Sunday, 3 March 2019
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
The author now explains what he just said about Enoch. Enoch was noted as pleasing to God. How was it so? It is explained by the words which introduced him in the previous verse, “By faith Enoch.” It was “by faith.” To teach his audience how to be like Enoch, he now provides the words of this verse. “But without faith,” means “apart from faith.” The commonly used Greek word comes from a root signifying an open or detached space. Thus there is a separation between two things and, hence, “apart from.” The author says that in this state “it is impossible to please Him.”
There are several aspects of faith that are encompassed in this thought. There is faith that God exists. He cannot be seen, and yet we are expected to believe that He is as real to us as if He can be seen. Some can take the evidences of His existence, meaning the created order, and deny that God is responsible for it. Others look at what He has done (see Psalm 19:1, for example) and not only accept that God has done these things, but then extend their minds beyond them, understanding that He is even greater than His creation.
There is also faith in what God says. This, like our response to creation, requires faith. It is especially so because there are all kinds of claims concerning what “God” says. Numerous religions claim they possess the word of God. Numerous denominations claim they still receive the word of God. Countless individuals have claimed God has spoken to or through them. In each of these, there is either truth or there is falsehood, and discernment is necessary to differentiate between the two.
These things are actually of great importance because “he who comes to God must believe that He is.” This is speaking of His existence. Because we cannot see Him, there is no mental image that we can produce to say, “This is what God is like.” All there is for us is what He has done, and which is then revealed within the created order. This is what Enoch did. He accepted what he saw around him as a testimony that God exists. And because he did, he lived his life accordingly. In this, “he pleased God.”
And so Enoch’s faith in God was matched with His life which reflected that faith. Many people say they believe in God, but that belief in God doesn’t affect the way in which they live. They separate their knowledge of His existence from what that existence must be like. Enoch combined the two. He had faith in God’s existence, and he had a proper view of, and faith in, God’s attributes. With that, both of these combined into an application of His life before God and for God. The two combined into a pleasing walk of faith; a life of holiness. And how can we know this is true? Because the author next says “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Enoch is set forth as an example of one who diligently sought out God, and therefore God rewarded him for his faithful search. He “was not found, because God had taken him.” This is what it means that Enoch lived by faith. He believed that God is, he lived his life according to his understanding of what that means, and he believed that in living in this right manner he would be rewarded. If this were not so, then there would be no reason to live in that way. In other words, a real aspect of faith in God is that He rewards faith in Him. This is why merely believing that God exists is not enough to be pleasing to God.
If a person believes God exists, but doesn’t have any faith that a proper life will result in a reward or that an improper life will result in some type of punishment, then there will be no change in how that person conducts his life – “Yes, there is a God, but He doesn’t care.” Or, if a person believes that God exists, but has a faulty view of what He is like, then his actions may be misdirected. A person who believes incorrectly about God may blow himself up in a shopping mall, believing that God will reward him for his actions. But he has pursued a faulty view of God. He didn’t diligently pursue Him.
Theology must be properly directed to consider God as He is. Once that is understood, everything else should follow that correct ideal about God in a life which matches it.
Life application: Hebrews 11:6 is such an important verse that every Christian should not only memorize it, but use it in their daily speech to others. “…without faith it is impossible to please Him.” This single verse excludes all works based religions, and all religions outside of Christianity are in some way works-based. Therefore, either this statement is true and Christianity alone is true, or it is false and there is no assurance in all of human existence for reconciliation with God.
If one thinks it through logically though, it must be a true statement. It would contradict God’s character to be any other way. Only one correct view about God is possible. God will never reward a doubter, a disbeliever, or one who has a faulty view of who He is in relation to His eternal, unchanging attributes. Therefore, this excludes religious pluralism (many paths lead to God); religious syncretism (a mixing of religious systems); and relativism (truth is changing and subjective).
God is and God has spoken. There is no change in Him, no variance, no progression, and no untruth. Therefore, He can and will only reward “those who diligently seek him.” And that diligent seeking will inevitably and only lead to Jesus Christ. Only through Jesus can we truly please God, and only in pursuing and seeking Jesus can we receive reward from God. Have faith and seek the Lord with all your heart.
Lord, give us the strong desire, and the will, to be pleasing to You and to seek You with all our hearts. Let us not trip over the simplicity of what You ask for in order to be reconciled to You – faith and faith alone. Also, may we be found pleasing because our faith is properly directed – toward Jesus! Amen.