Abraham, the man of faith (Galatians 3:9) is said to be the father of all those who believe (Romans 4:11-12) because he was the one who discovered justification by faith (Romans 4:1-2) when ‘Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness’. – (Genesis 15:6) But faith existed on earth even before Abraham discovered it because he only found that which already existed, just as the word ‘discover’ means – to be the first to find or observe something. However, the time is coming when faith will not be found on earth any longer because the falling away (Greek: Apostasia) from the faith is happening and will continue to happen in the last days, as predicted by Jesus. “At that time many will turn away from the faith and betray and hate each other.” – (Mathew 24:10) That is why Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) Faith, which is ‘of greater worth than gold’ – (1 Peter 1:7), should be guarded at any cost, lest it be lost! There is nothing that pleases God more than faith; even more than moral perfection, because that is something God can easily get someone to achieve ‘through the sanctifying work of the Spirit’ – (1 Peter 1:2), but to get someone to believe in him, is even more difficult! There are many who seem to be good human beings, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they believe in the existence of God. That is why God requires that ‘anyone who come to him must believe he exists’. – (Hebrews 11:6) The goodness of a man, without God, is not good enough a reason for God to save him from hell, for it is the wickedness of that man which caused him to reject God in the first place! God would rather chose a deceiver like Jacob than a man like Esau who seems to be kind hearted but godless! – (Hebrews 12:16) God always chooses those whom the world wouldn’t choose because faith doesn’t count in the eyes of the world but God sees it as precious! The joy of being trusted, warms his heart more than anything else.
The first person who pleased God, as listed in Hebrews 11, is Abel ‘who by faith offered God a better sacrifice than Cain’ (Hebrews 11;4), not because he ‘brought fat portions from some of the first born of his flock’ (Genesis 4:4) but because he did so in faith, knowing that God ‘rewards those who earnestly seek him’ (Hebrews 11 :6). But Cain ‘brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord’ (Genesis 4:3) without faith. ‘Now Abel kept flocks and Cain worked the soil’ (vs 2) but what has their occupation got to do with finding favour with God? Some believe the reason why ‘the Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering’ (vs 4) is because God was pleased with a blood sacrifice ‘but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour’ (vs 5) because it was a grain or fruit offering. If we are to believe this argument, then it means that the Lord is prejudiced against certain occupations, favouring animal husbandry over agriculture! But if Abel pleased God by faith alone and not by the substance of his sacrifice, then any offering is acceptable to God. Therefore the Lord said to Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not (or will not your offering) be accepted?” (vs 7) However, the fact that Abel offered fat portions from some of the ‘first born of his flock’ proves that he took God seriously, whereas Cain didn’t care to honour God with his first fruits, just as Scripture says: ‘Honour the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.’ – (Proverbs 3:9) His action was dead because his faith was dead! If ‘faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead’, (James 2:17) then logically ‘action by itself, if it is not accompanied by faith, is dead’ as well! The Lord abhors (detests) both a ‘dead faith’ and ‘dead works’! We are commanded to ‘repent of dead works’ (Hebrews 6:1) that we have done because it didn’t make us any better!
Enoch too is said to have pleased the LORD with his faith. He began to walk with God, after the birth of his first son, because something probably might have happened that changed him forever. He named him Methuselah, to warn the world of the coming judgement by the waters for his name meant “his death shall bring forth” the judgement. ‘After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years … then he was no more, because God took him away.’ (Genesis 5:22-24) How could he walk with God unless he was in agreement with God? ‘Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?’ (Amos 3:3) By faith he walked with the One who is unseen and came to know the plan and purposes of God that he even prophesied about the second coming of Christ – (Jude vs 14-15) Then, ‘Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found because God had taken him away’ (vs 5) to be with him forever. ‘For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.’ (We too ought to be in agreement with the plans and purposes of God and please him with our faith because the day is coming when those who have ‘walked in step with his Spirit’ will not be found, because God will take them away to be with him forever – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) The list in Hebrews goes on to mention many others who pleased God with their faith and we too have nothing else to please God with, but our faith! While we are still here, we make it out desire to ‘obey his commands and do what pleases him’. – (1 John 3:22) There are many virtues that please God and we are exhorted to ‘find out what pleases the Lord’. (Ephesians 5) Our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3), our sacrifice of praise ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Hebrews 13:15) and our sharing with others (Hebrews 13:15), all please him, ‘for with such sacrifices God is pleased’. But without faith, none of these virtues can please him! No wonder Scripture says ‘without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God’. – (Hebrews 11:6) That seems to be the bedrock (foundation) of all that God intends to do in us and through us. And without faith, he cannot do anything! Jesus could not do any miracles in his hometown because of their lack of faith! – (Mark 6:5) For that matter, Jesus never returned to Nazareth again! Imagine what we stand to lose, if the Lord finds no faith in our hearts! Where the Jews failed to give him the pleasure of being trusted, the Gentiles gave! Jesus was so pleased with the faith of the Centurion and the Cannanite woman that he had to commend them in front of others so that their faith might become an object lesson for us to learn what faith means. This generation is yet to see what could be done by faith; what God can do through him who pleases God with faith! Give God the pleasure of being trusted. Amen.