I’ve read this familiar verse all my life. Each time, I’ve understood the writer of Hebrews to be saying that faith is what pleases God. If I can’t please God without faith, then faith must be the thing that pleases Him. If I’m struggling with unbelief, He must not be pleased with me.
This week I saw this verse in a whole new light.
There are actually two parallel statements in this verse.
- Without faith I can’t please God.
- I will draw near to God if I believe He exists and that He is good.
These are both contingent statements, in that they both express an “if, then” reality. The first statement expresses this negatively: if not this, then not that. If I don’t have faith I can’t please God. The second statement is expressed positively, but the “then” is placed before the if. If we express both of the statements using the same form, positively with the “if” preceding the “then”, they look like this.
- If I have faith, then I will please God.
- If I believe God exists and is good, I will draw near to God.
Note that the “if” of both statements is essentially the same. Believing that God exists and that God is good is simply a more specific way to express the idea of faith. What is the result of this faith? What is the “then” that will follow once the conditional “if” is satisfied?”
Answer: I will please God. I will draw near to God.
This verse doesn’t teach us that faith pleases God. It teaches us that what pleases God is when I draw near to Him. Faith is simply the necessary condition. If I don’t have faith, if I don’t believe that God is good and responsive, if I don’t believe that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, then I won’t draw near. Me keeping my distance from God doesn’t please God. Drawing near to God is what pleases God.
Let’s draw near!
Want to receive email notification when I publish new posts? Be sure to subscribe today before you leave! The form is to the right on top of the sidebar.