Summary: This is rule number one. If we do this, all others will fall into place.
This week and next week we will summarize what God’s word teaches us about growing closer to God and closer to one another through our recent study in Genesis 1-22.
But to start us off, let’s go first to the New Testament look at the first part of Hebrews chapter 11 where we see all the familiar characters of Genesis 1-22 again. We start with the first verse.
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith, but more than that it give us a couple of words that sum up the main message in our theme from Genesis.
The KJV and NKJV translates Hebrews 11:1 this way: Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
If you compare this verse in other translations you will see that the words “substance” and “evidence” are rich with meaning. Listen to some of the translations of this verse:
NASB & ESV Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
NIV Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
WEB Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.
The two words in Hebrews 11:1 are hypostasis which occurs 5 times in the New Testament, 3 of which are in Hebrews, and elenchos, which occurs only once.
So here we have these two – first, the substance, the assurance, the confidence, and second, the evidence, the conviction, the assurance, the proof.
Now, I would like to suggest that closeness to God is the substance, etc. and closeness to one another is the evidence. In fact, the very theme of all of the Bible is summed up in these two concepts of relationship with God and one another.
Today let’s look at the first part of this, growing closer to God. From Adam to Abraham what did we see? From Creation of the universe to God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, what did we learn? What did God’s word show us about our relationship with God and its impact on our lives?
There can be no mistake, God made us with the intent that we would be close to Him. God desires us to walk with Him. God’s plan for our lives is that we seek Him and find Him and that we discover afresh our deepest needs met in knowing Him. Loving God is the substance. It is the assurance. It produces the confidence of faith. Growing closer to God is THE big point of our lives. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. The greatest commandment is this: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength. This is it. Where there is no love for God, there will be no saving faith. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God… WAIT! HE WHO WHAT? He who comes to God… COMES TO WHO? He who comes TO GOD. To God? Yes, to God! Why would anyone want to come to GOD????
Because that is what we were created for. He who comes to God, must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who seek Him. Who what? Who seek Him. SEEK WHO? Who seek Him, seek God. SEEK GOD? Yes, seek God. Excuse me, why would anyone want to seek God?
Because that is what we were created for. What does God do for those that seek Him? He rewards them. He what? He rewards them. Why does God reward those who seek Him? Because God loves us and wants us to grow closer to Him.
Let’s reflect on the journey in Genesis that we have covered thus far.
We began in Genesis 1 looking at how our relationship with God began. God created all things and then made man and woman in His own image and likeness. God created us for His pleasure. He designed us for His divine purposes. We are spiritual creatures, put here on this planet by God and for God. It’s not about you. It’s about Him. We begin our relationship with God by divine design to fill the earth with God’s image and care for it as He would. Our first love, our very source of life, is not another human being, but God Himself. If we lived life fully as it was intended, we would walk with God as beloved children and enjoy His presence and do His will and share this with every other human being. David said in Psalms 63 (read)
In Genesis 2 we discussed the beginning of our relationship with one another. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Then God caused Adam to sleep and took a piece of his side and fashioned a woman and brought her to Adam. When he saw her he said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman for she was taken from man.” God designed us to enjoy relationships with one another, and he blessed them and said, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. This is the original marriage and family. We are all children of Adam and Eve. Eve is the mother of all the living. Adam is the fountain head of the human race. No, we are not from monkeys. We did not come from an ameba. Our ancestry has an original pair. When we love God and are led by God our relationships are constructive and bring God glory and us good. When our relationships are NOT led by God, they quickly become corrupted and destructive. Growing closer to God is essential to our well-being. Distance from God brings disaster to us.