With faith it is possible…

Posted: July 4, 2013 in Shared Thoughts, Wake Up!
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 Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

It is verses like Hebrews 11:6 that reinforces within me that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. For in this verse several points are established as unalterable foundational truths for believers if they wish to go on to perfection. What I mean by “perfection” is understood in the following applications –

  • Coming to the place of heart resolve or maturity in Christ of having no spot, blemish or anything intentionally hidden, subjecting both heart and life continually to a thorough washing of the water of God’s word.
  • Forsaking the distracting cares and pleasures which hinders a believer from fully coming out of the world in earnest and wholehearted pursuit of the promises of God.
  • Having our lives wholly transformed by the renewing of our minds, forsaking our lives for the governing life of Christ within us.
  • Walking with daily awareness of the need to be holy and perfecting holiness in the godly fear of the Lord.
  • Drawing ever closer into a deeper intimate relationship with God, as Paul said, “That I might know Him.” A true believer knows he has only tasted of the Lord and has as yet only received as earnest a portion of the Spirit of Christ.
  • Living with the aspiration to please God and receiving the reward of our faith, daily fellowship with Christ.

For the purpose of this article, I am only going to touch on the first part of the three divisions that the translators distinguished by their insertion of commas. My intention is to follow-up with at least one more, if not two articles, using this outline.

 (1) But without faith it is impossible to please Him,

(2) …for he who comes to God must believe that He is,

(3) God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

The simplicity of the whole verse tells us that through faith we can please God by coming to Him and receiving the reward He has for those who have ears to hear. Ultimately, the true reward of the faithful is not found in their inheriting a long list of trophies that fills up their treasures in heaven. Greater than such treasures will be the completion of faith’s journey which carries us from this life of “coming to God,” to seeing Him face to face and not being consumed by the brightness of His glory, fully immersed in the reality of being made one with Him.

Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, “Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.”

But without faith it is impossible to please Him… Regardless what many confessors of Christianity may feel about their walk with God, this portion of the verse has drawn a line which irrefutably separates those that please God and those that do not. In just eight words the author has left no room for debate with him; without faith, even the very gate to the path of righteousness is left hopelessly impenetrable, securely locked and absolutely inaccessible. The absence of true faith means the absence of the indispensable alertness and agility needed to navigate around the pitfalls is absent; the sure stepping stones completely hidden by gross darkness and the touch thereof indiscernible; the required stamina, strength, courage and patience unachievable and the finish line unreachable; in essence one’s coming to and pleasing God void of true faith is without question impossible. Dear reader, this verse teaches us that genuine godly faith is vastly different from the more popular vain-hope-wishy-washy-believism which survives by being propped up with positive feelings, a few isolated memorized verses, and the more-social-than-religious gatherings and affiliations that people tend to engage in to console their consciences of guilt and shame. Faith is not merely a means of consolation, rather it is intended to be like the proverbial “tie that binds,” joining true believers intimately and inseparably to their God. Regardless of the deceptive teaching and practices of modern Christianity which has long forsaken sound biblical doctrine and the leading of God’s Spirit, the end purpose of creation and the gospel is not the “pleasing” of men. It really doesn’t take one a long time when reading the Bible to see that while God truly delights in His creation and creatures, it is not He is who is here to please us. Humanity, creation, and everything was created for the pleasure and glory of God.

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Revelation 4:11 You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created.

It is the purpose of all men to “please” their Creator and be certain it is not through a mere onetime event that God is pleased. But sadly, many “believers” are overly confident they have met this obligation being misled through the illusion that just because they have “accepted Jesus as their Savior” that God is now and always will be pleased with them. Many feel this way because they were taken down the popular Roman Road theology –

Roman 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

It is these verses along with John 3:16 that many are assured they are surely saved and have so pleased God because they have “accepted Jesus as their Savior.” But let’s look at what Jesus said to Nicodemus –

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

Now I want you to stop a minute and go back and read that verse again slowly. Seriously, go back and read it and think about it what is written there. Did you notice anything wrong with it? This is exactly the way John 3:16 is quoted most of the time when you ask people if they know the verse. If this is the way they are quoting it, then most likely this is the way they are understanding it, “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” If you haven’t discerned the discrepancy yet, then perhaps you’re in danger of missing the seriousness of the words of Jesus here. He did not say that all who believe in Him “shall not” perish, but rather that they should not perish. I am certain that some are rolling their eyes right now thinking I am trying to make a big deal out of nothing; thinking it is simply a matter of semantics because basically they think they both say the same thing. Wrong! Some may want to try to argue none of this really matters since “shall” or “should” were never used since English wasn’t then the original language of scripture. Nevertheless, I would simply ask such protesters whether or not they think God would be sovereign in overseeing the original words accurately translated into English? Was such a task under the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit or not?  While you ponder that, consider also the very first three times in scripture the words “shall not” were mentioned, and who is saying those words and the context in which they were used –

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 “but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You shall not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

Does this not alarm any of you to the common misquoting of John 3:16 is utilizing those words first recorded in scripture as coming from the lips of the serpent? “You shall not surely die,” was what the devil said in absolute contrast to what God had said, “…in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Do you think God meant this was only a possibility that they would die? Or was it a certainty that “in the day” they ate they would definitely die? No, it wasn’t just a possibility; it was an absolute certainty which is recorded as both a biblical and historical fact that in the day that they sinned they died, for the wages of sin is death. “Shall” is used legally to indicate something mandatory and compulsory. Its use is to define a fundamental article which then becomes guiding to the entire agreement in which it is contained. The word is a directive and expresses a binding or obligatory requirement in a law or contract. If a law or contract says one “shall” do something, it “must” be done, if not the law is transgressed or the contract violated. Contrary to the proper usage of “shall,” the word “should” is similar to “may” which is used to denote a conditional element of flexibility, i.e. an option which can be applied by or upon the parties involved as pre-established upon unequivocal conditions. By clarifying the proper usage of the words it becomes evident that “shall” is used to indicate “conditional necessity,” and the word “should” to indicate “conditional possibility.” Further evidence that Jesus was not saying those who believe in Him “shall not [could not possibly] perish” is witnessed by His admonition to His disciples below-

Matthew 7:22 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”

Consider also the additional scriptural evidence regarding those who did believe, but would not confess Him before men.

John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.

Luke 12:8 “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.  9 “But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Jesus told Nicodemus that those who believed in Him should not perish; for God was making all things necessary to be saved from sins available to “whosoever” through faith. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ together with the promise of the Holy Spirit we have been given all things that pertained to life and godliness; atonement, enlightenment, guidance and empowerment to become the children of God.

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name

Galatians 3:26 For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Peter 1:3 According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

So what about the popular Roman Road theology then? Doesn’t it solve the problem of saying belief alone isn’t enough, for if we confess that we believe in Jesus and accept him as our as our Savior then certainly we are saved, right? My chief response would be what about the 9 chapters and 7 verses which Paul presents prior to Romans 10:8, don’t they count as the sure word of prophecy and the laying of a firm foundation for Paul’s brief summation on salvation here? Surely Romans 10:8 has to be concretely established upon 6:16-23.

Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“Obedience leading to righteousness, fruit unto holiness, and the end, everlasting life,” these words make up part of the “conditional necessity” for a firm foundation of Romans 10:8 for salvation.  Now remember, “conditional necessity” is attributed to the word “shall.” So is there anywhere that Jesus asserts “shall not” in regards to eternal life? Let’s consider the biblical record of Jesus’ first usage –

Matthew 4:3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus’ first usage of “shall not” is actually against the devil which scripture records as first as a lie to Adam and Eve that they “shall not die?” Contrary to popular Christian theology that salvation is based solely upon a belief of who Jesus was, Jesus is here stressing the “conditional necessity” of receiving and applying “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” Now add to all Matthew’s  last record of Jesus’ usage of “shall not.”-

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.

In John’s gospel he records Jesus again laying the foundation for the validity of Paul’s “conditional necessity” in Romans of “obedience leading to righteousness, fruit unto holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”

John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

John 8:51 “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

But let’s look more prudently into this Roman Road theology, where does Paul tell us all we need to do is just accept and to confess Jesus as our Savior to be saved? Undeniably, Paul does say such things as “we shall be saved from wrath through Him” and “we shall be saved by His life” and that we are “saved by hope.” But have you ever actually noticed that nowhere in his whole epistle of Romans does Paul refer to Jesus as “Savior?” What aspect about Jesus does Paul actually stress in these passages of  and elsewhere in Romans when it comes to faith and salvation?

Romans 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Three times Paul mentions the lordship of Jesus in this Roman Road passage regarding men being saved and yet not even once as “Savior.” As a matter of fact, the lordship of Jesus is mentioned by Paul a total of 39 verses throughout his Epistle to the Romans. That means in 9% of the 433 verses Paul, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, persistently reinforced the Lordship of Jesus to the believers of Rome and never once mentioned accepting Jesus as Savior. Perhaps equally important is how the Holy Spirit compelled Paul to state that both he and the Church have “received grace” from our Lord “for obedience to the faith.” For remember Jesus warned that one day He would ask, “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and do not the things I say?” Grace is given to empower us for obedience to faith –

Romans 1:5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ.

Grace for obedience? And to the Ephesians Paul says it is “grace through faith” –

Ephesian 2:8 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God

It is on account of the grace of God that He sends His word unto the lost that they might have faith to receive the fullness of His grace to make them partakers of His mercies and blessings by bringing them back to Himself.  The Apostle John said it this way –

John 1:16 And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Grace for grace; grace for obedience to the faith and grace continuing to flow to us through faith till we have received of His fullness. It is only grace through faith that men can fulfill their purpose of pleasing of God, by means of an active and living trust which is beholden to Jesus Christ in love and gratitude.  Faith is God’s gift to men; we cannot create it or fake it.  It is given in a seed and can be nurtured or starved, built up or torn down based upon a man’s love for God and His truths. This is why it says in the Psalms –

Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

And also in 3 John –

3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth

Faith, my friends, is willful compliance which solidifies a holy alliance with absolute reliance on Christ, it is a persistent journey succeeding towards greater service, knowledge and communion with God. It is only within the realm of this faith that true fellowship with our  Lord and Savior is possible. But faith must be founded in truth and not merely half-truths or truth leaven with fallacies.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through Your truth. Your Word is truth. 18 As You have sent Me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world. 19 And I sanctify Myself for their sakes, so that they also might be sanctified in truth.

1 John 1:5 And this is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

It is because of God’s precious grace, a witness of His great love towards us, that although we were yet dead in our trespasses and sins He shined the Light into our darkness through the glorious Gospel of His word. By the Light of His word our sins were exposed for what they really were and the unpleasant truth revealed that sinners are an offense to God; that He is angry with the wicked every day and such were we. We were lost and going our own twisted way, our sins ever multiplying as weights dragging us downward towards the depths of hell.

Nonetheless, Christ came seeking the lost and those turned out of the way of righteousness to offer freely saving grace to the hopeless and imprisoned. It is through the preaching of the unadulterated and complete Gospel, the proclaiming the glorious news, through the hearing God’s word that grace through faith comes enabling sinners to embrace Christ. It is this kind of faith, from and in Christ, which firmly lays hold of the promise of salvation from sins and allows the repentant sinner to hear the jubilant sound of Mercy raising her voice aloud rejoicing against judgment.

Grace, amazing grace which comes through faith, in turn causes Jesus Christ to lay hold of us. Did you hear that?  Jesus Christ takes hold of us and takes us in His hands and lifts us out of our horrible pit, taking hold of lame men and placing them now as whole men quickened and alive with joy and hope upon the unmovable Rock.  Once we have truly embraced Jesus our Life by faith, once we’ve been born again, then again and again and again even more grace will be continually multiplied unto us through our faithful acknowledgement of His will and obedience to the faith. Amazing grace, through faith in Jesus’s death and resurrection, as the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth bringing our hearts, mind, body, soul and spirits back into agreement with the light of His word. Grace through faith that fully empowers us and assures us the victory as we walk with Christ and fully “come to God.” This is the message of the Gospel, walking in the light as He is in the light, having fellowship with Christ and His blood cleansing us from all sin.

Hallelujah! By faith it is possible to please God. By faith it is possible to come to God.

Do you know Him?  Are you coming to Him?

Re 22:10 And He saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.  11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. 14 Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.  16 I, Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that thirsts come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Live by faith for the resurrected King!

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