2021-4-25 “I Believe in God”

Cornerstone EPC                                                                         Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                     April 25, 2021

“I Believe in God”
Hebrews 11:6

        Today we being our main sermon series for 2021—a series on the affirmations contained in the Apostles’ Creed—which we confessed earlier this hour.  This creed, confessed in many a Bible-believing church today, has existed in its current form since about 700—with antecedent roots extending back long before that.  Today we treat the first affirmation: namely, I believe in God.  Let us give our full attention to the reading and preaching of God’s Word—today, a single verse from Hebrews 11—in this place.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

        Our verse occurs within Hebrews 11—a chapter of Scripture that well may be described as the Spiritual Hall of Fame chapter.  We read of such luminaries as Noah, Abraham, and Moses, among others—and the faith in God that they exhibited in their works.  In fact, their God-given faith (Ephesians ii.8-9) in Himself is the sole ground for the Holy Spirit’s commendation, via the inspired author of Hebrews.  More particularly, our text forms a part of Hebrews 11:5-6, in which the Lord commends Enoch, the seventh from Adam (Genesis 5:18, 21-24; Jude 14), for his faith.  Enoch, singularly among the primeval patriarchs, walked with God—and, in token of this, God took him bodily into Heaven at the age of three hundred sixty-five.[1]

        Within this commendation of Enoch, then, we have our primary lesson today: Without faith it is impossible to please God.  The Apostle Paul, at the end of his stinging, Spirit-led indictment of mankind (Romans 3:9-20), assures us that, by works of the Law, no one will be justified (Romans 3:20).  Faith in the Lord Jesus, and faith in Him alone, justifies—consistent with the cry of the Protestant reformers, Sola fide.

        We unpack more about this in the balance of today’s text.  Whoever would draw near to God must, first, believe (Greek pisteuo [pisteuw]).[2]  To believe, in the New Testament sense, is to hold that something is true and worthy to be trusted—and to do this to the extent of complete trust and reliance.  The ultimate sense of believe, as here described, is to believe the Good News about Jesus Christ and follow Him.  This is belief generally; let’s move forward now.

        The one pleasing God, by faith, must believe that He exists.  Our triune God existed in the beginning (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1).  Hence, He existed in eternity past.  At the burning bush, God declared to Moses His essential Name, Yahweh (or I AM WHO I AM, Exodus 3:14).  This name of God declares His self-existence, and that in the present—right now.  Moses, led by the Spirit of God, declares that He is God from everlasting to everlasting He is God (Psalm 90:2).  Hence, not only does God exists from eternal past until now, but He will exist into the infinitely eternal future.  God-given belief in these truths please God, but there is still more.

        The one pleasing God, faith, not only must believe that He exists, but he must believe that God rewards those that seek Him.  God, literally, is the one who rewards (Greek misthapodotes [misqapodothV]).  This Greek word cuts both ways: God rewards those seeking Him with favorable things, but He rewards those spurning Him in unfavorable ways.  Now let’s think a bit more about what it means to seek the Lord.  The Greek word here rendered seek (Greek ekzeteo [ekzhtew]) connotes diligent seeking; no mere surface glance will do here.

        The notion that God rewards those who seek Him diligently is no new one, even at the time this letter was penned (ca. A. D. 65-70).  The prophet Jeremiah, writing the words of the Lord to God’s Old Testament Church exiled in Babylon, writes, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).  Jesus, much nearer to the time of the writing of Hebrews, teaches in His Sermon on the Mount, “Ask, and you will receive.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and it will be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).  Indeed, good things come to those who seek God diligently.

        By the grace of God, I believe in God.  Do you?  If not, then cry out to God.  Cry out to Him for the faith to believe in Him, as did the father of the demon-possessed son in the Gospel, “Lord, I believe.  Help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).  Cry out to Him for the trust necessary to rest in Him as Savior.  Cry out to Him for the humility to surrender to Him as Lord.  Be comforted, as you come to God, by the words of God incarnate, Jesus Christ, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).

        If you have done these things already—and, thus, have believed in God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, then thank Him for the faith whereby you believe on Him.  Then continue walking with Him and following after Him in discipleship.  Also, beloved one in Christ, rest in His great presence, power, and promises—both for time and in eternity.  Finally, proclaim Him—proclaim, “I believe in God”—with lips and with life, as the Lord enables.  May God be glorified, may saints be edified, and may those not yet believing be moved by the Spirit to want Him Who has you in His hand as Savior and as Lord.

                                                                                                                    AMEN.

[1]     The other Biblical figure translated bodily into Heaven (apart from Jesus, of course) was Elijah.  Some think that the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:1 ff. are Enoch and Elijah, for they tasted not death while upon the earth.

[2]     For this extended discussion of the Greek verb rendered to believe, I am indebted, as usual, to Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Socieities, 1989).