Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rahab and the Security of the Believer

Some time ago, I wrote a post about an Old Testament character named Rahab, that you can find here but there is more to learn from this story in the Old Testament.

In I Cor. 10:11 we read  "Now all these things happened to them as examples and they were written for our admonition on whom the ends of the ages have come." 
The Old Testament scriptures for us are not simply an historical account of times long past but are still relevant and useful for us today to understand the teaching written in the books of our New Testament.

In I Tim. 3:16 we read ..  "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, "

"All Scripture " (in context) refers to the Old Testament, because at the time Paul wrote his letters, the only scripture the early church had was the Old Testament. 

In Acts 17:11 we learn of the Bereans who are commended for not taking Paul at his word, but rather searching the Old Testament to see if what he was teaching was true!  When we listen to a preacher or teacher expound on a New Testament scripture do search the Old Testament to test if what  he is teaching is true?

How do we prove New Testament doctrine by Old Testament scriptures?  
The New Testament will always give us the 'code' or 'clues' we need to find the corresponding scriptures ... we don't have to make anything up. 

Let me use the example of Rahab to show how New Testament teaching is confirmed in the Old Testament.

Rahab is a woman who is commended by Paul and also by James.  
In Hebrews 31:31 Rahab is held up as someone who 'did not perish' because of her faith. 
In James 2:25 we are told Rahab was justified by her works.  

The debates, and the books that have been written on the tension between works and faith -  between God's part in our salvation and man's part can hardly be numbered.  And yet all arguments can be laid to rest if we just look at the 'doctrine' taught in the story of Rahab. 

We all know the story found in the second chapter of Joshua .  
Rahab heard about the God of the Israelites and she 'believed'.  She knew  God had given her city to the Israelites. She knew the city would be destroyed and all the people would  'perish'. 
She had heard about the miracles the God of Israel had done on behalf of His people and she believed that He was "God in heaven above and on earth beneath." 

Not only did she believe but her actions proved her faith.  She boldly declared her faith to the spies and asked that she and her family 'be saved'.   The spies agreed to save her - on two conditions.  
One condition was that she hang out of her window a scarlet cord. 
The second condition was that she understood that anyone who she invited into the house would also be saved but only if they stayed in the house. If they left the house, for whatever reason, then their blood would be on their own head and they would be destroyed with the rest of the city.  
Rahab and those with her 'in the house' were saved and Rahab was named in the 'family' of Jesus! (see lineage in Matt. 1 and Luke 3) 

What truth or doctrine does this story teach?   

The 'key' pieces that reveal the spiritual truth embedded in this story are -- 'saved by faith',  'justified by works' -- and the 'scarlet cord'. Scarlet is the colour of blood and so scarlet is always symbolic of Jesus' sacrifice - symbolic of our salvation.   

So the key pieces unmistakably tell us this story lays out the doctrine of faith and works as they play out in our salvation. 

Rahab heard and believed --  God's invitation has gone out "whosoever will , may come !" (Rev. 22:17 , and John 3:16 )  Rahab was a heathen, a sinner, outside of God's chosen people - yet, when she heard of the true God, she believed and was saved. 

She showed her faith by her works.   Our actions will reveal what we believe.  
If I believe it is safe to put my money in the bank, I will put my money in the bank. If I do not believe my money will be safe in the bank, I will put it under my mattress.  
Rahab's works revealed her heart-belief. Not only did she hide the spies but also did according to what they told her to do.  She obeyed 'the word'. 
In hanging out the 'scarlet cord' she declared her faith in God. The one true God - by 'no other name' can we be saved, but by Jesus.  
If we put our faith in Jesus for our salvation, our walk will match our faith.  We will 'do' what we say we 'believe'.   

Rahab was not one to keep her faith secret -- she did not hide her 'light' under a bushel .  She went out to win others - her family, those she loved. She convinced them to also put their faith in the God of Israel so they too could be saved.  

'In the house'  symbolizes the 'Kingdom of God' that we are born into when we accept Jesus as our Saviour.   As Rahab was totally safe and secure in her house - no need to fear that anyone would break in or snatch her out of it  - so  we also are totally safe and secure in Jesus.  No one can harm us spiritually nor can anyone snatch us from His hand.  We belong to the 'family' of Jesus - part of His bod

But - the same warning that the spies gave Rahab is also true for us.  
 Rahab and her family were absolutely safe in the house, but they were not locked in. Their free will was not taken away.  The doors and windows were not bolted or barred from the outside.  
The spies were careful to warn  that if anyone CHOSE to leave the house their 'blood was on their own heads'.  In choosing to leave they brought destruction upon themselves.   

So we too do not lose our free will when we are saved. We have the freedom to return to the world from which we were saved. No one and nothing can take us from the hand of the Lord, except our own will to walk away. 

In John 10 the verse is oft quoted that says .. "And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand."  But that promise is prefaced by by two conditions ... "My sheep hear My voice"  and "they follow Me".  The ones who hear His voice and follow Him are the ones who never perish and have eternal life. 

When someone questions whether or not they are still 'in the house', my question to them is ... "Do you WANT to be in the house?   Do you want to know and follow the Lord?"   The answer is usually 'yes'  ... and then my reply is ... "Then you are  in the house."   
We will all stumble and fall - we are all in process of being perfected - but the Lord will hold us up, protect us and help us as long as in our heart we want to be His. 

We readily acknowledge how foolish it would have been for someone who responded to Rahab's invitation to come and 'be saved' and then decide to leave the house!  It takes a determined and willful denying of Christ and and rebelling against His commandments  to make the decision that results in  choosing to walk away from the security that is IN Christ.