Friday, June 12, 2015

Hebrews 11:6 -- But without faith

In Hebrews 11, Paul has been writing to the Hebrews about faith. In verses 1-5, he has spoken about faith's nature and power in the world. By the time one has reached verse six, one has developed a knowledge of vague. One knows that faith helps us understand God is Creator of the entire universe. One knows that a person's faith is shown in words and in behavior that is based on faith.  We understand that faith is what made one person acceptable to God, and lack of faith is what makes another person's offering unacceptable to God. We understand that humans testify of faith and God testifies about faithful persons. We understand also that faith is substance, is evidence of something spiritual, that faith is connected to hope, that faith has consequences and affects the world.
The believer has gotten some idea of faith, but not all. Merely reading a definition of faith is not enough. Paul will go on to give examples of faith in action so that the believer's understanding of faith will be more well-rounded. Because the epistle is being written to Hebrews, Paul will continue his teaching on faith by giving his readers examples from Hebrew history. Several people mentioned in the Law, Wisdom Books, and the Prophets are not mentioned. But as Paul will write later on, the faithful people are too many to enumerate. A few people who were not mentioned include Job, Esther, Elijah, Jeremiah, etc. But he mentions quite a few people by their circumstances. Even if he doesn't mention their name, if believers have read their Bibles, they will know whom he is thinking of. And although Job is not listed as a man of faith, he is listed elsewhere throughout the Bible as a hero of endurance. Some of these people suffered terribly because of their faith, yet --for all their suffering-- one is reminded that they pleased God and God loved them because of their faith. Therefore suffering does not necessarily mean God is displeased or that there is lack of faith on a believer's part. And in the long run, all faithfulness is rewarded.  
So, then, verse 6 explains the crux of this chapter: God's pleasure.
Why is God pleased with those who have faith?
Because in order to have faith --true and real faith-- a believer has to have come to an epiphany about the world, about God's power, about God's love, and about God's response to the believer. Anyone who has faith has begun to understand the nature of the world. They understand that there is a spiritual world that rules and overrules the physical world. They have eyes and hearts that are seeing the true nature of the kingdom; they have begun to be freed from the power of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil -- its effects being pride of mind, trust in human rationale, trust in appearances, and separation from a loving, powerful, creator God. To reach such a state the believer has had to seek God. Those who have read my Bible studies here know that I am not a lover of Calvin's theory of predestination. Although this verse does not say that those who come to God are only those who seek him, a reader could argue that the verse does leave the impression that God does work with all humans to seek him.
Another thing to remember is that faith "cometh." I like the last translation listed last below. "It behoveth him who is coming to God." I understand it to mean those who are coming to God specifically for answer to prayer, but also those who are coming to God and journeying toward the kingdom.  
This is why faith pleases God. We are in a trusting loving believing journey toward him.  
I cannot say if there are any believers out there who displease God. But it seems to me that mere righteousness is not enough and it would probably be better for all those who follow the "rules" and "doctrines" of Christianity to truly "trust" God as their loving rewarding 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.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
and apart from faith it is impossible to please well, for it behoveth him who is coming to God to believe that He is, and to those seeking Him He becometh a rewarder.

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