Faith and Evidence
“Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
Before we examine how faith manifests itself, we do well to remind ourselves of how it is related to reason. While many today discuss faith and reason as if they are opposed, Christian orthodoxy has not seen such a conflict. Great theologians including Augustine and Aquinas have at times made a distinction between faith and reason, but these and other orthodox thinkers have never seen the two as antithetical. Knowing that all truth is God’s truth, faith and reason cannot ultimately be opposed.
This is evident when we consider the creation of the universe. Hebrews 11:3 tells us by faith we know the Lord made the world out of that which is invisible. Reason testifies to this truth as well. As we saw in our studies last January, the laws of cause and effect prove there must be a self-existent origin, an “uncaused cause” of all that exists. The heavens declare God’s glory (Ps. 19:1), and so an objective, rational exploration of the natural world can never end in atheism; it cannot disprove the existence of the Creator.
Belief in the Lord’s existence is one of the elements of faith set forth in today’s passage (Heb. 11:6). This goes without saying; how could we trust someone who does not exist? We must have confidence, in our minds, that God is real.
However, Christian faith is not mere assent to certain propositions, no matter how essential this is for true belief. Faith also grasps the promise that the Almighty “rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6). We show trust that the Lord rewards us when we strive to do what He says. Following His way in expectation of receiving blessing reveals loyalty to the promise that He blesses those who seek Him.
In no way should this be construed as saying our good works earn our right standing with the Lord. Nevertheless, the faith by which we lay hold of Christ’s righteousness and are thereby justified is always a living and active faith, one demonstrable not only by our lips but in our right attitude and good deeds (Isa. 29:13; James 2:14–26). This is most evident in the good works performed by Abel, Enoch, Noah (Heb. 11:4–5, 7), and many other old covenant saints.
Christian faith is manifest in the lives of those who seek to please the Lord. Only those who by their words and deeds show love to the one, true God and their neighbor can rightly expect a place in the kingdom. For those concerned they have not pleased the Lord, take heart, for a sorrow for neglected duties in life evidences a faith desiring to please Him. Ask God to help you please Him and join with another in service for your church and community.
Passages for Further Study
Ps. 19:7–11 Matt. 7:15–23 2 Cor. 5:6–9 1 Thess. 4:1–12