A Walk by Faith
(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh in 1978.)
As we examined, in verse 4, Abel was an example of one worshipping God by faith. In verse 5, the writer looks at the example of a man who walked by faith. He says, "By Faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his taking up, he was pleasing to God." Verse 5 relates to the historical circumstances concerning Enoch's life in Genesis 5. The key verse begins "By faith." Enoch lived a life that flowed out of his faith in God, and because of his faith, "he was taken up so that he should not see death."
Enoch is only one of two men who did not experience death in the Old Testament. The other is Elijah (2 Kings 2). Enoch lived a life that was pleasing to God (Gen 5:21-24), and even prophesied concerning the false teachers that would arise in the days of Jude (Jude vs 14). The point is, we are still benefiting from Enoch's ministry today. We are still plagued by false teachers and false doctrine. What did Enoch say concerning these teachers? "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him'' (Jude vss 14-15). This is a picture of the Second Coming of Christ! Enoch was a man who was born almost a thousand years before the flood, yet he prophesied concerning the judgment of Christ at His Second Coming. Is it not incredible?
The question is, "Why was Enoch such a godly man?' The answer can be found in his prophecy. He was a man who spoke against ungodliness and sin, and he was not fooled by the false doctrine that continues to plague the church today. He believed the revelation of God's judgment, and lived his life in accordance with that faith. Enoch's life proves that a believer's environment should have no bearing on his behavior. Enoch was the father of Methuselah who died just before the flood came. This time in history was marked by wicked acts of men, the likes of which the world has not seen since. Because of faith however, Enoch lived a life that was pleasing to God and as a reward, he did not experience physical death.
Verse 6 drives the principle home; "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He will reward those who seek Him." Enoch could not have been pleasing to God without faith because there is no other way to please God. The reason Enoch was pleasing to God was not his lifestyle, but his faith. It was his faith that allowed him to live a life that was pleasing to God. The same is true for us today (Rom 8:1-8, Rom 5:1). We must believe, in the person and work of Jesus Christ as God has revealed Him. When we do this, we escape the condemnation of God, and enter into an eternal relationship with our Lord and Savior.
What is to be the object of our faith? First, we must believe "that He is.' Remember, this letter is written to Jews. The writer would not have to convince them that God exists, so the main point is that we must believe in the God that has revealed Himself throughout all of Scripture. You may say, "Wait a minute, I believe in God, but I have friends who are Islamic. They believe in a god too. Are they the same?' The point of Hebrews 11:6 is that if one does not believe in the God of the Bible, he does not truly believe in God at all. When people say, "Well, my god would not send people to hell," or "My god loves everyone, so everyone will go to heaven,' they have made up their own god, and have not believed in the God that "is."
Secondly, we must believe that "He will reward those who seek Him.' This goes back to the example of Enoch. He believed God, and because of his faith he was rewarded. When we believe that God will reward us for our faith, we believe in a moral, personal God. This is not the god of the deists who think god started creation, and then withdrew from it. This is a positive message to those who have believed in the God of the Bible and His revelation. The other side of the message is not so positive however. As we examined in Jude, those who reject the God of the Bible will experience judgment and condemnation in an eternal hell.
Amos 5 illustrates God's attitude toward false worship. Verses 21-24 say, "I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." God does not demand that we go through religious rituals. He demands righteousness, justice, and holiness that is only produced through true faith.
The point is, we do not earn our salvation. God gives us the faith to believe and we receive it. It is ludicrous to think that we would seek false gods and false worship systems instead of the one, true God of the Bible. But that is exactly what the majority of people have decided to do. This is not a new phenomenon. Amos 5:4-5 says, "For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel, 'Seek Me that you may live. But do not resort to Bethel, and do not come to Gilgal, nor cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal will certainly go into captivity, and Bethel will come to trouble.'"
This warning to Israel is appropriate for us today. As one can see, man has been rejecting God since the beginning of time. Why seek the one, true God? "Seek the Lord that you may live, lest He break forth like a Fire, O house of Joseph, and it consume with none to quench it for Bethel, for those who turn justice into wormwood and cast righteousness down to earth" (Amos 5:6). What a tragedy that people seek other gods, and store up for themselves wrath in the day of judgment, when all along, the very God that will judge them provides complete and everlasting salvation for those who believe in the person and work of His Son.
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