Now in Genesis chapter 12, at the very beginning of the chapter, it says, "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 shew 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: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.'
So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came."
Now this is a really famous passage of scripture, talking about the call of Abram to leave Ur of the Chaldees and just to go out into a land that God would show him. This was one of the most important moments in Abram's life, because in Hebrews chapter 11, when the Bible is extolling the faith of Abraham, the first thing it brings up, it says, by faith, Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place that he should after receipt for an inheritance, obeyed. He went out not knowing whether he went.
That was one of the things that showed his faith, that he was willing to make that trip to Canaan. Even though he did not receive the inheritance in his lifetime, he made that trip to Canaan, sight unseen, to go to a land that God would show him.
What's interesting about this passage is that it's easy sometimes to overlook verse 1, where the bible says, ""Now the Lord had said unto Abram." When you're reading this, you would just expect it to say, "The Lord said to Abram, go out, father's house," and so forth, but it says past tense: "The Lord had said unto Abram."
This is something that God had already told Abram to do. Why is that important? Back up, if you would, to chapter 11:26. It says in 11:26: "Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran." Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran begot Lot. Haran died before his father, Terah, in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. Abram and Nahor took them wives. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah, but Sarai was bare and she had no child.
Here are the key verses. Look at verse 31: "And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran."
Now turn, if you would, to Acts chapter 7. While you're turning there, let me explain to you the significance of what we just saw in Genesis chapter 11. Because the story comes out as a little bit out of order as it were, some people, I think, miss this truth. It goes over their head, because in chapter 11, it just talks about Terah packing up the family and taking them to go into Canaan. Then they stopped in Haran and dwelled there. Then in chapter 12, it says, "The Lord has said unto Abraham, 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred," watch this, "and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee."
Now let me ask you this: did Abram leave his father's house and go into the land that God told him to go into? No, he didn't. He did not leave his father's house. Instead his father ended up coming with him. In fact, when you read the story, it's clear. His father was the one that was running the show. His father was leading the whole group. It says Terah took Abram and Terah took all these people.
They went out to Canaan, but they didn't make it to Canaan. They stopped and they dwelled in Haran. If you look at the way the language reads there, when it says that they dwelled in Haran, and if you compare this to all these other passages - Acts 7, Joshua 24, et cetera - you'll see that they ended up just stopping and just living in Haran. They dwelled there. They didn't just stop there as a pit stop. They said, "We're going to live here. We're stopping here. We're not going all the way. It was only when Terah died that Abram actually obeyed the commandment and went into Canaan.
Look at chapter 7 of Acts and I'll show you what I mean, verse 2. The Bible reads: "And he said Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia," watch this, "before he dwelt in Haran." Do you see that? God appeared to him and told him to go into Canaan before he went to Haran back when he was in Ur of the Chaldees. That's why it said in Genesis 12 that God had said unto him to do that.
Then in verse 3, it says, "And said unto him, 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.' Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell." Now it's clear from Acts chapter 7 that Abram did not leave Haran until his dad was dead. Once his dad was dead, that's when he left Haran and went to Canaan, like God had originally told him to do.
Flip back, if you would, to Genesis chapter 11. Now the reason this is such an important point is because, obviously, Abraham was a great man of God. There's no question about that. He's a prophet of God. He was greatly used by God. He was a man of great faith, but Abraham made a lot of mistakes throughout his life. There were things that Abraham did that were wrong.
We just read in the chapter, before the preaching began, about how Abraham had lied and told people that his wife was really his sister because he was afraid to tell them the truth that it was his wife. That led to all kinds of problems and bad things. He does that repeatedly. Then Isaac, his son, ends up doing the same thing and learning the same thing from his father.
We already know, of course, the major sin that Abraham committed when he went into Hagar, the handmaiden, begot a child with her that would later become Ishmael, that would be someone who would grow up to be a wild man. He would be the father of a lot of wicked nations.
We see that Abraham was not a perfect person. All the men in the Bible were imperfect. They all made mistakes. They all did things that were wrong. In Genesis 11 and 12 here, we see the first thing that Abraham did wrong in his life. This one we're first introduced to Abraham, and God appears to him. You have to put together the pieces from reading chapter 11, chapter 12, reading Acts 7. You have to put together the pieces and understand what's happening in the story.
God appears unto Abram when he's in Ur of the Chaldees and tells him, "Leave your father's house. Leave your kindred. Leave your relatives. Leave everything behind and go into a land that I will show thee." Just to emphasize this, you don't have to turn there, but in Isaiah 51:2, it says, "Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him."
God was not calling Terah. God was not calling Lot. God was not calling Nahor and all these other guys. God was calling Abraham alone to leave those people behind and to take a great step of faith and to go that promised land to go into Canaan, but he did not do it. What ended up actually happening was his dad decided to get in on the trip. Terah said, "I'm going to go, too." In fact, if you look down at your Bible there in Genesis chapter 11, it says in verse 21, "And Terah took Abram his son." Abram is not even the leader; dad's the leader. What you have to understand is that Terah was not a saved man. Terah was an ungodly man who worshiped false gods according to Joshua 24 and elsewhere.
Here's the dad that Abraham's told to forsake. "Leave this guy behind and you go into the land that I'll show thee." Instead he ends up going with dad. In fact, dad becomes the leader of the trip. The Bible makes it clear - look at verse 31 there - it says, "Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan." Where are they headed?
Canaan. Isn't that where Abraham was told to go? Abraham is obeying God in the sense that he's heading for Canaan, but he's disobeying God in the sense that he did not leave his father's house. He did not leave his kindred. He goes with them. He rides along with them. Then what ends up happening? They don't make it to their destination.
I believe strongly that if Abraham would have been on his own, obeying God, doing what he was supposed to do, he would have no reason to stop in Haran. It was because he went with the wrong people, he didn't make it to the destination. That's why it says, "They came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran." That tells me that the reason that they were staying in Haran was because of Terah, because as soon as he's out of the picture, he goes all the way. He goes to Canaan.
Look, do you see how people can hold you back from serving God? Here it was even his own father that was holding him back from serving God. A lot of times we think to ourselves, "If I hang around with people that are ungodly or if I hang around with people that are not saved and I'm good friends with them, I'm going to be a good influence on them. I'm going to bring them along with me and get them to the destination."
Why not bring Terah? Why not bring Lot along? Why not bring these people along? They're family. It's not enough just for us to be saved. You want to make sure that they come along, too. You know what? That's not what God told him to do. God told him, "Leave these people behind," because God knew that those people were going to do nothing, but hold him back and be a bad influence on him. God knew what he was talking about.
Of course, we knew how Lot ended up acting. We know how Lot's life ended up. We know what kind of a guy he was. He was a very poor example of a Christian. Yes, he did believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that he will be in heaven. He trusts in the Lord. Obviously, he didn't know the name of Jesus, but he trusts in the Lord as an Old Testament saint would and called upon the name of the Lord because the Bible does say that he's a righteous man or a just man, but, when we look at his life, his life was a complete failure.
We know Terah, the Bible makes it clear, worshiped other gods. It never talks about him getting saved. In fact, Abram, I don't believe that he got saved until he got to Canaan, because, when he gets to Canaan, the Bible makes it clear that they're called upon the name of the Lord. The Bible used the term "calling upon the name of the Lord" about salvation. When he gets there, he calls upon the name of the Lord. In Joshua 24, the Bible makes it real clear ... Flip over there, if you would. Keep your finger on Genesis 11, but flip over to Joshua 24.
Joshua chapter 24 tells a little bit more about the same story. It says in verse 2, "And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac."
Jump down to verse 14: "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
The Bible says that their fathers - Terah, Abraham, Nahor - served other gods on the other side of the flood. That flood that it's referring to is the River Euphrates. Ur of the Chaldees and Haran are on the other side of the River Euphrates. Then, when they went into Canaan, they came over across to the other side of the flood. That's where the Bible says that Abraham called upon the name of the Lord.
He was held back by even his own father that was an ungodly influence in his life, that seemed like he wanted to serve God. "Son, if God's telling you to go to Canaan, let's go to Canaan, son. If that's what God's calling you to do, let's do it." Then along the journey, he takes command, he takes over, and says, "You know what, Abraham? We're just going to stay right here, son. We're just going to stay in Haran. I think this is what God wanted. I think he just wanted us to come to this point and over ... "
Abraham knew that wasn't true because, as soon as Terah's gone, he goes all the way and goes to Canaan where God had told him to. Until then he's in disobedience. He's not in the will of God.
I wonder how many things in the future of Abraham's life is affected. This changes the whole timing of Abraham's life. He could have been in the will of God sooner, been blessed by God sooner, gotten saved sooner. He could have had his life turn out differently. He gets to Canaan just in time for there to be a big famine when he gets there.
Think about it. If he would have gone when God told him to go, he might have been more well-established by that time and he might not have needed to even go down to Egypt and run into all the problems in Egypt. Then he picks up the Egyptian handmaiden in Egypt, Hagar from Egypt. He wouldn't have had to go there and if he would have got there early enough, got there on time, before the famine hit, and got established, got himself setup. He might have been able to weather that famine. Maybe God wouldn't have even sent the famine. Who knows?
A lot of times when we look at God's commands, we think that we know better than God. We think, "If God's telling me to go to Canaan and leave my father's house and kindred, the important part is just that I get to Canaan, but I can bring these other people with me. It's not going to slow me down. In fact, it's going to help them. I can be a good influence on them," but, in fact, they were a bad influence upon him. Where did I return? Did I return anywhere?
Joshua 24. That's the last place. Go to Matthew chapter 8. Here's some New Testament scriptures that tie in with this story about how Abraham failed to leave his father and his father's house behind. It ended up causing him to just waste a bunch of time and fool around in Haran, when he shouldn't have even been there in the first place. He ends up taking Lot. He really shouldn't have even taken Lot. He was supposed to just get away from his kindred, get away from his father's house and just go on his own and go solo.
That's not always an easy thing to do to forsake people in our lives, but there are some people that we'd be better off without in our lives, unfortunately, that are just slowing us down. They're just holding us back.
Look at what the Bible says in Matthew 8:18. It says, "Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, 'I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." And Jesus saith unto him, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.'
And another of his disciples said unto him, 'Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their dead.' And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him." This is a story about a guy who wants to follow Jesus, but he says, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." Jesus said, "Follow Me, and let the dead to bury their dead."
Flip over to Matthew 10. That tells me that God did not think it was right for Abraham to stop and wait. When God tell us to do something, he wants us to do it now. If God comes to you and says, "You need to depart from your house, leave your kindred, leave everything behind and go to Canaan," he doesn't want you to take years and years and years and years at some pit stop fooling around waiting.
Here, Jesus was not even willing to wait long enough for this guy to bury his father. He just said, "Follow me right now. I don't have time to wait for you. I have a 3-1/2-year ministry." He's saying, "Follow me now or somebody else will follow me." Of course, the guy doesn't end up coming along, because if you'd study the story, it says the 12 disciples that got on the ship with him.
Look at chapter 10:24. It says, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
Here Jesus Christ says that even sometimes your own family members can be enemies to you. He said, "A man's foes can be they of his own household." Obviously, we should love our family and love our parents and love our brothers and sisters, and the Bible teaches that we should honor our father and mother and we should not despise our mother when she's old and we should take care of our parents. The Bible says that we should learn to requite our parents when they become widows or when they become elderly and decrepit. The Bible says that we should learn first piety at home and to requite our parents. That is acceptable with God.
Our parents that paved for us and raised us and took care of us, when they get old, if they can't support themselves, if they can't afford to live, if they're widowed and so forth, it's our job, as believers, to take care of them, to pay for them, and to be a blessing to them as a recompense for the fact that they cared for us when we were young. At the same time, the Bible also teaches that even a parent or even a brother or sister or someone who is our relative can be a bad influence in our life, can be someone that's dragging us down, that is an ungodly person. The Bible says sometimes we have to forsake those people in our lives.
God wanted to do something special with Abraham. He wanted him to become a great nation. He chose him out of all the people on the earth for this special job of being the founder of that later would be the nation of Israel and later would bring the forth the Lord Jesus Christ out of his loins. This is an important thing for him to do. God said, "I don't want Terah coming along and messing things up. I don't want Nahor messing ... I don't want Lot to mess things up." Obviously, it would have been hard for Abraham to forsake family, but that's what God told him to do, and he failed to do it. He disobeyed. Therefore, I think that he suffered repercussions for that later in his life.
The Bible tells us here that God's word can cause at to be at variance against our father or against our mother or against those of our own household. That's why the Bible says in verse 37, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
If it comes to alienating your parents or alienating God, if it comes to obeying your parents or obeying God, the Bible is pretty clean on who you're supposed to obey, isn't it?
We ought to obey God supremely. Hopefully, our families can have harmony and we can live at peace with all of our relatives. I thank God that throughout most of my life I've lived in harmony with most of my relatives, but you know what? There are a lot of relatives that I've had to separate from over the years. Then some of them I could later be friends with and some people I've had to forsake and leave behind because, honestly, I have to love God and love the Lord Jesus Christ first and put them first.
A lot of people, when their family starts to attack them as they begin serving God, they give in to that pressure of family. You know what I'm talking about because probably everybody has experienced it to some degree. I not as much because I did grow up in a Christian home, but I guarantee you that probably everybody, to some degree, has experienced some persecution from family, whether it's from parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, whatever, the relatives, trying to hold you back. You know what? They don't mind you serving God halfway.
Think about it. They're okay with going to Haran. Going to Haran is fine, but when you want to go all the way to Canaan, it's like, "Whoa there, buddy." It's interesting because Haran is right on that border of the land of Mesopotamia. It's right on the Euphrates. It's just right near that. It's just right there on the borderline.
Family wants you to be half-in, half-out sometimes. "Oh, it's so great that you're going to church, that you're reading the Bible, that you're Christian," but just they don't want you to go too far. 3 times a week is just too much. Knocking doors and going soul-winning is just too extreme. When you start throwing the TV out, you've just gone too far. "You need to come back to Haran and hang out with us for a while."
When you want to actually make big changes in your life and serve God ... For example, maybe you start having a lot of kids and people start freaking out because you're not on birth control, because you're actually having a lot of children, you're being [inaudible 22:46]. They're okay with the Haran level of children. You have 4 children and they're like, "Okay. That's a big family, but whatever. Haran's fine. We're back here at Ur of the Chaldees with 1.5. You want to have 4 ... " When you start getting into 6, 7, 8, 9, "Oh, what are you, extreme, radical, crazy?" This is what it is.
You know what? It is crazy just to leave and go into a land that you've never seen because God told you to, but you know what? That's what God told him to do, and that's what God expects of us. God expects us to go all the way. God expects us to love him with our entire soul and mind and strength. He expects us to be all the way in, not half-in, not half-out, not one foot in the world and one foot in the things of God, one foot in Mesopotamia.
We're just right there on the banks of the Euphrates River, hanging around in Haran, and we've got our one foot toward the Promised Land and one foot toward where we came from. You know what? It's easy to get stuck there. Abraham couldn't stand up to his father, or maybe he just didn't want to leave his father's house. It doesn't really give us the detail of why he just hang around in Haran. As long as Terah was there, he hang around and waited.
Some people, I've heard, have doubted this. They've said that it's not really true that Abraham stayed in Haran until his dad died. Go back to Genesis 11. I'll show you why people make this claim, and it's not true. They're wrong.
Now, first of all, I disagree with Steven, because Steven preached in Acts chapter 7 and said that when Terah died, that's when Abraham went into Canaan. That's when he left Haran. That's the way the story reads in Genesis 11 and 12 also, but I've heard some people get up and say, "No, no, that's not true. He left Haran before his father died." Here's why they say that. Let me just show you this, just to teach you the Bible a little bit.
It says in verse 26 of chapter 11 ... By the way, this is why anytime you buy a chart that has the age of the earth, you can go on a lot of creation ministries and get an age of the earth chart, where it'll show you how ... This is why they're all wrong. 100% of them are wrong. I went on Google Images and just looked up just charts of the age of the earth, and they all have this wrong.
I think they're just copying off each other because they all make the same 2 mistakes. They're always wrong about what I'm about to show you. Then they're always wrong. They always have the time of Israel in Egypt for 215 years, when the Bible says they were there for 430. Crystal clear, multiple verses say that to the day the children of Israel, not counting from when Abraham was called, no, the children - plural - of Israel dwelled in Egypt for 430 years. They all have that wrong. Make your own chart, or somebody needs to start selling the right chart, if anything.
They all get this wrong because look at verse 26 of chapter 11. It says, "And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran." Every chart shows Abram as being born when Terah was 70 years old. You say, "That's what the verse says. He lived 70 years and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran." Here's the problem: they weren't triplets. He lived 70 years and then he begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. They weren't all born the same year. That's when he began having children.
Now you can find the exact same parallel many places in the Old Testament because a lot of times, the Bible will list off a bunch of children like this. For example, with Noah. The Bible says that Noah was 500 years old and he begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Again, not triplets, not all born the same year. What order are they given in? Shem then Ham then Japheth. That is not the order that they were born in, just like this is not the order they were born in. Here's why: God always puts the important person first. He puts the person first that has the preeminent, and the ancestor of Jesus Christ ends up getting listed first.
For example, Ephraim and Manasseh. They're always listed that way aren't they? Ephraim and Manasseh, Ephraim and Manasseh, but which one was older? Manasseh. Because, if you remember, Manasseh was older. That's when Jacob reached out and he switched his hands like this and he said, "I know Manasseh's the first born, but Ephraim will be greater," and so Ephraim was always listed first.
Think about the disciples. When the disciples are listed, the first Peter, the first Simon who was called Peter. Is really Peter the first disciple? No, because Andrew is the one who even brought him on board. Jesus had Andrew following and then he went and got Peter in John chapter 1.
What I'm saying is that God lists people often in order of importance, like Shem, Ham, and Japheth. I can prove to you that Shem was not the first born because the Bible says that after the flood, Shem was 102 years old, showing that he was born a couple of years after Noah was 500. If you do the math, you'll see that it was ... I don't have the numbers in front of me, but if you do the math on it, you'll see Shem couldn't have been the first born because the math doesn't add up, that he was actually born a few years after. He's listed first because he's the most important because he's the one that Abraham comes from, and Isaac and Jacob.
Here when we see that Terah lived 70 years and begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran, it's just saying he started having children at age 70, and these are the 3 children that he had, but he didn't have them all back-to-back. Now the proof of that is that it says in verse 32, "The days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran." When Terah died in Haran, how old was he? 205.
Now jump down to verse 4 of chapter 12. It says, "So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran." Now I know this math is really complicated, but try to do it in your head here. Abraham was 75 when he lives Haran. If he left Haran when Terah died, like Acts 7 says, that means that Abraham was 75 when Terah was 205, which means that Terah was how old when Abraham was born?
130 years old. When the Bible says, "Terah lived 70 years and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran," those other brothers were older brothers. That's why one of them died before Abraham even left because he was a much older man. Haran died because he was older. The Bible is not telling us here that Terah was 70 when he had Abraham, but rather when he begat children, and these 3 were born.
Steven tells us in Acts chapter 7 that it was when he died that they left Haran. Therefore, Terah was 130 years old when Abraham was born, which makes every age of the earth chart false. They're all wrong by 60 years at this point. What's 60 years in the scheme of things anyway? At least they're not saying it's billions of years old, or they start off saying it's 8 to 10,000. It's probably more like 6300 is what it comes down to. Because they shave off 100 here, a 100 there, they like to say it's 6000. It's really more like 6300 at least, maybe a couple more, but it's definitely not 8000.
I'm not going to go into all that tonight. I just want to show you that one point, that if we look at what Steven said and then we understand the numbers a little bit, we do see that it was the death of Terah that sparked Abraham to actually go all the way and go to Canaan land.
Now go to 2 Corinthians chapter 6. What can we learn from this story? What do we learn from the fact that Abraham did not leave his father's house as he was told to, and ended up only going halfway, not making it all the way to Canaan land until many years later, when he was finally separated from the person he was supposed to separate from all along?
We learn that it's very important in our lives that we separate from bad influences and people that are slowing us down and hindering our walk with God. Now this is something that the Bible clearly teaches in the New Testament also. First of all, we need to separate ourselves from unbelievers. Now, obviously, we work with people that are unsaved and we interact with people that are unsaved, we have acquaintances or people that we deal with on a regular basis that are unsaved, but those should not be our close friends and those should not be people that we yoke up with and team up with and spend a lot of time with. We need to be closest with people that are saved.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,' saith the Lord, 'and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters,' saith the Lord Almighty."
Now the most important application for this scripture is when it comes to marriage. The worst thing that you can do is to marry someone who is not a believer. The Bible is telling us here not to be "unequally yoked together with unbelievers. what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" Then can you imagine God condoning of us, being married to somebody that's not even saved? That's the closest relationship there is on this earth. That's the closest bond that there is. Marrying someone who is unsaved is very much against what the scripture is teaching. That is going to keep you from getting to Canaan land, my friends. It's going to keep you from serving God. It's going to hold you back more than anything when you marry someone who is not saved.
Look, if you're already married to somebody who is not saved, you're supposed to stay with that person and just try your hardest to get them saved. If you're married to an unsaved person, you strive to get them saved. Under no circumstances do you just leave your spouse and say, "You're holding me back. You're slowing me down from serving God. I'm going to leave." No. If they're not saved, you stay with the anyway.
Listen, young people, you better take this seriously. Don't make the mistake of getting married to an unbeliever. You for whom it is not too late, marry someone that is saved so you can be equally yoked. By the way, you should not even be dating an unbeliever because what happens when you're dating an unbeliever, you're playing with fire because now you're getting all emotionally attached and all in love with somebody who is not even saved. Then you could easily end up just getting backslidden, marrying that person. Then, later on, you're going to deal with the consequences.
All kinds of people all over America and all over the world that grow up in a Christian home, that grow up in church, and they hear this kind of preaching, and yet they go out and they start dating unbelievers. You've seen it. I've seen it. I've known ... Who has known good, godly, Christian young people that grow up and date and marry unbelievers? Of course, probably everybody who's been in church for a long time has seen that happen. The Bible is warning us very strongly, and I will do everything in my power to teach this to my children and to make sure that my children are around good, godly Christian young people and that they would marry someone who is a believer.
My wife, admittedly, was not saved when I met her, but I won her to Christ. I did not date her or become romantically involved with her until she got saved. It was never even an option to have any kind of relationship with her unless she were to embrace salvation and be saved because, otherwise, we're just not going to have anything in common. We're not going to be going the same direction. It's critical that you marry someone who's a believer. Outside of that, our close friendships should be with saved people. We shouldn't be best buddies and in the yoke with people that are not saved. We should have saved people form the core of our social life. Now this is why it's so important to go to church.
You say, "The church ain't big enough." Let's make it bigger. Were you out soul-winning? Have you been inviting your friends? Have you been out knocking doors? Have you been bringing people in? Have you been inviting people and trying to get people into our church and helping our church grow?
By the way, our church is growing. Our church is growing all the time. We had 80-something people this morning. Sometimes we break 100 lately. We've had consistent growth over the years, but you know what? If more people who are sitting at home listening to this sermons on the internet would get off their rear ends and go to church, locally, wherever they are ... There are literally people in this area who don't come to our church, but listen online. I've had people in [Mason 36:42], people in Tempe who don't come. It's like, "Man, come to church please." They don't understand that you're getting more than just the preaching when you come to church.
Anybody who's hearing this sermon out in some distant part of the country, you need to find a local church where you live and you need to get ... "It's not perfect." Guess what? Our church isn't perfect either. Just go to church. Find the best church you can and get in that church and start hanging around with godly, saved people because you need that fellowship, you need that social life. You need those friends that will be like iron that sharpens iron. Coming to church is critical for this reason, that God doesn't want us spending our time just hanging around with everyone who's not saved and dating the unsaved and our best buddy's not saved.
Look, teenagers especially need to hear this, that we need to have saved Christian friends from church. That's where friends need to come from. That's where we need to get our social life more than anything, or another church that's a Bible-believing church, if there's another church in town and you have friends that go there, but just hang around with the heathen is just asking for trouble. Your best friend ought not be Mormon. Your best friend ought not be just some atheist or some agnostic. We need Christian friends.
You know what? It goes for us as adults, too. We need to form friendships with the people, and that we have a lot of people to be friends with in this church, other Christians of like belief and like faith and practice, other Baptists that we can be friends with, but we need to get around Christian friends and try to spend as much time as we can with God's people in God's house, spending time with God's people, inviting people over for a meal, spending time outside church, and just getting to know people in the church. Those are good things for us to help keep us on the right path and not be hanging around with unbelievers all the time. It's better to be around God's people as much [inaudible 38:42].
We're not trying to withdraw ourselves from society and just go live in some compound somewhere where we never have contact with the outside world. Obviously, we ought to come into contact with unsaved people. That's how we're going to win the to Christ and be a good example and let out light shine and be a witness unto them on the job and in our neighborhoods and wherever we go, but when it comes to our confidantes, when it comes to people that we're close to, they ought to be people that are saved.
Not only that, go to 2 Thessalonians chapter 3, there are even some saved people that we should stay away from. People that are saved, but they're just really living an ungodly life and a really wicked life, and I realize that no one is perfect, but some people are saved and they're just really backslidden and they're just really living an ungodly life. We need to watch out that we don't become too involved with these kind of people.
It says in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." Go down to verse 14: "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." The Bible is not telling us that if anybody's saved, they should be our best buddy. Is that what it's teaching?
Here it's mentioning some people that are saved can still be a bad influence and drag you down. Go to 1 Corinthians chapter 5. 1 Corinthians chapter 5, it gives the list of the sins that should cause us to separate from people even when they're saved, that we should not want to be friends with these kinds of people because they can drag us down and lead us down a wrong path. 1 Corinthians 5:9 says, "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators."
That's why at Faithful Word Baptist Church, no one is allowed to attend our church who is a Christian who is saved for any length of time and is fornicator. Not welcome. If I find out that somebody in our church is living in fornication, I would throw them out and tell them, "You are not welcome to come back unless repent of this, unless you get out of fornication." Today, all over America in Baptist churches, there are couples living together that aren't married and they're not being called out on that sin and they're not being rebuked and no one would even think of kicking them out of the church. Stop and think about it. This seems harsh on the surface.
Let's read it together. It says, "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators. Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?" Oh, no, of course not because we don't want to judge anyone.
Yeah, we don't want to judge, but he says, "Look, don't you judge them that are within?" Wherefore, "But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." Isn't the Bible saying, "You need to get rid of these people out of your church. You cannot have a fornicator, covetous, idolater, railer, drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one no not to eat." He said, "You need to get these people out."
You say, "What's a drunkard?" Because a lot of people will say, "Just because you drink a little bit, you're not a drunkard."I agree with that. I don't think that if somebody drinks a little bit alcohol that makes them a drunkard, but let me just tell you my personal definition of a drunkard. Any of these things is a drunkard in my opinion.
You say, "I don't care about your opinion." God said, "Drunkard." As the leader here, as the pastor here, I have to have some practical application. If you disagree with any of these, let me know. How about this? Somebody who drinks every day is a drunkard.
When you're drinking every day, you're an alcoholic. You're a drunkard. When you're drinking on a daily basis, you're addicted, you're a drunkard, you will be cast out. Here's another definition of a drunkard: somebody who's drinking hard liquor is a drunkard.
People that are "social drinkers" ... I don't condone social drinking. The Bible says not to even look at fermented beverage - Proverbs 23 - because if you do ... He said if you drink it, your eyes will behold strange women, your mouth water perversely. Somebody who drinks every day, in my opinion, is a drunkard. Somebody who drinks hard liquor, in my opinion, is a drunkard. They're not just having a social drink, they're not drinking their glass of wine with dinner; they're drinking hard liquor, they're a drunkard.
Number three, someone who drinks by themselves is a drunkard. People who just get alone with themselves and just booze it up and drink by themselves. You know people that do this. They just stay home and just drink. They're a drunkard. By the way, when you're going to bars, if you go to a bar to drink, in my opinion ... I don't know if people will back me up on this or not, but if I found out that somebody from our church was drinking at bars, they'll be thrown out of the church.
I'm just telling you my definition of drunkard. If I see somebody drinking at bars, drinking hard liquor, drinking every day, drinking by themselves, okay, how about this? Mixing drugs with alcohol?
You're a drunkard. When you're mixing drugs and alcohol, when you're taking drugs to enhance the effect of alcohol, you're a drunkard. We need to understand that God is telling us not to hang around with drunks. God's telling us not to hang around with railers. Do you know what a railer is? It's somebody who lies about other people and falsely accuses them, someone who goes around lying about people in the church, lying about what they've done and trying to create strife in the church. That is a railer because the Bible talks about making a railing accusation. That's how that word is used in the Bible.
Drunkard, railer, extortioner. An extortioner is someone who threatens someone to get money out of them. Covetous. Covetous are the type of people who they show up to church and you know what they talk about when they show up at church? All their new stuff that they bought and all the stuff they want to buy and all the money that they're making and all the money that they want to make. When people have that attitude, it becomes infectious. You need to stay away from people like that.
If you have a friend or a loved one who's just constantly talking about money and how much money they can make and how much money they have and all the things that they want to buy and all the things that they bought, and, "Oh, man, we're going to get rich. We're going to make money," that is a bad person because the Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil and they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful ... Don't ever come in this church and start handing out a book my Donald Trump or Robert Kiyosaki, Sakamoto, or whatever that guy's name is, and coming in here and getting everybody all excited about ...
Look, if you fix up houses and sell them for a living, whatever, but don't come to church and try to get everybody involved in that and start just talking about all the money we're going to ... "Man, the money. I'm going to get a boat and I'm going to get the car. I'm going to get the RV and the big truck." If your life if about money and about things and about possessions and materialism, you're a covetous person. You need to be content with such things as you have and you need to understand that the life is more than meat, and the body than raiment and that we need to focus on spiritual things in our lives and not be obsessed with wealth and the things of this world.
Of course, he says an idolater. An idolater is one who basically has graven images, one who basically would have a carved image of Mary or a carved image of Jesus or carved image of the saints. They're bowing down to the saints, they're praying to the saints. That's idolatry. The Bible says beware of idolatry. Also, the Bible says covetousness is idolatry because anybody who idolizes money and is serving [them 47:17] instead of God.
I realize that every single person is a sinner. None of us is perfect, but we are not all fornicators, we are not all drunks. See, there's a difference between, "Oh, we're all sinners, and, yeah, but you're a drunk. We're not all drunks. God warns us of these specific sins that they can be infectious and they can start to affect us. I know that when I've gotten around covetous people, sometimes I'll start to have evil thoughts. I'll get around covetous people, braggarts, they talk a lot about money and wealth, and you know what I'll start to think sometimes? I'll start thinking, "You know what? Maybe I need to upgrade my house. Maybe it's time for a new upgrade on my car. Maybe I should get nicer clothes." Then I catch myself, "What am I thinking? That's not what life is about."
You know what I'm talking about. These thoughts can come in. You say, "Oh, no, I would never think ... " I'm not a materialistic person myself, but when I get around people like that, I've actually had sinful thoughts like that coming to my mind, like, "I need to get a nicer house. I need to get a nicer car. I need to keep up with the Joneses," but that is an ungodly philosophy.
People like that can be infectious and infect us. The Terahs of this world can sometimes hold us back and keep us from serving God all the way. On the other side of this is that getting around godly, righteous friends can actually propel us to greater service for God.
It can cause us to do much more for God. When we get around people that can encourage us and pick us up when we're down, and the Bible talks about when you fall alone, there's no one to help you up. When you have a friend with you, you have somebody there to fall back on. When you're in a church that's a soul-winning church, that's a righteous church, that's a Bible-preaching church, and you have a lot of friends available to you, there are times when you might start getting a little backslidden and you're not really excited about church or soul-winning, but when you get around them, they can get you fired up again. You can start getting a little down and start getting a little bit lethargic and complacent and you don't really want to serve God, but then their enthusiasm can fire you up.
It's hard not to be fired up about soul-winning in Faithful Word Baptist Church is because there are a lot of people all the time who are fired up about it. They're excited about it. They like doing it. They talk about it. There's a lot of preaching about it to fire you up and get you thinking about it and get you excited about it. That's a great environment to be in. We always want our church to be a godly environment.
Look, if we wanted to, our church could be bigger. If we just say, "You know what? Let's just get bigger." We could tone down the preaching a little bit, we could tone down the invite, we could tone down the rules a little bit of ... I don't mean rules like we have a rule sheet or something, but just preaching on God's rules is what I mean by that. We could just tone all that down, but the problem is that the atmosphere of our church would begin to change if we do that, because then there'll be a lot of worldly people coming in and there'll be a lot of covetous people coming in, a lot of people ... We can just tone down some of the doctrine then we'll get a lot of false doctrine coming in.
It's sad, but a lot of churches ... Everybody believes something different. It's like half the church believes one thing, half ... They don't know what they believe. I talked to a friend of mine that goes to a good church, a church that preaches the gospel, a church that preaches the right on salvation. A guest preacher showed up and just started preaching total heresy, just started preaching that basically if you're not living for God, you're not saved and if you're not doing the works, you're not saved. People have to repent of their sins. If you go out and win people to Christ, where are they all if they're not coming to ... Exactly what I preached this morning, but it's just like can you imagine if somebody came and preached that here?
They'll get thrown out.
You know what? People need to be on the same page. Look, can two walk together except they'd be [agree 51:37]? I want our church to be a church where everybody knows what they believe and why. What if I were to just fall over dead? Would this whole church just go to hell in a hand basket? What if just fell over dead? Would all kinds of false doctrine creep in and, all of a sudden, next week it would be repent of your sins, salvation, and pre-trib rapture. We're just going to go hand out tracks instead of soul-winning. There's no way that would happen.
I could die and this church would just keep on going, keep on thriving, keep on believing the same things. You know why? Because we have the right atmosphere here. We have an atmosphere of biblical doctrine, zeal for soul-winning. It's not just a one-man show here. It's a whole church of you. That's what we like. We want it that way.
Look, I want the church to grow, you want the church to grow, but we can't compromise in order to achieve growth. Let the growth grow naturally and come in time. It will come. Every year our church is bigger than the year before. It's going to keep growing, but we can't compromise and start being yoked up with people who don't care what the Bible says, yoked up with the ungodly, yoked up with those who believe in false doctrine. The Terahs of this world who want to come along with us, next thing you know they'll be running the show, and they're leading you.
Abraham took Terah with him, but when you read the verse, it's like Terah took Abraham with him, even though Abraham was the one that was even told to go. It was Abraham's idea to even go to Canaan, but Terah ends up being the leader. When you're hanging around with ungodly people and ungodly friends, you think that you're going to influence them, and they end up influencing you because it's a lot easier to drag someone down than to lift someone up.
I just want to encourage you tonight to, first of all, just really be thankful for our church because, at least at our church, we do have a place where we have access to some really godly friends. We have some really good people that we can spend time with and get to know and socialize with. Hopefully, as our church grows, there'll be even more opportunity for friendships and even more opportunities for good, godly companions as we go through life, but we need to be very careful to avoid being buddies with the world. It will ruin our lives.
I heard somebody say this: you are right now or you soon shall be what your friends are. Your friends will determine, in many cases, the direction of your life. Get around God's people, come to church. You say, "I come to church. I don't really have a lot of friends." Part of it is people need to ... I realize I'm preaching to the Sunday night crowd who's here.
A lot of people are Sunday morning only and then they don't really have a lot of friends here. They're not doing the soul-winning, they're not coming to the evening services. You're not really taking advantage of everything this church has to offer and you're not really building the friendships that you could build. Obviously, it's our job as the die-hards, as the Sunday night crowd, as the Wednesday night crowd to reach out to those people on Sunday morning that are the Sunday morning only.
Our church is pretty good about reaching out to visitors. We're pretty good, but you know what? We could do better on that, number one. Number two, we need to reach out to people that are the Sunday-morning-only people and reach out to them, too, because a lot of times I feel like sometimes, at our church, we have this mentality that if somebody's here for the very first time, that we'll go, we'll greet them, we'll be friendly to them and then just never again because they're not a visitor anymore, they're not new anymore.
I've noticed this, too. Sometimes we'll just check if somebody's saved. If they're saved, it's like, "See you. Done with you." You know what? There's more to it than that. We need to not just make sure people are saved, but we need to try to be friends with people and try to be ... People that are coming to our church, a lot of the Sunday-morning-only crowd, they're good people. They love God. They're coming to a church like this because they have a desire to do what's right. They're seeking after God. They might need somebody to reach out to them and help take them to the next level and to reach out to them and just help them grow and help them to have a friend at church.
I know this. I'm a lot more likely to want to get myself to church if I had a friend there than if I just didn't know anybody at the church and I just show up. I'd be a lot more likely to skip than when I go there and I've got friends waiting for me, I want to see my friends. You know how kids are. They get excited. "Is it church tomorrow?" It's not just because they love me preaching.
Now I thank God my children do enjoy my preaching. Sometimes they'll even turn it on at home sometimes. My wife can't figure out why they would do that. She's like, "He preaches to us all day anyway." Anyway, my children like my preaching, but a lot of times I know that when they're saying like, "Is tomorrow church day? Is tonight church night?" It's because they want to go see so and so, they want to go see their friends. They get excited about coming and being with their friends.
I know when I was a kid, I used to love going to church to go see my friends. You were probably like that if you grew up in church. You love church because you get to go see your friends. You know what? That's why it's important to us to socialize with the people that come on Sunday mornings and not just the first time visitor, check if they're saved and that's it, but rather to try to be friends with people.
Asking people if they're saved is important. We want to make sure that everybody who comes is saved, but also you could ask things like, "What do you do for a living?" You can actually just start chatting with people, get to know people, find out about their lives, learn something about them, and become friends with them.
Then, actually, you could write those things down and pray for that person. Then 2 weeks later, when they come back, 7 services later or whatever, when they come back in 2 weeks, and you remember their name, "Hey, so and so," you know their name, you know something about them because you've been praying for them. You could talk to them and get to know them a little more.
I try to get to know people on Sunday mornings and I try to talk to people, but, honestly, I'm only one person. A lot of times there'll be people visiting from out of town and people that are visiting from other countries or other states, and they really want to come talk to me because they drove all the way out here or flew all the way out here. They sought after the tribulation or whatever, and they want to come meet me and talk to me and see ... Honestly, sometimes I'm dealing with somebody like that or talking to somebody like that. There's just a church full of people.
I wish everybody in our church would just be on a mission on Sunday mornings to get out of your little comfort zone of talking to your same friend that you talk to every time, and talking to all the Sunday night and Wednesday night people that you can talk to tonight or talk to on Wednesday night, and actually go and reach out to some of the visitors and talk to them and get to know the a little bit, or some of the Sunday-morning-only type people.
Maybe people who've been here twice, three times, four times, or maybe they've even been coming for a couple of months, but they just haven't really gotten plugged in yet. If you take an interest in them and befriend them, you can help them to get plugged in. You can help this to become their church, not that they just feel like they're just a sojourner amongst us, but rather they could actually feel like they belong here and that this is their church. Look, this is important.
Let me tell you this. When we were in LA for my wife's surgery, we visited a couple of churches. It was actually the same church. We've visited Pacific Baptist Church in Long Beach and then we've visited ... They had an outreach ministry in the inner city of LA in Maywood. We visited Pacific Baptist in Maywood, their outreach ministry there.
You know what? I can say I walked in there and I felt very welcomed and friendly. People were coming up to me, and they were very friendly to me. They were taking an interest and asking me about my situation and they were asking my wife about hers. They were praying for us. They really were nice to us and really cared. They really were a friendly church and they took an interest to us. People were inviting me out to coffee and out to frozen yogurt. Everybody was just really friendly. They cared. You could tell it was genuine.
Here's the thing. I put a thing on Facebook and just said, "Hey, Southern California people, I'm going to be at this church in Maywood on Wednesday night, if anybody wants to come out and say hi." It turned out this family showed up to say hi to me on that Wednesday night. I went to church on that Wednesday night and nobody came and said hi to me except all the church people that went to the church.
It turned out I got a message later from a family that said, "We came there to say hi to you that night," but they said, "That church was so friendly we couldn't even come talk to you because," they said, "so many people were greeting us. So many people were coming and greeting us and talking to us. We didn't even have a chance to say hi to you, which is why we even came that night." You know what? That person then went back to that same church that weekend. Why did they come back?
Because it was a friendly church, because they felt like they were welcomed and that they wanted to be there. There are some churches that are the opposite of that. You walk in and everybody's just looking at you. Nobody's saying hi to you. You feel a really cold atmosphere. Then there was that church that we went to at Maywood, Pacific Baptist Church, where it was just super friendly. You just felt right away you're welcome, people want you here, people care about you.
We want to make sure that our church is a friendly church. We want to be a church that loves and cares about people. Winning souls is critical, it's important, but also what about the saved? We've got to love them and take care of them and befriend them and care about them. I honestly felt like, when I was visiting that church in Southern California, that that was an area where our church can improve. They had us beat.
That's something that I think we should work on. I want everybody to take this as a mission and say, "You know what? I want to be friendly to visitors and I want to be friendly to the Sunday-morning-only people, the people that are a little more on the friends of our church, they're not quite plugged in, and just get out of our comfort zone of just talking to the same people every week and rather try to make the rounds and get to know people and love people.
You know what? I think it's a great thing to go out to eat with people and just talk to people and get to know them and be a friend and give them your phone number and just have them over for dinner, whatever, because we need the local church. We need those friendships, we need those relationships in order for us to [be saved 01:03:15].
You know what? People need us. People are showing up on Sunday morning. They need somebody to reach out to them and be their friend. We all need to band together with our fellow church members because if we don't then we're going to end up hanging around with the world all the time. If we don't, they're going to end up hanging around with the unsaved all the time and hang around the world all the time, when we ought to be hanging around with each other and yoking up with the right people; not the Terahs of this world, but the Abrahams of this world.
Let's bow our heads in a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for your word, Lord. We thank you for the lessons, just these tiny, little, subtle lessons that we almost could have just missed it when we're reading. We almost just read, "Oh, yeah, Abraham's called, Abraham goes into Canaan," but, really, if you look closely, he got held up. He wasted years in the wrong place, not in your will, just because he was hanging around with people that God told him to separate from. Help us to separate from bad influences in our lives and help us to seek out good influences and embrace good influences in the local church. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.