Ben Stahl

Are You A Child of Abraham?

The point of Abraham as a father figure in Scripture is that he is a father of the faith and an example to us all of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. So then we who believe in Christ are following in the path of that father in the faith and the very fulfillment of the promise to Abraham more than 4,000 years ago that in him all nations of the earth would be blessed. We who believe in Christ are the promised children of Abraham who are like the stars of the sky in number. But notice, Abraham is an example of faith, but Abraham is not the author or the object of faith.

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:29 *
All those Jews and Gentiles who put their trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation are the children of Abraham, the Israel of God, and members of the body of Christ.
Since college one of the most common questions I have experienced Christians wrestling with is the relationship between blood relatives of Abraham (Jews) and Christians. Is God saving the Jews differently than non-Jews? Should Christians think of Jews as closer to God than anyone else? What is the relationship between the people of God in the Old Testament and the people of God in the New Testament? Do Jews go to Heaven by nature of their being Jews? Are any of the promises to Abraham helpful for us today?
The goal of this short article is not to critique my brothers and sisters in Christ who hold to a dispensationalist view. The goal rather is to demonstrate to Christians that the answer is not as complicated or mysterious as it may sometimes appear to be. That which God would have us to know about ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ through history is set down very clearly in Scripture so that we can rejoice in the Lord who brings all His elect to salvation by faith.
A discussion of the children of Abraham naturally begins with Abraham. Abraham’s name was not always Abraham as history generally remembers him but for the first ninety-nine years of his life he was named “Abram “(Genesis 11:26). Then in Genesis 17, God changed Abraham’s name from Abram to Abraham for a specific purpose:
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.
Genesis 17:5
From the introduction of Abraham’s name to history, God tells us that his name is significant because it reminds us that Abraham was never to be the father of just one nation but many nations. The children who would have the Lord as their God (Genesis 17:7-8) would be children not limited to one nation but a multitude of nations united by one faith in one Lord Jesus Christ.
From the beginning of Scripture, the Lord helps us to discern the children of Abraham with the very name of Abraham. Whenever we hear the name Abraham we should think “Father of many nations.”
Abraham’s Faith in Christ
Abraham believed God and His promises. Hebrews 11 ties together the Old Testament church and the New Testament church by the Hall of Faith telling us that as of old so now we live by Faith. Even Abraham obeyed God not by his own will but “By faith” (Hebrews 11:1). Abraham didn’t look for God to fulfill His promises in an earthly kingdom in the Middle East but “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (11:10).
Sometimes we are tempted like the Jews in John 8 to think that Abraham didn’t know anything about Jesus 2,000 years before Jesus was born. But we find in Scripture something very different. Abraham had faith in the promised Messiah to come. Jesus tells us in John 8:56, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Two thousand years before Christ, Abraham believed in and was looking for the coming of the Messiah, the Christ! Jesus who was before Abraham tells us, and Abraham saw Christ’s coming by faith! Abraham is remembered above all as a man who had faith in Christ alone for salvation – a faith that God calls all men, Jews and Gentiles, to share.
And he [Philippian jailor] brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 16:30-31
The Promise of God to Abraham
God’s promise to Abraham to be his God and the God of his seed after him, to justify him, to give him eternal life, was not through the law or by blood but by faith. From the beginning, the promise was through the righteousness of faith.
Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? 
Romans 4:9-10,13
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Pain, Presents, and a Prophecy

The great message of Scripture to all mankind is that the promised King and Savior has come. His name is called Jesus for He saves His people from their sins. Jesus Christ is the greatest gift one can receive, for the “gift of God is eternal life.” I cannot buy eternal life. You cannot buy eternal life. Forty camel loads of gold will not help you on that great day. But 2,000 years ago Christ came freely into the world to save sinners. How can you receive that gift? Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). 

So Hazael went to meet him and took a present with him, of every good thing of Damascus, forty camel-loads; and he came and stood before him, and said, “Your son Ben-Hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this disease?’” And Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover.’ However, the Lord has shown me that he will really die.”
II Kings 8:9-10 NKJV
What percentage of your assets would you give in order to recover from a deadly disease?
Governments around the world have spent billions and perhaps trillions of dollars in an attempt to recover from present diseases. Wealthy individuals have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to find and eliminate the part of DNA they assume leads to aging and death. Naaman the leper brought Elisha nearly 100 pounds of gold and silver and many other costly gifts. Perhaps Ben-Hadad remembered the great work the Lord had done for his chief general and outdid that previous gift (1), by sending forty camel-loads of “every good thing of Damascus.” He who was in great pain unto death and turmoil of soul was willing to give great possessions for help.
At the moment of trial, all the treasures of the world are of little use and will fly away from us or we will fly away from them. They cannot add a day to our lives.
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Enemy Territory?

The many headquarters of evil in the world around us should not scare the Christian. If God be for us who can possibly be against us? Certainly not any man or institution. Let us be fearless as Elisha in going into enemy territory for the sake of Christ and His glorious gospel knowing that if a host should encamp against us, our hearts should not fear; if war should rise against us, in this will we be confident: The King has come, the King is ruling, the King is conquering and saving, the King is coming again! 

Then Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, “The man of God has come here.” And the king said to Hazael, “Take a present in your hand, and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord by him, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this disease?’
II Kings 8:7-8 NKJV
Last week when reading the Bible at an abortion mill a man got out of his car, grabbed a gun, and pointed it my way. He then concealed it in his pants and cursed God and His Word as he walked around the parking lot. This mill and its customers are certainly not friends of the gospel. And yet, the Word of God goes out there and often those who come in cursing Christ leave having heard something of the Lord and His glory.
Enemy territory is not unusual territory for Christians. The whole world lies in wickedness and is opposed to God and His Word (I John 5:19). This world of darkness is exactly where the Savior went when He was incarnate and born of the virgin just as He promised (Isaiah 7:14). Most of the world did not receive the Savior but despised Him, rejected Him, and eventually killed Him. However, Jesus the God man has all power in heaven and on earth – laying down His life He then took it from the grave on the third day and rose from the dead.
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#165: Listen, Obey, and Live!

The Shunammite woman demonstrates the life found in Christ’s Word in her obedience to the Word of God. She listened to God’s warning – famine was coming. She heard God’s instruction – get away from here! She obeyed God by leaving Israel and going to the land of the Philistines. Seven years she was away from her home and country. During this time another occupied the home she had so carefully kept. But by listening to and obeying the Word of God she received the benefit, she and her family lived!

So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the man of God, and she went with her household and dwelt in the land of the Philistines seven years. It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land.
II Kings 8:2-3 NKJV
What makes the Bible unique? Walking through the airport recently I saw the best selling book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People.” Another nearby was, “How to Do the Work.” There are books teaching readers “How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids,” “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free,” and how to “Live Your Best Life Now.” So many books telling us how to do things that should make our lives more fulfilling. What we don’t find in these books, however, is what we need most, eternal life.
The Bible is altogether unique and superior to the plethora of other books for two reasons: 1) its author; and 2) its message. No other book in the universe has the same author as the Bible. The Bible is the Word of God (1). God is the author of the Bible.
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Preserving Grace

The Lord does not leave His children after He saves them. He abides with them forever, always warning, teaching, nourishing, instructing, and comforting them from His Word. Trust in the Lord dear saint for, “The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore” (Psalm 121:8). 

Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, “Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for the Lord has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years.”
II Kings 8:1 NKJV
Several years ago my wife and I watched a movie where one of the characters decided to be baptized at a random time in his life without any saving knowledge of Christ or His Word. Through the balance of the movie, this man would refer to himself as being saved because he was baptized. Sometimes Christianity is thought of as a religion where people get baptized, born again, or say a prayer and they are forever changed but without any impact on their lives. Sometimes Christ is thought of as God who delivers us and then leaves us to ourselves. The Christ of the Scripture however, does not only change one’s status before God, unjust to just, but also changes one’s life before God, dying to sin and living for Christ. Christ never leaves those whom he saves but whom He saves He sustains throughout their lives and even through death by His Word and Spirit.
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The Truth of God’s Word in Judgment

While God can set a specific time for His judgment to come upon certain men or cities (Genesis 7:4; Jonah 3:4); ordinarily, God does not promise a year, a decade, or a lifetime of opportunity to repent and embrace Christ by faith for salvation. The time to repent, believe, and be saved is now (II Corinthians 6:1-2). For those confessing Christ, the time to obey, serve, and be a profitable servant of the Lord is today, not tomorrow. Turn from sin to the savior of sinners Jesus Christ now!

Now the king had appointed the officer on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate. But the people trampled him in the gate, and he died, just as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him.
So it happened just as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, “Two seahs of barley for a shekel, and a seat of fine flour for a shekel, shall be sold tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria.” Then that officer had answered the man of God, and said, “Now look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?” And he said, “In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate, and he died.
II Kings 7:17-20 NKJV
During 2021 these devotionals have been less frequent then in 2020 primarily as the result of our church’s focus in witnessing to the lost at abortion mills in the Atlanta area. Nearly every Saturday and occasionally on weekdays, the Word of God is proclaimed to lost souls in route to murder their own children, to the staff that work at these places, to unbelievers protesting abortion, and to passers-by.
By God’s goodness, mercy, and grace, we have had the delight of seeing many mothers turn from the intentions of their hearts and save their children. Some have come to church. More than a hundred gospel tracts have gone out to parents in route or returning from an abortion.
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#161: Not Just Thinking, But Doing

The day of great news has come to believers. We were slaves to sin and death and have been bought for a price and set free by the blood of Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us. We have heard the call of the gospel and believed in Christ alone for salvation. We want to tell the news to many and live it out each and every day. 

Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household. So they went and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and told them, saying, “We went to the Syrian camp, and surprisingly no one was there, not a human sound – only horses and donkeys tied, and the tents intact.” And the gatekeepers called out, and they told it to the king’s household inside.
II Kings 7:9-11 NKJV
When I was a child I attended the funeral of an elderly church member. An unbelieving adult daughter of the deceased was present at the funeral and was quite distraught but thankful for the kindness of the church. My mother had prepared much of the luncheon and assisted the daughter in various parts of the day. After most people had left the daughter remained and told my mother how she was so moved by the love of the church to her mother that she was going to start coming to church and get right with the Lord. Later I expressed to my mother what a great event happened with the daughter from her mother’s death. My mother agreed but with a word of caution – the death of loved ones often stirs up great spiritual emotions. Promises and thoughts of ‘getting right with God’ in the future are only meaningful if they are acted upon – if the person actually repents and believes in Christ alone for salvation. I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing about the daughter again.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” This common saying highlights that good intentions without action are useless. Perhaps it was derived from several passages in Scripture like James 2:14-17.
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#160: A Day of Good News

There in the Bible, God Himself gives us the good news of salvation freely offered to sinners. He tells us of the way to escape from perishing in the fires and misery of Hell. He tells us the true way, the only way, the free way, and it is Himself. All who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation will be saved. They will not perish but have everlasting life. Though they die, they shall be with Christ in paradise and will rise again to glory at the last day. Today is a day of good news because that salvation is still offered to all the world.

“Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household.” So they went and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and told them, saying, “We went to the Syrian camp, and surprisingly no one was there, not a human sound—only horses and donkeys tied, and the tents intact.” And the gatekeepers called out, and they told it to the king’s household inside.”
II Kings 7:9-11 NKJV
What if today you discovered a perfect cure to the Covid-19 virus? You wouldn’t keep the news to yourself but after telling your friends and family you would quickly tell it to all who would listen. For all who heard and acted on the cure it would be a day of great news! In our text today, the cure for Samaria’s deadly plight of starvation was not an imagination but a reality.
At first, the outcast lepers kept the news of Syria’s flight secret. They hid some treasures for themselves. However, they soon realized they were not doing what was good and must share the good news of the day with the King and all of Samaria. They went back to the city with the news. Samaria had been delivered. Life was coming to those who were near death from starvation. It was a day of great news to be told to all who would hear.
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#159: The Mercy of the Lord

The Lord Jesus Christ came to the world and kept the whole law for a wayward people. He bore the wrath of God for us sinners and died on the cross. Perhaps for a righteous man one would die but Jesus died for unrighteous men. Who has ever shown such mercy like that? Not Mary, nor Elisha, Paul, or Peter. 

And when these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they went into one tent and ate and drank, and carried from it silver and gold and clothing, and went and hid them; then they came back and entered another tent, and carried some from there also, and went and hid it.
II Kings 7:8 NKJV
Who is as merciful as the Lord?
When Vatican II wrapped up in 1965, Mariology was brought to a new official level in the Roman Catholic Church. The catechism gave her the title, “mediatrix” (RCC #969). Numerous Popes prior to Vatican II and afterwards titled her “co-redeemer” (Benedict, 1918, John Paul II, 1980). Popes and Priests of Rome regularly refer to Mary as the “Spouse of the Holy Spirit,” “Queen of the Apostles,” “the Ark of the New Covenant,” and of course the 9th part of the Rosary begins “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our Life… most gracious advocate.”
When witnessing to Roman Catholics they often ask me, “would you rather go to the mother for help and mercy or to the son?” Pope John Paul II said it this way, “who will better communicate to you the truth about him (Jesus) than his Mother? (John Paul II’s Book of Mary, p. 23). The question is meant to come across as sound reason – surely we would go to the mother of the Lord for mercy rather than to the Lord because who could be more merciful than a mother? After all, she is the mother of mercy and most gracious advocate…right?
These ideas about Mary have many presuppositions including: that Jesus Christ could be less merciful than some other; that Mary is more merciful than Jesus Christ; that Mary can hear all people; that she is omniscient; and that Mary has power to show mercy to all who call upon her.
When looking at Scripture we see something quite different from Rome’s arguments.
But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion and gracious, long suffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
Psalm 86:15
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
I Chronicles 16:34
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