"He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb.11:6). The object of these studies is to help those who want to come to God, having first believed "that He is"; therefore we will not concern ourselves with the evidence that confirms faith in God's existence. Examining the intricate structure of our bodies (cp. Ps.139:14), the evident design in a flower, gazing up into the vastness of space on a clear night, these and countless other careful reflections on life surely make atheism incredible. To believe that there is no God surely requires more faith than to believe He exists. Without God there is no order, purpose or ultimate explanation in the universe, and this will therefore be reflected in the life of the atheist. Bearing this in mind, it is not surprising that the majority of human beings admit to a certain degree of belief in a God - even in societies where materialism is the prevailing 'god' of people's lives.
But there is a vast difference between having a vague notion that there is a higher power, and actually being certain of what He is offering in return for faithful service to Him. Heb.11:6 makes this point; we
"must believe that (God) is AND
that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek
Much of the Bible is an account of the history of God's people Israel; time and again the point is made that their acceptance of God's existence was not matched by their faith in His promises. They were told by their great leader Moses "know therefore...and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments" (Dt.4:39,40). Thus the same point is made - an awareness within us that there is a God does not mean that we are automatically acceptable to God. If we seriously agree that we really do have a creator, we should "keep therefore his...commandments". It is the purpose of this series of studies to explain what these commandments are and how to keep them. As we search the Scriptures to do this, we will find that our faith in God's existence is strengthened:
"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom.10:17). Likewise, Isaiah 43:9-12 shows how an understanding of God's prophecies about the future makes us know "that I am he" (Is.43:13) - i.e. that God's Name 'I am that I am' is perfectly true (Ex.3:14). The apostle Paul came to a town called Berea, now in Northern Greece. As usual, he preached the gospel ('good news') of God; but instead of the people just accepting Paul's word for it, "they received the word (of God, not Paul) with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed" (Acts 17:11,12). Their belief was due to their open-minded, regular ("daily") and systematic ("those things") searching through the Bible. The gaining of a true faith was therefore not due to God suddenly making them have it by some kind of spiritual heart surgery, unrelated to God's word. So how can people of the world who walk into a Billy Graham crusade or Pentecostal revival meeting walk out again as 'believers'? How much daily searching of Scripture has gone on in these cases? This lack of a truly Bible-based faith doubtless accounts for the hollowness which many such 'converts' find in their later Christian experience, and why so many turn away from the evangelical movement.
The purpose of this course of study is to provide a framework for your own systematic searching of Scripture, so that you too may "therefore" believe. The connection between hearing the true Gospel and having a true faith is often highlighted in the record of the Gospel's preaching:
- "Many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized" (Acts 18:8)
- People "hear the word of the Gospel and believe" (Acts 15:7)
- "So we preach, and so ye believed" (1 Cor.15:11)
- The "seed" in the parable of the sower is the word of God (Lk.8:11); whilst in that of the mustard tree it is faith (Lk.17:6), seeing that faith comes from accepting "the word of faith" (Rom.10:8), "words of faith and good doctrine" (1 Tim.4:6), into a heart that is open to belief in God and His word (Gal.2:2 cp. Heb.4:2)
- The apostle John says of the written record of our Lord's life that "he saith true (i.e. the truth) that ye might believe" (Jn.19:35). And so God's word is called "truth" (Jn.17:17) - that we might believe.
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