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1 Corinthians 9:11
"If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?"

 

 

 

 

 

Evangelism:
The Time Is Now!

Section 9, Chapter 2

The Faith That Pleases God

(Commentary on the Book Of Hebrews Ch. 11)

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Study Questions

There are many things we can do without faith. We can get married, we can buy a home, we can if talented enough make a million dollars. What is it we cannot do without faith? WE CANNOT PLEASE GOD. The writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 11:6,

"And 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 seek Him."

We can do almost anything in this world if we set our mind to it, but if we do anything without faith we cannot please God.

If we can only please God with faith, then it is important to understand what the Bible means by faith and when we are walking in faith and when we are not. There are many kinds of faith in the Bible. The first kind of faith we need to have to please God is saving faith. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9,

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."

This is not blind faith, but faith in God's promises in his word proved absolutely reliable and true through the Physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord we believe God the Father's promise to us in 1 John 5:11-12,

"And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life."

It is a decision of the will to have faith in God's promise and witness to us that to have His Son is to have eternal life.

The Book of Hebrews gives us several examples of what the Bible means by faith and the only kind of faith that will please God and gain His approval in our lives. First, the faith that pleases God is a faith that believes Him even though what He has said or promised is not seen. An example the writer of Hebrews gives us of this kind of faith is God’s creation of the earth and the universe. He tells us in Verse 3,

"By faith we understand that the ages were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible."

The first kind of faith that pleases God is to believe what He has revealed to us in His word about His creating the Heavens and the Earth in six literal twenty-four hour days. This is not something we can see or witness. We must accept it by faith, though not blind faith, because again Jesus proved to us that what Genesis tells us about how the known earth and universe came into being is true through His coming back physically alive! from the dead. Darwin is still dead and in the grave. There were 512 witnesses to the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. These people talked, ate and touched the Risen Christ for forty days. Luke tells us in Acts 1:3,

"To these he also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God."

So even though we did not witness God creating the heavens and the earth in six literal twenty-four hour days, nevertheless we accept it by faith and this kind of faith pleases God.

The second kind of faith that the writer of Hebrews tells us that pleases God is when we approach Him the way He wants us to, not the way we want to. The writer of Hebrews tells us,

Hebrews 11:4 "By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks."

Why was Abel declared righteous by God? Because Abel approached God according to His instructions. His instructions where that they were to approach Him through the sacrificing of a lamb in the Old Testament. Now the only way we can approach God is through his Son Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." Jesus now is our only way to God and the only way we can approach God and God be pleased with our faith.

Cain, on the other hand did not listen to what God told him to do in his approach to Him, but instead tried to approach God through his own works, the fruit of the ground. Cain was a farmer. God rejected this sacrifice of Cain. Why? Because Cain did not approach God in Faith. Faith here meaning he did not approach God the way God instructed Cain to approach Him. When we approach God according to His instructions, we are walking in faith and we are exercising faith that pleases God. This is why religious works do not please God. He has made plain to us through His raising Jesus from the dead that the only way we can approach Him and receive His favor is by approaching Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

The next kind of faith, the writer of Hebrews tells us, that pleases God is when we make a decision of our wills to believe that God is and choose to believe He hears our prayers and will answer them even though we cannot see Him or feel Him or see the answer to our prayers immediately upon request. I first experienced this kind of faith years ago while living up in the mountains. I was attending a Full Gospel Church one Wednesday night when the Minister told us that we were going to get on our knees and agonize in prayer until we got answers. I had a lot of things on my mind that night and decided this was a good idea. But before the Minister had us start this prayer meeting, the Lord brought to my mind Hebrews 11:6,

"And 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 seek Him."

Then the Lord said to me,

Dale, you do not need to agonize in prayer for answers from Me. When he gets ready to start the prayer meeting I want you to leave, go get a soda and a candy bar and while eating them, I want you to write down on a piece of paper the things that are concerning you. Then Worship Me and wait before me through worship and praise (Ps 100; Jn 4:23-24, 14:21) until You hear Me say, "What do you want?" When you do, make your requests to Me, thank Me for the answers and then go home and go to bed.

I did exactly that. I acknowledged that He was, that He was a rewarder of those who seek him, told Him my requests, thanked Him for the answers and then went home and went to bed. I was listening to Paul Harvey on the radio during my lunch break at work when the Lord decided to give me answers to the things I had asked Him for wisdom about the night before. It was not on my mind at the time, but the night before I believed Him for the answers. Why He chose at that moment to manifest those answers I do not know, but once I made my requests known to Him the night before, I did not ask Him again, but just kept thanking Him in faith for the answers. In this capacity, we are walking in faith and pleasing God when against our feelings we make a willful decision to acknowledge His existence and His goodness to answer any prayer we make to Him.

The next kind of faith that pleases God, according to the writer of Hebrews, is when we walk in obedience to His dictates to each of our lives individually through the Holy Spirit. He cites several examples of this: first, there was Noah who built an ark because God told him there was a flood coming. What made this a real exercise in faith for Noah was the fact that previous to the flood it had never rained on the earth. Genesis 2:5-6 tells us that God caused a mist to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Therefore, it was not just a matter of obedience to build a boat for an upcoming flood, but having faith that this flood was going to come about through a rain he had never seen before. He was literally walking in obedience by faith, not by sight.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham demonstrated this kind of faith when he obeyed God and left his home land to receive an inheritance in another land God promised him. He later demonstrated this kind of faith when he in obedience to God offered up Isaac his son. Their faith was manifested through their obedience to God. This is the kind of faith Paul is talking about in Romans 14:23 when he says, "And whatever is not from faith is sin." Isaiah makes this more plain for us in Isaiah 30:1,

"‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ declares Yehovah, ‘Who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, In order to add sin to sin.’"

In this capacity we are exercising faith that pleases God when what we do in personality, vocation and life-style is only out of God's initiative in our lives, not our own. This is what the writer of Hebrews is talking about in Hebrews 3:2 when he says about Jesus, "He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house." The faithfulness of Jesus that he is talking about here was Jesus’ faithfulness to only act and speak out of the Father's initiative, not His own (See John 5:19, 12:48-50).

The next kind of faith that pleases God, according to the writer of Hebrews, is faith that believes the promises of God. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Sarah, beyond the age of conceiving a child, demonstrated this kind of faith by believing God's promise that she would have a child: Isaac. Abraham demonstrated this kind of faith when he took Isaac in obedience to God to Sacrifice him on the alter. His faith in God’s promises was demonstrated in this act of obedience because God told Abraham that it was going to be through Isaac that he was going to build a great nation. Abraham believed God’s promises could not be broken and so believed that God would bring Isaac back from the dead to fulfill his promise to Abraham.

The next kind of faith that the writer of Hebrews tells us pleases God is faith that walks in obedience to God and His moral laws when the present governing authorities are asking us to do just the opposite. The writer of Hebrews first example of this is Moses’ parents, who, in defiance of Pharaoh, did not kill their baby Moses, but kept him alive in obedience to God. The writer of Hebrews then tells us about Moses’ defiance of governing authorities by protecting a Hebrew brother and then fleeing Egypt because he chose Hebrews 11:25 "Rather to endure illtreatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin." The writer of Hebrews tells us that Moses did this because he believed in the invisible Christ and in heaven and in the life to come and that if he walked in obedience to God that he would receive a reward in heaven.

The writer of Hebrews then goes on to tell us about men of faith who were pleasing to God because they endured affliction, ill-treatment and destitution as a result of their walking in obedience to God. There is a lie in our land today that states that if you really have faith then you won't lack anything, you won't suffer anything. That is not what the writer of Hebrews tells us. The writer of Hebrews tells us that these men who had nothing, that were destitute, ill-treated and afflicted had their faith approved by God. This is what Jesus was talking about in John 7:24 when he said, "Do not judge according to appearance but judge with righteous judgment."

Why am I sharing all this with You? There is another kind of faith Jesus talked about many times that pleases God that most Christians do not practice. This is a faith that says,

I Believe that if I invest in Jesus’ Kingdom now by using my life, free time, money, talents and resources to share the Gospel with others, that God will reward me ONE-HUNDRED TIMES MORE in Heaven than what I could possibly accumulate in this temporary life now.

Jesus first talked about this kind of faith in Matthew 6:19-21,

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Just this last Sunday afternoon (August 3, 2003) at this writing an associate of mine and I shared with a confessing bornagain Christian the importance of his using his free time and resources to share the Gospel with others through the Evangelism Tract titled The Most Loving Thing You Can Do!54 After reading Matthew 6:19-21 on p. 9 of the Tract, his response was that we were laying a guilt trip on him. Our response was that these were not our words, but Jesus’ words, the Word of God. We don’t really understand what he meant by that other than he must have been feeling guilty that he had been spending his Christian life on this earth investing only in himself, this temporary life, instead of the kingdom of God. That means while he might be saved (1 Cor 3:12-15), when he got to heaven, he would have nothing to show for his temporary life on earth other than being saved. It would mean that everything He accumulated on this earth would remain behind and turn to dust and be destroyed with fire (2 Pet 3:7). He would have nothing he could take with him into Heaven but his own soul with no reward.

The first thing Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-21 is that to invest in and store up treasures on this earth is a bad investment. The reason is because thieves will steal it and rust and time and moths will destroy it. The Apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:7 that this earth will be destroyed with fire when Jesus comes back. The point being that any investment we make in this life will not last. It is only temporary.

Jesus, however, goes on to tell us that if we invest in His Kingdom that He will give us treasures in Heaven that will last forever, never to be destroyed by anything: not rust, moths, times or thieves. This is because there are no thieves in Heaven.

So, if a person claims to be a born again Christian, a believer in Heaven and Hell, that Heaven is more real than this earth; but then invests only in this earth and not in Heaven, does that person really believe what he is professing with his mouth? That person is saying to Jesus, I do not believe You. It is not true that if I invest in your kingdom that it will assure an eternal reward for me one-hundred times better than anything this life has to offer, so I better invest in this life now!

Do You want to know why America has become a pagan nation? It is because they see Christians claiming one thing with their mouths, but in life-style professing just the opposite. When a Christian invests in this life only, he or she does not demonstrate to the world that they have faith or that Heaven is more real than the earth. They tell the world the same thing the world believes: That this life is all there is so grab for everything you can now. That person tells the world and Jesus that they do not have any faith at all. But when a Christian confesses that Heaven is more real than earth not only with his mouth but through his investing all that he has in Jesus' Kingdom in this life now, that person shows that they really do have faith in what Jesus said and to the world as well. This is the kind of faith that pleases God. This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:20 when He said, "So then, you will know them by their fruits." What is the fruit of your life? What are you demonstrating through the way you live and invest with what God has given to you? This is the kind of faith James is talking about in James 2:18 when he says,

"But someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’"

James tells us in this chapter that faith without demonstrated works is useless, dead. If you say You believe Heaven is more real than this earth but then only invest in this earth, do you really have faith? James says no.

In another passage Jesus said,

Matthew 19:29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life."

Jesus says that the one who will give Him their time and resources to reach out to the lost, hurting and scattered, that He will give that person a hundred times as much in the life to come. Again I ask the question, if a person claims to be a born again Christian and that he has faith in Jesus and in what He says, but then does not give Jesus time in his or her week to go out and share the love of Jesus Christ with men, does that person have faith? That person calls Jesus a liar. That person says that they are an unbeliever. That person says, It isn't true that if I invest in Jesus' Kingdom, I will have a better life in heaven forever with riches and rewards forever; so I better invest in this life now because when it is over it is over. That person has no faith at all.

Many times when I share this with a person they will say, I am saved by faith, not by works. I am not talking about saving faith here. I am talking to born again Christians who claim that Jesus is good and true and can be trusted. If you say you believe that, then why don't you take Jesus at his word and get involved in the Battle of the souls of men and invest in Heaven where you will receive a one-hundred times more than anything this life has to offer?

Do you ever wonder why Jesus gave Paul so much space in the Bible? Could it be He wanted us to learn and copy his example of the Christian life? Paul was a real believer. Paul believed Heaven was more real than this earth. Paul proved this by investing all that he was and had into the kingdom of God, even his very life. Do You know what Paul said about believers who make this life and this life only their focus? This is what he said,

Philipians 3:18-19 "For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things."

Paul tells us that these kind of Christians are enemies of the Gospel, not friends. Paul goes on to tell us why,

Philippians 3:20 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul tells us that we are no longer citizens of earth but of Heaven. So why do we live as if we are of this world only with no future in Heaven? Paul tells us that when we make this life and the things of this life our focus we literally become enemies of the cross of Christ because by our life-style in this way we are telling mankind that this life is more real than heaven, that this life is more important to invest in than heaven. That kind of life style says to man, Don't turn to Jesus and serve Him! You are a fool to do so! Invest in this life and this life only, because this life is all there is! That is why that kind of Christian is an enemy of the Gospel. He says with his mouth he is a believer, but in life-style that he is an unbeliever.

Am I saying that if you follow Jesus you will not suffer loss in this life, persecution, loss of jobs, wives, husbands, homes, possessions? No. But what did Jesus again say about all this? Jesus promised this:

"Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt 5:11-12).

Again Jesus tells us that we will have reward in heaven, an investment that will last throughout eternity. Brothers and sisters, it is really true! Really, really, really!

When we invest in Jesus’ Kingdom rather than in this temporary life, we show that we really do have faith in Jesus and His promises and when we demonstrate this kind of faith, we demonstrate faith that is pleasing to God.

When we fully invest in the kingdom of God to bring other men and woman to Jesus, we are witnessing to the world that heaven is more real than this earth and eternally permanent and thus a sure and good investment, and we are pleasing God with our faith. We are pleasing God with our faith because we are telling God by this kind of life-style that He is a good God who will more than compensate us in heaven if we will wholly give ourselves to Him now in this life, even if it means the loss of everything. Believe me, it will. I know because in the forty-three years I have walked with God and shared the Gospel with others in America, I have at various times suffered the loss of all this life has to offer. That is because Satan is the God of this world and rewards only those who serve him (2 Cor 4:3-4).

How about you? Do you want to please God? When You invest your life, resources and gifts into His kingdom, you are demonstrating faith, not saving faith which only comes through Jesus’ shed blood, but you are demonstrating faith that pleases God and says to God,

Jesus, I believe that You are, that Heaven is, and that Heaven is more real and more permanent than this temporary earth and therefore the most wise place for me to invest my life, time, talents and resources in. This is because I believe you are a good God and I believe Your Word which states that if I do invest my life in Your Kingdom rather than in this temporary earth, that You will one-hundred times more make up what I loose here on Earth; and I believe that these treasures in Heaven will last forever.

This is the kind of faith that pleases God.

Matthew 13:44-46 "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it."

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