Faith that Saves the Soul

Andrew Giles at Bradford, Maine

July 7, 2009

 

I’d like you to turn, please, to the last few verses of Hebrews chapter 10. I want to actually speak to you out of chapter 11, but I want to just set it in context of the verses that have gone before, so let’s read down from verse 36.

Hebrews 10:36 ‘For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.’

Vs.37 ‘For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.’

Vs.38 ‘Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.’

Vs.39 ‘But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.’

I know that the author of Hebrews is not established strongly, but let’s say it’s Paul here. What Paul wants to do here is to set our lives in context—into a time frame and into an attitude. He is talking to us about the relationship between the present and what is to come.

He talks about, in verse 36, us doing the will of God so that we can receive the promise. The promise is, of course, resurrection and eternal life. He’s telling us that while we are here in this mortality, we need to be people who are living in anticipation of something that is to come. He’s putting us now as we’re doing the will of God, (we should be doing the will of God) as doing it in the context of a tremendous hope of something that God is going to bring to us at an appointed time, which he refers to here as the promise. Not just promises, but the promise .

The second aspect of it is in verse 37. He says,

Hebrews 10:37 ‘For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.’

The second part of the context is the returning and the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ— He who is going to come. He’s going to come without delay at exactly the time appointed.

Then, back to our present condition, he says the just—the righteous—shall live by faith. That word ‘faith’ that he has used there, sparks in him what is going to come in the next chapter. He gets excited; he gets infused by it and the Holy Spirit comes upon Him and as a result, we have this tremendous chapter that follows in chapter 11.

He says in verse 38 ‘but if any man draw back, My soul (this is God speaking—My soul) shall have no pleasure in him.’

We’re going back to the theme in a short while of pleasing God because it comes up in the next chapter.

Verse 39: ‘But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.’

That word “saving” isn’t the Greek word that you would normally expect to be the word “saving”. It actually is a word that means, “obtaining”. It reminded me as I looked it up of Jesus’ phrase in Luke 21:19 ‘In your patience possess ye your souls.’

I don’t know if you realize what we’re about at the moment. We’re really on the job of getting our souls saved. You are well aware of the verse that says:

I Peter 1:9 ‘Receiving the end of your faith even the salvation of your souls.’

We have read that with our English understanding of the word “end”, which is a 20 th -21 st century understanding of that word, but it really has changed meaning.

Do you remember when Jesus was standing before Pilate and they were debating about truth? Jesus said, “For this end have I come and for this cause I’m in the world to bare witness to the truth.” Clearly, He’s talking about “for this end I was born”. So, He’s not talking about his birth being the end of the matter. He’s talking about “purpose” and the next line He says “cause”. This word “end” really had the meaning of “goal” or “purpose” or “reason” and the meaning has changed. The purpose of something, of course, is fulfilled at the end, so it’s now come to mean the conclusion of something or finality, but that’s not really what it’s used to mean. Although it doesn’t negate when we hear the phrase “the end of our faith” meaning the finality of it; it means a lot more than that; it means the purpose of our faith. The purpose of our faith is to get our soul saved.

As you are aware, our spirit has already been quickened, so the next part of the operation of our salvation—the outworking of our salvation—is in the area of the soul. I was so encouraged by the word that Brother Andy brought because he was talking about the mind, which is part of this area of us—the soul. The thing that God is requiring to happen in us now is to get us saved in the area of our soul. To get our minds saved; to take them out of the realm of carnality and reasoning and imagination and fantasy and all the worries and fears that invade our minds and to move them into a different realm where we put our trust in God and we have a hearing relationship with God and we invest our faith in the word of God and all those other things are pushed and relegated into the place where they belong, which is in the old man and we live in the life of the Spirit. By doing that, salvation comes to the house.

Salvation comes to our soul when we yield our will , to the will of God.

When we come under the authority of the Holy Spirit in the area of our emotions , salvation comes to our soul. That’s what God wants to happen in these days—the Holy Spirit having control over the vessel so that we possess our vessel.

The purpose of our faith—understand this—the purpose of what’s happening in our lives at the moment—the end of our faith is to get our souls saved. This is the operation that God is working on in us in the salvation continuum that He started in our lives.

Paul says that we are going to believe—we’re going to believe—because it brings about the possessing or the obtaining the salvation of our soul, which is what’s going on now.

That context—of the saving of our soul—is sort of the parameter in which I want to focus our attention tonight and we’re going to talk about faith. Clearly, faith and the saving of the soul are entwined together—they are involved together. You cannot get your soul saved without faith. It’s faith to the saving or the possessing of the soul.

Hebrews 11:1 ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’

Vs. 2 ‘For by it the elders obtained a good report.’

Vs. 3 ‘Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.’

Vs. 4 ‘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.’

Vs. 5 ‘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.’

Vs. 6 ‘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.’

I want to talk about verses 3, 4, and 5. Three different areas where we need to have faith. It’s required for the saving of our soul. I assume I’m on common ground amongst us that we want to have our souls saved.

We can see some foundations and directions of faith in these three verses.

The first one (Vs.3) says, ‘Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.’ First of all, I want to talk about the word, “worlds”. Once again, this is a word that, to our immediate understanding, is not the same as in the Greek. We think of the world as being a planet. We talk about the world and we think about the globe and that really isn’t what’s in the meaning of this word at all.

The Greek word used here for “worlds” is “eons” and it means “periods of time”. Where we think that “world” means “a place”, in the Greek, it means “a time”. You’ll see that it’s in the plural because there are different ages and different dispensations of time.

What the writer is saying here is when God formed in His own heart or conceived the plan of creation, right before any time was made; before any of the ages happened; before anything at all was put into practical effect; God had every detail conceived and known right through to the very end of the very last age. This is a plural word. We are in an age; we are not in all the ages. At this moment, we are now in what we call “the age of grace” or “the church age”. There have been ages before and there will be ages to come. There are “ages of ages” according to the scriptures. This isn’t just a verse that’s talking about creation. This isn’t just “and God said, ‘let there be…’ and it was”—the way we would teach that to our children in our Sunday schools. This is a verse that’s telling us that as God stood there before anything was done in the realms that we have any concept of, He had everything in place; everything known right through to the end.

The word “framed” is a great word. You know what a frame is. If I were to bring a frame along, you would see a rectangle with two sides and two ends. Everything happens, according to this scripture, inside the frame. The Greek word there for “frame” means “planned, arranged, finished, and perfected”. Right there at the very beginning, God had it planned, arranged, finished, and perfected. Everything! There’s a man named Vincent, who wrote a really good book on Greek words and I need these people who are scholars because I borrow their scholarship. He says the word “framed” indicates “all that the successive periods contain”. Everything that has ever happened in any age, at any time, to anybody, anywhere was conceived by God in the very beginning! That’s pretty amazing! Just think of a God who could do that! I don’t know, maybe we have 6 or 7 billion people on the earth today—just taking today—and everything that happened to every single one of them was known and planned by God; framed by Him; planned, arranged, finished and perfected before anything was put into effect.

God hasn’t at anytime changed His plan; He hasn’t taken any counsel; He hasn’t had to rethink; He hasn’t looked at the plan and said, “Whoa! We better do a bit of steering here!” He got it all right from the beginning and He put it in place. Now you say, “Alright, Andrew, I hear that and that’s a good doctrine, but why did I have that car crash?” or “Why did I lose my job?” or “Why did so and so die?” In those situations, when you’re hurting, when things are not going right, you have a bit more of a struggle to accept that right back there at the beginning, God said, “That’s exactly how it’s going to be.”

If our soul is going to get saved, we have to move into a realm where we say, “God, I may not understand, in fact I don’t understand, but God, I believe.” We are talking about the saving of our soul.

You just think about what goes on in our minds in this “embracing the purpose of God”. What goes on in our minds is when things happen, we start to contest and contend with God over them. That is disruptive to the state and the peace of our soul. It’s contrary to salvation. It puts our soul into turmoil. That isn’t salvation!

If we, as the people of God, can get to the place where we say, “God, I trust You; that You only do things that are good because You are a good god and nothing takes You by surprise. You have ordered this only for my blessing and my benefit. I put my eyes on You in faith and I accept it, Lord.” Then you can get to a place of peace on the basis that God knows better than you do.

If I could understand everything God did, God would be very small. If men collectively could understand what God does, and they think they can, that makes them god—that puts them in the place of God. Men, professing themselves to be wise, have made themselves fools. The foolishness of God is wiser than all men.

What God is looking for is a people who will say, “Alright, God, I just take that by faith. I do not understand, but I am not required to understand.” If I understand everything that God does, I make God as big as me or me as big as God; and that’s not a very good god. “Alright, Lord, You had something in Your mind right back there at the beginning and what You had in the beginning was good ! God, I don’t know. I don’t understand. I don’t know why that happened, but God, I trust You and I know You did it for me; for my blessing.”

Just before I move on from this word “worlds” or “age”, let me just tell you a couple of other places where this word comes up. Scripture says that Satan is the god of this world . It’s the same word that refers to time. Satan is the god of this age . We could say, “Hallelujah!” here because that is in the singular. This word is in the plural. There’s only one world—one age—where Satan has been given authority; it’s the present age—the present evil age. The next world or age, Satan’s not going to have any authority there! He’s only the god of this age. God has restricted him and cast him down to the earth, but God has restricted him in time, as well. I like that! It makes me say, “Lord, bring on the next age!” Because, he’s not going to have authority there! At the moment, he does—temporarily.

Then there’s another verse, which this word “world” comes up and it means the same word “age”.

1 Corinthians 10:11 ‘Now all these things happened unto them (the nation of Israel) for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.’

The words “ends of the world” are the same words that we’ve been considering. The phrase means “the purposes of the age.” It doesn’t mean that we’ve come to 2009 and something is about to happen that was written about 2,000 years ago. What it means is—upon the body of believers, the purpose of this age has fallen. God has put the responsibility of this age in His people; what He’s doing in this age is entirely invested and focused in His people.

The eyes of the world today are on Michael Jackson’s funeral. It has nothing to do with the purpose of this age. Lots of people are thinking of what is happening in North Korea; or what is President Obama doing there; or how the meeting is with Obama and the president of Russia and that sort of thing. Actually, what God is really about is happening right here in this room because it says so in the scriptures— the purpose of this age is to bring forth sons of God. All the other things are the things that God is working around that purpose.

You can see how this works in the picture of Israel. Do you know the things God did for Israel? In Isaiah, I think it is, He said, “I destroyed nations for you!” He was willing to wipe out nations so that He could bring Israel through.

But actually, He didn’t do it for them; He did it as examples for us so that we can see how much God is willing to invest in bringing the sons of God through. It’s all about us! I’m not saying that so that we should all become vaunted and self-centered; quite the reverse! God’s purposes are totally, at this time, to bring forth a people because until that happens, this age hasn’t had its purpose fulfilled.

As Paul says here in 1 Corinthians 10:11 ‘All things happened unto them for ensamples… they’re written for our admonition because on us the purpose of the age has fallen!’ It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? God is really into this thing of bringing forth sons! This is what He is doing! He’s spent 6,000 years really, but at least the last 2,000 years has been His focus to bring forth sons!

The nations rage and the sea is in tumult, but that is just taking the attention of everybody else. We know what God is doing because He has revealed it.

Let’s turn to John chapter 9. Here’s a little story where Jesus was trying to break some of this truth onto His disciples.

John 9:1-2 ‘And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?’

The disciples were still in the understanding of “cause and effect” being just within the short parameters of generations here and there. Jesus takes them out of that and said, “It’s not really anything to do with what this man did or what his parents did.”

John 9:3 ‘Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents;’ (that’s not what it’s all about) ‘but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.’ (italics Andrew’s)

God did it! Jesus said, “It wasn’t him; it wasn’t his parents; God did it!” You could say He was just talking about the healing there, but it says, ‘the works of God’. The healing was one of the works of God; it was a work of God. “Works” is a plural word. Making him blind was a work of God as well; it was conceived in the heart of God from the very beginning—before there was anything that was tangible was made—before any of the ages came into existence, God said, “I’m going to have a man born and he’ll be 38 years old, or however old he was; I’ll have Jesus come walking down the road; I’ll have him born blind; He can sit in Jerusalem; when Jesus walks by I’ll have him sitting at the side of the road; the disciples will be there.” Every detail ! So that, the disciples could ask the question and Jesus could take that example that was before them and say, “ God did it! God made him blind and God healed him!” Now we have a big stumbling block—God making him blind, but by faith we understand.

There was a word of the Lord to my heart in Bowens Mill Convention in something John Basalyga shared. He was talking about how much of our Christian spiritual activity is up in our head (mind) and not in our heart.

The Bible says, ‘As a man thinketh in his heart , so is he.’ I’ve been saying to the Lord, “Lord, make it so that my trust, my faith, my Christianity isn’t in my head or mind, but in my heart!” What you do in your heart directs your life. If you fall in love, everything is affected by it. Your whole life is affected by it and surely your thoughts are involved. You pursue the object of your affection because it has gripped your heart; it’s not just an analytical mental logical process.

There’s a great danger that we get people born again with nothing more than agreement with the doctrine rather than an encounter in their hearts with the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve been saying to the Lord since I heard this, “Lord, in all your revealing; in all your speaking; in all Your doing; don’t let this just be me agreeing with You just because it makes sense to my mind; move me in my heart!”

That’s where faith is—faith is in the heart ! ‘With the heart man believes to salvation’! We have to get out of the place where we have to understand in our minds everything that’s going on, because it will never save our souls. I can’t tell you why God would ordain a man to sit by the side of the road for all those years with all the things that must have gone on in him; all the impact of that upon his family; all the cry, the grief and the pain. I have to say that Jesus said, “This was the work of God! God did this and He wanted His works to be made manifest.” We say, “Well, that’s just the healing.” No, it’s works —the whole thing. God said, “Just put it down to Me.” I don’t understand. That’s par for the course if God did it.

What other things has God done that I don’t understand? Just about everything.

Let’s go to Daniel chapter 4. Remember this is the salvation of our soul. It is part of that faith that we’re going to have to have if our soul is going to come through into salvation.

Daniel 4 is a very, very interesting chapter because I think it’s the only chapter in the Bible written by a Gentile. I don’t know of any other chapter. That makes it unique. It’s written by Nebuchadnezzar.

When Mr. Obama goes over to Russia and meets the Prime Minister and the President of Russia, he doesn’t say, “Vladimir, I’ve got a problem. My wife is spending too much down at the store and the credit card debt is running up and up and up.” He doesn’t say, “Vladimir, I’ve got a problem with my kids.” Or he doesn’t say, “How do I train my dog?” He doesn’t talk about domestic matters because he’s going as a representative of a nation; he is the president. He doesn’t talk about personal matters; I can’t imagine that he discusses such things with Vladimir. What he does is talk about the global things, the affairs of State, and the issues that he can talk about as President, because he represents the whole nation. That’s what kings and leaders do when they gather together.

Nebuchadnezzar was the king and he, according to the vision that came in Daniel chapter 2, is actually the head of the kingdom of gold. All the other kingdoms followed, but the kingdom of Babylon is the head of gold. He is the king of the greatest kingdom that has ever been in the world. That makes him pretty important; in fact, I believe it makes him representative , just as President Obama doesn’t go and discuss his domestic matters in Russia. He represents the American nation when he goes there. He deals with matters that affect this nation.

When we come to Nebuchadnezzar, what we’re viewing in his life is the history of the Gentile nations; and by Gentiles, I mean those who are outside of Christ, really. Think of that within this story that he writes. He’s writing, actually, the history of the Gentile nations in this whole chapter. He’s writing of those outside of Christ.

Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and he saw a great big tree. We’ve already some understanding because we know that a tree represents a man’s life. Which man? Well, this particular tree is the “Adam” tree; it’s the “people outside of Christ” tree. A great tree; a glorious tree; it reached unto heaven; ‘the sight thereof, to the end of all the earth’ (verse 11).

Daniel 4:13-14 ‘I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit:’

The ‘branches being cut off’ means that there’s no joining anymore; there’s division. The ‘shaking off of the leaves’ means there’s no healing. The ‘scattering of the fruit’ means there’s no fruit. It’s exactly what we see in the world today; no security; no safety.

Daniel 4:15(a) ‘Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, (the blessing of God is still coming on it because God causes His rain to come on the righteous and the unrighteous) and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him;’

You probably know the scriptures about the heart of man being a beast’s heart (Ecclesiastes 3:18 and Psalm 49). It’s very clear; the heart that the unregenerate man has is a beast’s heart.

Daniel 4:15(b) ‘and let seven times pass over him.’ (indicating that this is the story of the whole of time for people outside of Christ.)

Daniel 4:17 ‘This matter is by the decrees of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.’

No comment on the last phrase! The whole procedure that Nebuchadnezzar was taken through was as a man representing everybody outside of Christ; the whole procedure that he is taken through is simply so that he would know that God is in charge. That’s what the whole thing is about.

God is bringing the nations of this earth to a place where finally at the end they are going to acknowledge, “God, You are the King! Jesus, You are the Lord of all!” And that’s what He is going to do. He is bringing them to the place where everything they do fails. They’re going to fail politically; they’re going to fail economically; they’re going to fail agriculturally; they’re going to fail in every area. Constantly He is putting examples in front of this world of their plans turning into ash; just crumbling in their hands. You see how soon it is before three trillion dollars fails to accomplish anything. God will just make sure it happens because He wants to show that the Most High rules—that men can’t do it, but God can.

You know what happened here; Daniel comes in and he interprets the dream.

Daniel 4:26-27(a) ‘And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness,’

Well, Nebuchadnezzar goes up onto the roof of his palace; he rises up in pride. God takes his mind from him and he gets the mind of a beast and seven times pass over him; exactly what was prophesied; exactly what has happened to mankind.

Daniel 4:34-36(a) ‘And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand or say unto him, What doest thou?’ (“Why did You do that?”) ‘At the same time my reason returned unto me;’

Well, we don’t have to wait until then to get our souls saved. We can do it now. Nebuchadnezzar does it here in this story and the Gentile nations do it at the end, but we are the kind of firstfruits from amongst His creatures; we are the ones who ought to be the first partakers this fruit—of the saved soul. We’re going to get there not because the evidence points to it, but because faith rises up in our hearts and we put our trust in Almighty God and we say from the Spirit of a sound mind, “Yes, God, You are in control; You are good; You are doing it right and I am going to trust You.” And sometimes we’re going to say that with tears pouring down our face.

I remember when Matthew, our oldest son, and his wife, Bethany, were expecting their first baby. They got news from a scan that the baby’s brain was not growing and there were serious problems. The doctors were saying, “You need to have an abortion.” It was in the middle of the Irish Convention. They called us up and said, “Can you come?” So we went over and met with Matthew and Bethany and were praying and talking with them. I remember one time when we had been praying with them and tears were pouring down Bethany’s face and they had agreed that abortion was not a possibility; I just picture it now; her sitting there and she said, “I want to get everything out of this that God has for me in it.” I thought that was just wonderful.

And that is sometimes how this is going to operate. It’s going to be, “God, I don’t know why. This is so painful. I don’t know how I’m going to get through, but God, You rule and You are good.” And we don’t move from that foundation. It will save our souls.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the chapter before do the same. They say, “King, you can say what you like to us; we’re not moving from the position! We might burn to death as a result, but we are not going to move from the position of our worship before God.” They didn’t know how it was going to work out. They just said that God was in charge of their lives; for good or for bad— and that’s not bad in the sense of “evil”.

Daniel chapter 6 in the lion’s den, same thing again. I remember Dan Ricciardelli ministering on Daniel and he made the point that when Daniel heard the decree, he didn’t do any campaigning. He just carried on as he had before. He didn’t adjust his life; he didn’t have to reconsider whether he was doing the right thing. He just carried on walking before his God. He opened his bedroom window and prayed toward Jerusalem and the consequences were in God’s hands. He just knew what was required of him and he was faithful. He didn’t know that he was going to end up as a Bible story. He might have just ended up as the lion’s breakfast and we may have never heard from him, but it wouldn’t have made any difference because God rules in the affairs of men! God rules sometimes to deliver and sometimes He doesn’t deliver. If we read the end of Hebrews 11, we read of the times that he didn’t deliver! Some were sawn asunder! But by faith, they were sawn asunder.

Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?” The very, very poor people used to eat the sparrows and so they were sold in the market. They could buy two sparrows for a farthing. Do you have farthings here? When I grew up we had farthings and it was a quarter of an old penny, when there were 240 pennies to the Pound, and that really helped our mathematics a lot! I use to have farthings and they had a picture of a little bird on them as well, maybe it was related to the Bible story, I don’t know. You could buy 2 sparrows with a quarter of a penny! And then Jesus said, “Not one of them is forgotten before God.” Not of them falls to the ground without Him knowing! And we’re talking about a God who stood at the beginning of it all and said, “I’m watching that sparrow. I see it fall to the ground and I know.” And they were two for a farthing.

Just imagine if we could get hold of this what it would do to our soul. Just think if we could get the trust in God where everyday in every situation we say, “Alright, God, I praise You. You are doing it right!” Think of the peace that could come to us! Think of the release that would come to a people who just said, “I’m just going to trust Him. I’m going to trust Him.” He said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” If He knows when the sparrow falls to the ground, He knows about you. In fact, the Bible says ‘the heart of unbelief is evil.’

Turn to Acts 17. It’s actually even better than I just said. Paul is in Athens. He’s on Mars Hill and he’s found the altar there with the inscription, “To the Unknown God.” And so he says, “I’m going to tell you, Athenians, about the Unknown God.”

Acts 17:24-27 ‘God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:’

I know I’m in mid-sentence but I’m just going to stop there. Just think about what Paul’s just said. He’s talking about everybody on the face of the earth. He’s defined it; he’s talking about every single person and he says, “God has determined the times before appointed.” So right back at the very beginning, before God did anything, He determined exactly when everybody was going to be born. You were not born as a result of a physical act between your parents. You may say, “You need a biology lesson.” But, your body came into existence that way (as an act between your parents), but God caused that to happen so that you could have a container for your soul. But He said, right at the very beginning for me, “1948, that’s when he should come.” Why did He say 1948? I’ll tell you in a minute. And Paul says, “and the bounds of their habitation”. So there in the county of Sussex, in south England, He said, “Not only 1948, but East Grinstead, Sussex, England, that’s where he’s to be.” Put your name in there, your date and location of your birth. This happened to every single person on the face of the earth that has ever been or is ever going to be. God predetermined when and where we would live. It’s all in the plan. No accidents in this. We hear phrases like, “Well, he wasn’t planned.” Oh yes, he was. “That was an accident.” Oh no. There’s no such thing. There’s no such thing at all. There’s not a single person who has ever lived on the face of the earth and I would put into this context every aborted fetus as well. God knew it all ahead of time and He is in control.

And do you know why He did it? Why at the very beginning—this is so awesome; it’s just amazing—why at the very beginning did He say, “Andrew, 1948, East Grinstead, Sussex, England” or whatever He said for you, do you know why? To give you or me the very best possible opportunity to find Him. Because that’s what it says…

Acts 17:27 ‘that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him,’

Because that is what it says, “that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might find Him.”

He determined when and where everybody was going to live; He determined which nation you would be in. He determined for the Indians down in the Amazon Jungle or the person on the streets of Calcutta; He determined that because He said, “It gives that person the best opportunity to meet Me.” I don’t know what it might be. It might be a sunrise; it might be a rainfall; it might be a word that somebody speaks; I don’t know, but God has got the whole thing in His plan and He has determined it all to give everybody the best opportunity to meet Him.

You say, “Well, what about all those fetuses of the aborted babies?” I don’t pretend to understand it really, but I don’t believe the matter is finished and I think for them to have their best opportunity probably—not probably—that was exactly what was necessary because I think they are alive and I think there is a Millennium to come and I think we’ll see all sorts of things happen that haven’t even entered into the “little box” of our minds..

Just so they can seek after Him and find Him. Wow! No accidents in our lives. Not a single accident anywhere. It’s all in the preordained and sovereign plan of our God and I think we need to worship a God who is like this and get our souls saved by believing it; faith to the saving of the soul.

Let’s go back to the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 11:4 ‘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.’

You know that the book of Hebrews is a book of comparatives. The word “better” comes up a lot; a lot of comparison between the Levitical priesthood and the Melchisedec priesthood, of which Jesus is the High Priest. A lot of comparisons - and here we have a comparison. It says, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” The phrase “more excellent” isn’t only just found in this verse, it’s found back in chapter 8 verse 6 and it’s talking about the Lord Jesus:

Hebrews 8:6 ‘But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry’

So we go back to the story of Cain and Abel; those two were brothers. Cain was the older brother; not a lot to distinguish them. They were born of the same family. They both had something stirring in their heart for God. Both decided they were going to bring offerings. The same Hebrew word is used for the “offering” that Cain brought and that Abel brought; there is no distinction made. I think their commitment is very laudable, but I think Cain’s commitment is especially laudable because I’ve worked outside in the garden a little and we keep sheep, so I’ve seen a bit of this firsthand. I know I simplify things, but basically if you want to produce a lamb, you get a few sheep, you stick the ram in and he knows what to do. He doesn’t have to be trained; he knows what to do; he does his business and however long it is—6 months later—the ewe does what she knows to do. I know they do say about sheep that if there’s a new way to die, the sheep will find it. (laughter) But there’s not much you can do to help. Occasionally you have to pull one out, but basically, the lamb flops out and there it is and the mother turns around and licks it and it struggles to its feet. You can pull the goo away from out its mouth, but basically nature does it! The lamb finds where to suck and it’s quite amazing!

I’ve never found vegetables to grow quite as easily as that. I don’t know what exactly was the fruit of the ground that Cain brought, but he probably had to start by hacking away at some dry ground and turning it over; working it and breaking it up; he got some seed from last year’s work and he put it in the ground; covered the earth over the seed; watered it; came out and had to frighten the birds away because they wanted to eat the seed. Then the plant started to come up and the white fly, the green fly, the black fly, and in Scotland the Tartan fly (laughter)—they all come along and want to do their part. He has to deal with all the bugs and the weevils and then as it grows more he has to do the weeding and keep working on this all through the summer in the heat of the day. What is his brother doing while this is going on? Well, he’s sitting under a tree with a straw hat on, a blade of grass in his mouth, watching the sheep. Abel’s there while Cain is working. I have sympathy for Cain! At the end, finally, he goes out there and he harvests whatever he harvests having got calluses on his hands, sunburn on his head, backache, and all that. He brings it to God and God says, “I like the lamb.” OK, I’m reading between the lines—I confess. I confess!

And God says of the lamb, “That was more excellent.” Abel was directed to the sacrifice of the lamb; that’s why it was more excellent. Somehow God spoke into his heart and it was an act of obedience; that’s why it was an act of faith. Abel’s approach to God was by faith and that’s why it was more excellent. Really, in one way it had nothing to do with the lamb or the fruit of the ground; it wasn’t the external; it was the response in the heart.

But what God was also doing was creating a prophecy of what is going to be acceptable to Him. Do you know how often we forget how we approach God? We know that we don’t approach God on the basis of “look at all that I’ve done” and yet that attitude can slip back into our minds so quickly.

I don’t know how you think, but I can hear in my thoughts, “Lord, did I pray enough before I came to preach tonight?” Do you get that sort of thought? Whatever it might be? “Have I read my Bible enough this week?” As if God was keeping a log or a timesheet when really what He wants us to do is “the just shall live by faith ”. All these questions that bombard our minds and destroy our confidence are questions that need to be relegated under faith!

Look over in:

Hebrews 10:19 ‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,’

This is talking about the Holy of Holies; this isn’t talking about the Holy Place. Here we are, and we’re a people who know that God is requiring obedience of us and we know that He is requiring holiness from us. But it’s not a holiness that qualifies us; in fact, we have to walk by faith in this thing. There are so many assaults on our mind that want to destroy our place of faith; to make us feel like we can’t come and it takes us out of fellowship with God who sent His son to reunite us with Himself. He wants us to have the fellowship. Our souls need salvation in this area so that we live in faith.

I have noticed that there’s a thing that the devil wants to do to us which is to put us under a cloud—an undefined cloud—of YUCK! You know, a feeling of inadequacy; it’s a lie. The word says that, “the word of the Lord is clean”. ‘It comes sharp’ and when there’s something where your soul needs converting, the word of the Lord will come and it will really be pointed. If God wants to convict you of sin, He will convict you of sin. You will know! You will get down on your knees to pray and it will be there. You get up because you want to avoid it and you’ll try again later—it will be there. He’ll keep on you; conviction of sin is very strong and if it isn’t, ask God to make it strong because we do need to have strong conviction of sin.

There’s another thing that the enemy does where he tries to put us under a feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness, which is from the devil and not from God. We are not worthy; we’ve established that; we know this is by grace. But the unworthiness that keeps us from His presence is not of faith that will save our soul.

This is particularly applicable to us, I think. The common ground in nearly all the church, if you go out there into other church realms, is “I’m fairly good and nobody’s perfect. I’m only human. We’re saved by grace.” We hear a word that says, “You have to be perfect! As good as everybody else, is not good enough. As good as Jesus, that alone is good enough. And you are totally evil!” That’s the line that’s been laid for us; it’s black and white, “You are totally evil! Completely depraved and desperately wicked and God requires you to be perfect.” The word generally in the church is, “Don’t worry about it; you’re never going to be; you’re not that bad; you’re not that good.”

So here we have this terrible position of being so awful and God being so holy and perfection being required, “You must be perfect!” The only thing that is going to bridge that is some faith - rightly placed faith in the blood of Jesus; in the work that He has done. Not the work of Cain, but the faith of Abel.

When David became king. His very first act was to go to Jerusalem; it was part of the inheritance in the Promised Land, but it was occupied by the Jebusites. The word “Jebusites” or “Jebus” comes from a Hebrew word that means “threshold”. The threshold is the bit of the door where you walk when you come into the room. I suppose that everybody puts their foot onto the threshold when they come into a place. From there, it came to mean “downtrodden”. So the spirit that occupied Jerusalem, the Church, was a spirit that “put you down”—“downtrodden”. Nobody, but nobody, had been able to dislodge the Jebusites.

What’s really being spoken to us in that is there’s a spirit that is at work in the Church that’s been very, very strong and hasn’t been able to be dislodged. It’s a spirit that makes you feel inadequate. How do I try to describe it? It’s this cloud—this feeling—oh, I can’t describe it. It’s unspecific; it’s vague because the devil cannot make it specific because there’s nothing specific in it. If there were something specific in it, it wouldn’t be this “gooey thing”; it would be the word of the Lord and it would be sharp. The spirit of the Jebusite is rampant in the Church and it’s rampant in our midst. David came along and said something really interesting. He said, “Whoever goes up the gutter and gets into that city, will be your chief and your captain.”

Strong’s Concordance says that “chief” means “the head; the beginning; the captain; the chief; excellent; first; forefront; head; height; highest part; High Priest; principal; ruler; sum; top”. “Captain” means “head person of any rank or class; captain; chief; general; governor; keeper; lord; prince; ruler; steward”.

Anybody who goes up the gutter and gets into the city and takes the city will be—could I just change the words and say—“firstfruits”? Would that do for “chief and captain”? Head? First? I think it fits in. Somebody is going to take this horrible gray area of unbelief that says, “I can’t go in and be one with my God on the basis of what Jesus has done because of _________”. The unspoken , unspecified condemnation that the enemy puts on and God’s going to have a people who are going to get into the place where the water flows and say, “That is not a word of God to me. The word of God is by faith. Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. By faith I’m able to go with boldness into the Holiest of All because of the blood of Jesus by a new and living way He has consecrated for me through the veil and His flesh did it.”

Do you hear what I’m saying? This is to save our souls. Our souls are not going to be saved apart from connection with God. This is a thing that keeps us out of a vibrant connection with God. I would suggest to you, if you identify with this, I would suggest to you to get before God and say, “God, I’m willing to have You search my heart and see if there’s any wicked way in me, and if there’s something You want to say to me; that You want me to repent of; I want to hear it; I want to hear Your verdict on my life at this moment in time because I want to repent of any evil way that You have to put before my eyes at this moment.” If He gives you something, it’s wonderful because you can call it sin and you can deal with it. You know exactly how to deal with sin. We confess our sin; we repent from it; we turn from it and He’s faithful to forgive and it’s taken off the record.

If there’s nothing or if even if there is something and you deal with it, then once it’s dealt with, you have boldness to enter the Holiest of All and in boldness, go and do it! Just get there; say, “God, I am coming. I am not accepting that cloud—that misty horrible thing—that the enemy wants to put on me because I’m putting my faith in the more excellent sacrifice.” And if something comes back and says, “You need to do more; you need to try harder.” Say, “I want to do everything that God tells me to do, but I have access by the blood of Jesus.” There’s no other way in. The first people who take this ground are going to be the firstfruits.

What a wonderful Savior! What blood we have to carry in! We can’t go empty-handed before a King so take the blood of Jesus and don’t bother about the fruits of the ground. God isn’t pleased with us without the blood, but He is pleased to accept us because of what Jesus did.

Back to Hebrews chapter 11:

Hebrews 11:5 ‘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.’

To “translate” simply means to “change sides; to transfer to another place”. It’s probably what you thought it meant anyway. To “please” God means “to be fully agreeable; to gratify entirely”. This is the sort of person who’s going to hear a “Well done” because God is just totally sold on this person! He’s pleased; He’s fully gratified by the life that they’ve lived; this has warmed His heart. We’ve read previously, if we draw back His soul has no pleasure, but this is a person—the Enoch people are ones about whom God says, “Wow!” This is His delight!

If we turn back to Genesis, we’ll read about Enoch. I know this is familiar to you, but I’d like us to go back to Genesis chapter 5. Chapter 5 is a chapter of genealogies and they all run pretty much the same way. We could pick any one of the first six genealogies here and they all follow the same pattern. We’ll pick one at random here:

Genesis 5:9-10 ‘And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan: and Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.’

They all follow that pattern. “He lived so many years, he had a son, he had a few more sons, he lived a few more years, add it altogether, it came to this many and he died.” That’s the way the first six genealogies go. I suppose today we would say, “And Andrew was born in 1948 and he went to school; he got a job; he got married; he had kids; he carried on his job another 40 years; he drew his pension; his kids had grandchildren; and eventually he couldn’t live any longer, so he died.” That’s the story of man; it doesn’t have to be “Andrew”; you can put any name in there; that’s pretty much the story. The jobs vary; the number of kids vary and the numbers change, but that’s the story of man. That’s what we have here six times over— until we get to Enoch and Enoch breaks the mold. He is the first one to do anything different in that pattern. As we read this, this should come as a surprise to us in Enoch’s story. It has ceased to surprise us, but we’ve read six of these and nobody has done anything different until we get to Enoch. Enoch starts out in exactly the same way!

Genesis 5:21 ‘And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:’

There’s something a little bit starting to happen, because Methuselah means “when he dies, judgment” so something must have been taking place in Enoch’s heart that he would give his son such a name. I’m amazed at some of the names that they give to these guys in the Bible. Can you imagine running around in school being called “when he dies, judgment”? Maybe he was home schooled. (laughter)

Look at this beautiful change in the midst of this despairing cycle of human mortality and suddenly it says:

Genesis 5:24 ‘And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.’

And there’s something inside us that suddenly says, “Wow! It doesn’t have to be the way it’s been for everybody else! Somebody did it differently!” There isn’t the gravestone RIP (Rest in Peace)—‘and he died’—at the end of Enoch. It puts some hope in you! There’s an alternative end! The reason there’s an alternative end is because there’s a different life! We’ve already been told that the life was different so the end could be different.

How do we access this? Either we’re going to be in the run-of-the-mill existence where the story isn’t very much different from anyone else’s—born, had kids, died—or else there could be that God’s going to have some more people who access an alternative life. Well, how do you access the alternative life? What we’ve been talking about— by faith ! Something inside of us saying, “God’s got something different for me; I am not here just to repeat what everybody else is doing!”

God has called us out and separated us unto Himself so that He can perform and accomplish something different with some people. There might be six out of seven in generations before and all they could do was be born, have kids, and die, but God’s calling out a people and saying, “Look! I’ll open up something different for you and the key to it is ‘Enoch walked with God’!” And he walked with God by faith despite the fact that God, then and now, cannot be seen. I don’t believe there was any tangible manifestation of God to Enoch. Enoch just in his heart connected him with the living God and continued that connection. “He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.”

When the Apostle Paul talks about ‘praying without ceasing’, he’s clearly talking about a daily continual communication. That man was a busy man! He talks about his busyness in all the things he’s in; he said, “above all this, the care of the churches”. I go down to Africa and I send out emails when I go into Africa and I say, “Please pray for me”, but the rest of the year, I get bombarded with stuff from Africa. It takes hours every week because I’ve made connection with the saints there. I’ve been in America for a week and I’m still getting emails from Africa. Some of them are easy to answer and some of them I have to seek the Lord. It takes time. I’m sure Paul was busy and he had learned, “I’m going to walk with the Lord. I’m going to walk with the Lord. Constant communication; Lord, if you want to say something, there’s an open heart here for You to speak into.” Enoch, I think he had that. I don’t know when he got it, but sometime in it all, he linked into God by faith.

I’ve just been telling you about the access into the Holiest of All by the blood of Jesus. Here we go into the Holiest of All and now what are we going to do? How about staying there ? I don’t think it was meant to be access and egress; it’s meant to be access and that’s now where we belong.

Enoch had this testimony that ‘he pleased God’. God is looking for a people who love Him enough that they want Him; they desire that fellowship. You’ve been there, and so have I, where it’s become mechanical. You know, we go to church, we do the exercises but that’s not what I’m talking about; this is a reality in faith and knowing that things are right between me and God; I communicate with Him and perhaps less, because the hearing hasn’t got that good yet, but also He talks to me. That’s not me because I’m preaching; that’s us because we’re called to this. Enoch is set before us as another example.

Enoch’s son was Methuselah, as you know and I’ve already said that it means “when he dies, judgment”. Some people say his name means, “when he dies, it shall fall”. Enoch was aware of coming judgment. We are to be aware that judgment is coming; actually I think the judgment has started. I think what people are talking about as “credit crunch” and that sort of thing are God’s judgments and I think we are seeing the hand of God in those things.

When we read in the book of Jude, he writes about what Enoch said and it says:

Jude 14-15 ‘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.’

Enoch was really aware of the time that he lived in; he knew judgment was coming. He was the man who lived right at the end of an age. Hello? We are at the same place.

Methuselah; what do you know about Methuselah? He was the longest living man— 969 years. My mother is 93; that’s less than a tenth of Methuselah’s life. She says to me every time I see her, “I don’t know why the Lord doesn’t take me home.” My father died over five years ago and she’s ready to go. She knows the Lord and she knows where she’s going to go and she’s asking Him everyday to take her. She’s only 93! Poor Methuselah, can you imagine what it would be like to be 969? He was not in a happy environment! The wickedness of the earth was everywhere, ‘every imagination of the thoughts of men’s hearts, only evil continually’.

Methuselah, I think, was ready to go. I think he was more than ready to go! Why did he not die? Why didn’t God take him? Why was poor old Methuselah left there not just year after year, but century after century? (Someone in congregation said, “Longsuffering”.) Exactly that! You see, there was something that had to happen before Methuselah could die; the ark had to be built. The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah so that the ark could be built. As soon as the ark had been built, I believe what happened was, Methuselah died and the flood came. Certainly the same year; the people who look into these things say a year; I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same week; same month anyway. Noah buried him and got in the ark! It was the longsuffering of God. Let’s look at that in Peter, it’s really an interesting truth there.

You’ve heard it said that ‘God is not willing that any should perish’ and it’s generally spoken about anybody, anywhere. Actually, the context is not that; the context is about us. Look at it in verse 9:

2 Peter 3:9 ‘The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward , not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’

Us-ward; that’s talking about us! ‘Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’ That’s about us! The reason why God hasn’t brought judgment to this world is not because the world is not wicked enough yet. It’s simply for our sakes. He has an appointed day, I know, but in one way, we are holding things up!

The word “longsuffering” is a brilliant word; it’s the Greek word “makrothumeo”. “Makro” is the opposite of “micro”; it means “big; large in space or time”. “Thumeo” means “passion; emotion; feeling”. So what God is doing is He’s holding on to His initial great passion and feeling and love and emotion toward us as long as He possibly can; not wanting to judge us; not wanting to condemn us with everyone else who is going to drown in the flood. He’s holding back so that we can get the ark built so that He can have mercy and grace to us and bring us safely through.

But there comes a time when longsuffering will come to an end and He’ll say, “I can’t hold back in my passion anymore; I’ve got to judge!” There are going to be those who perish because they haven’t used the time of grace that’s been available and they haven’t taken advantage of the longsuffering of God, which is just simply for our sakes because He doesn’t want any of us to perish.

So, Saints! This is the time to walk with God! I don’t know what was in the heart of Enoch; I’m sure he loved to walk with God, but he also knew and had a tremendous awareness that judgment was coming! If the carrot won’t get you there, let the stick get you there! Get into God one way or another! It’s the time and He is extending grace and mercy unto us, but it only goes a certain amount of time. Longsuffering doesn’t last forever! There comes a time when He’ll say, “I have given them opportunity after opportunity after opportunity; I’ve brought My word to them; I’ve stirred their hearts; I’ve been in their meetings; I’ve moved by My Spirit and they still won’t walk with Me.”

The judgment is going to come, just as surely as it came the first time. As Peter writes in this chapter and he says, “There are people who scoff and mock and don’t take it seriously”, but it is serious.

Judgment was coming and Enoch certainly knew it, even if he didn’t know the time. He also knew the safe place. He walked with God for 300 years and if you’ve ever studied through the scriptures, you’ll know that 300 refers to the sons of God, especially when you see it in Gideon’s 300. Kevin Connor* calls it the “faithful remnant”. It indicates a vision, I think, that’s in the heart of an Enoch people that, despite all the evil that’s all around, are going to be a faithful remnant.

Remember, faith saves the soul and without faith it’s impossible to please Him. God’s going to have an Enoch people and He’s going to say, “Hey! I am entirely gratified. They’re just so agreeable to Me! My delight is in them! Hephzibah!

Bless the Lord!

 

 

*from The Temple of Solom y Kevin J. Connor

   
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