Vol. 4, No. 6
~ Page 9 ~
One of the great things one cannot help but notice as he studies the Bible is that the Great Book does not merely talk to us in ways that are purely academic, or abstract, but often gives us some very concrete teachings concerning how we are to serve God here on the earth. God, for example, is not content to merely tell us that we are to live by faith, but he also shows us, from the lives of other people whom he approved, what it means to live by faith. That is a wonderful and powerful type of teaching, and one to which all can relate from the youngest to the oldest.
As one goes through the Bible studying its sacred pages, he can see the mistakes and the successes of biblical characters, and from these learn what to do, and what not to do so far as living a successful life before God is concerned. He can look at the lives of such great people as Noah, Daniel, Josiah and others, and learn what God would have us do in order to be acceptable to him. He can look at other characters like Ahaz, Jezebel, Nabal and others in order to learn what he should avoid if he is to be acceptable in the sight of God.
However, there is one thing that must never be forgotten about those characters who are approved of God in both the Old and New Testaments. They were not found acceptable in the sight of God merely because they did something right, but because they had faith in God which caused them to be obedient to God. As James said, works must be coupled with faith or they are both vain (James 2:21-26).
In Hebrews 11, we have a long list of the great heroes of the Old Testament who were celebrated by the inspired writer of that book, not just because they did something, but because they did something by faith! The author began with Abel, who was killed by a jealous brother because he dared to obey God by faith, and in so doing, was immortalized not for mere obedience, but for obedience by faith!
There are some in the religious world today, and some in the church, who are totally "turned off" by the concept of obedience. We have always found this nothing short of amazing since obedience, as it is set forth in the Scriptures, is always coupled with faith. When there is no obedience, it is because there is no faith, as the matter is viewed from the Word of God. One may contradict what the Bible says on this all-important subject but when the last jot and tittle have been written on the subject, the divinely inspired Word of God still says that faith without works is dead because it is alone.
Works without faith is an exercise in futility! If a person does not believe in God, and in the Son of God with all his heart, he may spend all his days doing what might be viewed as "good works" by mankind in general, and it will not contribute to his eternal salvation in any way, shape or form. If one treasures deep in his soul the desire to be in heaven with God, and the great saints of all the ages, one must be obedient to God out of a heart filled with faith! The reason we say this is because the Book of Hebrews 11:6 says, "... for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." There is no way one can come to God regardless of how many "good works" he may do, if he does not first have a deep and abiding faith in the Father of Lights.
This faith must also include Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Jesus said, on the day of his resurrection from the grave, "... he that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believes not shall be condemned." One can hardly think of any good reason why anyone who does not believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit would even wish to live a good life. But there are those who say the mores of society demand that we do. That's a poor reason, and one that is barely viable in the society in which we live. Many of the young college crowd surely do not accept this idea!
We have told our children to be "good," without telling them what "good" is, and without instilling faith in God in their hearts. Consequently, they see no reason to be "good." To them "good" is what brings pleasure, regardless of what that might be. So, what we need to do for our youth is to give them a reason to be "good," and that reason is because they deeply believe in, have faith in the God of the universe, and in his Son who died upon the cross, not just to make them "good" but to perfect their character both here and in the hereafter.