It’s Just Impossible!

Hebrews 11:6 NIV  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.

We know this verse.  It was probably one of the earlier ones memorized as we began our journey in Christian life.  We were probably taught that we must work hard to have the faith with which God will be pleased.  So, much of our Christian life has been spent trying to do just that.  Sadly, what we never heard about was the freedom in this verse – but that’s all changing right here, right now.

It’s not some deep, hidden secret that only the most intelligent can find.  Instead, what I found as I continued my recent Hebrews feast, savoring the words like tasty morsels, were verses that have been skipped, ignored, or at least mishandled – those leading up to and following verse six..

Hebrews 10:39-11:1 NIV 2012  But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.  1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

The faith we need is to believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Period.  (Read more in Faith Gone Wrong.)  To help even more, Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us that this faith is not of our own efforts, our own working it up.  This gift from God comes by His grace.  In other words, God graces us (gifts us) with the faith to believe in Christ (also a Gift), apart from our effortsHint: Gifts are only gifts if they are freely given without cost to the receiver.  Because we have received the Gift of Jesus Christ, we belong to those who have faith and are saved.

Skip a few verses (I promise to include them in a future post), and read verses 5 and 6 together, because it is the only way to understand the possibility of the impossible in verse 6 already working in us.

Hebrews 11:5-6 NIV  (2012) By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”  For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.  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.

Isn’t it mind-boggling that Enoch – so soon after the creation of the world, and so long before Jesus came as Messiah – already knew about Him and His future coming . . . and believed?  For that alone, Enoch pleased God.  With something God gave him in the first place, Enoch pleased God.  Because of his faith, Enoch was promoted to heaven!

Wait a minute!  The Bible tells very little about Enoch.  Besides this mention in Hebrews, he’s listed in the begats, where we find he lived 365 years and had children.  That means he also had a wife – at least one.  It also means he had to work to support them.  And that he interacted with people day in and day out, with good days and not-so-good days.  He was not continually alone with God.  He was a living human being, just like us, involved in the stuff of life.  He was no more perfect in his flesh than we are.  He needed a Savior, just like we do.  By grace, he had faith in the promised Messiah1,and that’s why God was pleased.  Period.  By that same grace, we also have faith in the promised Messiah, and God is also pleased with us.  Period.

For all these years, we have focused on what seemed impossible, and maybe it was.  When we focused on trying to have faith – or have enough faith, or the right kind of faith, or great faith – with which God would be pleased, we missed the simple truth that what He requires to please Him, He provides in the first place.  Ours is simply to receive.  It was possible for Enoch, and it’s possible for us today. In fact, in Christ, we have already received this glorious impossibility.  And, even now, God is pleased!

1 Jude 14 states that Enoch prophesied about Christ’s coming.

Photo credit to Mark J. Lehman, http://misusingecards.blogspot.com/

Free!

Galatians 5:1 NIV  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Romans 8:21 NIV  . . . that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

What do we give to the people around us?  Only what we have received.  Have we received the freedom – the glorious freedom – described in these verses?  As believers in Christ, you might be quick to reply, “Of course!”  My observation and my own experience give a very different answer.  It has nothing to do with whether Jesus Christ has given us this glorious freedom, for He has, but whether we have received it in its entirety.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV  8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Oh, yes, we received the gift of eternal life, with the assurance of going to heaven.  This was by God’s grace in our hearts and faith to believe we couldn’t earn it no matter how much we tried.  Somewhere along the way, however, we missed the fullness of this Truth: this is also the only way we are to live our lives in Christ – by grace, through faith.  After salvation, we have worked very hard attempting to do enough or be good enough to deserve what He has already given us freely for this life.  In reality, we have allowed ourselves to be burdened again by a yoke of slavery to the law – we must work to be worthy.  This, my brothers and sisters, is not freedom, and definitely not glorious freedom!

When we live in Christ this way, it is also the way we live toward others, seeking to train them in our ways of the Lord.  But this isn’t what Jesus came to give.  He came to give absolute freedom in Him and in His finished work on the cross, including abundance of the grace of God for every need.  In turn, this freedom and grace is to be given to others who have not yet heard the gospel.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news – but so much better than what our lives have shown it to be to this point!  He came and gave His life, doing all the works and fulfilling all the requirements of the law, by the grace of God in Him, so that we could live in freedom from those requirements.  When we have a life-changing revelation of this Truth, the works we do in this complete and glorious freedom are done in response to His wonderful love and provision of grace – and with a desire to glorify Him and lead others to know Him this way, too.

Matthew 10:8 AMP  . . . Freely (without pay) you have received, freely (without charge) give.

May you be stirred to seek after His freedom beyond what you have known, so that this will be what you give to others – no strings attached!