But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
(Heb 11:6 NKJV)
Faith is necessary to please God
It is impossible to please God without faith; it could not be done in the Old Testament and it cannot be done now. One must believe God exists and that He will reward those who diligently seek Him. Those who do not believe this, of course, would never truly serve Him anyway.
Note that God is a rewarder. He is not just a punisher. He motivates by punishment, but also by reward. Some folks think only of punishments, as they fear the consequences of disobedience. Others think only of rewards, and even deny the existence of punishment. God clearly states His intent to give both, according to the conduct of men.
But we receive the reward only if we diligently seek Him. This requires action. Faith is not just something you have in your heart but do nothing, and yet you are rewarded. Faith must lead us to act as God has instructed. then He rewards us. This is true in all the cases found in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and it is taught in numerous places elsewhere. The faith that saves is the faith that obeys.
For other passages on obedience, see Matthew 7:21-27; 22:36-39; John 14:15,21-24; Acts 10:34,35; Romans 2:6-10; 6:17,18; Hebrews 5:9; Galatians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:22,23; 1 John 5:3; 2:3-6.
-- David Pratte
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
(Jude 1:3 NKJV)
Contend earnestly for the faith
Jude’s letter addresses an ever-present need – contend earnestly for the faith. Though most people today contentiously express their distaste for contention, this inspired writer affirms its necessity.
Everyone applauds a policeman who contends with a kidnapper to rescue a little child from an unthinkable fate. Everyone applauds a doctor who contends with an illness in order to save the life of a loved one. Jude encourages his readers to do something even more noble and necessary: contend for the faith to save a soul from eternal destruction.
“The faith” is the gospel. Consider Paul’s use of this expression in Galatians 1. In verse 23 he refers to “the faith which he now preaches. But in verse 11 he calls it “the gospel” that he preached and declares that it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In one sense the gospel does not need to be defended. Its truth will stand forever (compare Matthew 24:35). Nothing can destroy God’s word. Truth is truth.
Why, then, does Jude instruct his readers to contend earnestly for the gospel? “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemna-tion, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Evil men attack the gospel, but they cannot harm its truth. They can, however, do eternal damage to the souls of Jude’s readers.
Paul affirms that he is appointed for the defense of the gospel (Philippians 1:16). Jude exhorts us to join this faith by contending earnestly for the faith. Our motive is to save those who are being misled by “ungodly men” (Jude 4).
Jude tells us that this faith was “once for all delivered to the saints.” There will never be another gospel to replace this one. The same message that saved people in the first century also saves people in the twenty-first century.
Jude speaks of “our common salvation” because it applies to all people on earth, then and now, whether Jew, Greek, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free (Colossians 3:11). God never intended that each of us should choose his own way. There is only one way that saves (John 14:6). Every other road leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
May God bless our efforts to contend earnestly for the faith.
-- Rick Duggin
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Heb 10:24,25 NKJV)
Not forsaking our assembling together
The author is in the midst of admonitions intended to challenge the Hebrews to stay faithful to God and not be influenced to leave the gospel and return to the Old Testament (see Heb. 10:23 and verses throughout the book). He earlier admonished them that, to accomplish what was needed, they must exhort one another daily to not fall away, as the nation of Israel had done (3:12-14). He now emphasizes again the fact that we must consider the need we have to be exhorted and stirred up to love and good works. Every Christian needs to receive this stirring up, and every Christian is responsible to meet this need for others.
One of the best circumstances in which to give and receive this exhortation is when the church meets together. New Testament congregations provided opportunities, not just on the first day of the week, but at other times as well, for Christians to meet to be admonished and to admonish one another (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 11:26; 1 Corinthians 14; James 2:1ff).
This passages tells us that the individual Christians have a responsibility regarding these meetings. That responsibility is both positive and negative: (1) We are not to forsake them, and (2) we are to exhort one another in these meetings. Please note that it is not just the church’s duty to conduct meetings. It is the individuals’ duty to be present to receive the benefit of those meetings, so we are encouraged to hold fast and not fall away (Heb. 10:23). We cannot simply think of this as something the church does. We have a personal responsibility to be involved.
Further we see that the assemblies exist to meet a need: so the members can exhort one another and stir one another up to love and good works. This immediately tells us that assemblies should be so designed as to accomplish this purpose. If exhortation and stirring up are what the assemblies are for, then our activities should accomplish that and not be distracted to unscriptural goals (such as pleasing the people’s desire for entertainment, etc.). And if exhortation, etc., is the purpose, then the members should attend and participate so as to accomplish this purpose.
-- David Pratte
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
(Rom 1:16 NKJV)
The Gospel, God's Power to Salvation
This passage, consisting of four parts, contains Paul’s inspired pronouncement about God’s gospel. Paul affirms –
- He is not ashamed of this gospel. Does he expect intelligent people to believe such amazing claims as the Lord’s virgin birth, His resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and His plan of salvation? As a matter of fact, many in Rome have already embraced these facts. Paul will give others the opportunity to do so.
- The gospel is God’s power of God to save from sin. Some deny this statement.
- Skeptics deny the truthfulness of the gospel.
- Those who affirm a direct operation of the Holy Spirit deny the power of the gospel. If the Holy Spirit directly saves the sinner, even apart from the gospel, then Paul is wrong in this assertion.
- Some affirm that modern miracles, not the word of God, make believers. Would the Holy Spirit actually lead someone to deny what Paul says here? The Lord’s miracles are preserved in written form so that readers may believe (John 20:30-31).
- This gospel is for everyone. Both Jews and Gentiles received it and were saved by it. They still are.
- The gospel contains conditions for salvation. It brings salvation to everyone who believes. If salvation were unconditional, everyone would be saved and, again, the gospel would be irrelevant.
Paul does not teach salvation by belief alone. He later affirms that “the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). He adds, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). The same epistle shows the necessity of baptism. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3).
We learn all these facts through the gospel, for it is God’s power to salvation.
-- Rick Duggin
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
(Rom 3:23 NKJV)
all have sinned
Paul brings bad news. In Romans 1 he shows that Gentiles are guilty of sin and are under the wrath of God. In Romans 2 he shows that Jews are just as guilty as Gentiles and are just as deserving of God’s wrath. In chapter 3 he quotes various Old Testament passages that affirm the same bad news of everyone. All are guilty of sin against a holy God.
Paul does not publish this bad news because he likes to upset people, but because –
- If he does not reveal our true condition, we will never embrace the remedy (the gospel) that can save us.
- Many think that they can save themselves by their own righteousness. If this belief were true, why should they seek the gospel, God’s power that saves us (Romans 1:16)?
- He must expose our guilt to prevent us from justifying ourselves in our sins. His gospel highlights our sinful condition in order to shut the mouths that profess innocence (Romans 3:19).
Paul describes our state as falling short of the glory of God. Only the holy can share God’s glory. But if all are sinful, as both Romans and others passages affirm, we are without hope…unless God comes to our rescue. And this is where the good news of the gospel comes in.
Paul, like a good physician, diagnoses the patient accurately. The patient must know the bad news before he will embrace the good news.
The greatest news in the world is that Jesus the Christ died for our sins that we may come to Him in His appointed way and live with Him in heaven forever. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Thank God for His good news.
-- Rick Duggin
See The Power of a 100 Scriptures for similar content on other passages.