Sermon 2100. Faith Essential to Pleasing God
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, AUGUST 18, 1889,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a Rewarderof them that diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6.
MEN have lived who have pleased God-Enoch was one of them but he was not the only one. In all ages certain persons have beenwell-pleasing to God, and their walk in life has been such as was His delight. It should be the aim of everyone of us to pleaseGod. The thing is possible, notwithstanding all our imperfections and infirmities-let us aim at it in the power of the HolySpirit. What has been worked in one man may be worked in another. We, too, may be well-pleasing unto God. Therefore let usseek after it with hopefulness. If we so live as to please the Lord, we shall only be acting as we ought to act. For we oughtto please Him who made us and sustains us in being. He is our God and Lord-and obedience to Him is the highest Law of ourbeing.
Moreover, the glorious Jehovah is so perfectly good, so supremely holy, that the conduct which pleases Him must be of thebest and noblest sort, and therefore we should seek after it. Should we not aspire to that character upon which God Himselfcan smile?
The approbation of our fellow men is pleasant in its way. But they are always imperfect and often mistaken. And so we maybe well-pleasing to them and yet may be far removed from righteousness. It may be a calamity to be commended in error, forit may prevent our becoming really commendable. But God makes no mistake. The Infinitely Holy knows no imperfection. And ifit is possible for us to be pleasing to Him, it should be our one object to reach that condition.
As Enoch, in a darker age, was pleasing to Him, why should not we, upon whom the Gospel day has dawned? God grant us to findDivine Grace in His sight! If we please God, we shall have realized the object of our being. It is written concerning allthings, "For His pleasure they are and were created." And we miss the end of creation if we are not pleasing to the Lord.To fulfill God's end in our creation is to obtain the highest joy.
If we are pleasing to God, although we shall not escape trial-for even the highest qualities must be tested-yet we shall findgreat peace and special happiness. He is not an unhappy man who is pleasing to God-God has blessed him, yes, and he shallbe blessed. By pleasing God we shall become the means of good to others-our example will rebuke and stimulate. Our peace willconvince and invite.
Being himself well-pleasing to God, the godly man will teach transgressors God's way and sinners shall be converted unto Him.I therefore, without the slightest hesitancy, set it before you as a thing to be desired by us all, that we should win thistestimony-that we are pleasing unto God.
Here the Apostle comes in with needed instruction. He asserts that faith is absolutely needful, if we would please God. Then,to help us still further, he mentions two essential points of faith-"He that comes to God must believe that He is, and thatHe is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." When I have spoken on these two points, I shall close, as God shall helpme, by showing that He then teaches us many valuable lessons.
I. First, then, THE APOSTLE ASSERTS THAT FAITH IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO THE PLEASING OF God. Take, as a keyword, the strongword "impossible." "Without faith it is impossible to please God." He does not say it is difficult, or so needful that withoutit success is barely possible. He declares it to be "impossible." When the Holy Spirit says that a thing is impossible, itis so in a very absolute sense. Let us not attempt the impossible. To attempt a difficulty may be laudable, but to rush uponan impossibility is madness. We must not, therefore, hope to please God by any invention of our own, however clever, nor byany labor of our own, however ardent-since infallible Inspiration declares that, "without faith it is impossible to pleaseGod."
We are bound to believe this statement, because we have it in the Sacred Volume, stated upon Divine authority. But, for yourhelp, I would invite you to think of some few matters which may show you how impossible it is to please God without faithin Him.
For, first, without faith there is no capacity for communion with God at all. The things of God are spiritual and invisible-withoutfaith we cannot recognize such things but must be dead to them. Faith is the eye which sees. But without that eye we are blindand can have no fellowship with God in those Sacred Truths which only faith can perceive. Faith is the hand of the soul, andwithout it, we have no grasp of eternal things.
If I were to mention all the images by which faith is set forth, each one would help you to see that you must have faith inorder to know God and enter into converse with Him. It is only by faith that we can recognize God, approach Him, speak toHim, hear Him, feel His Presence and be delighted with His perfections. He that has not faith is toward God as one dead. AndJehovah is not the God of the dead, but of the living. The communion of the living God goes not forth toward death and corruption.His fellowship is with those who have spiritual life, a life akin to His own. Where there is no faith, there has been no quickeningof the Holy Spirit, for faith is of the very essence of spiritual life. And so the man who has no faith can no more communewith the living God and give Him pleasure, than can a stick or a stone, a horse or an ox, hold converse with the human mind.
Again, without faith the man himself is not pleasing to God. We read, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Butthe Revision has it better-"Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto God." The way of acceptance describedin Scripture is, first, the man is accepted-and then what that man does is accepted. It is written-"And he shall purify thesons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."
First God is pleased with the person, and then with the gift, or the work. The unaccepted person offers of necessity an unacceptablesacrifice. If a man is your enemy, you will not value a present which he sends you. If you know that he has no confidencein you, but counts you a liar, his praises are lost upon you. They are empty, deceptive, things which cannot possibly pleaseyou.
O my Hearers, in your natural state you are so sinful that God cannot look upon you with complacency! Concerning our raceit is written-"It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth and it grieved Him at His heart." Concerning many, Godhas said, "My soul loathed them and their soul also abhorred Me." Is this true of us? "You must be born again," or you cannotbe pleasing to the Lord. You must believe in Jesus. For only to as many as receive Him does He give power to become the sonsof God. When we believe in the Lord Jesus, the Lord God accepts us for His Beloved's sake and in Him we are made kings andpriests and permitted to bring an offering which pleases God. As the man is, such is his work.
The stream is of the nature of the spring from which it flows. He who is a rebel, outlawed and proclaimed, cannot gratifyhis prince by any fashion of service. He must first submit himself to the law. All the actions of rebels are acts done inrebellion. We must first be reconciled to God, or it is a mockery to bring an offering to His altar. Reconciliation can onlybe effected through the death of the Lord Jesus and if we have no faith in that way of reconciliation we cannot please God.Faith in Christ makes a total change in our position towards God-we who were enemies are reconciled. And from this comes towardsGod a distinct change in the nature of all our actions-imperfect though they are, they spring from a loyal heart-and theyare pleasing to God.
Remember, that in human associations, want of confidence would prevent a man's being well-pleasing to another. If a man hasno confidence in you, you can have no pleasure in him. If you had a child and he had no trust in his father, no belief inhis father's kindness, no reliance on his father's word-it would be most painful and it would be quite impossible that youshould take any pleasure in such a child. If you had a servant in your house who always suspected your every action and believedin nothing that you said or did but put a wrong construction upon everything, it would make the house very miserable and youwould be well rid of such an employee. How can I take pleasure in a man who associates with me and pretends to serve me, butall the while thinks me a sheer impostor and gives me no credit for truthfulness? Such a person would be an eyesore to me.
It is clear that want of confidence would destroy any pleasure which one man might have in another. When the creature daresto doubt his Creator, how can the Creator be pleased? When the Word which worked creation is not enough
for a man to rest upon, he may pretend what he will of righteousness and obedience, but the whole affair is rotten at thecore-and God can take no pleasure in it.
Note again-unbelief takes away the common ground upon which God and man can meet. Two persons who are pleasant to one anothermust have certain common views and objects. God's great object is the glorification of His Son. And how can we be pleasingto Him if we dishonor that Son? The Father delights in Jesus-the very thought of Him is a pleasure to God. He said, as ifto Himself only, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This He said, afterwards, to others, that they mightregard it, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him."
He delights in what His Son has done-He smells a sweet savor of rest in His glorious sacrifice. If you and I believe in God'splan of salvation through Jesus Christ, we have a common ground of sympathy with God. But if not, we are not in harmony. Howcan two walk together except they are agreed? If we have thoughts of Jesus such as the Father has, we can live together andwork together. But if we are opposed to Him on a point which is as the apple of His eye, we cannot be well-pleasing to Him.If Jesus is despised, rejected, distrusted, or even neglected, it is not possible for us to be pleasing to
According to the well-worn fable, two persons who are totally different in their pursuits cannot well live together- the fullerand the charcoal-burner were obliged to part. For whatever the fuller had made white, the collier blackened with his finger.If differing pursuits divide, much more will differing feelings upon a vital point. It is Jesus whom Jehovah delights to honor.And if you will not even trust Jesus with your soul's salvation, you grieve the heart of God and He can have no pleasure inyou. Unbelief deprives the soul of the Divinely appointed meeting place at the Mercy Seat, which is the Person of the LordJesus, where God and man unite in one Mediator and the Lord shines forth on the suppliant.
Assuredly, again, want of faith destroys all prospect of love. Although we may not perhaps see it, there lies at the bottomof all love a belief in the object loved, as to its loveliness, its merit, or its capacity to make us happy. If I do not believein a person, I cannot love him. If I cannot trust God, I cannot love Him. If I do not believe that He loves me, I shall feelbut slight emotions of love to Him. If I refuse to see anything in the greatest display of His love-if I do not value thegift of His dear Son-I cannot love Him.
We love Him because He first loved us. But if we will not believe in His love, the motive power is gone. If we reject theWord which says, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perishbut have everlasting life," then we have put from out of the heart the grand incentive to love. But love on our part is essentialto our pleasing God-how can He be pleased with an unloving heart? Is not the Lord's chief demand of men that we love Him withall our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength? Without faith love is impossible, and God'spleasure in us must be impossible.
Again, dear Friends, want of faith will create positive variance on many points. Note a few. If I trust God and believe inHim, I shall submit myself to His will. Even when it becomes very painful to me, I shall say, "It is the Lord: let Him dowhat seems Him good." But if I do not believe that He is God and that He is aiming at my good, then I shall resent His chastisementsand shall kick against His will. What He wills me to suffer, I shall not be willing to suffer. I shall rebel and murmur, andproudly accuse my Maker of injustice, or want of love. I shall be in a rebellious state towards Him and then He cannot havepleasure in me. "The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy." But He will walk contraryto us, if we walk contrary to Him by refusing to bow ourselves before His hand.
Without faith, moreover, I get to be at variance with God in another way-for inasmuch as I desire to be saved, I shall seeksalvation in my own way-and go about to establish a righteousness of my own. Whatever it may be, whether it is by ceremonies,or by good works, or by feelings, or what not, I shall, in some way or other, set up a way of salvation other than that whichGod has appointed through Christ Jesus. God's love to Christ is supreme and He will not endure that a rival should be setup in opposition to Him.
Another way of salvation is Antichrist and this provokes the Lord to jealousy. If you are laboring to be saved in one way,while God declares that through His Son is the only way of salvation, you are acting in distinct opposition to the Lord ina matter which does not admit of any compromise. Rejecters of Christ are enemies to God. If you pretend that you are God'sservants, you are convicted of falsehood if you refuse to honor His Son by trusting in Him. If you believe in Christ, whomHe has sent, you work the work of God. But no way else. Self-righteousness is an insult to Christ and a distinct revolt fromGod. He who has no faith, seeks salvation by a way that is derogatory to the Lord Jesus-and it is impossible for him to pleaseGod.
We must be at variance with God if we are without faith. It is a solemn truth that, "He that believes not, God has made hima liar. Because he believes not the record that God gave of His Son." This is the crime of the Unbeliever-so is it statedby the Holy Spirit speaking by the beloved John. Could you take any pleasure in a man who made you out to be a liar? Perhapswith great patience you could bear with him, but you could not be pleased with him-that would be out of the question. Doesa man daily, by the mode of his life and by the evident drift of his actions, proclaim you to be a liar? How can he talk ofgiving you pleasure? Nothing he could do would please you while he calls you a liar.
He that makes God to be a liar, makes him to be no God. To the best of his ability he undeifies the Deity. He uncrowns theLord of All and even stabs at the heart of the Eternal. To talk of being well-pleasing to God in such a case is absurd.
Let me conclude this point by asking, by what means can we hope to please God, apart from faith in Him? By keeping all Hiscommandments? Alas, you have not done so. You have already broken those commands. And what is more, you still break them andare in a chronic state of disobedience. If you do not believe in Him, you are not obedient to Him. For true obedience commandsthe understanding as well as every other power and faculty. We are bound to obey with the mind by believing, as well as withthe hand by acting. The spiritual part of our being is in revolt against God until we believe. And, while the very life andglory of our being is in revolt, how can we please God?
But what will you bring to the Lord to please Him? Do you propose to bribe Him with your money? Surely you are not so foolish!Is the Lord to be bought with a row of almshouses, or a Chapel, or a Cathedral? To most of you, it would be impossible totry the plan for lack of means. But if you were wealthy enough to lavish gold out of the bag, would this please Him? The silverand the gold are His and the cattle on a thousand hills. If He were hungry, He would not tell you. What can you give to Himto whom all things belong?
Truly, you can assist in an ornate worship, or build a gorgeous Church, or embroider the furniture of an altar, or emblazonthe windows of a Church. But are you so weak as to believe that such trifles as these can cause any delight to the mind ofthe Infinite? Solomon built Him a house, but "the Most High dwells not in temples made with hands." To what shall I likenthe most glorious erections of human genius but to the anthills of the tropics, which are wonderful as the fabrication ofants, even as our cathedrals are marvelous as the handicraft of men?
But what are anthills or cathedrals when measured with the Infinite? What are all our works to the Lord? He who with a singlearch has spanned the world, cares little for our carved capitals and groined arches. The prettinesses of architecture areas much beneath the glory of Jehovah as the dolls and boxes of bricks of our children would be beneath the dignity of a Solomon.God is not a man that He should take delight in these things. "Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with tenthousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"
It is not this that He asks of you, but to walk humbly with Him, never daring arrogantly to doubt His Truth and mistrust Hisfaithfulness. Go not about by a thousand inventions to aim at what you will never compass, but believe your God and be established.So much upon that painful point. Remember the impossibility of pleasing the Lord without faith-and do not dash your ship uponthis iron-bound coast.
II. Now, secondly, THE APOSTLE MENTIONS TWO ESSENTIAL POINTS OF FAITH.
He begins by saying, "He that comes to God must believe that He is." Note the keyword "must"-it is an immovable, insatiablenecessity. Before we can walk with God, it is clear that we must come to God. Naturally, we are at a distance from Him andwe must end that distance by coming to Him, or else we cannot walk with Him, nor be pleasing to Him. That we may come to Him,we must first believe that there is a God to come to. More-we must not only believe that there is a God-for only a fool doubtsthat-"The fool has said in his heart, There is no God"-but we must believe that Jehovah is God and God, alone.
This was Enoch's faith-he believed that Jehovah was the living and true God. You are to believe, and must believe, in orderto be pleasing with God, that He is God, that He is the only God, and that there can be none other than He. You must alsoaccept Jehovah as He reveals Himself. You are not to have a God of your own making, nor a God reasoned out,
but a God such as He has been pleased to reveal Himself to you. Believe that Jehovah is, whoever else may be or may not
But the devils believe, and tremble, and yet they are not pleasing to God, for more is wanted. Believe that God is, in referenceto yourself. That He has to do with your life and your ways. Many believe that there is a hazy, imaginary power which theycall God. But they never think of Him as a Person, nor do they suspect that He thinks of them, or that His existence is ofany consequence to them one way or another. Believe that God is as truly as you are. And let Him be real to you. Let the considerationof Him enter into everything that concerns you.
Believe that He is approachable by yourself and is to be pleased or displeased by you. Believe in Him as you believe in yourwife or your child whom you try to please. Believe in God beyond everything, that "He is," in a sense more sure than thatin which anyone else exists. Believe that He is to be approached, to be realized, to be, in fact, the great practical factorof your life. Hold this as the primary Truth of God, that God is most influential upon you. And then believe that it is yourbusiness to come to Him.
But there is only one way of coming to Him and you must have faith to use that way. He that died and lives forever says, "Iam the Way. No man comes unto the Father but by Me." He that comes to God must believe in God as He is revealed and must cometo God as God reveals the way of approach. And this is an exertion of faith. Faith as to this point is essential. You cannotcome to Him in whom you do not believe. Are not many hearers of the Word really as far from God as infidels? Let me ask you,how many atheists are now in this house?
Perhaps not a single one of you would accept the title and yet, if you live from Monday morning to Saturday night in the sameway as you would live if there were no God, you are practical atheists. And as actions speak more loudly than words, you aremore atheists than those doctrinal Unbelievers who disavow God with their mouths and, after all, are secretly afraid of Him.A life without God is as bad as a creed without God. You cannot come to God unless you believe in Him as the All in All, theLord God beside whom there is none else.
Yet all this would be nothing without the second point of belief. We must believe that, "He is the Rewarder of them that diligentlyseek Him." How do we seek Him, then? Well, we seek Him, first, when we begin by prayer, by trusting Jesus and by calling uponthe sacred name, to seek salvation. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." That is a grand promiseand it teaches how we come to God-namely, by calling upon His name. Afterwards we seek God by aiming at His glory, by makingHim the great Object for which we live.
One man seeks money, another seeks reputation, another seeks pleasure. But he that is pleasing to God seeks God as his Objectand End. "Seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you." The manwith whom God is pleased, is pleased with God. He sets the Lord always before him and seeks to live for Him. This he wouldnot do unless he believed that God would reward him in so doing. Take this as a certainty-we must believe that "God is theRewarder of them that diligently seek Him," or we shall not seek Him.
We are sure that, somehow or other, it will be to our highest benefit to honor the Lord and trust Him. Albeit we deserve nothingat His hands but wrath, yet we perceive from the Gospel that if we seek Him through His Son, we shall be so well-pleasingto Him as to get a reward from His hands. This must be of Divine Grace-Free, Sovereign Grace! And what a reward it is! Freepardon, graciously bestowed. A change of heart, graciously worked. Perseverance, graciously maintained. Comfort, graciouslypoured in, and privilege, graciously awarded. The reward of godliness, even in this world, is immeasurable-and in the worldto come it is infinite. We may have respect unto the recompense of the reward. Indeed, we should have respect to it, and thereforeboldly seek God and seek nothing else.
The Lord is "a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." That is not quite an exact translation-the Greek word means notonly seek Him but, "seek Him out." That is, seek Him till they find Him and seek Him above all others. It is a very strongword. We hardly know how to transfer its meaning into English, for though it does not say "diligently," it implies it. Wemust seek, and seek out. That is, seek till we really find. Those who with their hearts follow after God, shall not be losersif they believe that He will reward them. You have to believe God so as to seek His Glory.
Even when you do not obtain any present reward for it, you are to say, "I shall have a reward ultimately, even if I am fora while a loser through His service. If I lose money, respect, friendship, or even life from following God, yet He will bea Rewarder and I shall be repaid ten thousand-fold, not of debt but according to His Divine Grace." He, then, that would pleaseGod, must first believe that He is. And then, dedicating himself to God, must be firmly assured that this is the right, thewise, the prudent thing to do. Be certain that to serve God is in itself gain-it is wealth to be holy. It is happiness tobe pleasing to God. To us it is life to live to God-to know Him, to adore Him, to commune with Him, to become like He is.
It is glory to us to make Him glorious among the sons of men. For us to live is Christ. This, we are persuaded, is the bestpursuit for us. In fact, it is the only one which can satisfy our hearts. God is our shield and our exceedingly great reward.And in the teeth of everything that happens, we hold to this-that to serve God is gain. If God helps us to trust Him, andtherefore to live unto Him and seek to be well-pleasing in His sight, we shall succeed in pleasing Him. We cannot conceivethat the heavenly Father sees, without pleasure, a man struggling against sin, battling against evil, enduring sorrow contentedlythrough a simple faith, and laboring daily to draw nearer and nearer to Him.
God is not displeased with those who, by faith, live to please Him and are content to take their reward from His hand. Hemust be pleased with the work of His own Grace. The desire to come to God, the way to come to God, the power to come to God,the actual coming to God-these are all gifts of Sovereign Grace. Coming to God, however feebly we come-and seeking Him, howevermuch else we miss, must be well-pleasing in His sight. For it is the result of His own purpose and Grace which He gave usin Christ Jesus before the world began. But all this hangs upon faith. Without faith there is no coming to God who is andno seeking of God who is a Rewarder. And therefore without faith it is impossible to please God.
III. WE WILL NOW GATHER A FEW LESSONS FROM WHAT THE APOSTLE HAS TAUGHT US. Help us, O
First, then, the Apostle teaches us here, by implication, that God is pleased with those that have faith. The negative isoften the most plain way of suggesting the positive. If we are so carefully warned that without faith it is impossible toplease God, we infer that with faith it is possible to please God. If you believe that He is and that He is a Rewarder ofthem that diligently seek Him. If you are willing to believe all that He teaches you because He teaches it, and are reallya believer in Himself and in all that He is pleased to reveal, then are you pleasing to Him.
He that believes in God believes in all the Words that God speaks and he surrenders himself to all that God does. And sucha man must be pleasing to God. We believe in one God and in one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. We trustin the Lord as He thus draws near to us-thus are we in the way of pleasing God. By faith we, ourselves, have become pleasingto God, and our actions performed with a view to His honor are pleasing to Him. What a joy is this! It is bliss to think thatI, who, in my unregenerate state, grieved the Holy Spirit and vexed Him day by day, am now the object of pleasure to Him.
I, whose actions were contrary to the Law of God and the bent of whose mind was against the Gospel of Christ, I, even I, whowas once obnoxious to Divine anger, an heir of wrath, even as others, have now, through faith, become to God an object ofHis complacency! This is very wonderful. If the Holy Spirit leads you to feel the full sweetness of this Truth of God, youwill rejoice with joy unspeakable. I feel like singing rather than preaching.
Oh, guilty One, will you not now believe your God? This is the way to come back to Him. When the prodigal said, "In my father'shouse there is bread enough and to spare," he believed in his father's power to supply all his needs. When he thought in hisheart that his father would receive him, he said, "I will arise and go to my father and will say unto him, Father, I havesinned."
You must have so much belief in God as to believe Him to have the heart of a father towards you, or you will never come backto Him. But when you begin to trust your God, your face is already towards the heavenly home, and before long your head willbe on your Father's bosom. If faith can make the vilest and guiltiest pleasing to God, will they not believe in Him? Whata transformation this would work in them! Oh, that this morning all of us may stand out in the clear sunlight of Jehovah'sgood pleasure and know ourselves to be well-pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ!
Learn, next, that those who have faith make it the great object of their life to please God. Am I speaking the truth? Willeach one ask whether it is true about himself? Do I, as a Believer, live to please God? We need personal heart-searching onthis point. The believer in the invisible God delights to act as in His sight and in secret to serve Him. I take a choicepleasure in rendering to my God a service unknown to others, not done for the sake of my fellows but distinctly that I maydo something for my Lord. It is sweet to give or do simply to please Him, without respect to the public eye.
Even such actions as must come under the gaze of others are not to be done with the view of winning their approbation, butonly to please God. The doing of such actions is a singular fountain of strength to a man's mind. It is ennobling to feelthat you have only one Master and that you live to please Him, even God. To please men is poor work. To live to follow everybody'swhim is slavery. If you let one man pull you by the ear in his direction, another will tug at you from another direction andyou will have very long ears before long. Happy is he who, pleasing God, feels that he has risen above seeking to please men.It is grand to say, "This is what God would have me do and I will do it in happy fellowship with others, or alone by myself,as the case may be. But do it I must."
This gives a man backbone, and at the same time removes the selfishness which is greedy of popular applause. It is a grandthing to be no longer looking down for cheer but to be distinctly looking up for it. The man who truly believes in God makessmall account of men. Put them together, they are vanity. Heap them up in their thousands, they are altogether lighter thanvanity. Nations upon nations, what are they but as grasshoppers? The lands in which they live, what are they before God? "Hetakes up the isles as a very little thing." To please God, even a little, is infinitely greater than to have the acclamationsof all our race throughout the centuries.
The true Believer feels that God is, and that there is none beside Him-none that need to be thought of in comparison withHim. The theology of the present aims at the deification of man but the truth of all time magnifies God. We shall stand bythe old paths, wherein we hear a voice which bids us worship Jehovah, our God, and serve Him, alone. He shall be All in All.Only as we see men loved of Him can we live for men. We seek their good in God, and for His glory- and regard them as capableof being made mirrors to reflect the glory of the Lord.
Note, next, the Apostle teaches us here, that they that have faith in God are always coming to God. For he speaks of the Believeras, "He that comes to God." If you once learn to believe God and to please Him, you are coming to Him every day. You not onlycome to Him and go away from Him, as in acts of prayer and praise, but you are always coming. Your life is a march towardsHim. The way of the Believer is toward God-by his faith he comes ever nearer and yet nearer to the eternal Throne. What ishis reward? Why, He that sits on the Throne will say, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for youfrom the foundation of the world."
Come! Come on! You have been coming, keep on coming forever. There is a gentle, constant, perpetual progress of the Believer'sheart and mind nearer and closer to God. I could not wonder at Enoch being translated after walking with God hundreds of years.For it is such a small step from close communion with God on earth to perfect communion with God in Heaven. A thin partitiondivides us which a sigh will remove. The breaking of a blood-vessel, the snapping of a cord, the staying of the breath, andhe that had God with him shall be with God.
Sometimes the Believer could not tell whether he was in the body or out of the body but had to leave that question with God.He will soon be able to answer the question for himself-and know that he is absent from the body and present with the Lord.O Beloved, please God, please God! And as you please Him by your simple confidence and child-like trust, you are coming nearerto Him.
The next lesson is one I have already spoken of-God will see that those who practice faith in Him shall have a reward. I say,God will see to it, for the text says, "He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." The Lord will not leave the rewardof faith to the choicest angel-He Himself will adjudge the recompense. Here we may get but scant reward from those whom webenefit-indeed, they usually return us base ingratitude. Joseph was a faithful servant to Po-tiphar. But Potiphar put himin prison on a groundless charge. Joseph helped the butler and interpreted his dream, yet he remembered not Joseph, but forgothim.
You may not reckon upon due returns from your fellow men, or you will be disappointed. Like David, you may guard Nabal's sheepand when the sheep-shearing comes you may hope to be remembered and he will insult you with a churlish answer. Expect littlefrom men, but much from God-for by nature and by office, He is a Rewarder. No work done for Him will go unrewarded. In Hisservice the wages are sure. Rise into the Abrahamic life which stays itself upon the Lord's word, "Fear not, Abraham: I amyour shield and your exceedingly great reward."
It is reward enough to have such a God to be our God. What if He gives us neither vineyards nor olive gardens, neither sheepnor oxen? He Himself is ours, and this is a greater reward than if He gave us all the world! God Himself is enough for theBeliever. If his faith is true, and deep, and intelligent, he cries, "Whom have I in Heaven but You? And there is none uponearth that I desire beside You."
The last lesson we gather from it is this-those who have no faith are in a fearful case. I speak not of the heathen but ofUnbelievers who reject the Gospel. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Some of you are always fashioning freshnets of doubt for your own entanglement. You invent snares for your own feet and are greedy to lay more and more of them.You are mariners who seek the rocks, soldiers who court the point of the bayonet. It is an unprofitable business. Practically,morally, mentally, spiritually-doubting is an evil trade.
You are like a smith, wearing out his arm in making chains with which to bind himself. Doubt is sterile, a desert withoutwater. Doubt discovers difficulties which it never solves. It creates hesitancy, despondency, despair. Its progress is thedecay of comfort, the death of peace. "Believe!" is the word which speaks life into a man-doubt nails down his coffin. Ifyou can believe, O guilty One, that Jesus Christ bore the guilt of sin upon the Cross and by His death has made atonementto the insulted government of God. If you can so believe in Him as to cast yourself, just as you are, at His dear feet, youshall be pleasing to God.
I entreat you to look up and see the pierced hands and feet and side of the dear Redeemer and read eternal mercy there! Readfull forgiveness there, and then go your way in peace, for you are well-pleasing to God. The sinner who believes God's testimonyconcerning His Son has begun to please Him and is himself well-pleasing to the Lord. Oh that you would now trust Him who justifiesthe ungodly and passes by the iniquities of sinful men! He will receive you graciously and love you freely.
Oh, come to Him, for He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. God help you to do so at once. But without faith youcannot please Him. Do what you may, feel what you like-you will labor as in the very fire and nothing will come of it buteternal despair. The Lord help you to believe and live. Amen.