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Abraham, the great faithful

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Abraham was born just two years after the death of Noah. Before the flood, the word of God came through the patriarchs, but after the
flood Noah prophesied that mankind would be divided into three different categories or races. One of them would become
the chosen people In Genesis 9:24-27 we read: “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
And he said, Cursed [be] Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed [be] the LORD God of
Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his
servant.”

Abraham was a direct descendant of Shem and Hebrew tradition seems to indicate that Melchisedek and Shem were the same person.
Abraham lived at the time of Melchisedec, the high Priest and was chosen from God Himself to be the Father of all believers. God
made a covenant with him that was to last through all generations of time and even used him as the symbol of God the eternal Father
when He sacrificed His only begotten Son. And the reason why he was chosen was because he was a perfect example of faith and
obedience.

We have to keep on mind that faith is the first principle of the Gospel and that without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews
11:6 ). On the other hand obedience is the first law in Heaven, and is essential in keeping the law of sacrifice. The law of sacrifice was
meant to be a shadow of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Abraham believed and obeyed everything God told him. For this reason he was called a “friend of God” (James 2:23 ) and was
promised that through him would come God’s chosen people, and most especially, the Messiah. This promise is still in force today.
God tested Abraham’s faith and found it perfect. It’s true that Jesus is the perfect example for us to follow and He will always remain
the unparalleled example, however, as an ancestor of the Messiah, Abraham is also an example of perfect faith that we can likewise
follow. Even though he was a man with weakness like us, he demonstrated that it ispossible to have perfect faith and be totally
submissive to God. He not only believed in the atonement before it happened, but he lived it in the personal sacrifice of his only
begotten son. He may not have experienced the pain which Jesus did in Gethsamane, but he certainly understood the significance of a
blood sacrifice as representing the atonement of the Lamb of God.

However, he certainly must have felt the pain which God, the Father Himself had when he allowed His Son to be sacrificed for the
sins of mankind. We also have to consider the pain which the Father felt when mankind fell and became carnal and devilish. But
thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ and accepting the gospel mankind can be born again into the family of God.

Unfortunately the Bible tells us more about the descendants of Abraham than it does about the father of the Israelite nation. This is
surprising considering his greatness and that God first made a covenant with him. Fortunately we have the book of Abraham, which
opens a new dimensions on his life and gives us a better understanding of him.

In Abraham we read: 1:2 “And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers,
and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to
be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a
father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a
rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.”

Here we find the formula for obtaining a deep conversion to Jesus Christ.
1) seek the blessings.
2) strive for the right to obtain the priesthood and be able to ministered in it.
3) follow righteousness and look for greater knowledge.
4) strive to be a prince of peace like the Messiah.
5) He became an High Priest.

Abraham 1:4 further tells us, “I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the
fathers concerning the seed..” It is true that all the priesthood pertains to the Melchisedec priesthood, but the High Priesthood spoken
here is bestowed upon specially chosen people, such as the patriarchs.

When he was called an High Priest, God tested his faithfullness again. In Genesis 12:1-3 we read, “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.” Abraham at this point already had the
priesthood and yet he was continuing to receive counsel, revelations and promises from God Himself.

Genesis 14:18-20 “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he
blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God,
which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” From the words of Melchisedec and from the text of
the Bible, it is pretty clear that they partook of the sacrament and Abraham was blessed by Melchisedec after he paid his tithing.

Genesis 17:1-2 “AND when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the
Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee
exceedingly.”

Here we not only find God renewing His covenant with Abraham but clearly invites Abraham to "walk before Him" and to be perfect.

D&C 84:33-39 “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their
calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of
Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God. And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father
receiveth my Father's kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and
covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.”

D&C 84:19-22 “And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the
key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances
thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can
see the face of God, even the Father, and live.”

As a sign of this covenant with God Abraham and his descendants were required to be circumcized. Abraham was such a great man
of God, that, like Moses, he too talked with God face to face (see Genesis 17:22) Although Abraham was a great high priest, still God
tested him in Isaac, thereby improving his greatness.

At this point we can summarize again what he did after his conversion.
1) He sought the priesthood.
2) He magnified it
3) He had a total FAITH.

Even today, these are the same principles that help us become truly convert to Jesus Christ. By exercising our faith, we need to be
baptized as Jesus commands us (Matthew 28:19), then obtain the priesthood (except if you are a woman, then you don’t to have the
priesthood), and then through obeidance develop our faith and be ready to sacrifice everything we have to God, including our own
lives if necessary. This is what Jesus did and, especially in the case of Issac, this is what Abraham did.

The prophet Joseph Smith declared: "A religion that it doesn't require the sacrifice of everything it has not the power to generate the
salvation." Christ taught the same principle. “ Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my
Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
(Matthew 10:32-33). “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of
God.” (Luke 9:62). “ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,
and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man
profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew
16:24-26).

To better understand what kind of faith Abraham possessed we have to consider several things that happened in his life.
1)    His personal experience with Elkena, the idolatrous priest who attempted to offer Abraham up as a human sacrifice to an Egyptian
God.
2) the miraculous birth of Isaac.
3) the promise of God that through Issac his posterity would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens, or the sand on the seashore.

When God requested Abraham to sacrifice the life of his only begotten son, Isaac, I’m sure all of these incidents went through his
mind. It would have been so easy for Abraham to question why. But he didn’t. Instead he expressed his faith by implicitly doing
whatever God asked of him.

If we had all the answers there wouldn't be anymore need for us to have faith. But the scriptures tell us that without faith it is
impossible to PLEASE HIM. To help us develop our faith, God tests us. Although it’s true that God won’t tempt us beyond that
which we can bear, nevertheless, He will test everyone of us to our limit. If we fail the test, it’s not His fault, but our lack of faith.

The prophet Joseph Smith gave this definition of faith: "Faith is the cause of all actions in the intelligent beings.” Faith is the cause of
every action we take, both in the temporal things as well as in spiritual things. However, faith it is not only the motivation for our
actions, but it’s the power within all intelligent beings. Faith is therefore the great first principle of government because it has power,
dominion and authority over all things. By it they exist and are supported. By it they can be changed or remain the same according to
the will of God. Without faith there is no power, and without power there couldn't be any creation or even any existence! As I see it,
faith is higher than all the other powers. With this power we can accomplish the miracles that Jesus did. This was the kind of faith that
Abraham had and that’s why he is such a great example to us.

The promise that was given to Abraham was that through his seed all the people of the earth would be blessed. This promise extends
even to those who are not his natural offspring. Jesus explained it this way: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have
Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9)

The apostle Paul taught, Galatians 3:16, 19, 24-29 “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds,
as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ… Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions,
till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator…. Wherefore the
law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer
under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ
have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in
Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

To understand this, let’s examine Abraham’s posterity. Isaac and Jacob were descendants of Abraham and therefore were heirs of the
same promises God made to their father. The same is true of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. Both Moses and Aaron were
descendants of Abraham and therefore heirs of the promise. And the same could be said of all the prophets in the Bible. Jesus, the
Son of God, Himself was likewise a descendant of Abraham according to the flesh, as were the twelve apostles He chose.

It was Jesus who said, “My sheep hear my voice, and they know me, and a stranger they will not follow, because they know not the
voice of a stranger.” Brigham Young explained, “And why do not the millions of the inhabitants of the earth embrace the gospel?
Because they are not sheep; that is all.” (JD, 22:304-305, August 28, 1881.)

Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. further explained, “Every person who embraces the gospel becomes of the house of Israel. In other words,
they become members of the chosen lineage, or Abraham's children through Isaac and Jacob unto whom the promises were made. The
great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph,
Those who are not literal descendants of Abraham and Israel must become such, and when they are baptized and confirmed they are
grafted into the tree and are entitled to all the rights and privileges as heirs” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.246).

Knowing of these promises which were given by the Lord to Abraham, Paul wrote, "They which are of faith, the same are the children
of Abraham," and "God . . . preached before the gospel unto Abraham. . . . They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."
Paul's conclusion: "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:7-29.)

Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 09:50  

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