The Witness & Testimony of a Good Report

Hebrews 11:1,2,4-6

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report…By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. 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.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): What cheered all the pious antediluvian patriarchs through their wearisome pilgrimage of several hundred years?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Witness was borne unto them that God was well-pleased with them. That’s the secret of every one of them.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The word which we translate “obtained a good report,” literally signifies, “were witnessed of ”―this, therefore, is God’s witness or testimony concerning them.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): It is the Holy Spirit in the Scripture that gives them this good testimony―that they pleased God, that they were righteous, that they were justified in the sight of God. That whereon this testimony was founded, is their “faith.” In, by, or through their believing it was that they obtained this report.

J. W. ALEXANDER (1804-1859): Precisely for this reason is faith so often dwelt on as the instrument; because faith, as faith, lays hold of God’s veracity; and trust is nothing else but faith in a promise.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I would entirely disagree with the interpretation of this by John Owen that the testimony is the testimony that’s given to Enoch “in the Scripture.” The Scripture tells us that the testimony was given to him before his translation, and the Scriptures were not written until some considerable period of time afterwards. No, no, the testimony is not the mere record in the Scripture―he was given it! As all these men were given it; it’s something personal, it’s something subjective, it is in the realm of assurance of salvation.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Assurance is the fruit that grows out of the root of faith.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Assurance is an effect of faith, therefore it cannot be faith itself. The cause cannot be the effect, nor the root the fruit. As the effect flows from the cause, the fruit from the root, the stream from the fountain, so does assurance flow from faith―again, a man must first have faith, before he can have assurance, therefore assurance is not faith. And that is clear by this, a man must first be saved before he can be assured of his salvation; for he cannot be assured of that which is not.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Faith saves us, but assurance satisfies us—full assurance is not essential to salvation, but it is essential to satisfaction.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Very well, you see the importance of considering such a case.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God,” Romans 8:16. Therefore, for more assurance, it is confirmed by another and greater testimony, and that is of the Spirit Himself; He witnesses with our spirits, and seals it up unto us; He first works grace in our hearts, and then witnesseth to it. This testimony is not alike in all believers, nor in any one of them at all times.

ADAM CLARKE: It must come from God Himself.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Now that is the thing to which I am calling attention, as I say, the common factor to all these people who are mentioned in this chapter from Hebrews is just that: they were given the knowledge―the certain knowledge, that they were well-pleasing to God. They were given a testimony. You remember it in the case of Abel? “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.” That’s the thing! He was given to know, that God was pleased with his gift; he wasn’t uncertain, he was given the assurance, so that before he was murdered by his brother, he was rejoicing in this assurance of his relationship to God. And in the same way we are told of Enoch: “before he was translated, he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Now the first thing that arises therefore for our consideration is this: How exactly was Enoch given this testimony that he pleased God?

MATTHEW POOLE: It is better felt than expressed.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Well, I have no hesitation in answering that question in this way: the answer, I suggest, is found in what we are told about him in Genesis 5, verse 24: “And Enoch walked with God.

EDWARD PAYSON: What enabled Enoch to walk with God?

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Faith was in Enoch the leading principle from which his works proceeded.

JOHN OWEN: To “walk with God,” is to lead a life of faith in covenant obedience unto God―to “walk with God” is, in all our ways, actions, and duties, to have a continual regard unto God, by faith in Him, dependence on Him, and submission to Him.

THOMAS BROOKS: Though no man merits assurance by his obedience, yet God usually crowns obedience with assurance―the more the soul is conformed to Christ, the more confident it will be of its interest in Christ.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): There are special comforts laid up for those who love Christ, and prove it by keeping His words. This, at any rate, seems the general sense of our Lord’s language: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him,” John 14:23. The full meaning of this promise, no doubt, is a deep thing which no man can understand except he that receives and experiences it. But we need not shrink from believing that eminent holiness brings eminent comfort with it.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Sanctification is the seed; assurance is the flower that grows out of it.

C. H. SPURGEON: The expression “walking together” is often used in Scripture as a figure for communion.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY (1713-1778): The very essence of assurance lies in communion with God.

JOHN NELSON DARBY (1800-1882): This is very important and very precious. If we walk with God, we have the testimony that we please Him; we have the sweetness of communion with God, the testimony of His Spirit, His intercourse with us in the sense of His presence, the consciousness of walking according to His Word, which we know to be approved by Him—in a word, a life which, spent with Him and before Him by faith, is spent in the light of His countenance and in the enjoyment of the communications of His grace and of a sure testimony, coming from Himself that we are pleasing to Him. A child who walks with a kind father and converses with him, his conscience reproaching him with nothing—does he not enjoy the sense of his parent’s favour?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Very well, my friends, Do we know anything about that? Do we know anything about walking with God? Do we know anything of God bearing testimony that He’s well-pleased with us? Has He given us these intimations?


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