Daily Archives: March 8, 2018

March 8 Confessing Your Sins

“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed” (Dan. 9:4).

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Confession brings forgiveness and guards God’s character.

Confessing your sins means you agree with God that you have offended His holy character and are worthy of punishment and in need of forgiveness. That’s exactly what we see Daniel doing in verses 5–16. Verse 20 summarizes his prayer: “I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God.”

Unlike some who suffer God’s chastening, Daniel didn’t shift the blame for Israel’s calamity. Instead he admitted that his people had willfully disobeyed God’s Word and ignored His prophets, thereby bringing judgment upon themselves. Once they were a nation blessed by God; now they were aliens and captives in a foreign land. God had kept His promise to curse them if they disobeyed Him (Deut. 28:15).

In verses 12–15 Daniel analyzes the consequences of Israel’s sin, which included her captivity and the guilt she bore for her arrogance and her reluctance to repent.

Verse 14 reflects perhaps the most important aspect of confession—Daniel’s affirmation that “the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done.” The Gentile nations knew that the Israelites were God’s chosen people. Surely the fall of Jerusalem raised questions about God’s character: What kind of God would stand idly by while His people are ravaged and His Temple plundered? What is the benefit of having a God like that? This, in effect, is Daniel’s response: “God is righteous in everything He does. We deserve this punishment, so don’t accuse Him of acting unjustly.”

Confession therefore serves a dual purpose: it brings forgiveness, and it frees God to chasten us without bringing accusations of inequity or injustice upon Himself.

Daniel’s prayer came at a special time in Israel’s history, but undoubtedly confession was a regular part of his life. That should be your pattern as well. Don’t wait until disaster strikes before you confess your sin. Make it a daily practice.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  ✧ If you have not developed a systematic approach to prayer, the ACTS format is a good way to start. ✧ Adoration—praising God.  ✧ Confession—confessing sin. ✧ Thanksgiving—expressing gratitude to God. ✧ Supplication—praying for others.

For Further Study: Read about David’s sin in 2 Samuel 11:1–12:25 and his confession in Psalm 51. What are the similarities and differences between David’s confession and Daniel’s?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 80). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MARCH 8 A GREAT NEED AMONG US: MORE REVERENCE

Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

HEBREWS 12:28

The theory held in some churches seems to be that if the service is unplanned the Holy Spirit will work freely. Now that would be true if all the worshipers were reverent and Spirit-filled. But mostly there is neither order nor Spirit, just a routine prayer that is, except for minor variations, the same week after week, and a few songs that were never much to start with and have long ago lost all significance by meaningless repetition!

We of the nonliturgical churches tend to look with some disdain upon those churches that follow a carefully prescribed form of service, and certainly there must be a good deal in such services that has little or no meaning for the average participant—this not because it is carefully prescribed but because the average participant is what he is.

The liturgical service is at least beautiful, carefully worked out through the centuries to preserve a spirit of reverence among the worshipers. In many of our meetings there is scarcely a trace of reverent thought, no recognition of the unity of the body, little sense of the divine Presence, no moment of stillness, no solemnity, no wonder, no holy fear!

The whole Christian family stands desperately in need of a restoration of penitence, humility and tears. May God send them soon![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

March 8, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. 26 But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Sa 15:25–26). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


15:25–26Carry the ark of God back into the city. David does not try to use the ark as some sort of “good luck charm,” in contrast to the attitude of the elders in 1 Sam. 4:3. Perhaps he realizes that Absalom’s rebellion is partly the result of his own sins (2 Sam. 12:10), and he does not know how far the Lord intends to punish him (let him do to me what seems good to him). His symbols of mourning and penitence and acceptance of malice (15:30; 16:10) are probably related to this. Since he also considers the rebellion wrong, however, he is willing to use prayer and the human opportunities God gives him (15:28, 31, 34; see Neh. 4:9).[1]


15:25Let the ark of God return The ark would have slowed David’s escape because it had to be handled in a specific, careful manner (see ch. 6).[2]


15:25 Carry the ark of God back. David clearly resists any magical understanding of the ark’s power (contrast the elders of Israel, 1 Sam. 4:3). Rather, he casts himself on the Lord’s mercy.[3]


15:25 King David remembered the attempt during the days of Samuel to use the ark as a fetish to force God’s intervention (cf. 1 Sam. 4:3). He also knew the futility of such an enterprise. Furthermore, David recognized that the providence of God ultimately controlled all of history. David’s success was a matter of finding favor in the eyes of God.[4]


15:25–26 David determined that the ark of God properly belonged in Jerusalem, God’s city. It would remain there, and it was up to God to either restore David to his throne in Jerusalem or not. The king was content to leave the matter in God’s hands.[5]


[1] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 567). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (2 Sa 15:25). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 448). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., 2 Sa 15:25). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Beyer, B. E. (2017). 2 Samuel. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 482). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

MARCH 8 WE KNOW WHAT WE BELIEVE

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled…not moved away from the hope of the gospel.

Colossians 1:23

The hope of the Christian Church still lies in the purity of her theology—that is, her beliefs about God and man and their relation to each other.

It is a fact that positive beliefs are not popular these days. I sense that the modern efforts to popularize the Christian faith have been extremely damaging to that faith. The purpose has been to simplify truth for the masses by using the language of the masses instead of the language of the Church. It has not succeeded but has added to rather than diminished religious confusion.

A mistaken desire to maintain a spirit of tolerance among all races and religions has produced a breed of Janus-like Christians with built-in swivels, remarkable only for their ability to turn in any direction gracefully!

Our Christian beliefs have been revealed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the sacred Scriptures. Everything there is clear-cut and accurate. We dare not be less than accurate in our treatment of anything so precious!

Lord, Your Word is sacred and true, even though so many people disregard and disrespect it today. I pray that there will be an explosion of interest in the Bible during this generation.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Three – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 38:21–22

Do not forsake me, O Yahweh.

O my God, do not be far from me.

Hurry to help me,

O Lord, my salvation.

Reading: Mark 12:28–37

And one of the scribes came up and heard them debating. When he saw that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your whole mind and from your whole strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “That is true, Teacher. You have said correctly that he is one and there is no other except him. And to love him from your whole heart and from your whole understanding and from your whole strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And Jesus, when he saw that he had answered thoughtfully, said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to put a question to him any longer.

And continuing, Jesus said while teaching in the temple courts, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is David’s son? David himself said by the Holy Spirit,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand,

until I put your enemies

under your feet.” ’

David himself calls him ‘Lord,’ and how is he his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him gladly.

Reflection

Love for God is the first and greatest commandment and the next is love towards our neighbor. The Lord taught that the entire law and the prophets hang upon these two commandments. He did not Himself bring down [from heaven] any other commandment greater than this one, but renewed this very same one to His disciples when He enjoined them to love God with all their heart and others as themselves.

Paul, in like manner, declares that “love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom 13:10 nrsv) And [he declares] that when all other things have been destroyed, “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13 nrsv). Apart from the love of God, knowledge avails nothing—nor the understanding of mysteries, nor faith, nor prophecy.… For we do never cease from loving God; but in proportion as we continue to contemplate Him, so much the more do we love Him.

—Irenaeus of Lyons

Irenaeus Against Heresies

Response

In Mark 12:28–37, Jesus references two commandments given to the Israelites immediately following the Ten Commandments of Deuteronomy 5. How does the commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart sum up the other Ten Commandments? Does your life demonstrate this love?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

March 8 The Way to Holiness

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.—Matt. 5:8

Throughout the history of the church, many have thought the best way to achieve spiritual purity and holiness is by living apart from the normal cares and distractions of the world and devoting oneself entirely to meditation and prayer. The problem with sin, however, is not primarily the world around us but the worldliness within us, which we cannot escape by living in isolation from other people.

But God always provides for what He demands, and He has provided ways for us to live purely. First, we must realize that we are unable to live a single holy moment without the Lord’s guidance and power. “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov. 20:9). The obvious answer is, “No one.” Cleansing begins with recognition of weakness, which in turn reaches out for the strength of God.

Second, we must stay in God’s Word. It is impossible to stay in God’s will apart from His Word. Jesus said, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3).

Third, it is essential to be controlled by and walking in the will and way of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

Fourth, we must pray. We cannot stay in God’s will or understand and obey His Word unless we stay near Him. With David we cry, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps. 51:10).

Begin to pursue the right ways to develop holiness in your life.

ASK YOURSELF

How is impurity showing itself most visibly in your heart—or perhaps disguising itself most subtly? Realize afresh that holy living is impossible outside of a living, active relationship with Christ and the ongoing enablement of the Holy Spirit. Commit yourself to surrendering all to follow Him in righteousness.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 76). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 8 A Living Hope

His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope.

1 Peter 1:3

When God saved you and transformed you, He gave you “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away” (1 Pet. 1:4). As a result, Christians can live in the hope of that eternal inheritance.

Why is this hope important? Unbelievers do not trust Him, so they cannot hope in Him. But as a believer, you have seen that God has been faithful in your past and present and that gives you the hope that He will be faithful in the future. And that gives Him glory.

Simply put, God is glorified when you trust Him. He’s glorified when you believe Him. And He is glorified when you hope in His future promise. The God who has given you such a great salvation is worthy of your hope.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 81). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

MARCH 8 THE WONDERS OF CREATION

Behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

—Isaiah 40:26

If you will really give yourself to study, you will discover that the Old Testament is a marvelous rhapsody on the natural creation. Start with Moses, and when you get beyond the Levitical order you will find him soaring in his acute consciousness of the presence of God in all of creation.

Go on to the book of Job and in the closing sections you will be amazed at the sublimity of the language describing the world around us.

Then go on to the Psalms and you will find David literally dancing with ecstatic delight as he gazes out upon the wonders of God’s world.

Begin reading in Isaiah and you will find the loftiest imagery. It is neither fanciful nor flighty but a presentation of the wonders of creation as the prophet observed them.

These men, who were some of the holiest and godliest men of that ancient time, revealed in their writings that they were intensely in love with every natural beauty around them. But always they saw nature as the handiwork of an all-powerful, all-wise, glorious Creator. WHT043

Lord, I desire to glory in Your creation, not for nature’s sake but because it is the work of a majestic Creator. I bow in wonder before Your mighty hand. Amen.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

March 8 Realizing the Need for Seriousness

“Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom.”

James 4:9b

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The humble individual will come to see that sin is not a laughing matter.

Humor has always had a place in popular culture. But in recent decades a more worldly side to humor has emerged. Situation comedies dominate the list of top–rated TV shows, but many are far from what’s really best for people to view. The shows’ contents so often pander to the immoral and tend to put down scriptural values. Meanwhile, the world also runs headlong after activities that stress fun and self–indulgence. Most people just want to enjoy life and not take anything too seriously.

God’s Word acknowledges that there is a proper time and place for joy and laughter: “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccles. 3:4). The psalmist tells of one appropriate time for laughter and happiness: “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with joyful shouting” (Ps. 126:1–2).

But the Lord requires that anyone who would have a relationship with Him must begin on a sober, serious, humble note. In today’s Scripture, James urges sinners to exchange worldly laughter and frivolity for godly mourning and gloom over their sin. The laughter spoken of here is the kind that indicates a leisurely indulging in human desires and pleasures. It pictures people who give no serious thought to God, to life, death, sin, judgment, or God’s demands for holiness. Without mincing words, it is the laughter of fools who reject God, not that of the humble who pursue Him.

James’s message is that saving faith and proper humility consist of a serious, heartfelt separation from the folly of worldliness as well as a genuine sorrow over sin. If these characteristics are present in your life, it is fairly safe evidence that you are one of the humble (see 1 John 2:15–17).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Seek forgiveness for any thoughts and actions that have kept you from a serious attitude in your walk with God.

For Further Study: Read 1 John 2:15–17. Think of several examples under each of the categories of worldliness in verse 16. Which of these are problems for you? ✧ What steps can you take, with God’s help, to overcome them?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

March 7 Daily Help

IF little things have done great things, let us try to do great things also. You know not, ye atoms, but that your destiny is sublime. Try and make it so by faith; and the least of you may be mighty through the strength of God. Oh, for grace to trust God, and there is no telling what ye can do. Spirit of the living God! we want thee. Thou art the life, the soul; thou art the source of thy people’s success; without thee they can do nothing, with thee they can do everything. “It is not by armies, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.”[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 70). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

March 7, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

Enoch Believed That God Is

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is. (11:6a)

Absolutely nothing from men can please God apart from faith. Religion does not please God, because it is essentially a system developed by Satan to counteract the truth. Nationality and heritage do not please God (cf. Gal 3:28–29). The Jews thought they pleased God just because they were descendants of Abraham. But most of the time they were displeasing to Him. Good works in themselves do not please God, “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20). Without faith it is impossible to please Him.

The first step of faith is simply to believe that He is. This Enoch did. God is pleased with those who believe in Him, even with the first step of believing that He exists. This belief alone is certainly not enough to save a person, but if it is a sincere conviction and is followed up, it will lead to full faith.

In his book, Your God is Too Small, J. B. Phillips describes some of the common gods that people manufacture. One is the grand old man god, the grandfatherly, white-haired, indulgent god who smiles down on men and winks at their adultery, stealing, cheating, and lying. Then there are the resident policeman god, whose primary job is to make life difficult and unenjoyable, and the god in a box, the private and exclusive sectarian god. The managing director god is the god of the deists, the god who designed and created the universe, started it spinning, and now stands by far away watching it run down. God is not pleased with belief in any of these idolatrous substitutes.

Believing that the true God exists is what is pleasing to Him. Mere recognition of a deity of some sort—the “ground of being,” the “man upstairs,” or any of the man-made gods just mentioned—is not the object of belief in mind here. Only belief in the existence of the true God, the God of Scripture, counts.

We cannot know God by sight. “No man has seen God at any time,” Jesus said (John 1:18). Nor can we know God by reason. Two chapters of the book of Job (38–39) are devoted to God’s forceful and colorful illustrations of how man cannot even fathom the operations of nature. How much less can we understand God Himself by our own observations and reasonings.

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.

Yet many things learned from science give evidence of His existence. The law of cause and effect, for example, holds that for every cause there must be an effect. If you keep pushing further and further back for causes, eventually you will end up with an uncaused cause. The only uncaused cause is God. This is the argument used previously by the writer of Hebrews: “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God” (3:4).

Philosopher J. H. Stirling said, “If each link of the chain hangs on another, the whole will hang and only hang in eternity unsupported like some stark serpent unless you find a hook for it. You add weakness to weakness in any quantity and you never get strength.”

According to the law of 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.

The law of design also indicates that God is. When we look at plants and animals in all their marvelous intricacy, we see hundreds, thousands of amazingly complex designs that not only function beautifully but reproduce themselves perfectly. When we look at the stars, the planets, the asteroids, the comets, the meteors, the constellations, we see them kept precisely on their courses by centrifugal, centripetal, and gravitational forces. Such massive, marvelous, complex, and wonderfully operating design demands the existence of a designer.

We learn from science that water has a high specific heat, which is absolutely essential to stabilize chemical reactions within the human body. If water had a low specific heat, we would boil over with the least activity. Without this property of water, human and most animal life would hardly be possible.

The ocean is the world’s thermostat. It takes a large loss of heat for water to go from liquid to ice, and a large intake of heat for water to become steam. The oceans are a cushion against the heat of the sun and the freezing blasts of winter. Unless the temperatures of the earth’s surface were modulated by the ocean and kept within certain limits, we would either be cooked to death or frozen to death. How could such intricate, exacting, and absolutely necessary design come about by accident? It demands a designer.

Even the size of the earth gives evidence of design. If it were much smaller, there would be no atmosphere to sustain life. Earth would then be like our moon or Mars. On the other hand, if it were much larger, the atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, as do Jupiter and Saturn, which also prevents life. The earth’s distance from the sun is absolutely right. Even a small change would make it too hot or too cold. The tilt of the earth’s axis ensures the seasons. And so it goes.

Science cannot prove God, but it gives overwhelming evidence of a master designer and sustainer, which roles could only be filled by God.

Like science, reason cannot prove God. But also like science, it gives a great deal of evidence for Him. Man himself is personal, conscious, rational, creative, volitional. It is inconceivable that he could have become so by accident or that his Creator could be anything less than personal, conscious, rational, creative, and volitional. To think that personal, thinking, decision-making man somehow could have developed from slime to amoeba and on up the evolutionary chain does not make sense.

Studies by anthropologists show that man is universally God-conscious. This does not mean that there is no man who does not believe in some sort of god—much less in the true God—but that men in general do. The fact that some men do not believe does not disprove the rule, any more than a one-legged man proves that men are not two-legged creatures.

The very idea of God lends substance to the fact that He is. The fact that a man can conceive of God suggests that someone has given the possibility of such conception and that there is someone who corresponds to this conception.

But with all the many natural, scientific, and rational evidences of God, acknowledging Him is still a matter of faith. The proof comes after belief. “The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself” (1 John 5:10). Even the scientist receives proof after faith. When he develops a hypothesis, his faith becomes greater and greater as evidence for the hypothesis mounts. It is his commitment to the hypothesis, his faith in it, that eventually leads to proof, if the hypothesis is true. The witness of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers is infinitely greater proof of God’s existence than the conclusions of a laboratory experiment for the validity of a scientific theory ever could be.

Enoch Sought God’s Reward

He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (11:6b)

It is not enough simply to believe that God exists. In order to please Him it is also necessary to believe that He is moral and just, that He will reward faith in Him. We must recognize God as a personal, loving, gracious God to those who seek Him. Enoch believed this within the revelation he had. He did not believe God was merely a great impersonal cosmic force. He believed in and knew God in a personal, loving way. You cannot “walk” with a ground of being or a first mover or an ultimate cause. For three hundred years Enoch had fellowship with the true God, a God whom he knew to be just, merciful, forgiving, caring, and very personal.

It is not enough merely to postulate a God. Einstein said, “Certainly there is a God. Any man who doesn’t believe in a cosmic force is a fool, but we could never know Him.” Brilliant as he was, Einstein was wrong. We can know God. In fact, in order to please Him, we must believe that He is personal, knowable, loving, caring, moral, and responds graciously to those who come to Him. It is not enough even to believe in the right God. Many Jews to whom the letter of Hebrews was addressed acknowledged the true God, the God of Scripture. But they did not have faith in Him; they did not trust in Him. Enoch knew the true God and trusted the true God.

Both testaments are filled with teachings that God not only can be found but that it is His great desire to be found. David said to his son Solomon, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9). “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth!” (Ps. 58:11). “I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me” (Prov. 8:17). “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). Jesus was very explicit: “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened” (Luke 11:10). It is not enough just to believe that He is. We must also believe that He rewards those who seek Him.

The reward that God gives for faith is salvation. “Whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). In other words, every good thing that God has, including eternal life, constitutes the reward for belief. For faith we receive forgiveness, a new heart, eternal life, joy, peace, love, heaven—everything! When we trust in Jesus Christ, we become mutual heirs with Him. All that God’s own Son has is ours as well.

Enoch Walked with God

Believing that God exists is the first step toward faith. Believing that he rewards those who trust in Him is the first step of faith. Trusting fully in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is only the beginning of the faithful life in God. To continue pleasing God, we must fellowship with Him, commune with, “walk” with Him—just as Enoch did. In the four verses in Genesis (5:21–24) describing Enoch, he is twice spoken of as “walking with God.” In the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) this phrase is translated “pleased God,” using the same Greek word (euaresteō, “to be well-pleasing”) that is used twice in Hebrews 11:5–6. Walking with God is pleasing God.

The term walk is used many times in the New Testament to represent faithful living. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, … so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us” (Eph. 5:2). Christ even speaks of our fellowship with Him in heaven as a walk: “They will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy” (Rev. 3:4). Like Enoch, every believer should walk with God every day he is on earth. When we get to heaven, we will walk with Him forever.

reconciliation

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. Rebellion was over for this man of faith. Since Adam fell, every person born into the world has been in rebellion against God. We do not grow into rebellion or fall into rebellion; we are born into rebellion. Our very nature, from before birth, is at enmity with God. We are all “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). 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.

a corresponding nature

The second truth implied in Enoch’s walk with God is that Enoch and God had corresponding natures. Some animals can become very good companions to men. They may have great loyalty and sensitivity to their owners, and a close relationship can develop over the years. But man cannot fellowship with even the smartest and most devoted animal. Our natures are far too different. Animals can offer companionship but not fellowship. We can take a walk with a dog, but we cannot “walk” with a dog, in the sense of having fellowship with him. 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 Pet. 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.

moral fitness and a judicial dealing with sin

Walking with God implies moral fitness as well as a judicial dealing with sin. We could not have a new nature unless God took away sin. Because a person walks with God means that his sin has been forgiven and that he has been justified, counted righteous by God. 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 John 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.

a surrendered will

Walking with God implies a surrendered will. God does not force His company on anyone. He only offers Himself. God must first will that a person come to Him, but that person must also will to come to God. Faith is impossible without willingness to believe. Just as walking with God presupposes faith it also presupposes willingness—a surrendered will.

A surrendered will is a surrender in love. Willing surrender is not abject submissiveness, a determined resignation to the Lord’s way and will. It is what might be called a willful willingness, a glad and free surrender. “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 John 6).

Enoch walked with God for three hundred years! Small wonder that the Lord went for a walk with him one day and just took him on up to heaven. The New Testament refers to this sort of living as walking in the Spirit. We are to live continually in the atmosphere of the Spirit’s presence, power, direction, and teaching. The fruit of this walk in the Spirit are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23).

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.

The New Testament describes walking with God in many ways. Third John 4 says it is a truth walk; Romans 8:4 calls it a spiritual walk; Ephesians 5:2 describes it as a love walk, 5:8 as a light walk, and 5:15 as a wise walk.

It would have been wonderful to have had Enoch as an example—or Noah, Abraham, or any of the other faithful heroes of Hebrews 11. But we have an even greater example—our Lord Jesus Himself, the One who supremely walked with God. He did nothing, absolutely nothing, that was not the Father’s will. The beloved apostle reminds us that “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). If we want to know how to walk, we need simply to look at Jesus. From childhood He was continually about His Father’s business, and only His Father’s business. He constantly walked with God.

continuing faith

Finally, a person cannot walk with God unless he has first come to God by faith. Just so, he cannot continue to walk without continuing to have faith. Walking with God is a walk in faith and a walk by faith. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith” (Col. 2:6–7).

Enoch believed God, and he continued to believe God. He could not have walked with God for three hundred years without trusting in God for three hundred years. Enoch never saw God. He walked with Him, but he did not see Him. He just believed He was there. That is how He pleased God.

Enoch Preached for God

And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “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 14–15)

That Enoch preached for God we learn only from the book of Jude. Judging from this account, his message on ungodliness was brief and perhaps repetitious, but it was inspired. We have no hint as to how effective it was, but Enoch’s purpose was to be faithful, not effective. He did what God required of him and left the results to Him. One thing is certain: because of his faithful preaching and faithful living, no one who heard Enoch or lived around him had any excuse for not believing in God. Whether any of these people believed or not, the influence Enoch had on them must have been powerful.

Jude’s report of Enoch’s preaching contradicts any notion that Enoch lived in an easy time for believing. He was surrounded by false teachers and false teaching. We do not know if he had the fellowship of any fellow believers, but we know that he lived in the midst of a host of unbelievers. He could not possibly have preached as strongly as he did without considerable opposition. He battled against his own generation in the same way that Noah would later battle against his. He let them know they were ungodly, and he let them know God was going to judge them. I believe God was pleased with Enoch because his faith was not just something he felt in his heart. It was heard on his lips and seen in his life. His faith was active and dynamic, vocal and fearless.[1]


6 The LXX phrase “pleased God” prompts our author to comment on the essential basis for such a good relationship with God. It is “faith” as described in verse 1: believing that God exists is what we there called “looking up,” while believing that he rewards is “looking forward.” Without this firm conviction of the reality of God (cf. Hebrews’ favored phrase “the living God”) and the reliability of his promises, there is no basis for the sort of “walking with God” Enoch enjoyed. That is why Enoch, even though the Genesis account does not mention his “faith,” finds his proper place in this chapter. A further call to take God seriously is contained in the rider that God’s rewards are for those who “earnestly seek him,” where the intensive form of the verb “seek” implies not a passing interest but going right through with it. (The same intensified verb is used in 12:17 for Esau’s agonized but unavailing attempt to regain his lost blessing.)[2]


11:6 / The author is now addressing his readers as much as he is commenting on the significance of Enoch. Enoch could live a life that pleased God only by his acceptance of the reality of God (that he exists, lit., “that he is”; cf. Exod. 3:14) and the conviction that God would reward him (lit., “that God is a rewarder”). But this orientation involves faith, since it involves what is not directly apparent to the senses (cf. v. 27, “he saw him who is invisible”). The appeal to the readers is left implicit but is nonetheless real. Faith in this sense is fundamental to all religious experience (cf. Rom 10:14).[3]


11:6. Real fellowship with God cannot exist without faith. Two convictions must characterize the lives of believers. First, they must believe that he exists. Anyone wanting to commune with God must have the deep conviction that God is real. Second, God’s servants must believe that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Faith is not selfish; rather, faith has confidence in a God of love and goodness. These two convictions must provide a bedrock foundation for the lives of Christians. It would be foolish to look for a God who does not exist or for one who—if he did exist—would punish you if you found him.[4]


6. 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.

This text teaches a spiritual truth that touches the spiritual life of every believer. It is one of the most eloquent expressions of faith and prayer in the Epistle to the Hebrews. By comparison, Paul’s declaration that “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23) is short. In one beautifully constructed verse, the writer of Hebrews communicates the method of pleasing God, the necessity of believing his existence, and the certainty of answered prayer.

  • How do we please God? By walking with him in faith! We must fully trust God and confide in him as our closest friend. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” The word impossible is a reminder of Hebrews 6:4. It conveys the idea that faith is the indispensable ingredient for pleasing God.
  • Why do we pray to God? When the believer prays to God, he must believe that God exists. Although God’s existence is an established truth for the believer, repeatedly he will ignore God by failing to pray to him. God, however, desires that the believer pray continually.
  • How do we seek God in prayer? Earnestly, in full confidence! The sinner receives pardon; the suppliant, mercy; and the righteous, peace. God invites us to come to him in full assurance that he will hear and answer prayers. “So,” says the writer, “do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded” (10:35).

Rewards can never be earned. In his sovereign goodness, God grants rewards not in terms of payments, but as blessings on his people. God grants us the gift of life eternal. “No human action can in any way counterbalance this in value.” God’s rewards to us are free, for he is sovereign.[5]


11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please Him. No amount of good works can compensate for lack of faith. After all is said and done, when a man refuses to believe God, he is calling Him a liar. “He who does not believe God has made Him a liar” (1 Jn. 5:10), and how can God be pleased by people who call Him a liar?

Faith is the only thing that gives God His proper place, and puts man in his place too. “It glorifies God exceedingly,” writes C. H. Mackintosh, “because it proves that we have more confidence in His eyesight than in our own.”

Faith not only believes that God exists, but it also trusts Him to reward those who diligently seek Him. There is nothing about God that makes it impossible for men to believe. The difficulty is with the human will.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 306–314). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 151). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 185). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 201). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 317–318). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2196). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

March 7: Concerning Knowledge and Eating Meat

Numbers 7:1–47; John 14:1–31; Psalm 8:1–9

It’s easy to equate knowledge with faith and then look down on new believers. Although we might not voice it, those who are less knowledgeable in their faith can seem weak. And sometimes, instead of practicing patience, showing love, and speaking carefully about the hope within us, we enroll them in Bible boot camp for dummies.

But Jesus shows that love is what leads to growth in faith: “If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and will take up residence with him. The one who does not love me does not keep my words, and the word that you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:23–24).

Paul echoes this in his letter to the Corinthians: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone thinks he knows anything, he has not yet known as it is necessary to know” (1 Cor 8:1–2). In reality, the opposite of what we believe is true: anyone who lacks love actually lacks faith (1 Cor 8:3).

Love defines our relationship with God and with each other. Christ died for both the knowledgeable and the weak, and both are caught up in His sacrifice (1 Cor 8:11). God has love and patience for the people whose own search for knowledge led us away from Him. And this should give us all the more love and patience for each other.

How can you practice humility and love with those who haven’t been in the faith as long as you have?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.