Joseph, a Man of Faith

Sunday, September 4, 2011

“By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22 KJV).

The book of Genesis closes with: “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (50:24-26).

Prior to Jacob’s death, he told his son Joseph: “God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said unto me, Behold I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 48:3,4).

When Joseph died, Israel was in Egypt (recall that Joseph’s brothers sold him into Egyptian slavery, and Joseph’s family escaped famine in Canaan by joining him in Egypt; Genesis chapters 37-46). Joseph had faith in what God had promised his great-grandfather Abraham, his grandfather Isaac, and his father Jacob. Israel would eventually leave Egypt to forever return to Canaan, the Promised Land.

Some 140 years after Joseph died, Moses led the nation Israel out of Egypt. The Bible says, “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you” (Exodus 13:19).

Through the eyes of faith, Joseph foresaw the day—over a century into the future—when his remains would lie in Canaan’s soil. God had been faithful to Israel, delivering them from Egypt as He promised. Through the eyes of faith, we see ourselves already in heaven. God will be just as faithful in delivering us.

Fallen from Grace?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4 KJV).

Today’s Scripture has been greatly misunderstood, often being used to support the idea of loss of salvation. The Galatians were saved because Paul called them “brethren” nine times (1:11, 3:15, 4:12, 4:28, 4:31, 5:11, 5:13, 6:1, 6:18).

“Fallen from grace” describes many Holy Spirit-indwelt Christians today. They are saved, eternally secure in Christ Jesus, but like the poor Galatians, they have fallen prey to denominationalism. They have inadvertently or deliberately abandoned God’s grace to us in Christ. Sadly, they prefer Israel’s legalistic program of time past.

Galatians 3:1-3 could be written to today’s average “Bible-believing” church: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”

Protestant and Catholic churches force their members to keep the Mosaic Law in order to gain favor with God. Are we saved by keeping the Law? No. We are saved by God’s grace, apart from our works (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5). How do our Christian lives operate? On the basis of Law? No. Our Christian lives operate by Christ living in and through us, not us living the Christian life (Galatians 2:20).

“I do not frustrate [hinder, make of no effect] the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:21). The way you prevent God’s grace from operating in your Christian life is to force yourself back under Israel’s yoke of bondage, the Mosaic Law. At that point, your Christian life will be utterly destroyed, like the Galatians’.

Brethren, do not fall from grace. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).