Friday, June 10, 2016

The Vision (6.10.16): But without faith it is impossible to please God

Image:  Rose bush, Spring 2016, North Garden, Virginia

Hebrews 11:5 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. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Enoch’s claim to fame is that, like the prophet Elijah, he did not experience physical death but was taken to be with God (translated) (see Genesis 5:21-24).  The focus in Hebrews 11:5b is on the fact that Enoch pleased God.  This likely comes from the description that he walked with God (Gen 5:24), or he conducted himself in a godly manner.

We need then to pay attention, however, to the explanation that follows in v. 6, beginning, “But without faith it is impossible to please God…..”  The point is not to say that Enoch’s godliness was a good work that justified him in God’s sight.  It is rather to say that because Enoch was a believer there naturally there flowed from him a life that pleased God.

Apple trees produce apples.  Peach trees produce peaches.  Rose bushes produce roses.  Saved men produce godly fruit.  It is not the godly fruit that saves them.  You can go out and duct tape apples to a dead thorn bush all day long and that does not make it an apple tree!

This verse likewise demolishes any simple idea that God’s love is indiscriminate toward all people.  Those who are not converted, those who have not trusted in Christ, are not pleasing in his sight, no matter all the good they might do.

Notice what v. 6 does NOT say.  It does not say,

            But without good works it is impossible to please God….

            But without baptism or church membership….

            But without conservative politics…..

            But without homeschooling….

            But without modest dress and decorum….

            But without some particular conservative lifestyle…..

Instead, it simply says, “But without faith it is impossible to please God…..”

Since Vatican II (1965), the Roman Catholic church falsely teaches a concept of “anonymous” Christians, people who do not confess Christ but who live lives pleasing to him.  Some hyper-Calvinists also teach that one can be regenerate but not confess faith.  This verse contradicts both those teachings.  Here faith means saving faith.  Without explicit faith in Christ, consciously confessed, one cannot please God.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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