“Pre-antediluvian Faith” – Hebrews 11:3-6

January 13th, 2019

Hebrews 11:3-6

“Pre-antediluvian Faith”

Aux. Texts: Genesis 1:1; 4:1-8; 5:18-24

Call to Worship: Psalm 33


Service Orientation: Biblical faith is being sure and certain of that which we cannot see:  Like creation, the value of sacrificing for God, and the reward of those who please God.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. — Hebrews 11:6


Background Information:

  • (v. 3) “By faith.” This is the first occurrence in a series of twenty-one uses of the phrase by faith.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 312)
  • (v. 4) It seems to me that God’s testimony that Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable and that He counted Abel as righteous could have been indicated by His causing this offering to be consumed. On at least five occasions recorded in Scripture, God showed His acceptance of a sacrifice by sending fire to consume it (Lv 9:24; Jdg 6:21; 1 Kgs 18:38; 1 Chr 21:26; 2 Chr 7:1).  In any case, it is clear from Genesis that God made His approval and disapproval of the sacrifices known to Cain and Abel.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 302)
  • (v. 4) The fact remains that Cain’s attitude toward God was sinful. In effect, God pleaded with him to repent, to change his way of life, and to conquer sin.  However, the writer introduces Cain’s name only for contrast; he is interested in Abel’s faith.  Notice, for example, that the expression by faith occurs three times in this verse (NIV).  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 316)
  • (vss. 4-5) The sacrifice of faith is the entrance to the life of faith, and ever remains its chief characteristic. On the sacrifice of faith there follows the walk of faith–abiding, continuous fellowship is the fruit of Christ’s self-sacrifice and ours.  On Abel follows Enoch.  Abel shows how death is the entrance to life:  he triumphs over death by submitting to it.  In Enoch, we see how life triumphs over death:  he does not see death.  Through faith Abel being dead yet speaketh; Enoch speaks as one who ever liveth.  In Abel we see how death leads to life.  In Enoch we see the life that never dies.  In Abel we see Christ the crucified, and the boldness we have through the blood to enter in in the new and living way that goes through the rent veil.  In Enoch we see Christ glorified and have life in the Holiest–the walk with God, the living One.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 429)
  • (v. 5) “Walked with God” and “pleased God” mean the same thing. (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 77)
  • (v. 5) In the four verses in Genesis (5:21-24) describing Enoch, he is twice spoken of as “walking with God.” In the Septuagint (Greek OT) this phrase is translated “pleased God,” using the same Greek word (quaresteō, “to be well-pleasing”) that is used twice in Heb 11:5-6.  Walking with God is pleasing God.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 310)
  • (v. 5) Another thing we do know is that Enoch lived in the closing generations before Noah’s Flood. He lived his life with righteousness and raised his children in the midst of an increasingly perverse and severely wicked world that would have viewed his life of faith with scorn.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 171)
  • (v. 6) The Greek word means not only seek Him, but “seek Him out”–that is, seek Him until they find Him, and seek Him above all others. It is a very strong word; we hardly know how to transfer its meaning into English, for though it does not say “diligently,” it implies it.  We must seek, and seek out, that is, seek until we really find.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 326)
  • ALL believers should understand that when they put their trust in Jesus, they are taking a stand against the world. That means they can expect pain, and loss, and unpopularity.  Obviously it would be easier and more comfortable to follow the ways of the world.  But to the man of faith, it is better to suffer with Jesus than to prosper in the world.  The Christian attitude is that there is no way to lose by trusting in the Lord, no matter how rough things gets.  Each of the famous names he will mention refused what the world considers to be greatness, and staked all they had on the promises of God.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 246-7)
  • As the chapter unfolds, we’ll review the lives of these many believers for whom the consolation of their faith (i.e., the fulfillment of the promises) was invisible. Yet they believed that God could bring to pass what they could not yet see.  For them, the invisible would eventually appear.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 178)


The question to be answered is . . . What purpose does the  writer of Hebrews have for making reference to all of these pre-antediluvian historical events and/or people of faith?


Answer: To demonstrate that faith in God has always been the means by which we have a relationship with the Almighty and/or are saved.  God always rewards those who earnestly seek Him.


The Word for the Day is again . . . Faith


How does faith figure in pre- and antediluvian history?:

I-  Creation:  God is pleased when by faith we believe He can do the impossible and make the invisible visible.  (Heb 11:3; see also: Gn 1-2; Ps 19:1-6; 33:6-9; Jer 32:17; Lk 1:37; Rom 1:20; 2 Cor 5:7; Col 1:15-17)


The practical force of this verse to us is:  our “faith” does not rest upon what “appears” outwardly, but is satisfied with the bare Word of God.  Since God created the universe out of nothing, how easily can he preserve and sustain us when there is not anything (to our view) in sight!  He who can call worlds into existence by the Word of His Power, can command supplies for the neediest of His creatures.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 656)


If God can cause a universe to spring out of nothing simply by His Word, must not His promises come to pass by the SAME POWER?  The promises of God are also the Word of God.  His Word must be fulfilled.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 248)


Faith allows us to understand that God created the world from nothing by his creative word alone.  Believing this fact requires spiritual perception–that we receive only by faith.  This passage reminds us that all of creation was new, not made from preexistent materials.  The visible world did not come from anything that can be seen.  God called the universe into existence out of nothing; he declared that it was to be, and it was.  The entire universe was formed at God’s command–God simply said the words, “Let there be. . .” and what he wanted came into being (see Genesis 1).  We understand this by faith, not because we saw it happen but because we understand from what we read in Scripture and from our relationship with the loving Father that the world was created with a purpose and that we are part of that purpose.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 177-8)


God gives much evidence of His existence, but it is not the kind of evidence that men often are looking for.  He cannot be proved by science, for example.  At best, scientific evidence is circumstantial.  Paul Little wrote, “But it can be said with equal emphasis that you can’t prove Napoleon by the scientific method, either.  The reason lies in the nature of history itself, and in the limitation of the scientific method.  In order for something to be proven by science, it must be repeatable.  One cannot announce a new finding to the world on the basis of a single experiment.  But history is, by its very nature, unrepeatable.  No one can rerun the beginning of the universe.  Or bring Napoleon back.  Or repeat the assassination of Lincoln or the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  But the fact that these events can’t be proved by repetition does not disprove their reality.”

The point he is making is that you cannot apply the scientific method to everything.  It does not work.  You cannot put love or justice or anger in a test tube either, but no sensible person doubts their existence.  By the same reasoning, God’s existence should not be doubted merely because it cannot be scientifically proved.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 307)


Why, then, did the Torah begin with the account of the creation?  In order to illustrate that God the Creator owns the whole world.  So, if the peoples of the world shall say to Israel:  “You are robbers in conquering the territory of the seven Canaanite nations,” Israel can answer them:  “All of the earth belongs to God–He created it, so he can give it to whomsoever He will.”  (Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, 181-2)


What we need to come to terms with, though, if our origin is insignificant, and if our destiny is insignificant, have the courage and guts to admit that your life is insignificant.  If your origin and destiny are both insignificant, you just don’t matter. (Tim Keller, sermon on Ecclesiastes)


The Christian must maintain that created being has no meaning in itself and all attempts to understand it in terms of itself constitutes a rejection of true meaning.  Neither can man have meaning in himself, because he too is a creature.  Nothing can have meaning in itself or of itself because nothing exists in or of itself.  “All things were made by Him,” and nothing has a valid interpretation apart from God and His creative and redemptive purpose.  Thus every attempt of man to interpret his world of itself, or to attempt to interpret it in terms of his autonomous mind and its perceptions, is virtually a deliberate rejection of God and His interpretation.  When men reject God they at the same time virtually reject the Creator’s and redeemer’s interpretation and purpose for their lives and for all creation.  Thus, they cannot understand either themselves or the world they live in, although they use both, often with profligate proficiency.  (Rousas J. Rushdoony, By What Standard?, 10-11)


“What does faith give us to understand concerning the worlds, that is, the upper, middle, lower regions of the universe?  1. That they were not eternal, nor did they produce themselves, but they were made by another.  2. That the Maker of the world is God; He is the Maker of all things; and whosoever is so must be God.  3. That He made the world with great exactness; it was a framed work, in every thing duly adapted and disposed to answer its end, and to express the perfections of the Creator.  4. That God made the world by His word; that is, by His essential wisdom and eternal Son, and by His active will, saying, Let it be done, and it was done.  5. That the world was thus framed out of nothing, out of no pre-existent matter, contrary to the received maxim, that out of nothing nothing can be made, which, though true of created power, can have no place with God, who can call things that are not as if they were, and command them into being.  These things we understand by faith” (Matthew Henry)  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 654-5)


The author and his readers are able to understand God’s creation by faith.  Although we are unable to observe that which is invisible, in our minds we recognize the power of God.  Understanding creation–even in a limited sense–means that we reflect in faith on the relationship of Creator to creation.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 312-3)


Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith.  If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.  (James Tour, Nanoscientist)


Everything in our passage presupposes this, not least the fact that the cosmos is called “creation.”  That term presupposes a Creator, which is exactly what the Christian maintains is the case.  This world is not eternally existent.  Scientific evidence for the Big Bang alone tells us that.  Nor did the world come into existence by itself.  Reason tells us that.  For, in order for the creation to come into being “by itself,” it would have to create itself, and that would mean it was in existence before it was created.  In other words, it would have had to be and not be at the same time and in the same relationship, which is absurd.  The only rational view of origins is that God made everything.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary: Romans, Vol. 2, 872)


That statement (Heb 11:3), remember, was made in the first century when the best scientific minds of the time felt that the ultimate breakdown of matter was fourfold:  fire, water, soil and air.  That was the explanation of all matter.  Yet here in the twentieth century, after two thousand years of human endeavor in exploring the secrets of the origin of matter, we cannot improve on this statement.  This verse says that we can never explain the things which are seen until we come to grips with the things that are unseen.  We must recognize the existence of things unseen.  (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 148)


Faith is what looks at that created order and has a firm and resolute confidence in the God to whom it bears witness, who, though unseen, has provided a foundation for such a confidence through his mighty acts.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 375)


Now the mistake here (and you find it in Steven Hawking as well I think) is to think of God as some kind of link in a chain of causality.  A little bit like a certain kind of physical explanation; you know that somehow hovering around the Singularity or in the Quantum Vacuum.  And whatever else we mean about God, from a Classical Christian standpoint; we absolutely don’t mean that.  And the analogy that I would like to offer your listeners that I myself find particularly helpful is light.

Think about light.  The light in which we see cannot itself be one of the things seen.  For we can see the light only in so far as it is reflected off opaque objects.  So it is the same with the Divine Light, I would argue.  The Light which is God we can only see in the creatures which reflect it.

Therefore, when we turn our minds away from the visible objects of Creation to God, it is as if we see nothing.  The world shines with the Divine Light.  But, the Light which causes it so to shine, is itself like a deep darkness.  (Rupert Shortt on Mars Hill Audio: Vol. 138; Disk 2, track 1)


There is an epidemic of spiritual amnesia going around, and none of us is immune.  No matter how many fascinating details we learn about God’s creation, no matter how many pictures we see of His galaxies, and no matter how many sunsets we watch, we still forget.  (Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 29)


I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and still say that there is no God.  -Abe Lincoln


All creation bears God’s autograph.


“All of creation is an out-stretched finger pointing towards God.”  —August 22nd, 2012 Out Daily Bread Devotional


The early church leader Augustine was once accosted by a heathen who showed him his idol and said, “Here is my god; where is thine?” Augustine replied, “I cannot show you my God; not because there is no God to show but because you have no eyes to see Him.”


Microbiologist Michael Denton, though himself an atheist, adds, “The complexity of the simplest known type of cell is so great that it is impossible to accept that such an object could have been thrown together suddenly by some kind of freakish, vastly improbable event.  Such an occurrence would be indistinguishable from a miracle.”  (Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, 264) (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 121)


Only by faith can we accept that everything we see around us was not made out of things visible to us.  We place our trust not on what others who were not there have to say or theorize, but on what he who was there has been pleased to tell us.  Could the author have found a better example for faith as he has described it?  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 130)


Thus “the visible came forth from the invisible” (NEB).  But how do we know this?  By faith, says our author.  Greek speculation about the formation of the ordered world out of formless matter had influenced Jewish thinkers like Philo and the author of the book of Wisdom; the writer to the Hebrews is more biblical in his reasoning and affirms the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, a doctrine uncongenial to Greek thought.  The faith by which he accepts it is faith in the divine revelation; the first chapter of Genesis is probably uppermost in his mind, since he is about to trace seven living examples of faith from the subsequent chapters of that book.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 279-80)


Space observations are becoming so supportive of the theistic worldview that George Will muses, “Soon the American Civil Liberties Union, or People for the American Way, or some similar faction of litigious secularism will file suit against NASA, charging that the Hubble Space Telescope unconstitutionally gives comfort to the religiously inclined.”  (George Will, “The Gospel from Science,” Newsweek, November 8, 1998)   (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 98)


Philosophically we are left in the air by creation.  Infinite categories await us on either side of the argument.  Either matter existed from all time (and that is an infinite idea) or it was made out of nothing (another infinite category).  Logically and philosophically we are stymied.  Only by faith can we hope to understand.  We of faith are not embarrassed to say, “God created the heavens and the earth.”  Not to say that is to cast ourselves on some unknown, impersonal force that cares little if at all for what happens to creatures of this world.  Our faith tells us that there is a father and Creator Who cares after He has thrown the magnificence of the universe into its balanced structure.  (Louis H. Evans, Jr., The Communicator’s Commentary: Hebrews, 198)


It is logically possible that the universe is eternal and therefore didn’t have a cause.  In fact, it is one of only two possibilities:  either the universe, or something outside the universe, is eternal.  (Since something undeniably exists today, then something must have always existed; we have only two choices:  the universe, or something that caused the universe.)  The problem for the atheist is that while it is logically possible that the universe is eternal, it does not seem to be actually possible.  For all the scientific and philosophical evidence (SURGE, radioactive decay, and the Kalam Cosmological Argument) tells us the universe cannot be eternal.  So by ruling out one of the two options, we are left with the only other option–something outside the universe is eternal.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 92-3)


In light of the evidence, we are left with only two options:  either no one created something out of nothing, or else someone created something out of nothing.  Which view is more reasonable?  Nothing created something?  No.  Even Julie Andrews knew the answer when she sang, “Nothing comes from nothing.  Nothing ever could!”  And if you can’t believe that nothing caused something, then you don’t have enough faith to be an atheist!  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 94)


So why do we continue to indoctrinate our children in a flawed and crumbling theory that is based more on philosophical presuppositions than on scientific observations?  Why don’t we give our children all the scientific evidence–pro and con–and let them make up their own minds?  After all, shouldn’t we be teaching them how to think critically on their own?  Of course we should.  But Darwinists will go to great lengths to ensure that that doesn’t happen.  Darwinists would rather suppress the evidence than allow it to be presented fairly.  Why?  Because this is the one area where Darwinists lack faith–they lack the faith to believe that their theory will still be believed after our children see all the evidence.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 167)


One of the great mistakes we’ve made in modern Christianity is approaching God deductively as an object of knowledge instead of approaching Him inductively as the cause of wonder.  So apologists try to prove that God is factual.  And He is.  But facts don’t awe us.  In my humble opinion, it takes far more faith to believe in macroevolution by random chance than creation by intelligent design.  But it’s about more than just arguing the evidence.  God is more than factual.  He is wonderful.  The mind is educated with facts, but the soul is educated with beauty and mystery.  And the curriculum is creation.  (Mark Batterson, Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, 53)


According to the law or entropy, the universe is running down.  If it is running down, then it is not self-sustaining.  If it is not self-sustaining, then it had to have a beginning.  If it had a beginning, someone had to begin it, and we are back to the uncaused cause.  There must be a first cause, for which only God qualifies.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 308)


The late Julian Huxley, once a leader among Darwinists admitted that sexual freedom is a popular motivation behind evolutionary dogma.  When he was asked by talk show host Merv Giffin, “Why do people believe in evolution?” Huxley honestly answered, “The reason we accepted Darwinism even without proof, is because we didn’t want God to interfere with our sexual mores.”  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 163)


If materialism is true, then reason itself is impossible.  For if mental processes are nothing but chemical reactions in the brain, then there is no reason to believe that anything is true (including the theory of materialism).  Chemicals can’t evaluate whether or not a theory is true.  Chemicals don’t reason, they react.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 129)


Not only is reason impossible in a Darwinian world, but the Darwinist’s assertion that we should rely on reason alone cannot be justified.  Why not?  Because reason actually requires faith.  As J. Judziszewski points out, “The motto ‘Reason Alone!’ is nonsense anyway.  Reason itself presupposes faith.  Why?  Because a defense of reason by reason is circular, therefore worthless.  Our only guarantee that human reason works is God who made it.”  (J. Budziszewski, Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law, 54)  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 129-30)


Darwinists falsely believe they can reduce life to its nonliving chemical components.  That’s the ideology of reductionism.  For Darwinists like Dawkins or Crick who must believe that only the material (and not the immaterial) exists, then life can be nothing more than chemicals.  But life is clearly more than chemicals.  Life contains a message–DNA–that is expressed in chemicals, but those chemicals cannot cause the message any more than the chemicals in ink and paper can cause the sentences on this page.  A message points to something beyond chemicals.  The message in life, just like the one on this page, points to an intelligence beyond its chemical elements.  (We realize that life is certainly more than chemicals with a message, but the key point here is that it’s certainly not less.)  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 122)


Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.  —Albert Einstein


The overwhelming evidence for the Big Bang and its consistency with the biblical account in Genesis led Jastrow to observe in an interview, “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth.  And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover…That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”  (“A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow,” Christianity Today, August 6, 1982)  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 84-5)


Faith from Space:  “Looking at the earth from this vantage point, looking at this kind of creation, and to not believe in God, to me, is impossible… to see [the earth] laid out like that only strengthens my beliefs.” (Astronaut John Glen after viewing the world from outer space for a second time.)  (Quoted in Internet for Christians Newsletter, Nov. 9, 1998; Leadership, Spring 1999, 75)


Christian theists know that Romans 1:20 is true:  “Ever since the creation of the world (God’s) eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.”  In other words, there is absolutely no mystery about why living organisms appear to be the products of intelligent creation, and why scientific naturalists have to work so hard to keep themselves from perceiving the obvious.  (Phillip E. Johnson; Reason in the Balance, 108)


All experiments designed to spontaneously generate life–including the now dis-credited Urey-Miller experiment–have not only failed but also suffer from the illegitimate application of intelligence.  In other words, scientists intelligently contrive experiments and they still cannot do what we are told mindless natural laws have done.  Why should we believe that mindless processes can do what brilliant scientists cannot do?  And even if scientists eventually did create life in the laboratory, it would prove creation.  Why?  Because their efforts would show that it takes a lot of intelligence to create life.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 118)


Life is a dirty trick from nothingness to nothingness.  —Earnest Hemingway


Dostoyevsky in The Brothers Karamazov said that “if God does not exist, everything is permissible.”


Darwin’s evolutionary explanation of the cosmos creates an obstacle to Biblical repentance in at least two ways:

1-  It eliminates God as author of creation and therefore the authority over creation.  It eliminates our accountability to Him and our obligation to live as He has prescribed.

2-  Since we are nothing more than a collection of randomly organized molecules, and since our actions and reactions to outside stimuli are nothing more than the ultimate process of evolutionary accidents; then I am not responsible for my actions.  I can only act as chance has caused me to act.  And since there is no creator God that is authorized to tell me what I can and cannot do, who will tell me that what chance has “ordained” for me to believe and do is wrong?  Besides, if there is no Creator God, then everything is permissible because no one has the right to define for me right or wrong. — Pastor Keith


Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.  Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. (Stephen Hawking as quoted by John Stonestreet; “Stephen Hawking and the Limits of Our Knowledge”  Breakpoint commentary, March 16, 2018)


II-  Abel:  God is pleased when by faith we sacrificially worship with a joyful, grateful heart. (Heb 11:4; see also: Gn 4:1-12; 1 Chr 28:9; Prv 15:8; 21:27; Mt 23:35; 2 Cor 9:7; Jam 2:14-22; 1 Jn 3:12; Jude 1:11)


Cain believed in God, else he would not have brought Him a sacrifice.  He acknowledged a supreme being and even that he owed Him some sort of worship.  He recognized God, but he did not obey God.  He believed in God, but he did not believe God.  He thought he could approach God in whatever way he wanted, and expected Him to be impressed and satisfied.  In so doing, Cain became the father of all false religion.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 299)


From the very beginning of creation, God was concerned more about the heart than the actual sacrifice.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 179)


Cain had not done what was right (4:7), revealing that he himself was not right spiritually.  His brother Abel, by contrast, was “a righteous man” (according to Heb 11:4), the author tying Abel’s example back to the OT quotation found in 10:37-38, which states “But my righteous one will live by faith.”  Consequently, he was “commended” by God and still today “speaks” even though he has been dead for a long time.  His attitude and action were such that his example of faithfulness continues among people of faith.  Thus Hebrews emphasizes this vital link between internal attitudes and external actions.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 375-6)


Cain’s offering was a monument to pride and self-righteousness–“the way of Cain.”  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 69)


Cain’s offering was obviously not made in faith, for it was rejected.  It wasn’t Abel’s offering that made him acceptable to God, it was his faith.  His offering merely represented the faith in his heart.  But here is what the readers were to observe:  being in God’s will and enjoying His favor did NOT keep Abel’s brother from killing him.  Abel died because of his faith.  The readers had been told that they could expect to suffer for their faith in Christ.  From Abel’s example, they see how it is possible to be in the center of God’s will and still suffer.  With Abel’s story a part of the permanent record, his life still speaks to readers everywhere telling them that the faith life can be rough, yet all that finally matters is the approval of God.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 249)


There was nothing intrinsically wrong with a grain or fruit or vegetable offering.  The Mosaic covenant included such offerings.  But the blood offerings were always first, because only the blood offerings dealt with sin.

Here is where the life of faith begins, with a sacrifice for sin.  It begins with believing God that we are sinners, that we are worthy of death, that we need His forgiveness, and that we accept His revealed plan for our deliverance.  That is the beginning of the life of faith.  It was in such faith that Abel presented his sacrifice to God.  And it was because of such faith that his sacrifice was acceptable to God.

When Abel did what God said, he revealed his obedience and acknowledged his sinfulness.  Cain, on the other hand, was disobedient and did not acknowledge his sin.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 299)


The unvarnished Masoretic text makes the situation plain enough; since Cain was told that he  would be accepted if he did well, it follows that Abel was accepted because he did well–because, in other words, he was righteous.  And in fact the righteousness of Abel is emphasized elsewhere in the NT:  our Lord refers to “the blood of Abel the righteous” (Mt 23:35) and John tells us that Cain killed his brother “because his own deeds were evil, and is brother’s righteous” (1 Jn 3:12).  To the same effect our author says that Abel “was attested as a righteous man.”  How?  Because “God bore this witness to the gifts he brought.”  This echoes the Septuagint rendering of Gn 4:4, “God looked [i.e., with pleasure] on Abel and his gifts.”  The abiding principle of Scripture in this regard is summed up in the words of Prv 15:8, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Yahweh; but the prayer of the upright is his delight.”  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 283)


This is the “way of Cain” spoken of by Jude (v. 11).  It is the way of self-will, of unbelief, of disobedience, and of religious hypocrisy.  What a contrast from Abel!  Thus we see how there was a striking foreshadowment from the beginning of human history that the church on earth is a mixed assembly, made up of wheat and tares.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 661)


It was his faith through which Abel received approval from God as righteous.  The integrity of his heart was what really mattered.  Abel, then, is the first example set before us here of the principle propounded at the end of the preceding chapter, “my righteous one shall live by faith” (10:38; Hab 2:4).  He belongs to the number of “those who have faith and keep their life” (Heb 10:39), even though violently slain by jealous and unrighteous men, that is to say, despite all appearances to the contrary–an important theme of this chapter.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 455)


The other reason Abel’s offering was accepted was his heart attitude.  Cain’s attitude puts it all in stark perspective.  The Scriptures indicate that when God rejected Cain’s offering, Cain became “very angry, and his face was downcast (Gn 4:5), thus revealing just how shallow his devotion was.  And when God pleaded with Cain to desist and do what was right, warning him with powerful metaphorical language that sin was crouching like a monster at his door and desiring to have him (Gn 4:6, 7), God’s plea was met by ominous silence.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 69)


Heb 11:4, however, implies improper spiritual motivation as the real reason why the offering was rejected.  Well-doing consisted not in the outward offering (Gn 4:7) but in the right state of heart and mind.

Abel ranks as the first martyr (Mt 23:35), whose blood cried for vengeance (Gn 4:10; cf. Rv 6:9f.) And produced despair, whereas that of Jesus appeals to God for man’s forgiveness and brings cleansing from sin (1 Jn 1:7).  Abel’s death is a prototype of Christ’s death (Heb 12:24).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, 4)


Cain was dejected because his offering was disregarded, but God pointed out to him the way of acceptance:  “If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gn 4:7).  This rendering of the Masoretic text is quite in line with the later prophetic teaching about sacrifice; sacrifice is acceptable to God not for its material content, but insofar as it is the outward expression of a devoted and obedient heart.  Let Cain gain the mastery over the sin which threatens to be his undoing, and his sacrifice will be accepted as readily as Abel’s was.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 281)


But how could it be known that it was “by faith” that Abel brought God a more acceptable sacrifice than his brother?  Probably the close association between righteousness and faith in 10:38, “my righteous one will live by faith,” was ground sufficient in our author’s eyes for his statement about Abel’s faith; moreover, his affirmation in v. 6 below, while primarily applicable to Enoch, is equally applicable to Abel:  “without faith it is impossible to give him [God] pleasure”–and since Abel manifestly pleased him, it follows that Abel lived and acted by faith.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 283)


Not only had God communicated his will regarding the necessity of animal sacrifices, but if, as we think, he communicated this first to Adam and Eve, then Cain and Abel had been conforming to the practice for some 100 years, because Cain was 129 years old at this time!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 68)


People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive. — Blaise Pascal


To serve God acceptably we must disregard all human inventions, lean not unto our own understandings or inclinations, and adhere strictly to the revelation which He made of His will.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 662-3)


III-  Enoch: God is pleased when by faith we walk with God.  (Heb 11:5; see also: Gn 5:18-24; Isa 53:6; Amos 3:3; Mal 2:6; Jn 8:12; 11:9-10; 12:35; Rom 4:12; 2 Cor 5:17-21; 6:14-16; Gal 5:25; Col 3:7; 1 Jn 1:6-7; 2:6, 11; 2 Jn 1:4-6; 3 Jn 1:3-4; Jude 1:14-16; Rv 3:4)


Here we have set forth, in the form of a brief summary, the new life of the believer:  to “walk with God.”  Previously, Enoch had “walked according to the course of this world” (Eph 2:2), had gone his “own way” (Isa 53:6) of self-pleasing, and unconcerned about the future, had thought only of the present.  But now he had been “reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20), for “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).  The term “walk” signifies a voluntary act, a steady advance, a progress in spiritual things.  To “walk with God” imports a life surrendered to God, a life controlled by God, a life lived for God.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 669)


The whole point of the Enoch story is that it PAYS to believe God and go all the way with Him.  Observe that Enoch was not only made righteous by His faith, which is an eternal blessing, but he was also rewarded in THIS LIFE.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 251)


It is just as impossible for an unbeliever to have fellowship with God (2 Cor 6:14-16), and for the same reason–his nature is too different from God’s.  Even an unbeliever is created in God’s image, but that image has been so shattered by sin, his nature so corrupted, that fellowship with his Creator is not possible–there is no common sphere in which he and God can be agreed.

When we are saved, we become citizens of a new domain.  We are still on earth, but our true life, our real citizenship, is in heaven (Phil 3:20).  As Peter says, we “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pt 1:4).  In Christ we are given a heavenly nature, His own nature, and we can therefore have fellowship with God.  Because Enoch walked with God, he must have had a nature corresponding to God’s.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 311)


Walking in the Spirit is allowing Him to pervade your thoughts.  It is saying, when you get up in the morning, “Holy Spirit, it is Your day, not mine.  Use it as You see fit.”  It is saying throughout the day, “Holy Spirit, continue to keep me from sin, direct my choices and my decisions, use me to glorify Jesus Christ.”  It is putting each decision, each opportunity, each temptation, each desire before Him, and asking for His direction and His power.  Walking in the Spirit is dynamic and practical.  It is not passive resignation but active obedience.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 312)


Only when sin has been dealt with can we move into God’s presence and begin walking with Him.  God will not walk in any way but the way of holiness.  “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:6-7).  The only persons God walks with are those who are cleansed of sin.  Since Enoch walked with God, he had to have been forgiven of his sin and declared righteous by God.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 312)


Two must not only be traveling to the same place on the same path, but they must also go at the same pace.  Enoch was in step with God.  We too must “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal 5:25).  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 77)


The expression, “walked with God,” has commonly been considered as descriptive of Enoch’s character as a singularly pious man, who, realizing the divine presence, habitually thought and felt, spoke and acted, as under the eye of God.  (John Brown, Geneva Series Commentaries: Hebrews, 497)


Enoch trusted and walked in God’s promises.  God’s approval was shown in Enoch’s being taken to heaven both body and soul without experiencing death.  Just as to Elijah of later date, this marvelous and miraculous transition was granted him by a gracious God.  What a preview of the Last Day when as Paul records in 1 Cor 15:51, 52, “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 132)


The brief Genesis account of his long life contains the fascinating detail that Enoch did not always walk with God.  There was a time, it appears, when the walk began.  He “walked with God after the birth of Methuselah.”  (John Brown, Geneva Series Commentaries: Hebrews, 200)


The first thing implied in Enoch’s walk with God is reconciliation.  “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3, NIV).  The point is obvious.  Two people cannot really walk together in intimate fellowship unless they are agreed.  Walking together, then, presupposes harmony.  If Enoch walked with God, he obviously was in agreement with God.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 311)


Faith always presupposes a Divine revelation.  Faith must have a foundation to rest upon, and that foundation must be the word of Him that cannot lie.  God had spoken, and Enoch believed.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 672-3)


Worship Point:  Worship begins by pleasing God.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  (Heb 11:6)


So if worship is going to be in accordance with his nature, and his nature is transcendent, infinite, and incomprehensible, then how else can we worship other than by the direction of his word?  Once again, our doctrine of God impinges upon our doctrine of worship.  Given the distance between Creator and creature (a point of emphasis in Calvin, the Scholastics, Westminster, Van Til, and even Barth!), given the undeniable biblical reality that God’s ways and thoughts are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth (Is 55:8-9), what makes us think we can possibly fathom what would please God, apart from his telling us what to do in his word?  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 54)


Where God has not revealed himself, there can be no faithful response to his revelation, by virtue of the very nature of faith.  Since “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb 11:6) and since “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23), God cannot be pleased by worship that is not an obedient response to his revelation, because it is by definition “un-faith-full” worship.  Hence, once again we see that worship must be positively based upon the word of God.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 56)


To worship God is also to bow before his absolute, ultimate authority.  We adore not only his power, but also his holy word.  Psalm 19 praises God first for revealing himself in his mighty acts of creation and providence (vv. 1-6) and then for the perfection of his law (vv. 7-11).  When we enter his presence, overwhelmed by his majesty and power, how can we ignore what he is saying to us?  So, in worship we hear the reading and exposition of the Scriptures (see Acts 15:21; 1 Tm 4:13; Col 4:16; 1 Thess 5:27; Acts 20:7; 2 Tm 4:2).  God wants us to be doers of that word, not hearers only (Rom 2:13; James 1:22-25; 4:11).  (John M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth, 4)


What is worship?  From his study of English literature from Chaucer to Shakespeare, James Boice knew that the word worship is derived from “worth-ship.”  To worship God, therefore, is to assign him his supreme worth, acknowledging him to be the Creator and Redeemer revealed in the holy Scriptures.  Similarly, the word glory (doxa) in the Greek NT means to have a good or right opinion of some illustrious individual.  To worship God, then, is to have the correct opinion about him, properly recognizing his holy sovereignty.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 6)


Gospel Application:  We cannot please God through our efforts.  All our efforts are tainted with sin, sinful attitudes and selfish motivations. (Gn 6:5; Ps 14:1-3; Prv 14:12; 16:25; Isa 53:6; 64:6; Jer 17:9; Jn 3:19; Rom 3:9-23; 5:6-14; 1 Cor 2:14; Gal 3:22)  It is when by faith we are “In Christ” that we are covered by Jesus and God is pleased with us. (Mt 22:2-12; Rom 3:9-26; 4:7; 8:8; 10:2-4; 2 Cor 5:3; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10-12; Rv 3:4-5; 6:9-11; 19:8)


Here (in Gn 3:21) the Lord spoke to Adam and Eve by action:  four things were clearly intimated.  First, that in order for a sinner to stand before the thrice holy God, he needed a covering.  Second, that that which was of human manufacture (3:7), was worthless.  Third, that God Himself must provide the requisite covering.  Fourth, that the necessary covering could only be obtained by death, by blood-shedding.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 659)


Think about your own righteousness and presenting it to God.  What a joke!   You have nothing to offer the God of the Universe.  Even your most pure righteous deeds fall far short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23, Isa 64:6).   The only thing that can please God is God.  Therefore the only thing you can offer the God of the Universe is Himself reflected in you by the work of the Holy Spirit in you.  That is what brings glory to God.  That is what pleases God.  That is what brings merit to us before God.  It is God and God alone. — Pastor Keith


“But without faith it is impossible to please Him.”  Most solemnly do these words attest the total depravity of man.  So corrupt is the fallen creature, both in soul and body, in every power and part thereof, and so polluted is everything that issues from him, that he cannot of and by himself do anything that is acceptable to the Holy One.  “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8): “they that are in the flesh” means, they that are still in their natural or unregenerate state.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 674)


You don’t have to work to please God.  He is already pleased by Christ.  So be IN CHRIST!  —Steve Brown


The only thing that obtained righteousness for Abel was that, in faith, he did what God told him to do.  That is the only thing that changes a man’s relationship to God.  It is not how good we are, but whether or not we trust in Him, that counts with God.  That trust is evidenced in obedience to His Word.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 301)


Notice that he does not say that “without faith it is difficult to please God,” or “without faith you will have to work extra-hard to please God.”  He says categorically that it is impossible!  This resonates with Paul’s insistence that God cannot and will not be pleased apart from the righteousness that comes from God through faith (cf. Rom 3:21, 22; Phil 3:9).  Indeed, without this faith all are under the wrath of God (cf. Rom 1:17, 18; 2:5-8).  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 78)


Without faith in a God who created the world with order; without faith in a God who provides for the children of His love; without faith in a God who loves justice and hates lawlessness; without faith in a God who makes a way, the only way, into the sanctuary of His presence–without such faith it is impossible to please a God who desires and demands that we believe these things about Him.  To believe anything else or to think we can do these things without His aid is to deny the very character of God and try to play His role ourselves.  That is the height of arrogance!  No, without faith it is impossible to please God.  (Louis H. Evans, Jr., The Communicator’s Commentary: Hebrews, 199-200)


There must be a life laid down before one can have the life of God.  You cannot have His ability for your problems until you are first ready to lay aside any dependence upon your own ability.  (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 150)


If we wish really to come to God, it must be by the way in which He has come to us–that is, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Neither, let me add, shall we ever come to God in the right way unless we ask for the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the blessed Trinity in Unity.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 324)


The first saint who entered heaven entered there, it is certain, by faith.  It was faith that enabled him to present an acceptable sacrifice, and it was faith that presented him to heaven.  If the first who entered heaven entered there by faith, rest assured that will be true to the last, and none will enter there but those who believe.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 319)


The purpose of salvation is to reconcile men to God, to restore the relationship broken by sin.  Because of his faith, Enoch was reconciled with God; and because he was reconciled with God, he could walk with God.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 311)


To understand faith and fulfillment as cause and effect, and particularly within the framework of merit and reward, as though faith is a meritorious work which will at last be rewarded, as Aquinas suggests, is seriously in conflict with the NT concept of man’s faith as the response to God’s grace.  In the apostolic purview faith is essentially non-meritorious, indeed a renunciation of all human merit, since Christian faith is precisely trust in the merits of another, namely, Christ.  Certainly, as this chapter will amply demonstrate, faith and works belong together, not, however, in any sense that meritorious works precede faith, or that faith itself is a meritorious work, but that good works spring from faith as their source and provide the evidence of a genuine faith.  As our author insists in 12:2, it is Jesus “on whom our faith depends from start to finish” (NEB).  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 440)



An atonement is a reconciliation of alienated parties, the restoration of a broken relationship.  Atonement is accomplished by making amends, blotting out offenses, and giving satisfaction for wrongs done.

According to scripture every person sins and needs to make atonement, but lacks the power and resources for doing so.  We have offended our Creator, whose nature it is to hate sin (Jer 44:4; Hab 1:13) and to punish it (Ps 5:4-6; Rom 1:18; 2:5-9).  Those who have sinned cannot be accepted by and do not have fellowship with God unless atonement is made.  Since there is sin in even the best actions of sinful creatures, anything we do in the hope of making amends can only increase our guilt or worsen our situation, for the “sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD” (Prv 15:8).  There is no way to establish one’s own righteousness before God (Job 15:46-16; Isa 64:6; Rom 10:2, 3); it simply cannot be done.

But against this background of human hopelessness, Scripture reveals the grace and mercy of God, who Himself provides the atonement that sin has made necessary.  God’s amazing grace is the focus of Biblical faith; from Genesis to Revelation it shines out with breathtaking glory.

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He set up as part of the covenant relationship a system of sacrifices that had at its heart the shedding of the blood of animals “to make atonement for your souls” (Lv 17:11).  These sacrifices were “typical”; that is, as “types” they pointed forward to something better.  Sins were forgiven when sacrifices were faithfully offered, but it was not the blood of animals that blotted out sins (Heb 10:4).  It was the blood of the “antitype,” Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross atoned for sins already committed, as well as sins that would be committed afterwards (Rom 3:25, 26; 4:3-8; Heb 9:11-15).

According to the NT, Christ’s blood was shed as a sacrifice (Rom 3:25; 5:9; Eph 1:7; Rv 1:5).  Christ redeemed His people by means of a ransom; His death was the price that freed us from guilt and from enslavement to sin (Rom 3:24; Gal 4:4, 5; Col 1:14).  In Christ’s death, God reconciled us to Himself, overcoming His own hostility that our sins provoked (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18, 19; Col 1:20-22).  The Cross propitiated God.  That is to say, it quenched His wrath against us by expiating our sins, and so removing them from His sight (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).  The Cross had this effect because in His suffering Christ assumed our identity and endured the retributive judgment due to us, that is, “the curse of the law” (Gal 3:13).  He suffered as our substitute, with the damning record of our transgressions nailed by God to His cross as the list of crimes for which He died (Col 2:14; cf. Mt 27:37; Isa 53:4-6; Lk 22:37).  (Luder Whitlock, Jr., New Geneva Study Bible, 1772)


If you think your good deeds are good, if you think your unselfish good deeds are good, they are no good.   In other words, if you think they are good and God owes you something then they are not by definition, by your own definition, your selfishness is really selfishness.

But if you say all my good deeds are worthless, I need to be saved by grace, I am saved by grace.  Now I want to please God.  I want to resemble God.  I want to delight God.  I want to be near God.  Well, how do I do that?

By serving Him.  By serving other people.  But, if you think your deeds are good, they are no good.  But, if you think that your good deeds are absolutely worthless and you are saved by grace that makes your deeds good.  If you think they’re good they’re no good and if you think they’re no good they’re good.   If you think they are worthless, but you are doing them just to please God, then they actually please God. (Tim Keller; “Justified by Faith”)


Heidelberg Catechism Question # 91:  What do we do that is good? 

Answer:  Only that which arises out of true faith, conforms to God’s law, and is done for his glory; and not that which is based on what we think is right or on established human tradition.  (Jn 15:5; Heb 11:6; Lv 18:4; 1 Sm 15:22; Eph 2:10; 1 Cor 10:31; Dt 12:32; Isa 29:13; Ez 20:18-19; Mt 15:7-9)


Q63:  How can you say that the good we do doesn’t earn anything when God promises to reward it in this life and the next? (Mt 5:12; Heb 11:6)


  1. This reward is not earned; it is a gift of grace (Lk 17:10; 2 Tm 4:7-8)


Spiritual Challenge: . . . without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.  Seek God and watch your faith grow!  (Dt 4:29; 1 Chr 22:19; 28:9; 2 Chr 15:2-4; Ps 9:10; 34:10; 42:1-4; 63:1-8; 81:10; 83:16; 84:2; 105:4; 119:2; 130:5-6; 143:6; Prv 2:3-5; 8:17, 34; 28:5; Isa 55:6-10; Jer 29:13; Amos 5:4-14; 8:12; Zeph 2:3;  Mt 5:6; 6:33; 7:7; Lk 11:9-13; Acts 2:21; 17:27; Rom 10:13-17; Heb 11:6; Jam 4:8).  


We must believe not only that God exists but also that he cares and is involved in the human situation.  For the Christian that is easy, for God came to the world in Jesus Christ to tell us how much he cares.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 139)


Science, for instance, cannot tell me how human history is going to end, but by faith I know.  Science cannot tell me what is wrong with human life, what is the reason why I act the way I do and you act the way you do (especially the latter), but by faith I know.  Science cannot tell me what lies beyond the door of death.  Even to the scientists it is an enigma, a mystery, but by faith I know what lies beyond.  Science cannot explain the mysteries of my own makeup and tell me how to fulfill my manhood, how to realize my dreams, but faith can.  (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 149)


So What?: The Almighty Creator God holds all the cards to you, your future, the universe, to your happiness and to your peace.  Certainly, you must want to know how to please Someone with that kind of control over your destiny.  Don’t you?


“You cannot please God if you do not come to Him for reward!”  (John Piper; Desiring God, the Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, 90)


How we view God will determine our idea of how we can please God.  And how a person decides to try to please God is the most fateful decision a person can ever make.

What if you discovered (like the Pharisees did), that you had devoted your whole life to trying to please God, but all the while had been doing things that in God’s sight were abominations (Lk 16:14-15)?  Someone may say, “I don’t think that’s possible; God wouldn’t reject a person who has been trying to please him.”  But do you see what this questioner has done?  He has based his conviction about what would please God on his idea of what God is like.  That is precisely why we must begin with the character of God.  That is why we had to begin with the pleasures of God in himself.  (John Piper; The Pleasures of God, 215)


There are others who affirm, that in serving God we ought to have no respect to the “recompense of reward.”  But the Apostle states it as forming a necessary part of that truth which must be believed in order to our pleasing God, “that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  (John Brown, Geneva Series Commentaries: Hebrews, 499)


This life of faith involves confidence that God will reward those who exercise such faith.  The acts of persons expressing confidence in the living God do not go unnoticed or unrewarded.  God, by his nature and in accordance with his promises, rewards those who act in faith toward him.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 376-7)


Faith believes that God can be found; that He can and will make Himself known; that He cares for everyone who truly longs for Him; that He has a divine reward for the seeker after Him.  In seeking Him the way may at times be dark and long, and the progress slow; faith honors God with its confidence as the God of love and truth; He will reward and bless.  Let the deep restfulness of this assured conviction be the root of all your seeking after God.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 430)


There is particularly one truth about God which must be believed by all who would approach to Him with acceptance, and that, that “He is the rewarder of all who diligently seek Him;”–in other words, that He is merciful, and disposed to pardon and save all who seek Him,–that is, who in the way of His appointment, be believing His word and hoping in His mercy, seek their happiness in Him.  (John Brown, Geneva Series Commentaries: Hebrews, 498)


I can imagine someone saying that he dislikes my idea of heaven as a place where we are patted on the back.  But proud misunderstanding is behind that dislike.  In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised, I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God.  By God Himself, it is not!  How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important.  Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us.  It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected.  The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God.  To please God … to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness … to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.  (C. S. Lewis; The Weight of Glory)

 Cain believed in God.  Abel believed God. — John MacArthur Jr.






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