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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 4

One Way

3. I must now say a few words about Enoch's motive. He walked with God; and you will ask me, "What was the secret cause of it, what was the hidden spring and principle which influenced him, that we may go forth and do likewise?" Beloved, God has told us plainly in the Epistle to the Hebrews - it was faith. Faith was the seed which bore such goodly fruit; faith was the root of his holiness and decision on the Lord's side - faith without which there has never been any salvation, faith without which not one of you will ever enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Now this faith is no mystery; it is neither more nor less than a thorough belief of the heart.

Enoch believed that as a child of Adam he was  himself born a sinner and deserving of nothing but wrath and condemnation; he believed that his first parents had forfeited all right to eternal life, and that he as one of their descendants had inherited a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. He did not merely look upon himself as naturally very thoughtless and liable to be led away by bad company, and the like, as many of you are content to do, but he went further, he looked within and laid the blame on the old Adam, the corrupt fountain of his own heart; he really believed himself to be a miserable sinner.

But Enoch believed that God had graciously provided a way of salvation, that He had appointed a great Redeemer to bear our sins and carry our transgressions and bruise the serpent's head. He saw clearly that without this he had not the slightest chance of being saved, whatever he might do; he looked far forward, and in his mind's eye he saw a long way off the Messiah that was yet to come to pay the ransom of the world, and he built all his hopes on Him. Enoch believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And Enoch believed that God was a God of perfect holiness, "of purer eyes than to behold iniquity." He never held with those who said, "You are righteous overmuch, the Lord will not be so very particular, we need not be so very strict, men cannot be always keeping watch over themselves;" for he trembled at the thought of allowing himself in any shadow of impurity or unrighteousness; and though he never dreamed of setting up his own works as anything worth, though he rejoiced in the hope of salvation by free grace, still he believed that he who walks with God and would have eternal life must be holy even as He is holy.

And Enoch believed that God would one day come to judge the world and give to all men according to their works. Though iniquity abounded and the love of many waxed cold, and all things seemed to go on as if God took no notice of this earth, he still believed the Lord would come to take account in such an hour as no one expected Him; in faith he saw the judgment close at hand, and he walked with God as one waiting for it. He lived as if he felt this was not his rest; he looked beyond the things which are seen to that abiding city which remaineth for the people of God; by faith he saw that heaven was his only home and in the Lord's presence alone was fullness of joy. Such was the ruling principle which possessed this holy man of old. Oh that you would pray earnestly for a like precious faith! Without it you will never walk in Enoch's way, and so you will never come to Enoch's end.

4. And this leads me, in the last place, to speak about Enoch's end. We are simply informed in the text that "He was not, for God took him." The interpretation of this is, that God was pleased to interfere in a special manner on His servant's behalf, and so He suddenly removed him from this world without the pains of death, and took him to that blessed place where all the saints are waiting in joyful expectation for the end of all things, where sin and pain and sorrow are no more.

And this, no doubt, was done for several reasons. It was done to convince a hard-hearted, unbelieving world that God does observe the lives of men and will honor those who honor Him. It was done to show every living soul that satan had not won a complete victory when he deceived Eve; that men may yet get to heaven by the way of faith, and although in Adam all die, still in Christ all may be made alive. Yes, beloved, Enoch walked with God, and so God took him. Here was a splendid and a comforting assurance that the Lord's eye is upon all His children, that there is a heaven and a life to come, that there is a reward for the righteous, though men may laugh at them, and their walk is not fashionable, and their way is spoken against and their seriousness is despised. Oh, cast not away your confidence, ye that walk with God: it is but a little season and He that shall come will come and take you to an everlasting rest.

And now, beloved, I do beseech you all, if you care about your souls, - if you really desire to go to heaven, - if you really have the slightest wish to die in peace, and rise in glory, and join the company of the just, - I do beseech you ask yourselves the question, "Am I walking with God? Am I in that way which Enoch and all the saints have walked in?" How many among you have one grain of that living faith which guided this holy man's feet into the way of peace?

Would you have me suppose they are walking with God who live in any known sin which the Bible condemns? Are they walking with God who regard Him and His service in second place and the care of this world's matters in the first? Are they who never think, and say to each other "Never mind this anxiety - I dare say we shall be right at last"? Are they who neglect any means of grace which God has placed within their reach, or let the most trifling excuse prevent their using it? Are they who profess to know the Lord and believe in Jesus, but do not make Jesus their example? Oh! no, no! It is impossible; all such must be walking away from God; day after day they get farther from Him, and at last, unless they turn, they will walk right into hell.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 5)

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