Hebrews 11:6 and Grace – Part 1
Follow-up to “Impute or Not Impute”
“For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them which diligently seek Him.”
A reader recently asked how could it be that humanity was born in “sin,” just because Adam and Eve sinned. It does not seem (to that reader) right that we did not “become sinners” by our own specific choice, in the same manner as Adam and Eve. They chose and suffered the consequences of their choice. But how could that make their descendants to be born in sin without their choice?
First let me say I am not trying to clear up doctrinal matters here, in the sense that a “doctrine” claims to be a body of truth which becomes an orthodoxy, which includes all those favorite things people like to argue over: free will, election, justification by faith, finished work of the Cross, eternal security, grace vs. law, universalism, universal salvation, etc. … the list goes on.
Regarding all those questions, I really only have one main answer in the end. To the questions, “Do you believe in free will, justification by faith, finished work of the Cross, eternal security, etc.?” my answer is, “No, I believe in God the Father, and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood of redemption brought us into fellowship with Him, and by His body we have been made righteous with His righteousness.”
That does not mean we do not discuss those things and seek to find truth in the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit. All those terms above are really just “word forms” that attempt to describe spiritual principles and certain aspects of our redemption and daily walk in Christ. It isn’t that those word forms are wrong in what they describe. It is that somewhere along the line people forgot the reality behind the word forms, a reality in which they live and experience a Spirit life, the actual living Truth which gave rise to those word forms in the first place. Once the reality of it was gone, the living-ness of it, people worshipped the word forms, as if they themselves were the Truth.
Fellowships and even whole denominations have been built on what at some point was a living witness of the Spirit, but eventually just became dead letter, rather than Spirit life. God has no grandchildren. Each generation must find Him anew, if they want to KNOW HIM in a living way.
(That is why a few years ago, when the Buntings and Wearrens, who had hosted our annual Louisville Family Weekend from the beginning, decided to make 2011, the 37th year, its last year, upon hearing about it that I immediately knew it was of the Spirit. The 37 years that meeting existed, it was an intercession for the founders, and for some of us the Spirit brought in afterward it became the same. We all, but especially the founders, experienced deaths at and for that meeting, even though no one had a clear picture of where it was all leading. It was “just doing the next thing,” in the Spirit’s walk in us. But it had accomplished its goals [the Spirit’s]; they had gained their intercession, and it was time to put it down, realizing they could not package it, transport it somewhere else and duplicate it. No, it was a one-time move of the Spirit over many years involving multitudes of people. It had run its course and accomplished the Spirit’s “goals.”)
But alas, so often it is not the case that people know when to say a work is done and move on to something else – the Holy Spirit’s next thing! No, for many the “work” becomes an idol and has to be preserved at all costs, because the “work” (fellowship, church, group, outreach, ministry, etc.) is the mechanism by which, we think, God operates. But God doesn’t “need” our work. He can snap His invisible fingers and have a “work” of any kind He likes anytime He wants. What I am describing is how “the work” takes over and becomes the “god” of those in it, and the true God is lost in the mix.
Once that happens, their word forms, “doctrines,” become sacrosanct, and they will fight and argue and cause all kinds of contention to prove their point. Many people are very well prepared in all the dead-letter scriptural “proofs” of their doctrines, ready to do battle all the time over the “true faith,” and to stamp out anything contrary in their midst.
None of that is the Spirit’s work. The Holy Spirit does not work by our doctrines. He is neither described by them nor is He bound by them. The Wind blows wherever it will, that is, wherever it decides. We cannot anticipate it nor can we follow it. The only way we can live in the Spirit is to live in His Wind, which is in total freedom and bound by nothing. (If you’re tied down the Wind can’t blow you away!) We can either become “one” with the Wind, so that where it blows so we go, or we become observers of the Wind and analyze from afar. Then we write manuals on it, and make up doctrines about it, without having ever actually done it.
But it is a simple and obvious truth that I cannot teach or point others to the truth of the Spirit Life, if it is not my reality. I can regurgitate things I read in books or hear in sermons, etc., that I “believe” are the truth, but I cannot really give them out with true spiritual conviction if I have no living experience of them. I cannot speak “with authority,” but only the “hems and haws” of the scribes and Pharisees.
Most people see the world in a very surface, almost mechanical way. Regarding Adam and Eve, hardly anyone recognizes their qualitative difference from us before they fell out of Paradise. To most, they were folks just like we are folks, but born into a special Garden God had set up, where all their needs were met and they could frolic all day if they wished. It seems like where they lived was the world’s first and best all-time resort and they were on a permanent perfect vacation or holiday!
Then they sin, and are put out. We just see them put out of the gate, wearing sort of caveman attire, dirty bodies, scratching in the dirt for their living. We see Eden as a “place” in the world, hidden at the moment, though people believe every now and then that they know where it is. But almost no one realizes that we fell out of one completely different reality into another reality, the one we in which all of us are born in the now.
When we are coming into being, we suddenly just “wake up” here, in a mindset reality created by and for unbelief. I just “popped into existence” (to myself) some time around 1953 or 54, between my second and third year. It is not a hard thing for me to know and understand that my parents “knew me” before I knew myself, since they had three years of knowing me before the “I,” the “I” that I am now, popped in. In the same way, then, God teaches us by this parable that He pre-knew us when we did not know ourselves or Him.
God’s creation has not become evil. That includes our souls and bodies but also all natural creation. But once Adam and Eve received Satan’s false mindset of independence, his chief lie and the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, that false mindset of unbelief placed an impenetrable veneer over the true reality, through which we cannot see or even penetrate.
At some point the “Christian Church” came on the scene. Most never knew about that veneer of misperception which permeated and over-shadowed all of reality in our minds. Therefore, instead of removing the false veneer overshadowing our whole reality, they simply put a Christian veneer on top of the lie.
That Christian veneer was also a lie or a misperception, because it is born in separation, and is a work of the flesh, so what we are left with at that point, is that there are two lies which we must see through, that we might come to our full wholeness. The first lie is the Christian veneer itself, born in separation, and is a non-working amalgamation of “law and grace,” and dependence upon doctrines of truth rather than the Person WHO IS Truth Himself. And the second lie, hidden underneath the first, is the lie of our own independence, self-reliance, self-effort, etc. We have gone over that quite extensively in this blog, so I won’t get into all that now. But readers who have been with me will understand.
But back to the issue of being “born in sin.”
The deeds of SIN, sins, come from unbelief. Unbelief is the blockage under which all humanity suffers. Unbelief regarding what? Not believing God and/or His Son. Jesus talked about that in John 16.
“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” (John 16:8-11).
The only sin (the sin that all the other sins come from) is that we believe not on Him. And Scripture does not equivocate on this point. It is interesting that Jesus says the Holy Spirit reproves THE WORLD for these things, instead of just the House of Israel. These convictions given by the Spirit to every man in some measure, have an effect on all of humanity in some internal way.
How can God call not believing on Him “sin,” if they do not know to do so? The answer is that we all know. If we have never heard of Jesus or the Bible, it is unlikely we would know the Gospel in that form, but we cannot place limits on the Spirit as to how He might communicate the things of God to anyone in any place. John says Christ is the “Light” that lights all men who come into the world; therefore, everyone knows in their spirits, though their flesh mind under the domination of the enemy seeks to block that out, to keep it from coming to the forefront.
I have mentioned Peter’s dream in Acts 10 and his subsequent meeting with the Roman Cornelius and his friends many times. It is one of my favorite stories. But only recently have I had an expansion of the Spirit’s Word, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (Acts 10:15). This is another Word from the Spirit that has had too little notice, but maybe its time is now. WHO has God cleansed, and how? He has cleaned us all! Not just the born-agains. He is saying there is now NO IMPEDIMENT between God and man on God’s side of things.
Man, however, needs to be reconciled in himself, not because that is God’s requirement after we have just said there are no impediments between us. To live in God we must be What and Who God is. He is God and there is no other. There is only “one with Him,” or separation in Him. Either we are God in oneness with God, or we are a separate self with a separate will, which is a cloud without water. The “requirement” is simply authenticity, something which only the real thing can produce. That’s not contradictory to grace, but grace in action!
In Christ, we are Who He is, but most of us do not know it. We are one with Him in the inner spirit, and that oneness overflows soul and body, sanctifying our whole being. But if we do not know this about ourselves, it is like having a car that we cannot drive. We have it and it is in good condition, but it sits unused in the garage, while we go off letting someone else drive us in their car. However, if we do know we are He as us, or Christ living in our form, then we can drive our car anywhere we want to go, anytime. The only difference is in one scenario we did not know, and in the other we did.
We know that at some point all of us were under the dominion of the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath.” (Eph 2:2,3).
“Unbelief,” as I am meaning it, is a word we could use to describe the opposite of Hebrews 11:6 – “For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them which diligently seek Him.”
Before I go further into Heb 11:6, I want to explain that “unbelief” is not something in itself that people “get” or “acquire,” but simply misdirected faith. Like fear is negative faith. Instead of believing the Living God, we are beset by fears which we take as truth. We are believing in the negative as a power in itself, when in actuality there is no power in any negative. That’s why it is called “negative,” because it is devoid of power.
That’s why in electricity there are two poles, positive and negative. Positive has the outgoing energy, and the negative side is simply the receiving mechanism. It receives all of its power from the Positive. If we were to affix our faith on the negative side, the “not” side, that “not-ness” becomes our truth, our reality. So the things we believed we were justified to fear, start to become “our” truths. To affix that same faith to the Positive, Christ in us, rather than the negative, swallows up the negative into it, and uses the tension in that transition to release the power of God.
I am certain that, at least in circles where personal faith is encouraged, this is one of the most often quoted verses in Scripture. I have always loved this verse, and at the same time been mystified with it, too. For a long time I did not really “get” why the Spirit phrased it that way. It seemed, first of all, to have a wisp of specific requirements in order to “get God’s approval.” It does, after all, start with, “For without faith it is impossible to please Him.” So the writer is unabashedly telling us what “pleases” God – faith!
Ah but, is He not already pleased with us? Have we not established that? This verse can seem like there have been some additions to the requirement of simple “believing on Him,” that we have known from the beginning.
It isn’t that, but more like a little bit of growing up. “Believe” is now being more narrowly defined. Not just “believe” in a general sense, but that included in “believing on Him” is now this further understanding of what that is. All this is simply another “step up” in consciousness, as the Spirit moves us from glory to glory and faith to faith.
The writer lays out two parts or understandings in believing on Him. First, that HE IS. Second, that HE IS a rewarder, or One Who keeps His Word. That might seem rather a strange requirement, not only that we believe that HE IS, but that we also must believe He is a rewarder as well. What does all that mean?
To believe that HE IS.
I think as long as I have been conscious of the term, “God,” I believed in God. Nothing especially holy or anything like that. I just thought He was part of the fabric of my childhood world. Of course so was Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Early on I let Santa and the Easter Bunny go, but not God. I didn’t “know” Him yet, but I believed He was around somewhere.
I have always said I do not believe in atheists. I believe people think they are atheists, but I have never met a person who called himself an atheist that I really believed was actually an atheist. Lots of people who claim to be atheists are often mad at God or disappointed because they thought God would do something that He didn’t do, so they decide not to believe in Him anymore out of anger.
But I do believe every human being has some place of inner knowing that “God IS,” which could be available to them. It isn’t empirical knowledge, but the earnest of the Spirit Who draws all to the Light of Christ if they will have it.
Even the devils believe, and tremble at the name of Jesus. To believe that He IS is the first “requirement” in the believing, but it only gets us halfway there. The devils believe, too! So if we both “believe,” all the devils and me, that HE IS, what is the difference?
That is the second part, and where we part with the devils. Satan believes God is a tyrant, and is just as self-for-self as he is. He cannot see anything but himself, so everything is seen in that darkness. He sees God as a taker, a promise-breaker, One Who causes suffering!
Now we see what the writer is getting at! Ah, what is the “nature” of this God in Whom we believe?
He is A blesser, a Promise-keeper, a Lover! The only way we can KNOW that is to experience it! We might read it in a book, hear it in a sermon, or even hear the word in our inner self, but when Adam knew Eve, his wife, she conceived. When we “KNOW” Him, we are “one” – mixed as one.
So we must believe that HE IS, and that HE IS a Love Person! How do I get that? Because the normal relationship one would have with a False God, as well as most human potentates, is that we believe that He is, but that we also believe He is a Punisher, because we fear Him. We fear what He can do to us. We are expected to give our lives over to him (false gods and human potentates), rather than he gives his life over to us.
But that is not our God. Our God’s purpose is to lift US up, rather than we lifting Him up. People might misunderstand what I am saying, since it might sound like I am saying don’t give glory to God, give it to man. I am saying the opposite. We certainly give glory to God. All glory forever to the Living God, the Father, Who is above all, through all, and in all.
The only way for this second aspect to be actual is that we are fixed in HIS (not “our”) glory.
When we are fixed in God’s glory, we realize He is pushing us to the forefront, encouraging us to take up the mantle of our Sonship.
Then we realize that Glory now resides in us without measure, just as Jesus said it would.
“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:22).