It’s time to talk about a life of love. Of course, when say “love” here, I’m not talking about the emotional counterfeit the world calls love. That kind of love is dependent on circumstances and feelings.
God’s love isn’t like that. It’s constant. It’s unconditional. The chief ingredient of the God-kind of love is self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved. It continues to love people whether or not it receives a response. Divine love is not self-seeking. It is self-giving.
God doesn’t just love the lovely. He loves the unlovely, too. No matter how bad or mean someone might be, if they’ll turn to Him, He’ll cleanse them and forgive them.
That’s the way God loves us! We see the way He loves us in detail in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails… (verses 4-8, The Amplified Bible).
Just as Abraham raised the knife to slay Isaac, the angel of the Lord called out to him and said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:12).
Then Abraham saw a ram caught in a thicket. He took the ram and offered it as a sacrifice to the Lord in place of his son. God found in Abraham a man who would obey Him to the degree of giving up his son.
Through Abraham’s life we see a picture of God’s love for you and me. Just as Abraham didn’t withhold his son from God, neither did God withhold His only begotten Son, Jesus, from us. He sent Jesus into the world and allowed Him to die on the cross so the world could be redeemed. And just as Abraham received back his son from the dead, God received back His only begotten Son when Jesus was raised from the dead.
Just as Abraham demonstrated faith as a father, so Isaac demonstrated faith as a son—willing to be offered as a sacrifice without a struggle. He was not a small child, he could have protested. But he had been trained in the way he should go—to obey his father in all things.
During his life, the Lord spoke to him as He had to his father Abraham. The Lord appeared to Isaac when he was grown, years after he was spared his life: Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws (Genesis 26:2-5).
God performed His oath to Isaac because Abraham had obeyed His voice and kept His commandments. Obedience was the condition of the oath. Had Abraham not obeyed God, He would not have fulfilled His promise. Had Isaac not obeyed God, disobedience would have stopped the promise in his life.
Isaac and his seed were Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. If we are in Christ, we are also heirs according to the promise. The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia:
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….For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female:for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:13-14, 26-29).
Jesus came to redeem Abraham’s seed. God sees the Church, as well as Abraham’s natural descendants, as that seed. We have been grafted in through faith in Jesus Christ, the Anointed. It is our blood-bought right through Him.
However, our obedience determines how much of Abraham’s blessing is manifested in our lives. That is a choice we must make. Am I going to be faithful to God and obey Him? Yes! At all costs!
Abraham’s obedience was promoted by his faith! Because he believed God he was able to hope when, in the natural, there was no hope that he would become the father of many nations. He didn’t consider his own body, even though naturally speaking it was too old to produce children. Or that Sarah was not only past childbearing age, but also that she had never been able to bear children.
But God gave Abraham a promise. God made a covenant with him and that is what Abraham believed. In other words, Abraham didn’t believe what he saw, but he believed what God said. The Word says he did not “stagger at the promise of God.” He did not give place to unbelief. He was strong in faith and fully persuaded that God was able to perform what He had promised.
Throughout his life, God appeared to Abraham at different times and told him exactly what to do. Genesis 17:1-2 says:
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect [upright]. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
So Abraham obeyed God’s voice and followed His directions. The following passage from The Amplified Bible is a picture of Abraham’s total obedience to the Father:
[Urged on] by faith Abraham when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was as a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. For he was waiting expectantly and confidently, looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God (Hebrews 11:8-10, The Amplified Bible).
By the supernatural power of God Sarah bore Abraham a son named Isaac. God gave Abraham the ultimate test as a father: to offer up his son Isaac on the altar. Look at this through Abraham’s eyes for a moment. Isaac was the son through whom he was to be the father of many nations. How could he do it? There was only one way—by faith.
By faith Abraham, when he was put to the test—that is, while the testing of his faith was still in progress—had already brought Isaac for an offering; he who had gladly received and welcomed [God’s] promises was ready to sacrifice his only son, of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your descendants be reckoned. For he reasoned that God was able to raise [him] up even from among the dead. Indeed in the sense that Isaac was figuratively dead (potentially sacrificed), he did [actually] receive him back from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19, The Amplified Bible).
Faith is believing God’s Word enough to act on it. James 2:26 says, “…faith without works is dead also.” Weymouth says, “For just as a human body without a spirit is lifeless, so also faith is lifeless without obedience.” Faith is acting on God’s Word.
Abraham is a great example of obedience and faith. In Genesis 12:1, God told Abraham to get out of his country and go away from his relatives to a land that He would show him:
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 show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.
Verse 4 of this chapter then says, “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him….”
When the Lord told Abraham that he would have seed as numerous as the stars, the Bible says, “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Abraham and Sarah had never been able to have children, even in their youth. The same day God promised him seed, He made a covenant with Abraham (whose name at the time was Abram) declaring “unto thy seed have I given this land…” (Genesis 15:18).
Later God changed his name from Abram to Abraham which meant “father of many nations.” Therefore, every time Abraham declared his new name saying, “I am Abraham,” he was declaring, “I am the father of many nations!”
Isaac was the result of Abraham’s believing what God said to him, even though it was a natural impossibility for him to have a son. Romans 4:3 says, “…Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform (Romans 4:13, 16-21).
Throughout the ages God’s Spirit continually has striven with a wicked people. At more than one point God was close to annihilating the entire human race. Noah is an example of how obedience saved mankind from being destroyed from the face of the earth.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast…for it repenteth me that I have made them (Genesis 6:5-7).
But He remembered Noah. Noah became the man of the hour. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord…. Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9).
One man saved the human race—one man who dared to be obedient to God. Noah was the last righteous man on earth. God waited as long as He could. He waited until there was only one righteous man left. Think about that!
Thank God, Noah did not do like many people today and say, “There is just too much pressure for me to live in this evil generation. After all, I’m only one man. What can I do?”
Noah heard the voice of the Lord and he obeyed. God said, “Build an ark,” so Noah built an ark. The people around him scoffed and made fun of him, but that did not stop Noah. Walking in obedience to God was more important to him than what other people had to say.
In Genesis 7, God said to Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation” (verse 1). “And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him” (verse 5). Because of one man’s obedience, the entire human race and the animal kingdom were saved from destruction.
And they went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh, in which there was the breath and spirit of life. And they that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded [Noah]; and the Lord shut him in and closed [the door] round about him (Genesis 7:15-16, The Amplified Bible).
The future of the race of man was in Noah’s hands. He was faithful to do all that God asked of him. He and his family were supernaturally preserved because he obeyed God.
While we are on this earth, evil circumstances will try to rush in like a flood and overcome us. But as long as we are walking in obedience, God will make an ark around us for protection. He will shut the door to evil and nothing can open it. The same principle will work in reverse when we disobey God. The door will close, only this time in front of us, keeping us outside, unable to live the kind of life God wants us to live.