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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Does a Person Have to Approach God by Faith?

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Does a Person Have to Approach God by Faith?

God and Us – Question 10

From the first page of the Bible until the last, God commands that those who approach Him do so on the basis of faith in Him and His Word.

For example, the children of the first couple, Adam and Eve, were Cain and Abel. God commanded that they bring a sacrifice to Him by faith. The sacrifice made by Abel was acceptable to God while the one brought by Cain was not. The Bible gives us the reason.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4 NRSV)

Abel was approved because of his faith. Thus, from the very beginning of Scripture, we find the necessity of exercising faith. A number of points need to be made.

1. Faith in God Is Absolutely Necessary

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews lists certain prominent men and women who lived during the Old Testament period. Their lives, which were characterized by faith, pleased God. They made God’s “Hall of Faith.”

Before listing them and their accomplishments, the writer to the Hebrews makes this summary statement about the necessity of faith.

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 (Hebrews 11:6 TNIV).

Thus, to please God we find that faith is absolutely necessary. This is something that is emphasized throughout the entire Bible.

Indeed, when the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he emphasized the same truth; faith is necessary.

For we walk by faith, not by sight... (2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV)

Scripture repeatedly states that it is our faith that pleases God. Indeed, all of us who approach Him with a desire to have a relationship must do it by faith.

2. Great Faith Is Not Needed

There are people who are afraid to come to God because they do not have great faith. They feel they must wait until their faith increases before they can approach Him. But this is not the case. The emphasis in the Bible is not on the amount of faith that a person has, but rather the object of the faith. Jesus made this clear. Luke wrote,

And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:5, 6 NKJV)

Much can be accomplished through a small amount of faith as long as the object of the faith is trustworthy. The God of the Bible is always emphasizing Himself as the believer’s object of faith. He is the one who is able to do great things. The Lord gave this following wonderful promise.

“‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’&8221; (Jeremiah 33:3 TNIV).

The greatest faith in the world, if it has a wrong object, is worthless. It is in whom you have your faith, not the quantity of faith that matters. The believer does not need great faith to please God. A person needs only a small amount of faith in our great God to approach Him.

3. We Are Told to Exercise Intelligent Faith

The Bible encourages everyone to put their faith in God. Unfortunately, many people equate biblical faith with some blind leap into the darkness or some type of wishful thinking. But the faith that the Bible requires is an intelligent or a reasonable faith. It is neither something blind nor is it irrational.

Instead, biblical faith is a committing trust with an object (God) who is completely worthy of our faith. No one is asked to sacrifice his or her intellect when they put their faith in the God of the Bible. Blind faith is not ever encouraged in Scripture. Rather, it is sensible faith which the Bible commands.

4. There Is Solid Evidence upon Which to Base Our Faith

People can exercise sensible faith in God because Christianity is based upon the firm foundation of what the living God has done in history. The true God, the God of the Bible, has revealed Himself to humanity. The record of this has been given to us in the Scriptures. The Bible tells us what God requires of us, and that we are to respond to Him by faith.

In doing so, none of us are expected to stop using our minds or to act in some senseless manner. To the contrary we are to use our mind in evaluating God’s truth.

5. We Are to Love God with Our Mind

We find Jesus emphasized that coming to God involves the mind as well as the heart and soul. When asked about the greatest commandment, our Lord said the following.

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV)

Notice that we are to love the Lord with our entire mind.

6. Intelligence Is Equated with Knowing God

When Jesus had a conversation with one of the experts of the Jewish law, He equated intelligence with knowing God. Matthew records it as follows.

When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any longer. (Mark 12:34 HCSB)

An intelligent answer from this man prompted Jesus to comment that He was not far from God’s kingdom.

We Are to Test All Things

The Apostle Paul encouraged people to investigate the claims of Jesus Christ to see if they were true. He wrote the following to the Thessalonians.

Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV)

All things must be tested. Nothing is to be believed by blind faith.

The Writers Testified to What They Had Seen

The reason the biblical writers could encourage people to “check out” or investigate the Christian faith was because they knew what they had written was true.

Simon Peter showed that the New Testament writers were aware of the difference between mythology and fact.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16 NRSV)

Peter said they were not following fables. Instead they were presenting the facts as they knew them. They could do this because they were there when these miraculous events surrounding the life of Jesus took place.

Thus, because the New Testament writers were eyewitnesses to the events they recorded, they knew what they were recording was accurate. Consequently, they welcomed an honest investigation of the facts. Blind faith was never encouraged.

Conclusion: We Must Approach God by Faith but It Is Intelligent Faith We Exercise

As we search the Scripture, we find that the God of the Bible expects humans to exercise faith toward Him. However, the faith we are to exercise is not blind faith, but rather intelligent faith. This theme is found throughout the Bible. Faith must be sensible, never blind.

Summary – Question 10
Does a Person Have to Approach God by Faith?

One of the complaints often made against Christians is that they are people of “faith.” Because we exercise faith, it supposedly makes what we believe suspect. Yet this is not the case at all. Scripture does command people to exercise faith but it is a reasonable or rational faith which God desires individuals to have.

Indeed, God does not expect us to act in faith toward Him unless that faith is an intelligent faith. This act of faith is built upon the solid foundation of what God has done in history, and what He has recorded in His Word.

However, the faith that is exercised does not have to be a great amount. Even a small amount of faith will be rewarded. The key is placing faith in the right object, Jesus Christ.

Scripture thus stresses the object of the faith rather than the amount of faith. Jesus Christ has proved that He is someone who is worthy of our trust.

The biblical writers asked those inquiring about Jesus Christ and Christianity to exercise faith. The reason as to why they could do this is because they knew the events which they recorded were true. Indeed, they were there when the miracles of Jesus occurred.

Simon Peter made the point that he and the other disciples had not followed cleverly devised myths when they told others about Jesus.

On the contrary, they were eyewitnesses of what occurred. They knew what constituted truth and they knew what constituted mythology. They emphasized that their accounts of Jesus were factual because they saw these things occur with their own eyes.

Therefore they could encourage people to use their minds and test the evidence. They were not afraid of what they would find out. Thus, when faith was eventually exercised it was reasonable faith based upon the preponderance of the evidence.

Thus, we find faith is essential as far as the Bible is concerned but that biblical faith is reasonable or intelligent faith. Never will anyone be ashamed for exercising faith in the God of the Bible. Never!

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