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Hebrews 11:6 - Homilies By D. Young

Faith needed to please God.

I. IT IS , THEN , POSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD . Some there are who care nothing whether he be pleased or not. God's will, God's delight in the obedience of men, never enters into their thoughts. They live to please themselves. They can even understand that some object may be served by trying to please other men. And yet those who live for self-pleasure are sure to be disappointed. God has meant our pleasure to come through first of all pleasing him. The great law of man's being is that he should serve the purposes of God, and he can only serve those purposes by finding out what they are, and taking God's means to carry them into effect. If, then, it is God's will that we should please him, he will surely show us what to do and how to do it. There ought to be in our hearts a desire to please God. We are not without the wish to stand well with our fellow men, to have their good word. How much more, then, we should desire to become acceptable to him who is perfect goodness! If Enoch pleased God, we may do it. And the first thing to be considered is, not whether it be difficult or easy to do it, but whether it be possible.

II. How GOD IS TO BE PLEASED . Remember always that, in the writings of apostles and evangelists, when God is spoken of Jehovah is meant. Jehovah as over against the gods of heathendom. Their priests taught that it was possible to please them, and showed how the thing was to be done, by offerings of all sorts, and by adding constantly to the wealth of their shrines. The offerings in themselves were reckoned good; and well they might be, for they made many priests rich. Jehovah also received offerings, but to him the offerings had no value except as expressive of intelligent obedience. The offerings were for the sake of men rather than of God himself. He must be pleased by something different from mere gifts of what he has himself created. And here the writer gives us one of the essentials towards pleasing God. Apart from faith we cannot please him. There are many elements in the character that is pleasing to God, and one element is made prominent at one time, another at another. We know that Enoch must surely have been a loving man, for without love it is impossible to please God. Here the important thing was to insist on his being a believer. Idols could be approached without faith, for they were really not approached at all; no heart of man ever came into living contact with them. But of God there was no image; the worshipper had to believe that there was a real existence all unseen. Suppose for a moment that we had set before us for search and discovery an object perceptible by the senses. Before beginning the search, should we not be wise in assuring ourselves on the following points?

1. The real existence of the object.

2. The probability of finding it.

3. A corresponding reward for the possible toil of the search.

There has been faith on these points which has had no rational basis, and of course has ended in disappointment; e.g. the enthusiastic searching for the philosopher's stone. But here is an object, the object supreme of all—God, the Fountain of being and blessedness; and this object cannot be known by the senses. There are many so-called arguments for the existence of a God, but men who think that they therefore really believe in the existence of a God are self-deceived. Believing in the existence of a Being to whom this name of God is given must be an act of pure faith. Men must say, "I cannot believe otherwise; I cannot believe the contrary." Then to this must be added the practical impulse to come in contact with him. Note here exactly what is demanded, as the ordinary version fails to give us quite the meaning. He that comes to God must believe in God's existence, and that when men seek him out and come to know him in actual experience and service, he gives them most real, substantial rewards. For the seeking out diligence is of course required, but diligence is not the quality primarily referred to. "Seek out" is only a more suggestive way of saying "find."—Y.

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