Worship, Walk, and Work
A brief study of Hebrews 11:1-7
James H. Knight
In beginning our study of these verses it is important to realize first of all that the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is known by most bible students as the great “Faith Chapter” of the bible. We see, first of all what faith is in the first verse. This is not a definition of faith, in the sense of a complete and easy to understand statement of explanation, but a description of a couple of the elements of faith.
It is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
In looking at the word substance, you will find that substance is something tangible. And though we do not build our lives on feelings, you can feel that faith which is imparted at the moment we get saved by the Holy Spirit of God. You may not be able to grasp it in your hand, you may not be able to see it visibly with the naked eye, you may not be able to smell it, yet you can feel it. Thank God I know that there is the faith within me that I never knew before the Lord gave it to me. I know things that I never knew before because of that faith. I can see things that I never saw before because of that faith. I expect things that I never expected before because of that faith. I know that God is real, that Heaven is real, that Salvation is real, and that I am a Child of God because of that precious faith that He gave to me when I got into the family. Praise God for that faith of Jesus Christ which I have within me today! It is His and it belongs to Him according to Galatians 2:20. Paul said “…the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Praise God for that faith. It is amazing to think that God, when He sealed us upon saving us, placed within us Himself, His presence, His faith. And by it leads us and teaches us things that we would otherwise be unable to grasp, believe or accept. Look at verses 2 and 3 of Hebrews 11. There is no way that we can do or know some things but by faith. The world has many foolish theories and makes many foolish assumptions concerning the natural sciences and the study of psychology because they do not know those things which God makes known only through faith. It is only possible to serve God by faith. It is only possible to please God by faith. (note verse 6) It does not matter how clean, honest, kind, generous, or good a person is, without faith the best of men are not able to please God. It is only by faith that we seek to please God. There are many who are not Christian who live good, honest, clean, respectable lives. The difference is that they are just living in such a way as to be good men. Many have moral character who do not know God. Many are lost who do good works. Many good citizens are not Christians. It is only a good life lived “by faith” that pleases God. If it is not of faith, it is not for God but for self, or for another person. And that is not what pleases God.
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Hebrews 11:4
In looking at this verse we see that worship is by faith. True worship that pleases God is by faith. That is what God seeks. It is true that there is a great deal of worship going on these days. There are many churches and religions being built upon worship. There is a great commercial explosion of “Praise and Worship” music. It is amazing how men can capitalize on just about anything to make money or make a name for themselves. Worship is one of those things. God help us to realize that there is more than one type of worship and only that worship which is by faith will please God.
Notice that we see Abel’s sacrifice was more excellent than that of Cain’s. What was so different? Cain was offering sacrifice just as was his brother. Cain was going to the altar as was his brother. Cain was offering his gifts to God as was his brother. He seemed to be doing just what his brother was. How many times have we heard someone say, “Well, God just made me to worship him this way, this is how I do it. You worship your way because that is the way God made you. We are worshipping the same God and we are going the same way.” Not so my friend. We see in Abel’s relationship to God and his brother that there is a difference that God recognizes and so should we. It does make a difference how we worship. There is a big difference. In worshipping God, we must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. This means that the works of the flesh are not what please God. I believe in old fashioned worship, shouting, raising the hands, running the aisles, but only if God is the focus of the worship, Only if Jesus is the Object of the worship. It is not worshipping God in faith if we just go to church in order to shout and run the aisles. It is not worshipping God in faith if we just go to church to sing and/or participate in or enjoy the service. We don’t just offer what we want to do and expect it to be accepted of God. We do it God’s way, in God’s time, and for God’s Glory. Then and only then is it accepted of God.
True worship and that which pleases God is a beautiful thing to behold. I have seen fine Christian people who have been in terrible crises in their lives, and suffering beyond anything that I have seen in my own life, raise their hands and praise God with tear-filled eyes. I have witnessed the adoration of a loving God in the lives of His children who were suffering. I have heard the public testimony of the goodness of God and His Grace coming from the lips of those who are heartbroken, not knowing when relief would come, yet thankful to a loving God who has promised never to leave them nor forsake them. Only by faith can people truly worship in the bad times. Yet only by faith can people truly worship in the good times. There are those who are enjoying the good times, things are going well in their lives, and yet they are broken every time they look at Calvary. Oh, God! The suffering of our Saviour that we could have such a blessed life! Oh, the Price that was paid. The price that God paid for our sins and our salvation is enough to break the heart of the strongest of men. It can soften the hardest of hearts and bring tears to the driest of eyes. This is true worship, spiritual worship. This is that worship which pleases God. Not necessarily, a shout, a song, a run down the aisle, a public display, And that is well and good if it is by faith, but a heart seeking to be pleasing to God, and offering Him His due in praise and worship. It is only by faith that we can please God in worship because it is only by faith that we truly can or do worship.
Cain offered sacrifice but not by faith. Cain offered what he wanted to offer and wanted God to bless it because He offered it. Abel faithfully offered what God required and by faith expected God to bless it. We must remember that to do something by faith means to be faithful in the doing of it. Do what is done in the way that is pleasing to God, by the leadership of God, and God will be pleased and bless.
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 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.”
Here we see an example of a person’s walk being by faith. If Abel is a fitting picture of worshipping by faith then Enoch is a fine example of one who is walking, or living by faith. The image we have here is that of one who is trying to live their life in such a way as to follow God in every aspect of daily life. In our responses to the problems we face and the decisions that we are faced with we should always seek to do what God would have us to do. If we can not do something by faith, then we should not do it.
There are preachers and bible scholars that go a bit too far with this principle. One man in particular has been heard to say that he would not even eat a sandwich unless he prayed and asked God first if he could. I dare say that this is either foolish or a lie. God gave us a physical body that lets us know when it becomes hungry. Of course we are going to eat. I do say that we should eat if we hunger, but be sure to thank God for the food that we have for the nourishment of our bodies. To require a brother or sister to pray for permission to eat when they are hungry is a foolish thing indeed to do. If you have an accident and your vehicle is destroyed, you know you need another one. If you need a car, you know that you should seek to purchase one. You do not have to pray for permission to meet the need it is there and must be met. However, it would be foolish to rush out and purchase a car without giving yourself to prayer. It would be wise to seek the leadership of God in going to the right place, and choosing the right one. Many a problem can be avoided if we will follow God’s leadership in such decisions. Once again, if we cannot do this by faith, we should not do it. Only when God says to do so,should we do so.
There are those who will tell you to go ahead and get what you want, God will take care of it. That is not true. God is not obligated to get you out of debt. God will see to the needs that you encounter when you are following Him. “Where God guides, He provides.” And that is an absolute truth. God will not lead you to go where He will not enable you to go. And God will not ask anything of you that He will not enable you to do.
A lady once told me, “Well, God wants me to be happy, so I know He wants me to have this if it will make me happy. Of course she is still not satisfied after many years of seeking to please her self materially.
In looking at Enoch we see, as previously stated, one who walked, “By Faith”. Enoch was willing to go God’s way in the midst of a perverse generation. In the day in which we live it is not acceptable to have little or to be content with little. The whole world has the philosophy that we should get all that we can. It seems that the whole point of life to most of our generation is material wealth, and property. There is no spirit of satisfaction in these days. No one, it seems, is willing to learn with Paul that in whatsoever state they are in, therewith to be content. Looking at our example, Enoch we must remember the days in which he lived. He was taken by God just sixty nine years before Noah was born. It would be safe to assume then that Enoch walked among the same wickedness that Noah was witness too. And Enoch was a preacher of righteousness. Not only did Enoch live by faith but He was faithful to witness to that faith. That of course was the faith in God. We see this by the testimony that we have of him by God Himself in that God took him that he should not see death, and we also read of him in the book of Jude. Notice what Jude said about him in verses fourteen and fifteen of his letter…
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
…and we must realize that Enoch MUST have lived the life of faith because this tells us of the ungodly deeds and speeches that he must have heard. He was preaching to them of the coming judgment of Almighty God. In all honesty, we see here that he suffered persecution. It is no new thing that the world rejects our Lord, or the Word of God. It is no new thing that the people of God who are living by faith are persecuted. Jesus was not in this world ignorant of the treatment that He would suffer at the hands of wicked men. He knew exactly what He must suffer when He came.
We must endeavor to live the life of faith as Enoch did. In the face of scorning and mockery, we must maintain the testimony of a life lived by faith in Him, and trusting that He will reward that life in due time. We must commit ourselves to Him and follow His leadership in the face of the persecutions of this world counting ourselves blessed if we find that we must suffer for His name’s sake. There is too little of this in the world today. There is too little of the life of faith being displayed in the church.
No, we must not offend anyone. We must maintain a peaceful atmosphere and try not to “rock the boat”. Live and let live. Oh, but how wrong this is. It is this boat that we seek not to “rock” that our children and grandchildren are going to be living in after we are long gone. It is this world that will persecute our children after we are gone to be with the Lord. It is this world that hates our God and what we stand for in His Name. We must be willing to rock the boat. Be willing to stand and say that sin is still sin. Be willing to use just judgment and preach the truth. We must be an example of God’s children. What our Father hates we will hate. What causes our Father grief should cause us to grieve. Let the world call us what it will, do the right thing. This world cannot see the future that awaits it. We must be that light that shines in the darkness that the world can see the difference, and thereby is able to make a choice. Think of this, Enoch walked with God. If not for the fact that he would have one great- grandson who would find Grace, we would not be here. He did not know the blessing that would come of his being faithful. The upbringing that he gave Methusaleh, who must have taught his son, Lamech, as well as the grandson Noah. It all began with the faithful walk and example of Enoch who was so faithful in his walk with God that God took him home without seeing death.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
In turning our attention to Noah, I want you to notice the strength of the faith that he had at the outset. It is good to realize that God will give you more faith if you will exercise the faith that you have already been given. Notice that Noah had a faith that would move in spite of the fact that it may sound unbelievable. He was warned of things that were “not seen as yet.” And he moved by faith because he believed God more that what had been in this world before. His was a faith which was willing to disregard the logic and wisdom of man, as well as what there was of natural history, and expect that God was able too and would do what He said that He would do. Noah not only believed but knew that there was a flood coming. He knew this by faith.
There have been times in the lives of Christians that we all have known that there seemed to be no relief in sight. As the world looked at them and watched for a wavering surrender to the fate that all about them thought might be inevitable, there came some miraculous occurrence in their lives that struck all that looked on with awe. It is awesome what God can do. It is amazing the things that God does do. That person that the whole community knows is plagued with cancer and it seems that the end is coming soon for them, and suddenly the doctors are scratching their heads in confusion at the miraculous disappearance of the disease. There are those who have prayed for a wicked and rebellious child and prayed earnestly for many years. Those about them may have given up long ago, but by faith they kept praying and seeking God’s intervention in the lives of their children until one day that child is saved by the Grace of God. Oh! God! For the faith that will not quit.
Noah was a picture of this kind of faith. He did not just believe God, he was moved by that belief. He “put feet” on the faith that he claimed to have. And he went right to work. In preparing for what he “knew” was coming.
There is a small Baptist church that we once were in and it needed a little dose of this kind of faith. The membership claimed to be trusting God and believing God. But this membership did not want to prepare for a future in faith. They had the facilities that could contain many members. They had the finances to do a great deal of work. Yet they lacked the faith or the gumption to just back their ears and get at it. Today, several years later, that congregation is still in the same boat. The same people, in the same place spiritually, and the same shape materially, unwilling to get at the work that God requires of us in seeing that the word is carried to the world. No one church can do it all, but every church can do something. No one individual can do it all, but everyone can do something.
Look at what Noah did. First of all he was attentive to the word of God. He listened. Many times, in order to hear the word of God you must first listen “for” the word of God. Too often we listen for what we want to hear and God’s word just goes right by us. We often listen too the word of God without listening for what He wants us to hear. “ Hey! I know what the preacher said but ‘I want”. It matters little in the hearts of many what is preached or what the Bible says. What matters most to people is what they want. Very often that desire is the blessings of God without the exercise of faith. But look at Noah. He was moved by his faith. He feared the outcome if he did not prepare. He feared for his family. He went to work. And because of a faith that was willing to work FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS he is one of the great examples here in the Great Faith Chapter for us to read of even now.
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