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Why is it Essential to Believe in God?
“What is Truth?”
That question has come to the minds of billions of human beings over the ages. Philosophers have asked it, politicians asked it, artists asked it, teachers asked it, and students asked the question. At some point or another, it seems everyone asks, “What is truth?”
The problem is everyone seems to have their own version of the truth. We’re in a culture and society that invites us to live our own truth. Not only that, but we live in an age of disinformation. It’s not just lies that are out there, but attacks against truth itself exist. Our wily enemy, Satan, loves to sow lies and disinformation against the truth of God to deceive and divide the world.
With everyone having their own truth and the world full of information, misinformation, and disinformation, it can seem nearly impossible to tell fact from fiction. How do we know what is true? Does it matter? And how do we live in light of the truth itself?
A recent Gallup Poll indicated that 81% of Americans expressed belief when asked, “Do you believe in God?” That, perhaps, is a good thing. But considering that number is down almost 17% in two generations, it indicates a concerning trend in American culture. The disinformation campaign against God has taken ground, and it’s waging way by saying, “God isn’t as relevant or necessary as you think.”
Perhaps, standing on Nietzsche’s pronouncement that “God is dead!” we should move on because “the belief in the Christian God has become unbelievable,” everything that was “built upon this faith, propped up by it, grown into it,” including “the whole of our… morality”, is destined for “collapse.” But the Scriptures speak differently. Instead of calling us to be progressive and modern, the writers of the Bible call us to a different frame of mind. They call us to a belief in “the God who is the there.” The book’s writer (or letter) to the Hebrews calls us a more foundational perspective and truth.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (ESV)
Hebrews 11:6 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. (ESV)
Belief is essential because belief (or faith) is the fundamental means to getting closer to God. Believing in God is how we draw near.
The writer of Hebrews has been encouraging listeners to hold fast to their faith, even amid great suffering, because Jesus is far superior to any other perspective or system. So, chapter 11 begins with example after example of how ordinary people believed in God and trusted him with their lives. But the chapter starts with a more basic premise: faith is the means by which we know God.
Verse 1 states, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In this, there is one clear and simple idea in mind. Faith is banking your life (“assurance,” “conviction”) on what is not possessed or realized at the moment (“things hoped for” and “things not seen”). Faith is an orientation of trust on the word or promise of another.
The reality is everyone has a faith of some kind. That is, we believe in something to deliver to us the things that we hope for and long to possess. Our lives are built on pursuing and acquiring the good life. So, we all believe in something, but that’s not where it stops. The writer of Hebrews, in verse 6, makes a comment directed toward us with the premise that not only is faith essential to know God, but faith is also essential to pleasing God. Faith is how we draw near to God.
Hebrews 11:6 also reminds us that faith is believing, but there is more to our faith or believing beyond just the existence of God. There is something we must believe about God as we come to Him. Specifically, we must believe that “He rewards those who seek Him.” The reward the writer of Hebrews speaks of is God’s gracious and abundant love. We’re rewarded for our faith by God actually giving us the results of faith in Him: life, salvation, eternal joy, and HIMSELF!
God’s reward is his adoption of us in Christ Jesus. It is His redemption of our lives from the bondage and slavery to sin that we are under. This is why the doctrine of salvation by faith alone (sola fide) is so essential to the Christian faith. We are not saved by good works, accomplishments, or merits. We are not put into right standing with God or liberated from our base impulses by our own willpower and determination. Simply put, we can’t get an eternal reward, find heavenly bliss, or enjoy ultimate satisfaction by any power or ability of our own. Someone else must provide it for us.
The gospel message of the Christian faith is that Christ Jesus has done it for us. He accomplished righteousness and justification for us through his becoming fully human and living as a perfect and sinless human being. It was by being a substitute and sacrifice in our place on the cross, receiving the penalty of death for our sins, that Jesus accomplished redemption, forgiveness, and cleansing for us. By being vindicated through Resurrection on the third day, Jesus won the hope of eternal reward, blessing, and adoption for anyone and everyone that will trust in him. All these blessings are here for us, but they are only received by faith — specifically by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
So, the invitation for us today is to draw near to God in faith. We must repent of our own attempts to earn and acquire eternal pleasure and joy and trust God and His Word about what Jesus, His Eternal Son, has done for us. We renounce this world and its teaching and doctrine of how to have the good life, and we draw near to God in Christ and trust His word of where the good life is. We seek Him for the reward He alone offers and gives!