Faith Rest Drill & Grace Orientation Mechanics
Like so many people Lot is looking at circumstances and finances and prosperity to be the solution to problems and the source of happiness. But the text goes on to say that the area is not only well watered and like Paradise, but it is "like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar." We don't know where Zoar is but it is down toward the south obviously. Today that area is brown and dry, so it is obvious that there is a tremendous difference in the topography and meteorology at that time in earth's history. The Bible isn't restricted to teaching truths about salvation and the spiritual life. There are elements throughout the Scripture that give us the information we need to accurately interpret everything around us from history, to geology, to biology, to law, science, philosophy, ethics; it addresses every area of intellection known to man. The point of all this is the spiritual failure on the part of Lot but the spiritual success of Abraham. Lot focuses on the superficial, the empirical, and he fails to take into account that the most vital positive element in history is spiritual. There is an underlying positive feature that relates to spiritual reality and this is what moves history. Abraham has learned that true knowledge is based upon the Word of God and includes a spiritual dimension, and Lot hasn't learned that. The key is in verse 13, "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." This is foreshadowing what is going to take place when we get over into chapters 17-19.
What is going on in Abraham's development spiritually? We saw that he had a failure in his test in chapter twelve but he is passing this test. So what can we learn from this? First of all, Abraham is now successfully utilizing three problem-solving devices. We need to understand how these work together, and this is true for all of us. The foundation is the faith-rest drill, and the principle is that the faith-rest drill focuses first on the trustworthiness of God to do what He has promised. The ultimate focus when we are utilizing the faith-rest drill isn't on the promise per se, it is on the God who gave the promise. The question on the mind is, is God trustworthy? Can I rely upon Him to do what He says He will do? When we are in the midst of crisis, when the circumstances around us seem horrible, when we are overwhelmed by the pressures of a job, the financial pressures of paying bills, whatever those pressures or adversities may be what we have to learn to work through is how to take these promises and so utilize them in terms of our mental attitude dynamic that we are able to find stability and calm in the midst of the crisis. Sometimes that happens fairly easily, other times it is a moment by moment battle as we constantly wrestle with those promises and the circumstances seem to overwhelming. As soon as we ask the question, how can God let this happen to me? We are in trouble. We have assumed that God is not in control, that God is His sovereignty isn't overseeing the circumstances of our life. If we ask certain questions they will predispose us down a certain path of reasoning, and we just get more and more enmeshed in self-pity and focusing on ourselves, the arrogance skills start taking over and the next thing we know we in a spiritual spiral to be destroyed. We have to focus on the God who is behind the promise. Is He really trustworthy? The issue in the faith-rest drill is always the character of God, the essence of God. Is He reliable? So when we start functioning in this area we need to think through the attributes of God. In the lament psalms David starts off with the complaint and then he moves through a series of reasonings and concludes with a confidence in God. Again and again in the psalms what happens in that movement is that he starts focusing on the character of God.
That is often what we need to do in the midst of a crisis: pull ourselves up short and start thinking in terms of the essence of God. God is sovereign means that God rules over the creation. It doesn't mean that He overrides people's individual volition but it means that He rules the creation. That means that God has oversight over the circumstances and situations and people that come into my life. It is not so that I blame God for the problems and suffering that is there but realizing that God has designed things in such a way as to brig that to bear in my life so that I can learn to trust Him in areas where I am weak. Second, we think of God as being righteous. That means that God is always going to do the right thing. He is absolute justice, so that ultimately there will be a resolution of the problem. If we have been dealt with unfairly, unjustly—we all live in the cosmic system and are all victims—God is going to resolve the problem of evil eventually. There will be justice. God is love. This doesn't mean He is an emotional, sentimental, warm-fuzzy being, who just wants to wrap His arms around you and talk about how much He loves you. The word that is usually used for God's love in the Psalms is the Hebrew word chesed. It has the idea of faithful loyal love, loyalty to a covenant or a contract. So when we go through the Scriptures we see that God always structures His relationship with man in terms of a contract. That becomes the ultimate model for marriage. There are two different Hebrew words in the Scriptures for love. There's the word ahab which usually refers to the kind of love of a more romantic, sentimental type, but the post-wedding love is chesed. It is loyalty to a contract. That is what marriage is, a contract sworn to before God. When we talk about the love of God that means that God is going to be loyal to His word, loyal to His covenant, loyal to His promises. He is not going to go back on them, and that is tremendous comfort in the midst of the vagaries of life: that God doesn't change but His love focuses on that steadfast loyalty. He is eternal life, which means that He has no beginning and no end and no surprises, He is infinite with respect to time. He is omniscient, which means He knows every detail and has always known every detail. God doesn't acquire knowledge, so He is not surprised when we are surprised. He is omnipresent, and that means that He is just as present with us today as He was at sometime in the past. He is equally present in every part of His creation at the same time. He is omnipotent, and that means He is greater than any problem or difficulty than we could ever face. When we work through the ten attributes and apply them to our problem and we are still rattling because of the circumstances then we need to start over. It is the doctrine that will stabilize us.
When we look at the essence of God we want to isolate four of them: righteousness, justice, love, truth. Righteousness and justice are two sides of the same coin. Both of these words, whether we are talking about Hebrew or Greek, translate the same root word. In the Hebrew it is sadiq and in the Greek it is DIKAOSUNE [dikaiosunh], and it depends on the orientation of the word in the context. Righteousness has to do with the standard of his character and justice has to do with the application of that standard. That standard is always done in a way that is consistent with His contracts, His statements. The Scripture links these attributes together. We come to the psalms: Psalm 97:2, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne." What gives stability to the throne of God? The throne there stands for His presence but all that flows from it. Then Psalm 85:10, "Mercy [grace in action] and truth have met together." See this connection between grace and truth; "Righteousness and peace have kissed." Notice the attributes that tend to get linked together by the psalmist. Then Psalm 89:14, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne: mercy [chesed] and truth shall go before thy face."
When we come to grips with God's integrity we come to a realization of a truth that Abraham is not going to articulate until we get into the eighteenth chapter. But in Genesis 18:25 at the end of a long verse he says, "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" That is the truth that we grasp in the midst of the crisis. We think that the cosmic system is unfair, we feel that we are beaten around by circumstances, by economic trends, by history, by events beyond our control and think it is horrible. It is right to think it is horrible sometimes. We are living in the cosmic system; it is horrible. But when Jesus looked on the crowds when Lazarus was dead in the grave we are told that Jesus wept. Jesus didn't weep because Lazarus was in the grave. He knew that in three minute He was going to say, "Lazarus, come forth" and Lazarus was going to come out. Jesus looked on the crowds, the mourners, the people who were suffering the pains of loss and grief because their dear friend and relative was now dead. Jesus had genuine, true compassion on the crowds because they are suffering, living in a fallen world where there is pain and misery and heartache, and Jesus had compassion on them because man was not created originally to suffer. He was created to have perfect fellowship with God. It is only because of Adam's sin which introduced sin into the human race, changed the whole nature of reality and began the cosmic system that there is misery on the earth. So it is right to recognize at some level that life is pretty miserable sometimes because we are living in he cosmic system. But don't stop there. You move past there and recognize that ultimately there is resolution as Abraham articulates, that the judge of all the earth will do what is right. So this is the root of utilizing the faith-rest drill. Abraham is beginning to recognize and to grasp this principle of God's integrity here. God has made a promise. Abraham is beginning to wrap his thinking around the integrity of God and so he is beginning to trust in the integrity of God and thus trust in God's promise, even in the midst of this personnel problem that he is encountering. Because his focus is on God and the integrity of God Abraham is in a position of strength. From that position of strength he can then turn to Lot and he can utilize grace in the way he deals with Lot.
This moves us to the next problem-solving device that is being used here, and that is grace orientation. Grace is not simply something we receive from God but grace is also a means of spiritual growth. 2 Timothy 4:1, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." This is a dative of means and should be translated "Be strong by means of the grace that is in Christ Jesus." It is grace and understanding of grace that gives us strength in the midst of crisis. 2 Peter 3:18, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Again, it is an instrumental dative. "Grow by means of grace, and by means of the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ." Grace is a means of spiritual growth. That means that when we are facing certain problems, certain adversities, even prosperity, we are to grow by means of grace. So we have to utilize grace to solve the problem, the situation. When we grow as a believer there is a sense in which our soul is edified and strengthened, and there are certain things that strengthen it. We have seen that Paul told Timothy to be strong in the grace of the Lord. So as we exercise these problem-solving devices they strengthen us. And there are certain of these spiritual skills that we utilize in spiritual infancy that are the foundation for everything else. The two that are most foundational are confession of sin which gets us back in fellowship, and then the filling by means of the Holy Spirit and walking by means of the Holy Spirit. That is the mechanic for the spiritual life. It is not enough to simply be born again. The faith-rest drill, grace orientation and doctrinal orientation are foundational.
Then in our adolescent stage we begin our personal sense of eternal destiny, we begin to live in the light of the next day and the next day and maybe eternity. We begin to realize that God has a plan of us that goes beyond this life into the Millennial kingdom and into eternity, and so we have to develop a personal sense of our eternal destiny and recognize that the decisions we make today will affect who we are and what we do in eternity.
Then as we move into spiritual adulthood we master those three skills related to love: personal love for God the Father, personal love for all mankind, and occupation with Christ. Then we have inner happiness.
What we have to recognize is at that basic level we have to master those skills: faith-rest drill, grace orientation, doctrinal orientation. They interrelate, they are interdependent. As we begin to trust God we begin to understand things about grace. As we study His Word we learn more about grace. When we study His Word we orient to the doctrine that is there which gives us a greater understanding of grace. As we learn more doctrine we have something else to put our faith in. So they work together. This is what we see with Abraham. As he is trusting God with the faith-rest drill he now is able to exercise grace towards Lot, and as he exercises grace toward Lot there are certain things that are taking place, certain elements that are a part of grace orientation.