“With God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). However, there is at least one thing that Scripture points out is impossible with God (Note: This is no contradiction; Jesus’ statement must be considered contextually). “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). Yes, the impossibility here falls on the burden of the human being. Grammatically, we can change it to say: “It is impossible for God to be pleased with one who is without faith.”
Why do I need faith? First, it’s impossible to please God without it. Second, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
How do I obtain faith? “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Does this mean in order to have Biblical faith, all I have to do is audibly acknowledge God’s Word? Does it mean that I do not have to actually do anything? James says, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, 26). “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). But Paul said all I have to do is hear God’s Word? Yes. Is this a contradiction? No.
We can see that it is not a contradiction by properly understanding what it means to hear. When a mother says to her daughter: “Go clean your room.” The daughter stays put. And her mom asks, “Did you hear me?” Can the daughter then just say, “Yes, I heard you,” and rightfully continuing doing something other than cleaning her room? Or would her mother discipline her for not really listening? The fact is, we know that “hearing” in that context also requires action. And the same is required in the Romans 10:17 instruction.
Therefore, believing Biblically is not merely a mental acknowledge of something but acting upon it according to God’s standards. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Some have asked, “Why Jesus did not say, ‘he that believeth not and is baptized not shall be condemned’?” The answer is found in the definition of belief that we have just discussed. If one does not believe, there is no need for the actions that emanate from belief. A grammatical consideration of Mark 16:16 solidifies its meaning and denies all contradictions. Consider: “He that eats and digests his food will live; he that eats not will die.” If one does not eat, there is no need for digestion. If one does not believe, there is no need for baptism. However, if one believes Jesus, then he will know that he cannot be saved before baptism.The need to believe is apparent. Do you believe?
- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website: http://www.coldwatercofc.com/