience great success in getting people saved--yet propagate false teaching that cheat believers on other critically important Biblical subjects. It's common in the modern church. For this reason spiritual discernment is one of the most needed skills for survival in the last days.
Should Abuse Invalidate Truth?
Undeniably, the principles of Biblical prosperity are abused. But, so are many other truths from God's Word. Spiritual abuse has been a problem for centuries. Some preachers imply that sin must be present in your life if you don't have an expensive home, a luxury car and a large bank account. Some wrongly set standards of financial prosperity as a "litmus test" for spiritual maturity. And, there are some who use Biblical prosperity to justify their real motives, which is a love for money and a hedonistic lifestyle--things condemned by the Bible.
Some who teach about faith take the Scriptures to extremes. Critics poke fun at its teachings and draw attention to the abuses to discredit the movement. All revivals, including Martin Luther's reformation centuries ago had those who abused its principles and truths. Those who don't like the central message of the revival always use "abuse" as a way to dissuade anyone who is interested. I view the current "faith" revival (now almost 80 years old) in much the same way. The original movement I researched over 30 years ago was based on "the blessings of Abraham" and the teachings of Jesus Christ concerning the nature of faith. The teachings are still valid because God's Word does not change.
Many objections occur among those who hold to a "sin-poverty-curse" theology--a dangerous mixture of New Testament beliefs, religious philosophy and Old Testament law. It is "legalistic" in nature. Many professing Christians are part of this group. Yet, I refuse to reject the principles Jesus taught concerning faith because someone either abuses them or is offended. One belief among those who oppose the prosperity teaching is the notion that God is against wealth and a healthy body. Wealth is wrongly viewed as "evil" and sickness or disease is understood as a method God uses to bring you closer to Him or to teach you "piety". The Bible says that "the love of money" is the root of evil (not money itself) and sickness (as found in the curse of the law) is a curse to avoid. I've watched these sincere believers most of my life and many appear to love Jesus as much as I do. Yet, I've never understood why poverty and sickness are embraced as "God's blessings" when the Bible says otherwise. What's worse is that Jesus died to destroy the curse of death (which includes the curses of poverty and sickness) only to have some of his people redefine the Gospel and change the curse into a blessing! Those who practice such things may profess to be Christian--but God takes the distortion of His Word and His character as a serious matter regardless of where it comes from. Much of it comes from wrong teaching in their church.
Let's not dishonor the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf by allowing ourselves to be cheated out of our inheritance!