PART 1 THE SPIRITUALITY PUZZLE
PART 1 THE SPIRITUALITY PUZZLE
Recently, I had a discussion with my daughter Renee, who attends a non-denominational Christian church, as to what would be the protocol for an unbeliever to have a relationship with God? And if they did, what would be needed in order to have fellowship with Him? I thought the answer to both questions would be rather easy to explain. However, what I soon realized was that she had quite a different perspective on the answers to both of these questions. While I have my own opinion concerning what these answers would be, I’m aware that there are different belief systems in this regard. Here are a few of them in respect to what constitutes a believer having a relationship with God.
An unbeliever can have a personal relationship with God if:
- They please Him by performing good works, whether it’s delineated under the Mosaic Law or under a system of religion.
- They’re sprinkled with water as a baby or are immersed in it as an adult.
- They repent (acknowledge and turn) from their sins and believe in Jesus.
- They repent (acknowledge and turn) from their sins, believe in Jesus, are baptized in water, and perform godly works.
There’s a lot to consider here. Where should we begin? Probably the first thing we should do is take a look at what constituted someone having a personal relationship with God in the different ages (the Age of the Gentiles, the Age of Israel, and the Incarnation of Christ) that occurred before the one we’re currently living in now, which is called the Church Age.
While this might not be the most exciting subject to study, it’s crucial because what we’re really asking is what constitutes salvation or what is salvation? This means different things to different faiths. Maybe we could define it as being the message or protocol that will cause someone truly to find God, who will change their lives and provide a better place for them to reside when they die. If there’s such a message or protocol, wouldn’t we want to know what it is for ourselves and share it with others?
For those people who lived in the Old Testament, did they find God? Did He change their lives, and did they go to a better place at death? Let’s find out.
What Caused Enos, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham to Have a Relationship and Fellowship with God?
What caused an unbeliever during this age to have a relationship with Yahweh?
What caused a believer during this age to have fellowship with Yahweh?
Since I’ll be teaching on this topic dispensational, we should know what the word dispensation means.
A dispensation is a period of time expressing the divine viewpoint of human history. During each dispensation, God entrusts gospel dissemination to specific people. Failure to fulfill their responsibilities causes God to end one dispensation and usher in a new one.1
We’ll begin by taking a look at the dispensation known as the Age of the Gentiles. This is a period of time from Adam and Eve to the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses. Let’s take a look at some of the people mentioned in the Bible who had a relationship with God and try to determine what the basis for it was. And by the way, the God they believed in was called Jehovah (Yahweh). Furthermore, if they maintained continual fellowship with Him, what was it that brought this about? And finally, if they had no fellowship or had fellowship with Him for a limited time, did this affect their relationship with Him?
The first person that we’ll look at is a man named Enos. Have you ever heard of him? I haven’t. Let’s see what we can find out about him.
Suggested Reading: Genesis 4:25-26
Who is Enos? Enos is the grandchild of Adam and Eve, the son of Seth, who was their third son, the other two being Abel and Cain. Did Enos have a relationship with God (Yahweh), and if he did, how did this happen?
25-26 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.
The Scriptures tell us that during the time of the birth of Enos, then began men to call upon the name of the Lord. Some commentators believe there was a revival going on. The public worship of God had begun in the days of Enos to be attended to with greater zeal, more heartfelt devotion, and more profound solemnity by the godly portion of mankind.2 The words to call upon seem to have an expansive meaning, such as to believe in Yahweh, to worship Yahweh through praises and prayer, or to obey Yahweh by offering animal sacrifices. Those who were of this persuasion were known as the sons of God. Those who wanted nothing to do with God were called the children of men.
What was the basis for Enos having a relationship with God (Yahweh)?
This is unclear. However, whatever it was, it appeared that when he was physically born, those who already had a relationship with Yahweh were recognized by calling (proclaiming) His name.
The next person we’ll look at is Enoch. Have you ever heard of him? I have, but I really haven’t spent any time looking at his life.
Suggested Reading: Genesis 5:21-22
Enoch is the great-grandson of Enos. Apparently, he was an unbeliever for sixty-five years. And then, after the birth of his son Methuselah, who lived the longest of any human being, he walked with God for three hundred years and had more children.
21-22 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
It’s pretty obvious that something significant happened in his life. Apparently, he had an encounter with God. This wasn’t a short-term allegiance. He continued following the Lord until the day of his death. Scripture tells us that he walked with God. What does this mean? The word walked tells us that he fellowshipped with God. In what manner? It doesn’t say, but there are other verses that we can look at which might provide us with some insight. One of them is found in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
This tells us that because he lived a life of faith, he was translated (removed from the earth; didn’t partake of physical death); and before he was removed, he had this testimony (witness) that he pleased God. The word pleased indicates a few things: that his conduct was pleasing to God,3 that he caused God to be happy because of what [he’d] done, and that [he’d] pleased God's heart.4 In what ways did he evidence this pleasing? There’s only one mentioned, which is found in the book of Jude.
Jude 14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
One of the things that he did was prophesy. About what? He prophesied (predicted) that the Lord would come with a countless number of holy angels to judge all the people of the earth. This begs the question, was this talking about the future judgment of the flood which would destroy most of mankind save Noah and his family (a total of eight people) in approximately three hundred fifty years? Or, was this talking about the final judgment when all people would come before Him to be judged, not for their sins, but as to whether they had a relationship with Him?
This could possibly refer to both judgments. However, I’m more inclined to believe that this prophecy was about the cataclysmic flood because of the use of the word convince, which means to pronounce a sentence on them as the result of the evidence of their guilt.5 In Genesis 6:5, the evidence of their guilt was in their wickedness, whose origin was from their thought processes.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
While we don’t have a clear indication as to how Enoch had a relationship with God, what we do know is that he received a prophetic revelation of a future judgment that he proclaimed. I wonder what else God put on his heart to announce to unbelievers at this time? Did any of his kids or relatives who heard about this future judgment respond to the gospel protocol and have a relationship with Yahweh? Just think about that. He walked with God for three hundred years. I wonder what kind of responses he got from his prophetic message.
The next person we’ll look at is one that I’m sure most people living in America have heard about whether or not they’ve had a relationship with God. Who is this, you ask? Think of a big boat.
Noah was the great-grandson of Enoch. Most of us have heard of him because of a huge boat he was commissioned by God to build, but what else is written about him that we don’t know about?
Suggested Reading: Genesis 6:8-14
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
This verse tells us that he found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Found grace? Let’s first take a look at the word found. The word found has a very unique meaning in that it tells us that Noah "received" — something he did not seek.6 This tells me that if he didn’t seek it, then whatever it was, God must have offered it to him. What did God offer him? It doesn’t tell us, but the result of what he received was that it caused him to find grace (favor or acceptance) with Him. What did he receive? I don’t know, but remember, it was something he didn’t seek, which, when he received it, caused him to find favor with Yahweh.
Did Noah have a relationship with God? Could we say that the Scriptures imply that he did, but as yet, we just don’t have any clear indication as to what the protocol was which caused this to take place? However, what we do know is that Scripture gives evidence of this relationship by presenting the decisions he made following it, which clearly indicates there was God-favor in his life.
9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
This tells us that Noah was a just man. The word just means someone who was blameless in character and conduct, one whom his neighbors couldn't find fault with.7 What else was he? Was he perfect? We know there’s only one person who is perfect. This word means that he never departed from the truth in principle or practice.8 And finally, he walked with God. In other words, he had continual fellowship with Him. What a testimony!
What specifically did he do, which evidenced that he had a relationship with Yahweh? God conveyed to him that he was to make an ark that would provide safety from a cataclysmic flood. His response was that he got right to work on it.
14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
And besides undertaking this vast project, he did something else which was just as important.
2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
He preached or announced to the ungodly (to unbelievers) of righteousness, of repentance, of living according to God's will and purpose.9
One thing that we’re told which we weren’t able to answer when looking at the lives of Enos and Enoch is, what was it that caused Noah to have fellowship with God? We can find out about this in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
All that he did, the condition of his heart, and becoming an heir (partaker) of the righteousness (of righteousness in conduct; experiential righteousness), was by faith (his will acted on what God told him10). So, now we know what served as the basis for Noah having fellowship with God. He operated by faith. We still don’t know how an unbeliever in the Old Testament had a relationship with Yahweh. I think we’ll find this out when we look at the next person who is known as the father of our faith.
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
Abram was a distant descendant of Shem, one of Noah’s three sons. Yahweh called him to leave his country, the Ur of the Chaldees, unto a land that He would give him. He was also told that He would make of him a great nation and that in him, all families of the earth would be blessed. For this to happen, he would have to have a male heir, which would become a key focal point as the story unfolded. So, Abram and his family set out toward a land of promise, not knowing where it was located.
Based on God’s interaction with Abram and his response to it, we can infer that he had a relationship with Him. And believe it or not, there’s a verse that indicates that he did.
Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
I was going to study this verse in detail, but I found there to be more clarity as to what this verse means from the book of Romans.
Romans 4:1-3 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Abraham, as to what he achieved by his flesh (circumcision), was found not to be justified (declared righteous; accepted as righteous) by his works (by his own efforts). However, because he believed God (of trust in and acceptance of God's blessings;11 of his unwavering assurance that what God had promised he would perform,12 i.e., that he would be a father of many nations; that his posterity should be like the stars of heaven,13 and that unto him and his descendants would be given a land for an inheritance), it was counted unto him (put to his account; credited to his account) for righteousness (to regard and treat him in connection with this as a righteous man; as one who was admitted to the favor and friendship of God;14 put the mark of righteous on him15).
I hope you got this. Abraham had a relationship with Yahweh, meaning he was justified by Him and not by any works of his own, but by believing in what Yahweh promised, and thus, he was granted His favor and friendship.
Now we can answer the following two questions.
What caused an unbeliever to have a relationship with Yahweh?
An unbeliever entered into a relationship with Yahweh by believing in His blessings or what He’d promised would come to pass, and because of such, they would be justified. Romans 4:3 And by the way, we can surmise that if the message were believed, then the God from whom it was also received would be believed. Wouldn’t you agree?
Enoch became aware of and believed in a future judgment of all mankind by the Lord, probably in reference to an upcoming flood. Because of such, he received His favor and was declared righteous. Likewise, Noah became aware of and believed in the warning of impending judgment (of an impending flood), the only rescue from which would be an ark (treasure chest). He received Yahweh’s favor and was declared righteous. And finally, Abraham became aware and believed that God would make of him a father of many nations, that he would multiply his seed as the stars of heaven, that he and his descendants would inherit land, a future dwelling place, and because of such he received His favor and was declared righteous.
What caused a believer to have fellowship with Yahweh?
A believer had fellowship with Yahweh by exercising their will in obeying Him. Hebrews 11:7
Now that we know what the basis was for an unbeliever to have a relationship and fellowship with Yahweh, here’s the question. Was this the same protocol for those who lived during the next dispensation called the Age of Israel? Let’s find out.
1R.B. Thieme Jr., Dispensations (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1989) 1.
2Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 01 November 2018
3Barnes’ Notes. Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 05 November 2018
4UBS New Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 11 November 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
6Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 12 November 2018
7Bible Exposition Commentary/Old Testament, 2004, 16 November 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
8Adam Clarke’s Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2004, 17 November 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
9UBS Old Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 18 November 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
10The Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989, 20 November 2018
11Weust’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 20 November 2018
15UBS New Testament.
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