But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

by faith

In Hebrews 11:4-16 we find a description of several individuals who had faith, and the thing to note here is that when they had faith, they acted in a certain way. We have already determined that faith directly affects behavior, that is to say, faith that is real, true, alive, and active is a faith that works.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith, taking God at His Word, is simply defined as believing that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13). So we see here on the other side of the coin, while faith works, without faith we cannot do works that please God.

It’s true. Faith in Christ is so vital, so necessary for living the Christian life, that we are told in Romans 14:23 that anything we do that is “not from faith is sin.” If we do anything or say anything or think anything that is not motivated by our trust in God then that action, word, or thought is inherently sinful.

So let us examine these people of faith and see what kind of works their faith produced.

Abel Offered a Sacrifice

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. – Hebrews 11:4

By faith, because of his faith, because He believed God, Abel obeyed God and offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Abel knew what God expected. So did Cain. Abel gave God what God wanted. Cain offered God what he wanted to give. There is a huge difference there, is there not?

Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice. It was superb, unmatched, unequalled. Why? Because Abel acted by faith and gave God exactly what God asked of him. As a result Abel obtained this witness – God said he was righteous. What is it to be righteous? It means that God proclaimed that Abel was right with Him. On the basis of his faith, faith that worked its way out through his actions of obedience, God made Abel right with Him.

God testified to the goodness of this offering, his gifts to God. God was pleased. Remember, without faith it is impossible to please God, but with faith, all things are possible.

This is such a powerful result of faith working in his life that the Bible tells us that even though Cain out of jealousy murdered Abel, he being dead still speaks. We still hear his testimony. Abel has been declared righteous before God by God in the pages of Holy Scripture for every generation of Christians to hear the story about Abel’s incredible faith.

So many people want to leave a legacy to those who come after them. Abel was not worried about any such thing. He just wanted to please God. He trusted God. And as a result he acted in a way that pleased God. He obeyed God. And God testified to his righteousness and continues to talk about him even today as we read this text.

Do you want a legacy that glorifies God? Have faith. You can read more about Abel in Genesis 4.

Enoch Pleased God

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. – Hebrews 11:5-6

Notice the same words that appear in the account of Enoch as we continue through our text? Faith, testimony, witness. They both pleased God.

In this account we see that Enoch did not die. Imagine that. The account of Enoch’s life found in Genesis 5 tells us that he walked with God. He had this testimony – this is what they said about him – he pleased God. He had such fellowship with the Father and walked so closely with Him that one day God just took Enoch to heaven.

He did not die a physical death. He was not buried. He was taken directly to heaven to be in God’s presence.

What a testimony. Pleasing God. Walking with God. Trusting God. And he was taken and was not on the earth any longer. He lived on earth 365 years, which actually was a short time at this time in human history. His father Jared lived 962 years. His son Methuselah, the oldest living human being recorded in Scripture, was born when Enoch was 65 years old and then lived to be 969 years old.

So while he had lived what could have been just a third of his life he was already walking with such faith and such obedience, pleasing God so abundantly, that God took him on to heaven and he was able to forego death.

(tomorrow: Faith that Works – Noah, Abraham, and Sarah)