Faith that Pleases God
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, KJV).
This is one of those passages that sounds very eloquent and profound, but then I scratch my head and ask, “What did I just read?” I cannot say that I fully understand all that is contained in this passage, or any passage as far as that goes, but I have some thoughts about it.
After the writer declares that without faith we cannot please God, he describes the two elements of this faith. The faith that pleases God is contingent upon our believing that “He [God] is” and that “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
What does the phrase, “God is” even mean? God is what? This is reminiscent of Moses’ burning bush episode when he asked God who he should tell Pharaoh had sent him. God said to tell him that “I AM” sent him. “I AM”—“He is?” This sounds like the same thing. At least it seems so.
Whenever I come across a passage such as this where I feel dumbfounded and perplexed, I assume it is really important and worth investing time and effort to understand. I also realize that apart from the Spirit illuminating its meaning, I will never comprehend it. It is obvious that a sentence that begins with “God is” can be completed with any of His qualities, such as loving, gracious, merciful, kind, gentle, fair, just, protecting, guiding, faithful, present, glorious, patient, understanding, forgiving, enduring, benevolent, etc., etc., etc. It is easy to fill in the blanks with an endless flow of wonderful things. The burning question is, “Do we believe what we have listed?” Intellectually? Yes, indeed! In our hearts? Maybe not so much.
Whatever we believe in our hearts—experientially—will feel true.
When we think about these attributes of God, do they each feel true? If we are honest, probably not all of them do. The degree they feel true is the level of our faith that pleases God. Those Godly attributes that do not feel true indicate a lack of pure faith. This is where knowledge of something and knowing something can be poles apart. Without faith we cannot please Him.
When God declared Himself to Moses as the great “I AM,” this was an all-inclusive identity. Nothing was left out. All that is good comes from “I AM.” It is a statement of everlasting omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Because God is, “…all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17). Can we really say we understand this? How can we possibly comprehend this? We cannot. To the degree that we believe that “He is,” our faith deepens. The deeper we sink into the knowledge of Him, the greater our faith.
“He is” or “He Is Not”—the Essence of the “State-of-Being” Heart Belief
In TPM we understand heart belief to always fall in one of two different categories: Self-identity or State of Being. There are no exceptions. All of our heart beliefs will either be a statement of who we understand ourselves to be (self-identity) or our who we understand God to be. Our state of being belief describes my perceived condition, situation, or circumstance (state of being). Our state of being beliefs pertain to our understanding of who God is. To the degree that we believe that “God is…” we will walk in freedom.
- Self-identity—I am loved, valued, appreciated, have worth, etc.; or conversely, I am worthless, unloveable, defective, etc.
- State of Being— Because God “is not”, I am trapped, going to die, out of control, powerless, helpless, abandoned, forsaken, destitute, in need, etc.
Our belief about how we understand our situation or condition—or State of Being—is directly related to how we view God. If we believe that “He is,” then we will not feel trapped, overwhelmed, out of control, as if we are going to die, etc. State of being lies are beliefs that are contrary to who “God is.” In every place where I do not know that “God is” I will believe that “He is not.” Lies such as; “He is not with me, so I am alone,” “He is not my provider, so I am in need,” “He is not my protector, so I am afraid,” “He is not all loving so I am unloved.”
Second Condition of Genuine Faith:
“He is a Rewarder of Those Who Diligently Seek Him”
To the degree that we know that “He is” we can attend to the second condition of faith, which is stated as “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” This condition is dependent upon the first condition of believing that “He is.” If we don’t believe “He is,” we will not seek Him. Why would we? So, to the degree we believe that “He is,” our hearts will turn toward Him and naturally seek Him. The main reason we do not seek God is because we really do not believe “He is…,” so we do not really expect to be rewarded.
Most believers would say that they believe in the power of prayer. However, many believers rarely pray. Why is this? I believe that it goes back to heart belief concerning who “God is.” If we believe that God is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek HIm,” then we will seek Him. However, if we do not believe that “He is” then our prayer life —or lack thereof— will reveal this. I do not want to make a generalization here about how much people pray or not, but I think I have been around enough believers to say that most do not pray as much as they ought. Why is this? I believe that our prayer life is directly reflective of the degree we believe that “God is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” If I do not believe Him to be a “rewarder,” then I probably will not seek Him.
In fairness to those who pray too little, they came to their conclusions based upon the reward or lack of reward they did not receive. Probably most believers. that is those who currently have a deficient prayer life, did not start out this way. It is likely that they did pray and seek God, but did not see much results. After praying much and receiving little, they came to believe that God is not a “rewarder” and therefore, why pray? This question calls for a much more lengthy response that this article can provide. Suffice to say, if the prayers we pray are not resulting in God rewarding us, then either God is not who He says that He is, or there is something with what or how we are praying.
I think that if you were to ask a random group of believers as to whether or not they believed that prayer worked, they would overwhelmingly say “Yes!” However, if you were to ask them how much time they actually spent in prayer each day, they might be embarrassed to say. The truth is, our behavior is a direct reflection of our belief.
We may intellectually believe “God is” good, merciful, gracious, all loving, accepting, forgiving, etc., but until we know and believe this in our hearts, we will not seek Him. We say that we trust God, that we believe that He is faithful, that He is the supplier of our every need, and yet we live in fear, worry and anxiety. All of this is an indication we do not believe that “He is” but rather we believe that “He is not….” There is clearly a disconnect here.
Knowing is Authentic and Relational
Authentic faith is positioned upon the reality that “God is” and that “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” To the degree that we believe that “He is” is the degree our lives will be ruled by the presence of His peace. If we believe that “God is,” then no matter what happens to us, we will know that “…God is for us…” (Rom. 8:31). To the degree that we believe “He is a rewarder” is the degree we will seek Him. If His peace is not present, along with the other fruits of the Spirit, and if we are not seeking Him, then the absence of these things reveals our heart belief.
Knowing that “God is” and is a “rewarder” is a relational and experiential knowledge of God. For example, I know my “wife is” because I know her relationally and experientially. My knowing goes far beyond just knowing about her. I knew about her before I met her, but I did not know her until I spent much time with her. We may know much about God and yet still not know that “He is.” How I live my life reflects the beliefs I hold, such as my beliefs concerning my wife and God.
Regarding my wife, there are many things that I do, and don’t do, because I know that “she is” and that she is a “rewarder.” Because I know this to be true, my reality is determined by my belief and I act accordingly. Here again, my belief that “she is” and is a “rewarder” shapes my behavior to live in a predictable manner that follows effortlessly from that belief.
The same is true for God. To the degree that I genuinely believe that “God is” and that He is a “rewarder,” my life will naturally reflect this. My behavior will flow from this belief without effort or struggle. This is the faith that pleases God.