We looked, yesterday, at two men who believed God and with whom God was pleased because they wholly trusted Him. Today, we will take a hard look at Hebrews 11:6. Here we find one of the most important verses on trust in the whole Bible: "But without faith" If we are without faith, we are offending God. How do we learn to trust? "…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by The Word of God." (From Romans 10:17). "…it is impossible to please Him;..." We actually displease God when we fail to trust Him! "..for he that cometh to God must believe..." Faith (trust) is not some "magical" quality that we suddenly discover and feel within ourselves. It is a decision! We decide to trust Him unconditionally, no matter what! This is a faith that we decide upon and we stake our eternal destiny on that decision. This trust (faith) begins with "…must believe that He is..." If you do not believe that God is, you have nothing or no one that is eternally reliable. You have no ultimate hope! Further, we "must believe that He is a rewarder..." Of whom? "…them that..." do something. What? "…diligently seek..." This is an intense study of His revealing of Himself in the Scriptures, with a heart for Him and His Truth. Whom? "…Him" (i.e; God, Himself). Selah! His greatest reward is the personal involvement of His dear Person with us daily, hour by hour, and extends to "…Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." (From I Corinthians 2:9) Ron
Two brief but significant verses are before us today. Two individuals serve as role models. In Hebrews 11:4, Abel is commended because he did what God required. He was likely taught by his parents what God expected, as was Cain. However, Cain put his own ideas into action rather than what God ordered. Just what was involved? Cain decided to rely on his own judgment. He wanted God's acceptance of his works. Abel trusted God and obeyed. It has been this way with mankind ever since. Man wants to be accepted for his good works, whereas a child of God is accepted on the basis of Christ's work on the Cross! A true Christian accepts Jesus' Sacrifice as the only way to be saved and then strives to obey out of love and gratitude for his salvation. In Verse 5, Enoch is commended for his close walk (fellowship, companionship) with God. Enoch's holy lifestyle and joy in God, pleased God and God took him home without seeing death. His faith and holy life was recognized in a unique way. He took a walk with God and God took him to his true home and Enoch became a living illustration of the Rapture. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and he being dead (Cain killed him) yet speaketh" (His example still says something to us today). "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." (Hebrews 11:4-5) Selah! Combine these two lessons and the truth that emerges is this: trust God, obey out of love, and you will please God! Ron
Having stressed the indispensable role of "faith" throughout Hebrews, now we come to Chapter 11 which is replete with examples of faith. This chapter has an opening portion to deal with, before we look at the examples. In Verse 1, we are told that "faith is the substance of things hoped for..." Let's start with a basic truth. Faith is unconditional (it is not irrational). Trusting God is a firm, irrevocable decision that you and I will trust Him, no matter what and in spite of any doubts or negative "feelings." There are many reasons to trust Him but that's not the subject of this article. "Things hoped for..." is an important part of this verse. "Wishful thinking" is not in view here. Hope is anticipated certainty! God's Word has never been proven wrong, and that God cannot lie is one of its' declarations. We can touch what God has promised, by faith. That is to say that, if God says it or promises it, it will be! God's Word gives what He says "substance," a substance more solid than concrete. "The evidence of things not seen..." This evidence is more reliable than any evidence ever given in a court of law because God is the One giving the evidence. Verse 2 continues: "for by it (faith) the elders (God's saints) obtained a good report. God Himself honored their trust. Moving to Verse 3, we are told that it is through (or by means of) faith that "we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God…." None of us were there but God was! He is infinitely more reliable than the shifting views of sin-darkened minds. Man's ideas change frequently but He makes no mistakes! His Word further brings out that He created the world out of what we would describe as "nothing." It is a question of where we place our trust. Will it be in man, who has been wrong time and time again or in God, Who never fails? Selah! If I trust that a chair will hold me, it is only when I sit in it that my faith is validated. When we trust our selves completely to Him, He will prove to be utterly dependable. Ron
Because of so much failure to see "the big picture," I want to try, with God's help, to expand our grasp of two vital Truths.
First of all, I hope to help us realize what an evil thing it is to not take God up on His offer of salvation. After the sacrifice that God made, in order to save us, how could anyone be so hateful as to refuse such a Gift? Refusing what Jesus did for us, by His death on the cross, is the very epitome of evil and a horrible insult to God. To spurn the Love of God means that we deserve Hell! God has done the only thing that could be done to save us. If we turn that down, then God justly banishes us from his Presence forever!
Secondly, the scope of salvation far exceeds most of the usual perceptions of its magnitude and magnificence. Its cost was infinite! (That has huge significance)! Salvation's sweep is from eternity past to eternity future. It removes the penalty for sin. It breaks the power of sin and it will remove the presence of sin in our lives, when we see Him in Heaven. It gives us a brand new nature that craves holiness of life and despises sin. It credits us with Christ's perfection, legally and then initiates God's great work of perfecting us. It gives us a Father, Who loves us and furnishes us with an open door to His Throne and love. It gives us security forever. It provides us with a Book full of all that God has to teach us. It gives courage, confidence, counsel, and comfort and much more. It gives meaning and purpose to this life and the one to come. It gives us strength and direction for each new day. All this is only the "tip of the iceberg!" When we receive that new nature, it gives us a pre-destiny of being made like Jesus. Selah! A truly saved person will have setbacks, but doesn't turn back! He may start to, but he will turn back in the right direction. Ron (Pertinent Scripture available by request).
Picking up where we left off yesterday at Hebrews 10:29, we move to Verse 30 and continue with the theme that we have been examining. Verse 30 says that God does take vengeance and He will pay back everyone who wickedly goes on refusing His Gracious, loving Gift. Then, we are informed that He will judge His people. Although it is a judgment of works that will decide rewards or lack of rewards, it is a very serious judgment. Verse 31 draws our attention to this Truth: "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God." This is true for both those who are not saved and those who are, albeit in very different ways. Verses 32-34 speak of those who understood their need and even fellowshipped with those who were saved, including the author of this letter. These folk even experienced suffering and ridicule because of their involvement with true believers. They also gave of their means to help Christians. Verses 35-36 encourage these that have been so close to the real thing not to throw away their confidence. The trust that they expressed toward God, if followed through on, would lead to "great recompense of reward." If they would trust to the point of truly receiving God's Gift of Salvation, if they patiently go on in the direction they have been headed, if they will do the will of God (i.e; receive His Gift), they will receive the promise of eternal life. Verse 37 is a reminder that Jesus is coming back and it could be soon. He will be "right on time!" Verse 38 states that the "saved" live by faith. True faith continues to the end. Anything less incurs God's displeasure. Verse 39 speaks of the difference in outcome. Those who back away and never truly receive Christ, after having begun so well, are lost forever! Those who exercise "saving" faith maintain it to the very final aspect of salvation. Selah! True believers do stumble and fall but their new nature motivates them to get back up and continue toward the goal. Ron
Returning to Chapter 10 of Hebrews, let's look at Verse 26. Some have understood this verse to teach that salvation can be lost, after one has received it. This is because of a failure to consider the whole tenor of Scripture on this vital subject and a lack of very careful reading of the portion before us. "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth…" can be rendered this way: if we choose to continue in a sinful lifestyle after gaining an understanding of the truth… "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins..." Since Calvary's Lamb has been refused, there is no "Plan B." Verse 27 warns of the outcome of continuing in this rejection. It promises "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." It is while we were "enemies" that we, who are born again, were reconciled to God. When we fail to embrace His reconciliation, we remain an "enemy" (i.e; adversary). Verse 28 reminds us that, under the old system, the Law required the death penalty for certain sins. That penalty was imposed, provided that there was as few as two or three witnesses to the broken Law. Verse 28 speaks of "sorer punishment" for the one who is thought worthy of punishment for rejecting God's gift. This person, in his or her rejection, has trampled on the awful cost to Jesus to offer such a Gracious Gift. He or she has considered the covenant, sealed by Jesus' shed Blood, a common thing, even though that covenant would have "sanctified" (set apart; dedicated) that person to God, if they had not rejected. They have seriously despised the Holy Spirit's wooing and spurned God's Grace. Selah! It is an eternally serious matter to trifle with God's offer of salvation. It is the offer of the greatest Gift that has ever been given to a human being. It required the death of God's only begotten Son. No other Gift is that priceless! Ron
What an opening in Verse 19 of Hebrews, Chapter 10! We, who are His, are to be having " …boldness to enter into the holiest by the Blood of Jesus." This is possible (Verse 20) "..By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us,(.ie; set apart for our access) through the veil, that is to say, His flesh…." His crucified Body has given us the high and holy privilege of entering the very Throne Room of God! Verse 21 adds another wonderful facet to this blessing: "We have "an High Priest over the House of God." We have the one and only Great High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek. Highlighting Verse 22, we see the results of God's kindness to us. We are to "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." This is made possible because of what "Water Baptism" illustrates. It illustrates that our consciences and bodies have been washed clean by the cleansing power of Jesus' Blood. We also experience the regular cleansing that comes as we confess our sins (I John 1:9) and apply "the washing of water by the Word." (From Ephesians 5:26). Verse 23 exhorts us to hold fast, have a firm confidence of our experience of salvation, because "(He is faithful that promised)." Verse 24 admonishes us to think of ways to provoke one another "unto love and to good works." Verse 25 charges us to not forsake "the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhort(ing) one another, and so much the more (so) as ye see the day approaching." Selah! As a disciple, follow these instructions carefully, depending on the Holy Spirit's enabling! Ron