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And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. (Genesis 24:1~7)
The Two Opposing Lives
The Bible speaks to us of the world of faith. The life of a person who has faith is very different from a person who has no faith. There was no electricity at the house in which I lived in the Korean country side. Then when electricity came, our home became well lit and our lives had become extremely changed. Once we had electricity, we could watch television, use a refrigerator, and turn on an air conditioner. Likewise, once I got a car, my life also changed very much; so much so, that my life afterwards could in no way be compared to my life before. God is with us and Jesus is at our side. People with faith have Jesus in their hearts while those without faith do not have Jesus in theirs. In other words, though you may have a car, you cannot use it if you do not believe that you have one. Though you may have electricity, you cannot use it if you think you do not have it. Such people are without faith. Although God is there helping people like them, they do not try to solve their problems through God. They do not try to receive the grace and mercy of God, but try to do whatever it takes to accomplish things on their own. The unique characteristic of those who are without faith is they do not believe God will work, and labor on their own to do everything themselves. In certain ways, Abraham was the same. God clearly promised Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation.” When God promised this, if Abraham believed, saying, “God will give me many descendents,” then he would have true freedom and peace. However, since he did not have faith, Abraham labored himself to have a son when he became old. This was not only true with Abraham, but everyone’s spiritual lives appear to be this way. For example, if you do not know the will and providence of God whose Son was crucified to forgive our sins, we strain ourselves to be freed from sin. Doing this, however, will not free us from sin, but we continue to do what we do only because we cannot believe that God will free us from sin. When there were difficult problems, pains, or worries in my life, I did not have the power to take care of those problems, but I would have peace and rest when I obtained the faith that God is with me and takes care of those problems. God works when we look to God. The Bible says in Mark chapter 11, verse 24, Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. The Bible is clearly saying that if you believe that God will accomplish something, it shall be done. But since people do not have the faith that God will accomplish everything and since they feel that God will not, there are many people who are trying to accomplish these things themselves.
The Point Where Abraham Changed
Up to a certain point, Abraham lived without faith in God. He did follow God concerning certain things and God did bless Abraham concerning those things. In addition, God did work upon Abraham, but it was at the age of 99 that Abraham was able to obtain true faith. God appeared unto Abraham when he was 99 and said, “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram; but thy name shall be Abraham: for a father of many nations have I made thee.” Then He said, “Your wife Sarah shall bear thee a son.” At that very moment, when Abraham looked at himself, it seemed that there was no way he could have a son. In addition, his wife, Sarah, was old and it had ceased to be with her after the manner of women. Therefore, he felt that it would be even more difficult for his wife to have a child because she could not even have one when she was young. Therefore, Abraham laughed and answered, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” In that instant, God fought with Abraham. “No. Your wife Sarah shall surely give you a son and thou shalt call his name Isaac.” When God said this twice, the heart of Abraham that till now could not believe he would have a child changed through hearing these words. “This was my thought. But why won’t I have a son if God allows me to? Since God said that I will surely have a son, God will give me a son!” From then on Abraham’s faith to believe in God changed. Before, he heard the Word of God upon the foundation of his own experience and knowledge. Now he was ignoring all of that and received the word of God exactly as it was. When he had faith and his heart became one with the heart of God who said that a son would be given, the work of God started. We need this process as we live our spiritual life. There has to be that process of your own thoughts changing from the world of thought based on your own experience and living. When time passed and Isaac was grown, God one day called Abraham to give Isaac for a burnt offering on Mt. Moriah. Before, he would have said, “How could I kill my loving son? I can’t do that . . . .” But Abraham knew precisely the heart of God. “Since He said that He would give me many descendents through Isaac, Isaac will ultimately live and have a son!” Therefore Abraham did not hesitate in giving Isaac for a burnt offering. Abraham had the faith that even if he kills Isaac, burn him, and turn him into ashes, God will revive Isaac according to the promise of God, and provide many descendents like the stars of the sky and sands of the seashore through Isaac. Abraham knew precisely that it was God’s work, not his, to have many descendents born through Isaac. Therefore, there was nothing for him to do, and he had much freedom and peace.
The Old Servant’s Conflict
More time passed and it was time for Isaac to marry. Abraham thought about this. Isaac had to be married in order for him to become a great nation. However, if a woman who cannot have a child marries into the family, it would not be a problem because God would make it so they would have a son. Even if a woman who was nothing but skin and bones married into the family, it would not matter because God would make her strong. For example, if God causes a person to become a king, then even David, the shepherd, becomes king. When God made Joseph a governor, although he was a prisoner just a day before for the attempted rape of his master’s wife, Joseph, who was locked in prison, became governor. Abraham had the faith to believe. Before, however, he did not have the faith to believe in God and thus labored and strained to have a son himself. But now, he came to read the heart of God. He was one hundred-years-old and his wife was so old that it had ceased to be with her after the manner of women. But regardless of that, Abraham had the faith that since it is God who will give him a son to fulfill His promise, ultimately God would accomplish His will. Abraham was now free concerning the finding of a wife for Isaac. “I do not have to go to find a wife for my son.” He thus sent his old servant from his household. “Go and bring back the woman who will be my son, Isaac’s, wife.” Upon hearing Abraham’s words that he should bring back the woman who would be his son’s wife, the old servant was much burdened. Why? Abraham had the faith to believe in God, but the servant did not have that faith in his heart. “I wish the master’s son could come with me . . . .” This way, he would then be free because now it would be a woman chosen by Isaac himself. “What woman would see an old man like me and come along?” He then asked Abraham, “If the woman does not want to follow me, why don’t I take the master’s son and show her the son to have her come with me?” “Do not take my son there. Why should he go to the land God took us out of? God clearly promised that He will give me seed like the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore. For this He has surely prepared Isaac’s wife. Hence, go.” The old servant changed his heart upon listening to Abraham. “That’s right. God has worked this way upon my master and He will have already prepared the master’s daughter-in-law.”
Faith Is Confirming the Heart of God
Abraham became free from all things once knowing the heart of God. A great nation will be fulfilled through Isaac, and God planned to have the Messiah who would save mankind be born from among his descendents. Therefore, he believed that the will of God would be accomplished no matter what happened. Hence, Abraham felt completely free. Many people are fooled into thinking that going to church, reading the Bible, and keeping the Word of God is believing in God. That is not faith. True faith is to know the heart of God and believe that God will accomplish everything. You must confirm this with the heart of God. For example, suppose I went to a friend of mine to borrow money and for one reason or another he refuses. What I want to know is this friend’s heart. “Does he have the intention of loaning me the money but cannot afford to? Or is he making excuses because he does not want to loan me the money?” I would try to feel my friend’s heart. “Ah, this friend has no heart whatsoever to loan me the money.” Then I do not need to speak to him about money again. On the other hand, if my friend said, “I apologize. I don’t have the money right now, but I think there will be some money in my account tomorrow morning. Would it be okay for me to give you the money tomorrow morning?” I could confirm that my friend has the heart to loan me the money. Therefore, I will feel free. Abraham believed his own thoughts before confirming the heart of God. However, he came to believe God through knowing the will and heart of God within the Word of God. “God has made up His mind to give me a son. He has decided to give me many descendents through my son, Isaac. So He will do so!” Because this assurance of faith entered Abraham’s heart, there was no need for Abraham to labor in order to find a wife for Isaac because it was now God’s work. God would do this. This is what spiritual life is.
The Condition Is, “Is God Pleased with This?”
I have faced many difficulties as I have lived inside the Lord until now. When I began preaching the gospel, I tried to hold a retreat. We did not have a retreat site or money, so we came together every evening and held prayer meetings. The brothers would work hard all day long and come to the prayer services in the evenings. They would be so tired and would fall asleep while praying most of the time. One person would wake up, pray and fall asleep, then another person would pray and fall asleep. That was how the prayer meetings began. Since we had no means or methods, we prayed. After praying for about a week, it was amazing to see we were all gaining strength when we prayed, despite our fatigue. After praying like this for about two weeks, nothing in the circumstances had changed, but we had the heart that God was pleased with us having a retreat. When we prayed a little longer, we had the heart, “God will allow us to have the retreat, if He is pleased!” Later, we had faith and prayers, such as, “God, thank you. We have no doubt that you will do this for us,” flow out freely from us. Now, our prayers did not end with worries or concerns, but with thankfulness. The time for the retreat was nearing and we still had no money, and there was nothing we could do. However, we felt so free and peaceful because we had faith towards God. Then we saw all of these things being accomplished. After having had many such experiences, as I did the work of the gospel, I did not want to know, “Is this humanly possible or not?” but I rather wanted to know, “Is God pleased with this or not?” When we first prayed, we prayed to God for our requests, but as we continued to pray, the heart of God became absorbed into us. As this continued for some time, we saw the heart of God and had faith, “Regardless of how this looks to man, it will be accomplished because it is the will of God!” Then we had true freedom. When our hearts became closer to God and we came to know God’s heart, we had rest and God worked from that point on. I have continued to see how God often accomplishes what is humanly impossible.
Once You Know the Heart of God
In receiving the forgiveness of sins, it is not that you have to find something in order to have the assurance of forgiveness of sin. Whether you are crying, have a burning sensation, are overwhelmed, or what not, such things are not important. You must search the heart of God because it is He who forgives sins, not you. We must open the Bible and seek the heart of God because we do not know the heart of God. Just as Abraham gained freedom concerning all things once he knew the heart of God, all things are taken care of for us concerning the problem of having our sins forgiven once we know what the heart of God is. “Ah, God wants to wash my sins away. That is why He sent His son, Jesus. If He allowed His son to be crucified, why would He hesitate in washing my sins away? God had Jesus crucified so that my sins could be washed away. God would not have offered His son if my sins could not be washed away even through the death of Jesus on the cross. Then Jesus washed my sins away through being crucified! My sins are washed away!” This is confirming with the Scriptures. Regardless of how it seems to you, if your sins are washed in the heart of God, they are washed. Read the heart of God in the Scriptures to confirm that your sins are washed away, and there you will gain the assurance of the forgiveness of sin. Saying, “I began to cry during prayer,” “I felt a burning,” or “My entire body was tingling,” is not proof that you received the forgiveness of sin. Since it is God who forgives sin, you must gain the assurance of the forgiveness of sin not from yourself, but from God. It is difficult because people do not know this and try to gain assurance through their own emotions and feelings.
Then God Will Accomplish!
For a long time Abraham had decided everything through his thoughts. But one day he saw, not his own heart, but the heart of God. “God wants to give me a son.” He now clearly knew this. “A great nation will be formed through this son. This can be done because this is the heart of God. In finding a daughter-in-law, God has prepared a wife that is best for Isaac. Therefore, it will not be a problem even if I do not go and only my old servant goes.” Abraham had this faith. All the things I had to do also disappeared when I came to know the heart of God. I only need to believe because God has done everything to wash my sins away. I also saw that it was God who does the work of the gospel after salvation. “This is how God works! Then God will accomplish everything!” I had so much freedom and peace. Then, when I had this faith, I could see God working upon me. In the Bible, there is a time when man is at work and a time when God is at work. It is always a problem when man is at work, but every time God works, all things become blessed. It is difficult when you try to do it yourself because you do not have the faith to believe in God. True faith is to know the heart of God, believe that He will work, and place your hope there.