Faith Required to Please God
“Without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Heb. 11:6.
1. (a) What does God’s Word the Bible say would increase in our day, and so, what would be waning? (b) What recent occurrences bear this out?
God’s Word the Bible tells us regarding the days in which we are living: “Because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.” (Matt. 24:12) We observe the trueness of this statement and the waning of faith among people in Christendom. This was substantiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation when they made known, in releasing the figures for 1963, that the number of serious crimes in America had risen 40 percent since 1958. This is five times the population increase of 8 percent. Youths under eighteen accounted for 50.4 percent of the arrests in the suburban areas for serious crimes. J. Edgar Hoover, the F.B.I. director, estimated the annual cost of crime in the United States conservatively at twenty-seven billion dollars ($27,000,000,000).* Additionally, there have been increases in juvenile delinquency. Immorality and divorces for other causes than Scriptural in the United States, but in other nations as well. In Sweden, which has a church-state government, the American Weekly reported, “of every ten Swedish women married, seven have conceived at least one child before going to the altar.”
2. What warnings have been given to protect faith?
2 Perhaps one of the most outstanding causes is the manner in which people’s minds are duped by unscientific mouthings, just because they are issued by prominent people. In making reference to just such a circumstance the Christian apostle Paul warned in his letter to the congregation in Colossae: “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.” And on another occasion the same writer warned a young man: “Guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’ For making a show of such knowledge some have deviated from the faith.”—Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:20, 21.
3. What do we learn from 2 Timothy 3 as to what may be expected in our time?
3 It is interesting to examine the occurrences and conditions in this, the twentieth century, in view of prophetic disclosures recorded nineteen hundred years ago. The Bible foretold the difficult times prevailing, that there would be moral degeneration and breakdown in which people would love pleasures more than Almighty God, and that they would be covenant breakers, along with many other nefarious practices. Here is what Paul wrote to the young man Timothy about circumstances that would occur in the “last days”: “Know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.” Then the record discloses that those having faith and living devotedly would be persecuted; and, to verify again about wickedness increasing, it tells that others would be misled: “All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted, But wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.”—2 Tim. 3:1-5, 12, 13.
4. What are some reasons why many people abandon faith in God and His Word?
4 Some have abandoned the Bible and faith in it because of Christendom’s ridiculous explanation of what they say is contained therein, such as the doctrine of hellfire, and their blaming God for wickedness, wars and inquisitions, On the other hand, some persons object to the purity of law and the manner in which the Bible upholds righteous principles, while they desire to gratify their lusts of the flesh and greed for money, power, pleasures and immorality. Instead of doing what is right, they set the Bible aside and follow their own ideas and philosophy of life. Others find that the Bible points out too vividly that the requirement to do God’s will includes associating with ministers who are energetically engaged in the preaching of the Gospel. This is too much of an imposition on their time, and so they prefer to take the course of least resistance and the one of conformity with social practices of “this world.” Faith is not a quality that is. the possession of all people, nor is it the desire of many.—2 Thess. 3:2.
5. Why will we not expect the majority to have faith?
5 It should be understood that not a majority will accept the Bible and follow in the footsteps of Christ Jesus the Son of God, doing so faithfully and out of the love in their heart and rendering sacred service to Almighty God, manifesting love for their neighbors. It is true that only a minority will accept the righteous decrees as set forth in God’s Word the Bible and follow them. This is shown in Jesus’ own words when he said: “Narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” It does not mean that the road is unavailable, but that most people are not looking for it. In making a contrast to this pattern, Jesus also said: “Broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it.” This constitutes following the road of least resistance, following in conformity with nationalism and filling one’s time and life with other things, wasting one’s time and effort.—Matt. 7:14, 13.
6. Who will manifest faith? What will they do?
6 There is a minority of faith keepers known as Jehovah’s witnesses in the earth who have explicit confidence in God’s Word and have dedicated their lives to doing God’s will, and God has “purified their hearts by faith.” This is in concurrence with Jesus’ words and expressions, He recommended: “Exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able.” Why not? Because they have not placed Almighty God and their love for him first in their hearts.—Acts 15:9; Luke 13:24.
7. What is faith?
7 Faith means to have fidelity or allegiance as a result of the promises of God. It is defined best in the apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” Faith must be real, alive, and be established firmly in belief that the true God is Jehovah. It engenders explicit confidence in his promised reward to those who seek him.-Heb. 11:1.
8, 9. (a) Is faith an inherent quality? (b) What is the difference between faith and credulity? (c) What must faith be free from?
8 Faith is not an inherent quality, but it must be acquired, and this is successfully accomplished through a diligent study of God’s Word, the Bible. In progressive study, a deep love for the Bible and for its Author as well as for his Son Jesus Christ develops. There is “one spirit one Lord, one faith . . . one God and Father of all persons, who is over all and through all and in all.”—Eph. 4:4-6.
9 Faith must not be confused with the credulity that is so prevalent today. The fealty of a Christian cannot be diluted with credulity even in the slightest degree, such as we see being done by peoples today who express belief and loyalty to various religious organizations, be they of pagandom or of Christendom. From observation it can be seen that there are varieties of “faiths,” incompatible one with the other, besides being out of harmony with God’s Word. This in itself shows the importance and need of seeking the genuine Christian faith with a firm foundation based upon Jehovah God the Creator of the universe and his Son Jesus Christ. The same idea is emphasized by the apostle Paul in writing to the congregation at Thessalonica, where he shows the need to be free of gullibility as he asks the brothers to carry on in prayer, “that we may be delivered from harmful and wicked men, for faith is not a possession of all people.” How important it is, then, to acquire and build faith and not to accept the theories and Opinions of men and systems of society that would destroy it! (2 Thess. 3:2) Faith cannot be diluted within a body of Christians so as to accept diversified beliefs. There can be only one faith based on the teachings of the true God and of his Son Jesus Christ. Such unadulterated fidelity is possessed by an organization directed by Jehovah God, namely, the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses.
10. What oneness of expression do Jehovah’s witnesses disclose, and why is freeness from division of thought so important?
10 On many occasions a minister of Jehovah’s witnesses, when sharing in the field ministry, calling on the people at their doors, meets a householder who remarks: “Oh, you sound just like the last one of Jehovah’s witnesses that was here.” Perhaps later he will hear a similar remark: “You Jehovah’s witnesses all sound alike.” We are happy that this is the case; this is a good sign. Otherwise we could not be an organization possessing Jehovah’s spirit, which results in oneness of thought, purpose and function as recommended so well at 1 Corinthians 1:10: “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” Obviously, then, with complete unity of thinking and expression, one faith will prevail.
11. Why cannot Christendom’s course be pleasing to God? What amount of faithfulness is required?
11 In Christendom faith has been watered down and discounted and loyalty is not required on the part of members. Fundamentally, without much faith or even little faith, it is impossible for an individual to obtain God’s favor. This can be seen by the apostle Paul’s words addressed to the Hebrews: “Without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb. 11:6) Actually there is no degree of faith, such as fifty percent, sixty percent, or even ninety-five percent, as there is no allowance for anything but one hundred percent faithfulness in order to have God’s approval. It is of interest to note that many men of old were named in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews because of the manifestation of such one-hundred-percent trust.
12. (a) Upon what is faith predicated, and how can it be strengthened? (b) How can faith be obtained and then demonstrated?
12 To evaluate our faith to see whether it is weak or strong, based on a foundation true and firm, we must use the measuring rod of faith, God’s Word the Bible. Compliance with and obedience to God’s standards are essential. Paul mentioned how apostleship was predicated on obedience to God’s Word and a display of faith respecting His name. To the Romans he mentioned the importance of “an interchange of encouragement among you, by each one through the other’s faith, both yours and mine,” that his and their faith might be more firmly established. The faith we possess can be demonstrated by the words we speak, yes, the word of faith that we preach: “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” Profoundly reassuring are Paul’s words on this when he stated further: “None that rests his faith on him will be disappointed.” The question arises as to how one can initially secure faith or establish it fundamentally and basically. “How will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?” This draws to our attention that faith can initially be established by hearing a minister of God. Truly, then, God will send his ministers forth to preach so multitudes can build up their faith as the result of their hearing the Word of God, the source of faith. One way by which we can measure our faith is the manner in which we are willing to expend ourselves in the Christian ministry as we manifest our faith by our works.—Rom. 1:12; 10:10, 11, 14; Jas. 2:18.
13. How can persons newly interested in the Bible build up their faith?
13 Newly interested persons or those just beginning to share in the ministry can depend on persons who are ‘firm in the faith.’ Those that are strong are able to “bear the weaknesses of those not strong.” Let us go further: “Let each of us please his neighbor in what is good for his upbuilding,” which in this instance would be his faith. At the same time this statement makes it plain that even those that are strong, to maintain adamant faith, must keep active and keep sharing in the ministerial work. Upon what may they depend so as to maintain their faith and maturity? These words reveal upon what: “For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” So truly God supplies the basis for our hope and faith. Those who have faith can keep it alive, just as Paul illustrated: “Now I myself am also persuaded about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are also full of goodness, as you have been filled with all knowledge, and that you can also admonish one another. However, I am writing you the more outspokenly on some points, as if reminding you again, because of the undeserved kindness given to me from God.” The interchange of faith based on God’s Word, by the expression of it among one another, will be upbuilding and will be strengthening against the endeavors of opposers who present contrary thoughts and bring pressures in an intensified manner in order to break down the moral fiber of faith.—Rom. 15:1, 2, 4, 14, 15.
14. Why should we let God talk to us, and what caution does he give against other sources of information?
14 It is readily discerned, then, that knowledge of Jehovah God and His Word must be possessed in order to have true assuredness. To get acquainted With him we must let him talk to us; not orally, of course, but through the written pages of the Bible. This is the only basic source of information whereby we can know Jehovah. In this regard the psalmist cautions us against other sources, in these words: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man to whom no salvation belongs.” How sound this advice is we appreciate when we read concerning man: “His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.” To trust in men, then, would mean finally to perish with them and their futile teachings.—Ps. 146:3, 4.
EXAMPLES OF FAITH
15, 16. (a) What kind of faith did Moses display? (b) Who were some others that manifested strong faith, according to Biblical record?
15 It should be borne in mind that faith is not a gift, but, rather, it is a quality that must be cultivated. Many men of old displayed exemplary faith. They were ordinary humans just as we are; so it was necessary for them to cultivate and establish it. Did it not take great faith on Moses’ part to speak these courageous words to the fleeing Israelites: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will perform for you today. For the Egyptians whom you do see today you will not see again, no, never again. Jehovah will himself fight for you, and you yourselves will be silent”? (Ex. 14:13, 14) Then, beyond this, what faith it took for Moses to lead more than two million people across a vast wilderness when there was little food and a scarcity of water for so great a multitude of people! But he trusted in Jehovah and was doing as commanded.
16 One could enumerate many Bible accounts about those possessing faith, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and others. Truly theirs was a genuine faith. They were men of great faith.—2 Pet. 2:5; Heb. 11:7, 8, 17, 24-27, 32.
17, 18. (a) Why will Jesus not find faith in Christendom? (b) Among whom will he find it, and what will be their frame of mind regarding faith?
17 What about today? What type of faith can we expect to find in the “last days” in which we are living? “When the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) It is obvious that real faith cannot be found in the religions of Christendom, because of their close relationship with the political elements of the world, the schemes of human leaders, the schemes for peace and the schemes of the world, instead of placing confidence in God’s kingdom under Christ Jesus.
18 Those putting their trust in the organizations of Christendom are extremely slow to put their trust in God’s kingdom. However, faith in God’s kingdom and trust in his protective power can be seen in the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. Let all lovers of God and doers of his will continue to cultivate true faith and not be lax about keeping it strong. We must not permit materialism, nationalism or other outside interests to encroach upon us so as to weaken our faith. We should be of the frame of mind expressed by Christ’s disciples at Luke 17:5: “Give us more faith.”
New York Times, July 21, 1964, page 17.