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

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Don Stewart

From the first page of the Bible until the last, God commands that those who approach Him do it on the basis of faith in Him and His Word. 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 excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous (Hebrews 11:4).

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews lists people who lived during the Old Testament period whose lives pleased God. Their lives were characterized by faith. The writer to the Hebrews makes this summary statement.

But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:

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

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

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.

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 planted in the sea," and it would obey you' (Luke 17:5,6).

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.

Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).

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.

Blind Faith Is Not Encouraged

The Bible encourages people to put their faith in God. Unfortunately, many people equate faith with a blind leap in the dark or wishful thinking. But the faith that the Bible requires is intelligent faith. It is neither blind nor irrational. Biblical faith is a committing trust with an object (God) who is worthy of our faith. No one is asked to sacrifice his intellect when he puts his faith in the God of the Bible.

There Is Solid Evidence Upon Which To Base Faith

This is true because Christian faith is based upon the solid foundation of what God has done in history. God has revealed Himself to man and this revelation is recorded 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, we are not expected to stop thinking or to act irrationally.

Jesus emphasized that coming to God involves the mind as well as the heart and soul.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).

When Jesus had a conversation with one of the scribes He equated intelligence with knowing God.

So when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God' (Mark 12:34).

The Apostle Paul encouraged people to investigate the claims of Christianity to see if they were true.

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

The Biblical Writers Knew It To Be True

The reason the biblical writers could encourage a person to investigate the Christian faith was because they knew what they were recording was true. Simon Peter showed that the New Testament writers were aware of the difference between mythology and fact:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty (2 Peter 1:16).

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

Summary

God does not expect us to act in faith toward Him unless that faith is an intelligent faith built upon the solid foundation of what God has done in history and what He has recorded in His Word. However the faith 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. The writers of Scripture discourage blind faith.

Biblical writers knew the events they spoke about were true. Therefore they could encourage people to use their minds and test the evidence.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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