Agonizomai: Heb 11 - 05 -06- Christ - Supplier of Grace Upon Grace

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heb 11 - 05 -06- Christ - Supplier of Grace Upon Grace

Heb 11 - 05 -06- Christ - Supplier of Grace Upon Grace


Heb 11:5-6 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 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.

The writer, when citing the Hebrew Scriptures use the Septuagint, where the phrase "he walked with God" is rendered in the Greek as "he pleased God." {Ge 5:22-24} Thus he induces that it was by the faith of pleasing God that he was taken up. That is to say, Enoch didn’t necessarily believe that God would take him in the sense that he actually did (though he undoubtedly believed he would be with God forever after death) but that Enoch lived a life of faith by trusting in God for everything. He had a relationship of dependency with God, in which he believed the promises of God rather than the promises and allures of the world.

But what is this talk of rewards? The word is mentioned because the aspect of faith being mentioned here is not that which justifies, but that which sanctifies. Justification is a once-for-all act by which a believer is declared just and righteous by God upon coming to faith in Christ. He becomes an heir of the promise through faith by the grace of God - God being at once the furnisher of the means of grace, and of the faith to receive it.

But all believers also become heirs of the promises (plural) and, having been granted the mustard seed of faith, are then given a life in God’s providence by which they may seek to appropriate and rely upon the promises of God for the future, as that future unfolds to their consciousness and experience. "As many as believed, to them gave he the power (Greek exousia) to become children of God ... who were born not of the will of man ... but of God." {John 1:12-13} The Greek word "exousia" can be translated "power" or "right" because it implies an authority derived from a superior - like the son derives from his father or the soldier from his general. He has a power by delegation that is not his own, but which he is tasked to use in a specific way for a particular purpose or office. It is a real, but derived authority.

Enoch lived by the promises of God. We are not told exactly which promises and how, but he trusted God in a fallen world. We are now told that without faith it is impossible to please God; and to this is added the fact that God must be believed as existing, and as one who rewards the obedience that genuinely seeks to know him. But how are these revelations, so matter-of-factly dropped into the sermon as "obvious" to be received in the light of other scripture that clearly teaches that no one seeks after God and none is righteous - no not one? {Ps 14:2-3} Scripture must interpret scripture. And we must go to other locations for the whole thing to be made understandable to our fallen minds. We must first be born again before we can believe. {John 3:5} we cannot come unless we are drawn by the Father. {John 6:44} It is ultimately not as matter of our own will, but of His. {John 1:13,Ro 9:16} We do come and we do so willingly, but only because God’s overriding will at work in our lives and from eternity makes us willing. It has always been the same for all the saints in all ages.

Enoch was therefore no different. He was commended by God for acting in accordance with a new nature that was given to him by God. So God is indeed the rewarder of those that diligently seek Him in the sense of thirsting after a better, more intimate, knowledge of him - not the discovery of his existence (as per the text). God must reveal Himself - he cannot be found by dead, blind, corrupt men looking upwards. The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he, for they are foolishness to him. {1Co 2:14} Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not comprehend or receive it. {AV John 1:5} But God graciously gives light to some and, amazingly, he commends them for seeing and walking according to the light they would not have seen, apart from His gracious act of regeneration. Salvation/sanctification is not simply the result of the application of the duly constituted means on the part of man (Finney) - but is a supernatural, monergistic act of God.

So Enoch would say with Augustine, "O Lord, command what thou wilt and grant what thou commandest." For to those who have (because it has been given) more will be added - but from those that have not will be taken away even that which they have. {Mt 13:11-12} When God experientially gives his Son to the elect saint, he also gives the faith by which they will obey and, ultimately, be rewarded. And, though the saint must walk in it, even his sanctification is due to the grace of God.

The emphasis here is upon living by trusting in the promises of God consistently and daily. In Enoch’s case, this was at least 300 years.



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