Faith is something that's vital. Everything we have obtained or expect to obtain from God comes by faith, and certainly, this is the enemy's point of attack. It's needful that we study the things which God allowed people to go through. They are more than history. If they were just history, God would not have allowed them to become a part of the Bible; but they were written for our admonition and for our learning that we might be able to get the inspiration and the help we need in these closing days of time.
Let's read Hebrews 11:1-7: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. [Faith gives us evidence of things not seen. Oh, many hope and think they have faith, but faith is something that we can use, and it will bring an assurance.] For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. 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 by it he being dead yet speaketh. 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.
"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. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."
Here's faith in action, the evidence of things not yet seen. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. What orders! God told Noah to build a boat, probably the biggest one that man had ever seen, in a desert. Let's think that over a little bit. How many today would have that much confidence in what God told them? Or let's bring it up to our day. Suppose God would send us out to a desert where there wasn't a person who thought a thing about God, and said, "I want you to raise up a congregation here." You see, today many people's faith doesn't work that way. They have to have something to work with. I'm not "downing" anybody. I just want to stretch our faith a little bit.
Human reasoning and the things of time are closing in on us, and the enemy of souls, along with fleshly wisdom, have so worked that most people must have plans well patterned or they won't make a move. I want us to realize that we're losing something, and unless we become stirred and get greater inspiration and greater faith, we're going to lose that which remains. The battle is getting heated, and the enemy is attacking. He's determined that we won't hold on to what God has given us through His Word.
Let's read verse 7 again, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." The Apostle's principle desire in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews was to convince the Hebrew people of the nature, the importance, and the efficacy of saving faith. Unbelief had taken hold of them, and it was the same unbelief that had caused their fathers to be shut out of the land of Canaan. It was the same unbelief that caused the people of God in that age to be unable to lay hold of and enjoy what God had freely given them. Unbelief is a terrible thing. It has done a terrible, destroying work on the people of God in every era of time, and it is one of the enemy's ways of moving today. We need to realize this.
The Hebrews thought they were going to make it by outward works or ceremonies, just as many today think that. So Paul wrote this whole chapter to set forth the nature of faith and the importance of it, letting them know that without faith it's impossible to please God, no matter what else we do. After he set forth the nature, the importance, and the efficacy of saving faith, he followed with the effects, the fruits, and the achievements of faith.
The Life of Faith
In Hebrews 11, it's well to note, first of all, that the order in which the Apostle (or I might say, the order observed by the Holy Ghost, because certainly the chapter was inspired by the Holy Ghost) outlined these things was not in historical order. In verse 9 he told about Isaac and Jacob before he mentioned Sarah who was Isaac's mother. He mentioned the falling of the walls of Jericho in verses 30 and 31, and then mentioned Rahab; Rahab's action was before the falling of the walls of Jericho. He mentioned David before Samuel, and Samuel was on the stage of action long before David was. I merely set this before us so that we can see that he departed from chronological order, and the reason was for spiritual significance. There was something the writer was trying to set apart about faith, and if he put things in historical or chronological order, he wouldn't have been able to set it forth.
Notice verse 4-7: "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 by it he being dead yet speaketh. 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. 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. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."
Within these verses is an outline of the life of faith: In Abel we can see faith's worship, the attitude in which we must come to God. In Enoch we can see faith's walk, how we must walk if God accepts us in the end. (We can profess anything we want to, but if we're not walking as Enoch walked in that Scripture, God is not with us; we're just professing.) In Noah we can see faith's witness; it reached out to others. With Abel it was an individual something within his own life, how he came to God; he was received and his brother Cain was rejected. Both of them were religious, and both of them worshiped God and brought an offering to Him.
Noah's faith witnessed; it got beyond himself. He built an ark to the saving of his house. His witness reached out and saved his family. I might say on this point that too many have lost faith in ever seeing their children saved. They've taken the independent attitude, "I'm going to go with God. I don't care what the children are going to do." This faith that I'm talking about will save our household. It will cause us to build so that our children will be saved. It we're living by the faith of God's elect, and our faith is real, it's impossible to live this way without affecting our family. Faith worship is man making contact with God. We need to test ourselves by the help of God.
God Requires the First and the Best
Adam knew his wife and brought forth Cain, and then she had Abel It says in Genesis 4:2b-4: "And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering."
We need to understand that God still requires the first and the best of our life, and we need not think that He will accept any less. Too many have retired from real worship of God. God won't take second place to anything, not even time. This is one reason why there's not more faith. Abel brought the first and the best to God, and this is where the life of faith begins. God is only a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. When we don't come with the first and the best, we're not diligent, and we don't need to look for any reward from God.
We're living in a day when people want to live just about any way they want to. They talk crossly to their companions, sounding like "old bears". Oh, others don't hear them. They would die of embarrassment if someone would walk up and listen to them, but God hears them. Some want to talk about others behind their back, then they wonder why they don't have any faith. God requires the first and the best; He has never taken any less, and He knows whether or not we're giving our best. We don't have Him fooled; nobody has Him fooled.
There are too many today who are like Cain, trying to bring less than the best. Giving God our best is a New Testament principle. Why did God kill Ananias and Sapphira? For holding back a part for themselves when it had been committed to God...and they were dishonest about it!
The Scripture says that God testified of Abel's gift. What is the gift? I think the songwriter expressed it well: "This is my gift, it is my all. Accept it, Lord, I pray." I know this is old-fashioned, but it's still true that God requires the first and the best; and God still desires to reward everyone who will diligently, wholeheartedly give their very best. We need to have a desire for more diligence. Too often, people have the attitude, "If I can't give one hundred percent to God, He'll take eighty-five percent." No, He won't! God is very jealous.
"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain..." (Hebrews 11:4). There must be full obedience from the heart as God looks on us. He must see that we are wholehearted in what we're doing in our efforts, or He won't accept the sacrifice. I want to repeat, the beginning of the life of faith is to give all and to give our first and best to God. Jesus made it clear, that if we come to Him, we must deny ourselves and put father, mother, children, houses, land, and everything else in a secondary place; we are to hate (or love less) our own life. Much of the breakdown of faith falls right along these lines.
Not only must there be full obedience from the heart, but also we must walk with Him and witness for Him if we live the life of faith. Again, Hebrews 11:5, reads "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." Just as Abel shows us where the life of faith begins, the example of Enoch teaches us what the life of faith consists of.
Genesis 5:24 tells us, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." The very fact that a man walked with God several thousand years ago and escaped death is astonishing, but it supplies no spiritual or practical help to us whatsoever unless we let the Holy Ghost go down below the surface to gather some spiritual truth; then we can find great help from Enoch's life. To many people, it's just a mark in history that a man walked with God for over three hundred years after he started raising children. Some say that the way gets weary after fifteen or twenty years; that's because they've lost their faith.
To rightly study the Word, whether we are studying the Old or the New Testament, we need to ask one question: What is there in this Scripture to help me in living on the earth today? There is something in every one of them, and unless we find the answer, we have not found what God put in the Word for us to enjoy. I say again, these things were written down, not for a point in history, but for our learning and for our example, that we might gain the admonition we need.
We will notice in Hebrews 11:5 that two forms of the work translate are mentioned three times in a very short verse of Scripture. I believe that God wants us to understand something about translation when He puts it in one verse three times. The word translate, as it is used here, means "to carry a cross, bear up, remove, change from one state or place to another." When we begin to study about a man who walked with God for over three hundred years and was translated that he should not see death, we can see that there is a spiritual picture in this for you and me. Why was this written about Enoch? So that we could lay hold of some spiritual understanding and see what a great thing God has done for us.
In Colossians 1:12-13 Paul wrote to the church at Colosse: "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." When he talked about Enoch's walk with God and his translation, he was teaching us about the new life of the believer: how we, through translation, are able to walk with God, day by day, with uninterrupted communion.
Walking with an Eternal God
Ephesians 2:2 lets us know that all of us walked according to the course of this world. Isaiah 53:6 says, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." What is the iniquity of us all? It's going our own way, a self-pleasing way. When we start living the self-pleasing way, we are only concerned about the present. We rarely think about the future, we don't want to think about dying, and we don't want to think about eternity. Many turn thumbs down on a preacher that preaches on hell and the awfulness that awaits the lost soul. They will walk out on him, and even some who claim to be saints will get red faced and say, "He doesn't need to stay on that. There are better things to talk about!"
Before Enoch walked with God, he walked according to the course of this world, the way of the unredeemed, unregenerate world; he walked in a self-pleasing way, satisfying himself. So many only think in terms of what good they can get out of something right now and what it's going to cost them now. This is why they get into trouble. They don't think enough about the future. We can't walk with an eternal God and be tied up completely with the things of this world. If we commune with God at least three times a day, we are going to have eternity on our mind. Having eternity on our mind will cause us to be more careful in our living. The reason people become careless in the things they do, the things they say, the places they go, and what they put up with is: that eternity is not on their minds as it should be. If we knew that we were only a few short hours from the Judgment, we would put different judgment on the things we do.
Enoch, at one time, walked just as the world walks, but he was reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). How do we know that? Amos the prophet said in Amos 3:3, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Let's read the Scripture just as it is. It says, "Enoch walked with God." God didn't walk with Enoch. People get this turned around today and do just about all they want to do; yet they say, "God is still with me." God doesn't walk with us. If there's any walking, we must walk with Him. There's a vast difference. When we walk with God we go God's way. We can't go our way and walk with Him
Today there are preachers living in worldliness and ungodliness, yet they'll tell people that they are servants of God and that God walks with them. It's not a question of God walking with us, but rather of us walking with God. We can't walk with God unless we agree with Him, ad we can't agree with Him unless we agree with His Word. Many try to sort out what part of the Word of God they don't want to walk in, yet they profess that God is walking with them. We walk with God only as we walk in the light of His revealed Word. Let's not be deceived by thinking otherwise.
By faith Enoch walked with God, not just a day or two. He was not in and out or up and down. This word "walk" signifies a voluntary act. We don't have to do this...it's only for those who voluntarily desire to walk with God. The family of God/the Church is made up of men and women who voluntarily, from the heart, go God's way and walk with Him, no matter what the world does. The voluntary act of walking with God signifies progress, or a steady advance.
Let's be serious and cautiously check out this thing of people backing off, gazing at the world, and taking a different attitude toward worldly things than they once did. They've probably lost out in their walk with God. We can't walk with God without becoming more spiritual every day that we walk with Him. When we walk with God and go God's way, we're going to become more godly. There are too many who have the theology that they can sit with the Lord.
A Surrendered Life
Where are we walking to? Well, there was a day that we were walking in sin toward hell, getting closer every day that we lived, but we heard the Gospel and were delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son. We turned our backs on sin and have been walking toward Heaven ever since.
Enoch walked with God. This means that he made progress with God. It would be well for us to stop right now to take a look at where we've been, where we are, and where we ought to be. We need to take a look at these things. Too many are deceived by the enemy. They would like to have faith when terrible afflictions come. Well, let's go back to the basics and come right on up through. The starting place is giving our first and our best to God so that he will testify that we are righteous. Even after Enoch was dead, God testified that he was righteous. We may be able to get a lot of people to testify for us, but it means something else for God to testify for us.
To walk with God imports the thought of a life surrendered to God. We can't walk with God without our life being surrendered completely to Him. If it's not, sooner or later, we're going to want our way in some manner, and the minute we hold out for our way against God's will, our walk with God will cease, and God will walk on. When God speaks to people, He is already on the move. When He speaks to His people in Babylon, He doesn't say, "Go out of her, my people"; He says, "Come out of her, my people and walk with Me."
Second Corinthians, the sixth chapter, lets us know that we can't have fellowship with darkness and walk with God, but how many try it today! Verse 14 says, "What communion hath light with darkness?" Then verses 17-18 read: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
There are millions of people who are deceived. They think they are walking with God, but they are not. They are following the beast and the false prophet, and they are deceived into feeling that they are walking with God. I repeat, to walk with God imports a life surrendered to God, controlled by God, and lived for God. God has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son so that we can actually walk with Him. This is the Christian's present standing and state before God.
The Scripture says that Enoch was translated that he should not see death. Jesus let us know in John 5:24 that he that believes on Him is passed from death unto life. Jesus said in John 8:51, "If any man keep my saying, he shall never see death." "Enoch was translated that he should not see death." The word "see" in this verse means that we will never experience death.
Enoch was not to be overcome by death. This signifies more than just an escape from the grave. We should not limit our thoughts entirely to physical death here. The Bible teaches us there is a death that is the wages of sin, a death that is a curse for breaking God's law. Our world is under God's righteous curse because they are breaking His law. We can't break God's law without the curse, that God put on it, coming upon us.
Death is plainly stamped across everything in this world, but when real faith is exercised, the soul is lifted above this scene and is able to walk in newness of life, according to Romans, the sixth chapter.
The Reality of Unseen Things
Hebrews 11:1 reads, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith has the power to bring nearer, things of the future, things unseen, things invisible to the natural sight. We want to understand what walking by faith is. Many have confessed Jesus Christ at an altar of prayer, but not too many of them are walking by faith. What does faith do? Faith brings the unseen things that we can't see (none of our senses can contact them) to reality. When we walk by faith, we are walking according to the unseen things.
Faith is the evidence of things unseen. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). The Word of God teaches us about things that are unseen to the natural world. This is why the Church is in the top of the mountain. She's up in a high place; she has been lifted up to a heavenly place. What do we do up in heavenly places? We live according to the unseen things that the world can't see and can't understand. That's why the world finds fault with us. They say there's nothing there, but we know there is.
The unbelieving world says that no one can know they are saved until the end of time; yet we can definitely know that we are, and we can hold right to it. Why? Because faith has brought the reality of unseen things to our heart and life. We can go through a trial when we don't feel saved and still know it. I repeat, faith is the evidence of the things unseen, something beyond our senses.
When we're lifted up, we are quickened to a new life, and we gain an experience that enables us to walk in newness of life. Only as long as we walk by faith is the heart translated or raised above this poor, wretched world, and it is then that we walk by faith and experience the power of Christ's resurrection. We have been resurrected: we don't live on the level of the world; we live by faith. Where does faith bring us? It brings us up to a heavenly place in Christ Jesus where the things of God's Word become real to us. Thank God, we are enjoying the Kingdom now. While millions in religion are looking for the Kingdom to come, faith has made it a reality in our hearts and lives.
Paul mentioned the power of Christ's resurrection in the Philippian letter. Someone may say, "You will never experience that in its fullness until He raises you out of the grave someday, if Jesus tarries." That's true, but much of the power of Christ's resurrection can be experienced right here when He raises us up and causes us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus in the body of Christ. Faith brings the reality of many things.
In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, let's link verses 4 and 5 together. Verse 4 says, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice," and verse 5 says, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death." Linking these two verses together, we get a picture of when the sinner surrenders to God completely. By faith in the sacrifice of Christ, he comes in repentance, lays himself before God and is pronounced righteous (Paul also called it being justified), just as Able was, by the Judge of all. Every one that is truly born again (he has come the right way and given up all), taking Christ alone as his sacrifice (as the lamb of God that takes away sin) is pronounced righteous by the Judge of all---God Almighty. And when he is pronounced righteous, he can walk with God.
Every day we live we must seek the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? God's will being done in His people just as it is in Heaven. We must begin every day be seeking God's will. Only as long as we walk according to the will of God can we walk with God, so we must seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We are declared righteousness when we are truly born again, but there's yet a righteousness to which none of us have attained. There's growth and maturing in the things of God.
The enemy has taken salvation apart, and many feel that because they have made a trip to an altar, they have made a commitment to Christ and they are saved. Well, that just puts us in a position to walk with God. From there we must be renewed every day.