- Category: Key Lessons
Dear Interested Friend
You have turned the page to the beginning of the first book of a four part series because you have expressed an interest in the wonderful message you have heard preached. The substance of that message has its foundation in the gospel which was preached to Abraham, the father of the faithful some 4,000 years ago (Galatians 3:8). This same gospel was later preached by the promised seed of Abraham – the Lord Jesus Christ to the nation of Israel. The apostle Paul speaking of this great work said that the Lord Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). It is therefore in this gospel, and in this gospel alone, that an understanding of how we may be saved is revealed. It is essential for salvation to gain a correct understanding of this gospel. This gospel was then preached by Christ’s apostles throughout the Roman world in obedience to the Lord’s command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel. Whosoever believes (the gospel) and is baptised, shall be saved. But whosoever does not believe (the gospel) shall be condemned (Mark 16:15&16). Belief in the true gospel, the gospel Abraham believed which Christ and his apostles taught, is therefore essential for salvation. It is this same extraordinary gospel which at the end of “the times of the Gentiles” you have heard the Berean Christadelphians proclaiming. We believe in the gospel that Abraham placed his hope, that great salvation the first century Christians believed, i.e. “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 8:12).
Nothing could be of more interest or of such importance! The signs of our times press upon all who have eyes to see and ears to hear the urgency of understanding the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, so that like Abraham we may be able in faith to act upon it. The apostle Paul tells us that God made Abraham “the father of all who believed” (Romans 4:11). He said this was done for a vital reason, that the “righteousness” (or forgiveness of sins) God counted to Abraham could on the very same principle be counted to us if we “walk in the footsteps of the faith that Abraham had…” (Romans 4:12). Note this most important truth – no one can walk in the steps of Abraham’s faith who does not believe the same things. Nor can we receive the forgiveness of our sins after Abraham’s divinely appointed example if we lack the quality of his faith. It is therefore essential for salvation that we understand “the substance of things (Abraham) hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1) and the quality of his faith, for it is to be to Abraham according to his faith. This is the rule for all who come to Christ through believing the gospel to receive the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal healing (Matthew 9:2, 28-29). The quality of that faith as set forth in Abraham which Christ asks his children to develop (Matthew 9:28) is to be “fully convinced that God is able to do what He had promised” (Romans 4:21). Abraham’s faith was counted to him for righteousness because he “believed” what God had “promised”. The apostle Paul says this was not written for his sake alone but “for ours also” (Romans 4:24). It will be counted to us on the same basis if we “believe” but our faith will not be counted for righteousness or forgiveness if we believe something Abraham did not believe!
Abraham cannot be our spiritual father nor we his children (Galatians 3:29) if we don’t first learn and understand the gospel in which he had faith (Galatians 3:8). Again we cannot too strongly emphasis that we cannot exercise faith in something we don’t believe and God has made salvation dependent on this Abrahamic faith. The apostle Paul again states “for the promise to Abraham and his seed (Christ) that he would be heir of the world… came through the righteousness of faith.” (Romans 4:13). John Thomas writing in Elpis Israel (the hope of Israel) states very simply “we shall inherit what we have faith in. If we have an understanding faith in the truth, we shall inherit the truth; but if we believe in what is not true… we shall inherit nothing but the whirlwind” (pg 264 Logos ed).
“For a long time I (Yahweh the God of Israel) have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself;” but the time is about to burst upon an unsuspecting world when He will “cry out and shout aloud and will show himself mighty against His enemies” (Isaiah 42:13-14). The apostle Paul speaking of this same time “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire” and the reason for so doing, is for the purpose of “inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Again we note how the scriptures stress the urgency of understanding the true gospel, believed by Abraham and taught by Christ and his apostles in contrast with that terrible apostasy Paul said would arise after his death and develop to such an extent before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ that it would deceive the whole world (2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelations 17:1-6). Paul solemnly warned the Galatians “if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you receive (from the apostles) let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). We therefore must “prove (or test) all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) against the gospel Abraham believed and which Christ and the apostles taught.
It is the purpose of this four part series to help the reader know “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.” To know how “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes…For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘the righteous shall live (eternally) by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17). By the Lord’s own example may we be warned, for when thousands upon thousands flocked to the Lord Jesus (Matthew 4:25) he deliberately climbed a mountain (Matthew 5:1) and sat down so that those who truly wanted to be his disciples were those who were prepared to climb that mountain and sit at his feet that they might be taught. The vast multitudes which remained below waiting till he would come down did not hear Matthew chapters 5-7! Are we prepared to put in the effort, climb the mountain of problems, difficulties, anything or anyone that may prevent us from becoming his disciples by diligently seeking the truth? What is “the truth”? John Thomas in Elpis Israel says simply, “the things which Abraham believed with the acknowledgement that Jesus is the seed spoken of in the promise made to him” (Elpis Israel pg 264, Logos ed.)
It is our earnest prayer that all who “diligently seek” God (Hebrews 11:6) by this means will be amongst those whom the Lord will set apart as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, who proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9), that you might be amongst those who hear words of comfort at the crisis of the ages “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by” (Isaiah 26:20). The fury of this prophecy which will at last engulf all nations begins with the battle of Armageddon (Revelations 16:12-16). A correct understanding of the gospel preached to Abraham and taught by Christ and his apostles is essential to correctly interpret these prophecies of God’s holy word that we may be able to not only be warned but know how we and those we love might be saved out of it.
It was by a correct understanding of this gospel, which Paul refers to as the “hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20), that God’s servants knew that Israel’s long dispersion from the land for some 1900 years had to end in a partial re-gathering of the Jews back to Palestine before “the time of the end” (Ezekiel 38, 39, Daniel 12 etc.). They had to be in the land of promise at the crisis of the ages. It is the unclean frog-like spirits (Revelations 16:13) spawned originally by the French Revolution which ultimately draws the nations to Armageddon. The influence of which we have seen in this generation with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe then in Russia, and in recent years in what the world press called “The Arab Spring”. This has caused fermenting revolution and counter-revolution in the countries of the Middle East and is coinciding with the prophetic revival of the Russian power again threatening her neighbours! This Russian power is destined to head up a coalition of nations which shall invade the Middle East at “the time of the end” (Daniel 12:1). At this time, the prophet Ezekiel tells us by inspiration that this power referred to as “Gog” will invade Israel and when it does will constitute the image power of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of Daniel chapter 2. In urging all those who by God’s grace have been inspired to prayerfully “ask” that in “seeking” to “find” the truth by continually “knocking” (Matthew 7:7) a door of revelation shall be opened. We can do no better than to again quote John Thomas who did this very thing. In Elpis Israel he showed from the prophets that the Jews had to partially be returned to the land prior to Gog’s “latter day” invasion in preparation for Christ’s return and the re-establishment of God’s kingdom on earth, on that very land promised to Abraham. He wrote this in 1848, one hundred years before it occurred! He was able to do so because he understood the gospel Abraham believed and which Christ and his apostles taught.
“The future movements of Russia are notable signs of the times, because they are predicted in the Scriptures of truth. The Russian Autocracy in its plenitude, and on the verge of its dissolution, is the Image of Nebuchadnezzar standing upon the Mountains of Israel, ready to be smitten by the Stone. When Russia makes its grand move for the building-up of its Image-empire then let the reader know that the end of all things, as at present constituted, is at hand. The long-expected, but stealthy advent of the King of Israel, will be on the eve of becoming a fact; and salvation will be to those who not only looked for it, but have trimmed their lamps by believing the gospel of the kingdom unto the obedience of faith, and the perfection thereof in ‘fruits meet for repentance’ (James 2:22; Hebrews 9:28).” (Elpis Israel Authors preface pg xiv).
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