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Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Peace of Pleasing God

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

I keep returning to this scripture.  I return to it because of the clarity it brings in my walk with God.

Typically I go through a crisis before I seek God. I wish that wasn't true but I do not normally act on faith without being forced. There is a need to end the crisis. It may be the lack of money or an illness of someone. It may be a struggle in a relationship with someone. It may be that people oppose what I believe God wants to do.. Each of these become crises for me. They force me to seek Him. They lead me to a deeper faith as I walk closer to Him. Ultimately I rest in His solution.

I really don't like walking in faith. I suppose my own selfish ideal life would have no crises. I would win the lottery, have my children live in one big house. We would go to church together every Sunday and give out of our abundance without ever making a sacrifice. None of us would ever get sick. None of us would ever take on a task which really required faith. Of course, this would make my life and talk of faith meaningless. It would never please God.

Sometimes it is hard to understand faith. Why doesn't God simply give those who say they love Him everything that they will ever want without requiring them to believe? Wouldn't He get a whole lot more followers that way? Isn't that what He really wants?

Of course not. God isn't looking for people who follow and believe in Him because of what He can do for them. He is seeking people who will act on what they cannot see. He wants those who are truly walking with Him rather than treating Him like a vending machine. Walking with someone means that you have to adjust your steps to match. It means you may have to speed up or slow down. God simply wants us to match our steps with His. This is faith.

Sometimes I look at others and point out their lack of faith to God. I am like Peter asking about John. He said, "What about this man?" (John 21:21-22) I don't know what Peter was really asking about but that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what others do. Jesus commands me to follow Him. I am to do what He asks even if no other human being is obedient.

The result is pleasing God. This is where peace resides.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I will entitle this “True peace and Joy – the reward of pleasing God”. It is long; sorry about it, Ps Prentis.

I don't think Heb 11:6 was actually defining what faith is, as such. I know some versions of the Bible use "because" in place of "for" (as in this ESV version used here). I believe the use of "for" is more appropriate so as NOT to lead to treating the verse as defining what faith is.

And so, if we are reading Heb 11:6 with "for" like this:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.,

we will have to address what is the "for" there, was leading to. The use of "for" in this way - connecting two truths, is NOT uncommon in Scripture. This is what I called scenario of truth within truth. When used this way, the first truth is a truth, but the second truth after the "for", is the foremost or more over-arching truth. The second truth bounds up how the first truth is to play out. In other words, the first truth is the smaller circle within a larger circle (the second truth), if we use symbol to represent the truths. The second truth (larger circle) prescribes how the first truth (smaller circle) operates, or it (the second truth) lays out the boundaries, so to speak. We say the first truth follows from the second truth (but NOT the other way round).

In other words, “without faith it is impossible to please God” is one truth. And of greater significance is that we must grasp this truth – “that whoever would want to draw near to God, he must believe God exists or is there, and that God rewards one that seeks him {diligently or earnestly, more correct translations have this in}”.

First, before we can talk about pleasing God, we must first of all, embrace this: to approach God, we must believe that God exists, and He is there; we would NOT think of approaching someone we don’t believe exists (A person can even go about pleasing someone who in fact does NOT exist, but believed to exist, by the person; it is a delusion, but that delusion hinges on the person’s belief of the existence of the one he wants to approach or please.).

Secondly, we will NOT try to approach or please someone whom we do NOT believe would respond positively. When we try to find a physical object, like a precious stone, we only need to believe the stone exists, but we do NOT need to believe it will respond. But when it is a spiritual being, God, we NOT only necessarily need to believe God exists, we also necessarily believe God would respond to our searching Him out, for He is spirit and if He does NOT allow Himself to be found or be approached, we really are unable to approach or find Him.

So, we can see that, in order to consider pleasing God, we must first believe He exists, and He would respond positively to our seeking Him. The Hebrew text used “reward”; Yes, what God would give or do for us, is a reward. If God would just show Himself to me, it is a reward to me; wouldn’t you think likewise. Or if He would whisper a small still voice into my ear; that is a very good reward to me. Of course, in the context given in the Scripture text, Enoch was being talked about (in v5), God walked with him! Wow! That was reward, indeed. And afterwards, as we read (in v5), God further rewarded him by translating him to Heaven.

You see, we need to first embrace the second truth (the larger circle) in the Scripture text (Heb 11:6), before we can embrace the first truth (the smaller circle within the larger one). That is what the “for” was trying to do, there in the text. Some can argue that “because” can also serve that function, but I would rather think that common in the mind of people is to associate “because” with “due to”; and when we read it with “due to”, we may end up with thinking that the second truth was specifically defining what faith is, in the first truth.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

It is appropriate though, to say that both truths do NOT begin with “sight” or “by sight”, rather it is by belief, an essential component of faith. The norm which God would like to see, is “faith” or belief rather than sight. Even when sight is involved, there is possibly still, element of faith involved in a scenario or situation. Jesus said this (John 20:26-29):

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29)

When you have endeavoured to, and have “walked” with God, God does reward you, and you do get sight, but as in the John 20 text, the Lord’s exhortation is that we are still to embrace faith (more blessed, said Jesus), which has the essential element of belief. And so, I postulate that even for Enoch, it probably did NOT begin with sight, meaning it was NOT God came by and walked with Enoch, and then Enoch pleased Him. It must have been Enoch embraced the larger circle – the second truth in the Heb 11:6 text, and then, further, through his (Enoch) hearing of what was said of God, as related by his father and early patriarchs, he (Enoch) believed those things said of God, and moved and acted accordingly, meaning his belief was completed into faith by so strong, a conviction, that actions resulted. Enoch’s living faith pleased God, and God walked with him. God walked with Enoch can possibly mean like “I walk with you along the beach”, and it can be NOT just that, but I will NOT go into it, here.

I stress that sight is NOT an essential element of faith, and it is no coincidence that faith is said to come by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17). Faith necessitates the element of belief. Sight generally equates facts; whereas what you hear, you have to decide if you will believe.

For God is a higher or I should say, highest being, and scripture said these of God (Isaiah 55:8-9):

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We are NOT God, and God cannot be fully known by any of us, and so, we must necessarily believe what we hearing of Him from the Word (and that of course, includes hear through our reading of His Word. And too, it includes the “hearing” from the Spirit of Christ {Christ is the Word}), and hearing with so strong, a conviction that the appropriate actions would result from us; this is how we can please Him.

Ps Prentis entitled his entry as “The Peace of Pleasing God”; why would peace and joy NOT be found in you, if you have pleased God. Now, if there is an inevitable reward that must be given by God is the peace and joy from pleasing God. In Romans 14:17-18, it was said there, that the Kingdom of God is about righteousness (His righteousness), and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It is NOT difficult to catch why righteousness is mentioned, but why peace and joy IN THE HOLY SPIRIT? Why NOT just peace and joy, why peace and … in the Holy Spirit? Is it saying in similar vein to “do something, something in Christ Jesus”? No, it is trying to tell us the kind of peace and joy that the Kingdom of God is about. What kind of peace and joy? The kind that is in the Holy Spirit. What kind is that? The kind of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit comes only from this:


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

Complete agreement with the God the Father and God the Son, or the Godhead, of which the Holy Spirit is one of the three. The peace and joy that we are to seek, are those that cometh from complete agreement with the Godhead. Jesus did that, and Jesus said the Holy Spirit would only do that, and Scripture painted to us that the Holy Spirit would only do that!

Why was Jesus “so steady”? Why was Jesus so collected while he walked the earth? Don’t you admire Jesus’ collectedness? Colloquially, we say wow, Jesus was so steady. What did Jesus repeatedly said? He was doing what the Father God wanted done. In other words, the whole objective of His life on earth was to please God. And so, Jesus on earth, had The peace and The joy.

Before Jesus went to the Cross and subsequently back to Heaven, what did He said concerning the Holy Spirit who was to come? This is what Jesus said (John 14:25-27):

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:25-27)

The Holy Spirit is in complete agreement with the Son of God, who is in agreement with God the Father. How great these words of Jesus were if the true meaning was/is discerned – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do NOT give to you as the world gives” (v27a). Wow! The world cannot give you that - the very thing that can let you have The Peace and The Joy – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Peace and The Joy, and The Life (I will NOT expound here – What is Life? You can mediate upon it and see if God would reveal the same thing to you that I am have received! Additional hints: The Holy Spirit is the Life Giver, and Romans 8:9-11)

We have read Isaiah 55:8-9 (see above); who knows the mind of God? The Apostle Paul knew this well, and these are his words left for us in Scripture:

I Cor 2:6-11) - 6 We do {Paul speaking}, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” — 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

Yes, it is the Spirit of God; the Holy Spirit is the one who knows the mind of God, and Jesus said (in John 14:27) that He, the Holy Spirit, was who He, Jesus, was and is giving to us. Further down the 1 Cor 2 passage, we read Paul further said this (verse 16):

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

In other words, the mind of Christ is in the Holy Spirit. We have the mind of Christ, for the Holy Spirit indwells us, who are believers. The Apostle John also quoted Jesus’ words on this (John 16:12-15):

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (John 16:12-15)

We also note that elsewhere (Romans 8:9-11) that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God (Father God) is also the Spirit of Christ.

So, you see, how can true Peace and Joy to cometh to us? Who is the key? The Holy Spirit; He has it; if you and I be led by Him, you and I can have it, this true Peace and Joy, that the world cannot give us.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions