Isaac: The Furnishings of Faith
- By Dr. Chris Gnanakan
- Published 09/28/2009
Dr. Chris Gnanakan
Revd. Dr. Chris Gnanakan, DMin, PhD. is the Director of Training for Outreach To Asia Nationals. OTAN serves in over nine countries in Asia where traditional missions is ‘restricted’, by equipping and empowering national, pastoral leaders to fulfil the great commission.
Chris, a native of Bangalore, worked as an electrician in MICO factory for 3 years before theological studies at the Word of Life Bible Institute and School of Youth Mission (New York). He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from Tennessee Temple University and went on to do a Master’s in Divinity at Temple Baptist Seminary that he completed at the Asia Graduate School of Theology.
Chris was a youth pastor and ordained at Emmanuel Baptist Church. In 1990 he founded Banaswadi Bible Church where he was the pastor-teacher for over 10 years. He is known as a Youth, Bible & Mission conference speaker and for his radio broadcast with FEBA (Transforming Truth) and TWR (Thru the Bible). His passion is for evangelism, whole-life discipleship, mentoring, training leaders & empowering the Church in Mission.
Chris lectures on and produces curriculum for ‘Biblical Mandate for Evangelism’ at the Haggai Institute for Leadership Development (since 1999 at Maui & Singapore). As an evangelical, he has served as a consultant with the Commission on World Mission & Evangelism on-site London, Switzerland, Athens, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Chile and with Urban Missions in Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines and China.
During his stay and PhD research in the UK, Chris was a Teaching Assistance at the University of Leeds in the department of Theology & Religious Studies and also served as a minister at the South Parade Baptist Church, where he developed outreach & care cells. Chris teaches ‘Clinical Pastoral Education’ at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital. He is chairman for the Christian Forum for Child Development & Samaritan Purse’s regional Prescription for Hope program
Since 1995, Chris joined SAIACS as Professor and HoD of Pastoral Theology & Counseling and Dean of Chapel. Here, for 13 years, he trained leaders for ministry and mission in India’s globalising context and is passionate doing ”Evangelism through Local Churches”. He is now appointed to serve as the Director of Training for OTAN (Outreach To Asia Nationals) from June 2009.
Chris is happily married to Dorothy, an IT software educator, and they have two daughters Alethea and Charis. Chris enjoys memorising poems on the Bible and football.
Abraham’s life reveals what genuine faith in God can do. This man whom 3 world religions claim as their ‘father of faith’, died in peace, satisfied; full and importantly ‘in faith‘ (Gen.15:15; Heb.11:13ff). The heritage he left for Isaac, his son and us, is pictured by 3 icons: an altar, a tent and a well that symbolize a godly example of faith in God’s promises (Gen.26:25). Spiritual blessings meant more to Isaac than material and their significance can help us find our future, make a mark, and leave a legacy of ‘faith in God’ for our generation.
I find it intriguing how Isaac was the son of a famous father (Abraham) and the father of a famous son (Jacob)! Due to his quiet and peaceable life, he often gets ‘lost’ in between the two patriarchs. Yet, in the Bible, it is Isaac who is a type or representation of Christ. Let us consider these 3 emblems that marked Isaacs’ life of faith and allow them to increase our own faith in God today.
An altar: As nomads, the first thing Abraham and now Isaac, did when they arrived at a new place was to ‘set up an altar’ to Yahweh, the living God. The altar speaks of one’s dedication to God’s will. It is that place where worship and sacrifice were offered. Isaac on Mt. Moriah where he was to be sacrificed understood what an altar was all about. Believers today understand what this meant for God the Son on another mountain – Calvary! Lest we slide into mediocrity, not only when we make a new start, but daily we must stay fresh with God by erecting our altars; offering ourselves to God as living, holy sacrifices – ‘dead to self and alive unto God’. This is good and acceptable to God and in fact our ‘spiritual act of worship’ (Rom 12:1-2).
Question: Is my altar erected today or has it been neglected?
A tent: Abraham and Isaac never built houses ‘on arrival’ to a new place; they pitched a tent to live in. A house is solid, build into its environment but a tent is temporary and easily moved. These men of faith realized ‘this world was their passage, not portion’ and that they were pilgrims - ’sojourners and strangers in the land’. However, they looked for a city that had foundations whose Builder and Maker was none other than Yahweh himself! The tent speaks of detachment to the world’s ways. Christ said, the world would ‘hate you’, it’s a problem if we seek its praise (Gal.1:10). Today we have so much to live with and so little to live for! Have you ever seen a U-haul following a hearse? Jim Reeves sang, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru… My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; the angels beckon me from heaven’s open shore and I don’t feel at home in this world any more!” Do you?
Question: Am I detached to this present evil world’s pleasures & praise?
A well: The USA does not experience constant power failure or lacks water supply, like much of India. Digging a well in wasteland is not easy. There was not only the necessity for wells in desert regions, there was difficulty for Isaac to acquire and dig a well (v.18-22). Yet, after he did, these wells served his household as well as his community well and guess what? He could not take the well with him when he moved. A well speaks of dependence on God’s Word & Spirit. In Psalm 1, a righteous person living by the power of God’s spiritual words is compared to a tree planted by steams of life-giving water. For Isaac, physically and ultimately it is a matter of ‘digging or dying’. We can’t live without these wonderful ‘words of life & beauty that teach us faith & duty’.
Question: Is my daily work grounded in God’s words of truth and life?
Revd. Dr. Chris Gnanakan