“Without faith it is impossible to please God,” Hebrews 11:6.
The old Assemblys Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” and its answer is, “To glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” The answer is exceedingly correct; but it might have been equally truthful if it had been shorter. The chief end of man is “to please God,” for in so doing we need not say it, because it is an undoubted feet in so doing he will please himself. The chief end of man, we believe, in this life and in the next, is to please God his Maker. If any man pleases God, he does that which conduces most to his own temporal and eternal welfare Man cannot please God without bringing to himself a great amount of happiness for if any man pleases God, it is because God accepts him as his son, gives him the blessings of adoption, pours upon him the bounties of his grace, makes him a blessed man in this life, and insures him a crown of everlasting life, which he shall wear, and which shall shine with unfading lustre when the wreaths of earths glory have all been melted away; while, on the other hand, if a man does not please God, he inevitably brings upon himself sorrow and suffering in this life, he puts a worm and a rottenness in the eve of all his joys; he fills his death-pillow with thorns and he supplies the eternal fire with faggots of flame which shall for ever consume him. He that pleases God, is, through Divine grace, journeying onward to the ultimate reward of all those that love and fear God, but he who is ill-pleasing to God, must, for Scripture has declared it, be banished from the presence of God, and consequently from the enjoyment of happiness. If then, we be right in saying that to please God is to be happy, the one important question is, how can I please God?
I shall first have an exposition of what is faith; secondly I shall have an argument, that without faith it is impossible to be saved, and thirdly, I shall ask a question Have you that faith which pleases God? We shall have, then, an exposition, an argument, and a question.
It is idle for a man to say, “I am a believer,” and yet not to know what he believes, but yet I have seen some persons in this position.
It is necessary, then, to true faith, that a man should know something of the Bible. Believe me, this is an age when the Bible is not so much thought of as it used to be.
We always run to extremes, and we have just gone to the other extreme now. It was then said, “One faith is right, down with all others by the rack and by the sword.” Now it is said, “However contradictory our creeds may be, they are all right.” If we did but use our common sense we should know that it is not so. But some reply, “Such-and-such a doctrine need not be preached and need not be believed.” Then, sir, if it need not be preached, it need not be revealed. You impugn the wisdom of God, when you say a doctrine is unnecessary; for you do as much as say that God has revealed some thing which was not necessary, and he would be as unwise to do more than was necessary, as if he had done less than was necessary. We believe that every doctrine of Gods Word ought to be studied by men, and that their faith should lay hold of the whole matter of the Sacred Scriptures, and more especially upon all that part of Scripture which concerns the person of our all-blessed Redeemer. There must be some degree of knowledge before there can be faith.
Now, in order to faith, it is necessary that I should not only read the Scriptures and understand them, but that I should receive them in my soul as being the very truth of the living God, and should devoutly with my whole heart receive the whole of Scripture as being inspired of the Most High, and the whole of the doctrine which he requires me to believe to my salvation.
You are not allowed to halve the Scriptures, and to believe what you please; you are not allowed to believe the Scriptures with a half- heartedness, for if you do this wilfully, you have not the faith which looks alone to Christ. True faith gives its full assent to the Scriptures; it takes a page and says, “No matter what is in the page, I believe it;” it turns over the next chapter and says, “Herein are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable do wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their destruction; but hard though it be, I believe it.” It sees the Trinity; it cannot understand the Trinity in Unity, but it believes it. It sees an atoning sacrifice; there is something difficult in the thought, but it believes it; and whatever it be which it sees in revelation, it devoutly puts his lips to the book and says, “I love it all; I give my full, free and hearty assent to every word of it whether it be the threatening or the promise, the proverb, the precept, or the blessing. I believe that since it is all the Word of God it is all most assuredly true.” Whosoever would be saved must know the Scriptures, and must give full assent unto them.
Recumbency on the truth was the word which the old preachers used. You will understand that word. Leaning on it; saying, “This is truth, I trust my salvation on it.” Now, true faith, in its very essence rests in this a leaning upon Christ. It will not save me to know that Christ is a Savior; but it will save me to trust him to be my Savior. I shall not be delivered from the wrath to come by believing that his atonement is sufficient, but I shall be saved by making that atonement my trust, my refuge, and my all. The pith, the essence of faith lies in this a casting oneself on the promise. It is not the lifebuoy on board the ship that saves the man when he is drowning, nor is it his belief that it is an excellent and successful invention. No! He must have it around his loins, or his hand upon it, or else he will sink.
There never was a man who could walk into salvation erect. We must go to Christ on our bended knees; for though he is a door big enough for the greatest sinner to come in, he is a door so low that men must stoop if they would be saved. Therefore it is that faith is necessary, because a want of faith is certain evidence of absence of humility.
Again: without faith it is impossible to be saved and to please God, because without faith there is no union to Christ. Now, union to Christ is indispensable to our salvation. If I come before Gods throne with my prayers, I shall never get them answered, unless I bring Christ with me.
Union to Christ is, after all, the great point in salvation.
Just one more argument, and then I have done with it. “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” because it is impossible to persevere in holinesss without faith. What a multitude of fair-weather Christians we have in this age!
He that has faith has renounced his own righteousness. If thou puttest on atom of trust in thyself thou has no faith; if thou dost place even a particle of reliance upon anything else but what Christ did, thou hast no faith.
Christ will have all or nothing; he must be a whole Savior, or none at all.
Then true faith may be known by this, that it begets a great esteem, for the person of Christ. Dost thou love Christ? Couldst thou die for him? Dost thou seek to serve him? Dost thou love his people? Oh! if thou dost not love Christ thou dost not believe in him; for to believe in Christ begets love.© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible