"So then faith cometh by hearing,
and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).
Most men have always been of the
opinion that God has required of them that they DO SOMETHING. However, God has
chosen not to have man do something but believe something. God speaks - man's
responsibility is to believe that which God speaks. Our text tells us that faith
is hearing God and believing what He says. Since man's beginning, God has
communicated with him at "Sundry times and in divers manners."
Whenever God thus communicated with man, it has been man's responsibility to
believe the report which came from God. God has placed an extremely high premium
upon His Word. Faith believes the report which comes from God.
Notice even in God's earliest dealings
with man, He says to Adam, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely
eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of
it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis
2:17). God tested Adam by giving him something specific to believe. Present
Truth for Adam in the garden was to freely eat of every tree except one, and in
the day that he would take a bite of the one exception he would surely die.
Eve knew of this because Adam told her
about the "free-trees" and about the one which was forbidden. She
talks with the Serpent about what God had said. Of course she got God's Word all
messed up. She forgot to say they could eat freely (Genesis 3:2); she added to
what God said, for she told the Serpent that they could not touch the forbidden
tree (v. 3). Also there was a lack of respect for the words God chose to use,
for she says, "lest ye die." When God spoke to Adam, He was much more
emphatic for He said, "Thou shall surely die." The difference was that
she didn't say what God had said but rather what she wanted Him to have said.
"Lest ye die" radiates the "law of
chance "and" statistical probability" to which the modern day Ph.D.
loves to refer to when he deals with dogmatic truth from God, such as
As Genesis 3 is read, you become aware
with man's desire to acquire knowledge. The Serpent appeals to Eve's desire to
know, "In the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye
shall be as the gods, knowing good and evil" (v. 5). The forbidden tree was
the "tree of knowledge."
If Eve could only know, for she thought
"seeing is believing," like most of her present day children. What we
see is what we know. Note the connection in this as the Serpent connected seeing
and knowing, "in the day ye eat. . .your eyes shall be opened. . .knowing
good and evil." Thus, what is seen is what is known. That was Eve's
interest. God was interested in FAITH. Faith is believing what God said.
Adam did not hearken unto what God said
regarding the tree of knowledge, but instead he hearkened unto the voice of his
wife and did eat. Present Truth for Adam and Eve in the garden was to eat freely
of every tree in the garden except one, for in the day that they would eat
thereof they "shalt surely die." After they were expelled from the
garden it was no longer Present Truth. Evidently, they were told not to enter
into the garden again because a Cherubim was placed east of the garden to guard
the way back to the Tree of Life.
Adam's sons, Cain and Abel, received a
report from God. They were not told to eat freely of every tree but one because
the Truth connected with the garden was Truth which belonged to the past. God
spoke to Cain and Abel concerning a sacrificial lamb. God must have spoken to
them concerning the offering of a lamb, for Hebrews 11:4 says, "By faith
Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." Note that it
was BY FAITH: for it to have been by faith, God had to have spoken about it.
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing (cometh) by the word of
God" (Romans 10:17). Had not God spoken to Abel and Cain concerning it, it
would have been by chance or fancy or imagination. It most certainly could not
have been by faith.
A close reading of Genesis 4 and
Hebrews 11:4 reveals that God told both Cain and Abel to bring a blood sacrifice
to an altar at an appropriate time. The two boys had the responsibility to
believe all that God had said. They were to believe that which God had spoken to
their parents in the garden. They were to distinguish, however, that God was no
longer speaking on the basis of "Garden Truth" but rather on different
grounds. Truth relating to the garden was now set aside. The basis for God
dealing with man was changed. Consequently, the latest report from God was
different from the previous one which had been made known to their parents in
Abel believed the latest report from
God and brought at the appointed time the proper sacrifice to which God had
respect. Cain, at the appointed time, brought a bloodless sacrifice to which God
did not have respect. Abel brought what God said, therefore, his was by faith.
Cain did not bring what God said was acceptable, but rather Cain brought what he
imagined would please God. Cain brought the fruit of his labor; i.e. vegetables
from the ground. Abel offered the "blood of the lamb"; Cain brought
"turnips": you "can't get blood out of a turnip." Remember
— for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Hebrews
God did not have respect to Cain's
offering because it was not BY FAITH. It could be said that Present Truth in
Cain and Abel's day was the bringing of a lamb to the altar and the shedding of
its blood. By the shedding of the lamb's blood, it signified that Abel
identified himself with the lamb, and that the lamb was dying in Abel's stead as
Abel's substitute. God accepted Abel in the person of his substitute. It could
be said that this establishes man's means of access to God, i.e. by means of
blood. The blood of an innocent substitute provides the way of access to God.
This is a principle which culminates finally in God offering His Own Son as
God's Lamb. God's Lamb sheds His blood for the sin of the world.
After Abel offered the acceptable
sacrifice and others learned that the means of access to God was by blood, we
learn of a subsequent revelation given to man. This revelation concerned an
impending judgment and a way of escape. This was proclaimed by the Prophet
Enoch. "And Enoch also, the 7th from Adam, prophesied of these
saying,..." Notice, "prophesied" clearly indicates God spoke to
Enoch telling him what to say. Enoch believed God and prophesied saying,
"Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints to execute
judgment upon all..." (Jude 14). Genesis 5 informs us that he walked with
God for 300 years after he begat Methuselah. This indicates that Enoch was in
agreement with what God told him. "Can two walk together, except they be
agreed?" (Amos 3:3). Of course the answer is emphatically no! For 300 years
Enoch prophesied, believing all that God revealed to him.
Enoch believed the truth regarding the
"blood of the lamb" as the means of access to God. He believed a
subsequent revelation from the Lord which caused him to walk with God; being in
full agreement with what God had made known unto him. That is the example of a
WALK OF FAITH.
Faith is progressive. Enoch's faith did
not stop with the sacrifice; it moved on and believed the latest report from
God. It concerned the judgment and the escape. By FAITH he was translated. In
Plainer Words, God rewarded Enoch according to his faith. Since his translation
was BY FAITH, the Lord must have spoken him about it. Enoch believed what he
heard from God concerning the translation, therefore, it was by faith. Faith was
not the vehicle that translated Enoch but rather the grounds for God taking him.
Enoch had the testimony before his translation, "that he pleased God
(Hebrews 11:5). It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). It
is apparent that if any others had; believed, they too would have been
translated. Present Truth in Enoch's day consisted of:
1. a substitutionary sacrifice and
2. a translation of saints
Probably, as today, many believed the
report about the "blood of the Lamb" but did not specifically believe
truth that related to the Present. As it is today, there are many who believe
Jesus Christ was God's Lamb and that He bore away the sin of the world, but they
never get any further in their Christian life than the cross. They never
progress in faith any further than the Sacrifice. They can never "walk with
God" because they did not agree with Him regarding His present purposes.
Many are trying to bring in a Kingdom, many are attempting to spread one, and
some are praying for one to come; all of which are dispensationally incorrect.
The vast majority of Christians ignore the truth concerning the Great Secret
made known to Paul, the prisoner, "by revelation." This concerns an
invisible church over which Christ Jesus is Head. Those who walk with God
believe the latest report from Him. The latest report from God was written by
the pen of Paul, the Prisoner of the Lord. But most act as though the Prison
Epistles are not in the Bible; many don't even know what are the Prison
Others knew of Enoch's translation for
he spoke of it for years as he warned of the impending judgment. He walked with
God and was not: for God took him. Hebrews 11:5 says that Enoch "was not
found." This speaks to us of the fact that those who believed enough to
have their sins taken care of by the sacrifice of an innocent' lamb, did not
believe the additional report concerning the translations.
In Hebrews 11, Noah follows Enoch in
the list of the "elders" who had obtained a good report by believing
all that God had revealed. A study of Noah reveals that he had Abel's faith, and
he also had the faith of Enoch. That's not all, he had something more. He was
given additional revelation from God. He was called upon believe something more
than Abel and Enoch were required to believe. He was given additional
information on the judgment. He was told that it would be by water. He was told
that God would use water from heaven (rain). Hebrews 11 tells us how the
"report," which Noah believed, was heard. His faith came by
"hearing" this report. The report came to him by the Word of God:
"So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." There was no other way for Noah to have known about the flood and how he was
to have been delivered out of it.
He was told to build an ark. God even
told him how it was to be done. 2 Peter 2:5 says that Noah '3 a preacher of
righteousness. He preached concerning the coming judgment. He warned of things
not seen as yet. I would imagine that, as a preacher, he told how to be
delivered through the flood that was to come. Many, perhaps, in his day even
showed signs of initial faith in Present Truth. They probably ordered the lumber
and began to build them an ark. But they grew "weary in well doing",
their intentions were good, however, they never got around to finishing it. The
day the rains began, perhaps many back yards had the makings of arks in them.
Noah, however, "prepared an ark to the saving of his house" - note
that it was BY FAITH. It could not be said that others prepared one by faith,
for they did not finish theirs. Many today treat Present Truth, as did those in
Noah's day. Many start out but are "moved away from the hope of the
gospel." They fail to "make their calling and election sure" (2
Peter 1:10). It could be said in Noah's day that only his household believed
Present Truth for the four examples
given could be outlined thusly:
1. Adam - free trees vs. forbidden one
2. Cain and Abel - the blood sacrifice
3. Enoch - translation before the
4. Noah - the ark to go through the
It was required of each to believe all
that had been revealed previously. It was absolutely imperative for each to
believe specifically what God had spoken to them. Each one was called upon to
believe Present Truth. Truth relating to Adam was not truth relating to Cain,
Abel, Enoch, or Noah. This study is to point the reader to the necessity of
rightly dividing truth. May these examples illustrate the fact that God at
different times spoke to different people concerning different subjects. Each
was required to believe all that God had revealed, especially that which was
spoken as an additional revelation.
The latest report from God is found in
the epistles written by Paul the Prisoner. God speaks to the church of the one
body today, not audibly, nor in visions, nor in dreams, but through His
word. Truth for today comes to us in the Prison Epistles.