We have two conceptual verses about faith in Hebrews, chapter 11. One is verse one, and the other is verse six. They are tremendously important scripture for us to understand faith in God. We can understand that verse one is a definition of faith, and verse six is the contents of the faith. I recently thought about why Scripture had these two verses in an immediate context when reflecting on my faith. One of the reasons I ignored that was I primarily focused on the definition of faith in verse one and assumed that it was enough. I was wrong. There is a tremendously significant lesson in verse six. This article is a brief introduction to the lesson.
“And 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” (Hebrews 11:6. ESV).
The outstanding words from my new reading are “please” and “rewards.” Pleasing means our pleasing God, and rewarding means God rewarding those who please Him. This verse assumes a relationship between God and us. The relationship is dynamic, not fixed. The dynamicity is proportional and, at least, correlational. The bottom line is that it is not a one-way interaction.
What does it mean that our faith is correlational, dynamic, and even proportional? What does “please” and “reward” add to this idea? It means God is a person. It means God is a person who has character and does according to that character. If we please God, God rewards us. If we displease God, He doesn’t reward us but maybe punish us. Punishing doesn’t mean immediately casting us into eternal death, but something like parents’ spanking or correcting their children. Such punishment is called discipline in Hebrews, chapter 12. Anyway, what is important here for us to know is that faith is the relation between us and God, who is a person.
Why is the verse so significant that it has to be alongside verse one, a definition of faith? The idea missing from verse one is God’s being a person and faith’s dynamicity. This understanding of faith gives true believers tremendous benefits such as confidence, power, and encouragement. This verse works for us, and we need to get that benefit.
According to verse six, faith in God means faith in His character. If we please God, God does not betray our expectations. He is not a betrayal person but faithful. If we love Him faithfully, He loves and takes care of us. That He abandons us even if we love and please Him never happens. He is not such a person, but righteous always. He never fails to reward those who please Him. What even faithful, loving parents would not do to their children, it is nonsense to worry that God may do it to those who love and please Him. This confident faith encourages and empowers us beyond measure.
If we worry, on the contrary, that God may disappoint, betray, or not take care of us even if we love and please Him, we believe God to be unfaithful, treacherous, and indifferent. Such doubt is one of the most insulting things toward God (My previous article makes this point). Unfortunately, we can make that big mistake by ignoring or missing true faith. Focusing on more than just the definition in verse one may lead us to avoid making that mistake. A repeated mistake can be a sin. It is scary to think that we can be lost while we believe all through life.
So it is worth checking our faith and developing the true right faith: the faith in God as a person of an unchangeable character. One of the ways to put this faith in perspective is to compare it with human relationships, such as marriage, parents and children, and family. What will you feel if your spouse doubts you may abandon him or her? How much will it hurt your heart to overhear your children doubt or fear that you may leave them as they rely on you? How will you be happy, on the contrary, knowing your spouse loves you and does everything to please you? You will never miss loving them and will surely give gifts to please him or her. All these examples sound natural to us because we are a person, and we have good character. If we are so, even weak humans, how much would God, the Almighty, be so?
Leave a Reply