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Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

I don't understand how the latter statement can imply the former. One is talking about the requirements to please God, and the other is talking about the requirements to come to God.

It would maybe make sense if there was a hidden implication "in order to 'please' God you must first 'come to' God", is that the implication of this verse?

EDIT:

As people seem to be misunderstanding what I'm asking, I'll try to explain a different way but I don't know if it will help.

If we know that "in order to do A you must first do B" and "in order to do B you must first do C" then we can logically deduce that "in order to do A then you must first do C".

But if we only know that "in order to do B you must first do C" then we cannot logically deduce that "in order to do A then you must first do C".

The verse seems to do this though, here:

  • A = "Please God"
  • B = "Come to God"
  • C = "Have faith in God"

The "hidden implication" I referred to above is "in order to do A (please God) you must first do B (come to God)" - it's required for the logical deduction, but not explicitly stated in the verse.

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  • For, since, because. You can use any of these to understand the sentence.
    – Michael16
    Nov 5, 2022 at 7:50
  • @Michael16 I understand what the word means, as quoted in my title. I'm trying to understand the whole sentence as I explained in the body of my post.
    – Kidburla
    Nov 13, 2022 at 11:01

3 Answers 3

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So I gather the OP's issue with Hebrews 11:6 is that the connection between pleasing God and drawing near to God just isn't so direct if you are one reading this verse in isolation.

The concepts of faith, drawing near to God, and being pleasing to him are all linked together throughout the Old and New Testament, however, they are most proximately linked together just in the chapter prior to Hebrews 11:

38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
-Hebrews 10:38

Notice that the objective state is to live and to do so by means of faith. The opposite condition is to shrink back and thus have God relate without pleasure.

So if the opposite of living by faith means to shrink back from God and be left without his pleasure, then the objective state of being alive by means of faith involves drawing near to God and having his pleasure.

Ultimately the concept of drawing near to God and being pleasing to him are just two ways of describing the same thing which is having a positive relationship with God.

You'll notice the context of Hebrews 10:38 is the day of judgment:

35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,
“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. -Hebrews 10:35-39

The idea is to be ready for the judgment day. God is going to come whether you want Him to or not. Those who are able to draw near to God with confidence are those who have been drawing near to God throughout their lives and are thus confident that they will be met with God's pleasure. Those who shrink back have been shrinking back from God throughout their lives. They have no such confidence and there will be no love lost.

As wisdom hath said:

23 If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
-Proverbs 1:23-27

8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
-James 4:8-9

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  • 1
    thank you very much for taking the time to read my question and understand what I was actually asking! this is a great answer!
    – Kidburla
    Dec 15, 2022 at 13:42
  • You're welcome. Glad God enabled me to help.
    – Austin
    Dec 15, 2022 at 14:58
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I don't understand how the latter statement can imply the former. One is talking about the requirements to please God, and the other is talking about the requirements to come to God.

It would maybe make sense if there was a hidden implication "in order to 'please' God you must first 'come to' God", is that the implication of this verse?

The second clause is a complementary explanation to the first; it is explaining faith, it's not the condition for the first clause. Pleasing God is the same as coming near to him or seeking him. Pleasing or coming near to him is achieved through faith. The verse is talking about the most necessary or basic key to please God, that we must have faith in him or submit to his will. It is necessary to believe that he is, and that he rewards those who seek him.

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  • "The second clause is a complementary explanation to the first; it is explaining faith, it's not the condition for the first clause" - if that were true, why does it have the word "because"/"since"? Also, I don't understand why you feel that "Pleasing God is the same as coming near to Him" - which scripture says this? so all I need to do to please God is to come near to Him? I thought I please God by taking on the righteousness of Christ through His blood
    – Kidburla
    Nov 16, 2022 at 10:36
  • You cannot hijack or take on anyone else's righteousness. Your own righteous must exceed the religious frauds who mislead naive people, acc to Jesus. You also need to learn the meaning of those words since for because. Coming to God is same as please God. He is pleased by righteousness of men. Those who are righteous are near him spiritually by obeying his words.
    – Michael16
    Nov 17, 2022 at 6:53
  • "You cannot [...] take on anyone else's righteousness" I feel we have completely different theological positions then, I would be interested to hear how you then interpret verses such as Romans 9:30, Romans 3:22, Isaiah 64:6, Romans 4:3-5, Ephesians 2:8-9, etc. But that's outside the scope of this question. What's the scriptural basis for saying "Those who are righteous are near him"?
    – Kidburla
    Nov 17, 2022 at 13:43
  • Righteousness (obtained)by faith is not a righteousness transferred or robbed from someone else. See the few questions on "faith of Christ/ righteousness of God: genitive or objective" related topics, I have written an answer in one of those questions. Isaiah 64:6 read it in context; learn gen statements/ hyperbole/figurative, read articles by this guy on the typical augustinian theology biblicaltruthresources.wordpress.com/tag/…
    – Michael16
    Nov 17, 2022 at 13:49
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The BLB offers a good literal translation of Heb 11:6 -

And without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For it behooves the one drawing near to God to believe that He exists and that He becomes a rewarder to those earnestly seeking Him out.

Thus, this verse states a simple fact - if we do not believe God exists and rewards those who seek after God, then it is impossible to please God!

That is, the second statement is a cause, or better, a prerequisite for the first. Thus, if one does not believe God exists, then one cannot order one's life in accord with God's character and requirements. The numerous examples in Heb 11 are marshalled as evidence of this fact.

MacLaren's sums it up this way:

THE writer has been pointing to the patriarch Enoch as the second of these examples of the power of faith in the Old Covenant; and it occurs to him that there is nothing said in Genesis about Enoch’s faith, so he set about showing that he must have had faith, because he ‘walked with God,’ and pleased Him, and no man could thus walk with God, and please Him, unless he had come to Him, and no man could come to a God in whom he did not believe, and whom he did not believe to be waiting to help and bless him, when he did come. So the facts of Enoch’s life show that there must have been in him an underlying faith. That is all that I need to say about the context of the words before us. I am not going to speak of the writer’s argument, but only of this one aspect of the divine character which is brought out here. ‘He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’

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  • It seems from what you say "a prerequisite for the first" that you also accept the hidden implication I mentioned in my post. It's saying that a prerequisite for pleasing God is that you must draw near to God. Are you saying that this implication is directly stated by this verse or contained elsewhere in scripture? As if we know A => B and B => C we can deduce that A => C. But if only A => B, we cannot deduce that A => C.
    – Kidburla
    Nov 13, 2022 at 11:09
  • The quote at the end of your post seems to deduce this through natural reasoning "no man could thus walk with God, and please Him, unless he had come to Him". I have a couple of problems with this, first, it's an argument based on natural reasoning and not directly referring to the scripture, and second, it seems to be based on Enoch specifically, who pleased God by walking with Him, but does not consider if there are other ways to please God, and the context of the verse seems to be more generally applicable than just for Enoch.
    – Kidburla
    Nov 13, 2022 at 11:11
  • @Kidburla - in fact, my answer says quite the opposite - if we do NOT believe God exists, then it is impossible to please God. Other than that, I have trouble following what relevance your comment has to my answer.
    – Dottard
    Nov 13, 2022 at 20:26
  • Basically that it does not explicitly answer my question. It seems to imply that you accept the hidden implication, but you have not stated that explicitly or why you accept that (e.g. whether you feel it's directly implied by the verse or by other parts of scripture).
    – Kidburla
    Nov 16, 2022 at 10:30
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    @Kidburla - I am sorry but I do not know how to put the dots any closer together.,
    – Dottard
    Nov 16, 2022 at 11:38

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