Knowing God calls for a response that includes trusting Him, relying on Him, worshipping Him—in a word, loving Him. Scripture is filled with accounts of the God of heaven, reaching out to His people in grace and mercy, showing Himself to be strong and compassionate. Each one is a reason to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.
The concept of faith is woven through the pages of Scripture and is essential to a personal relationship with God. In fact, “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not only is it necessary for salvation it is part of our daily walk and warfare as believers (Ephesians 6:16).
Contrary to popular Christian opinion, the Bible neither exhorts us to have childlike faith nor does it tell us to believe as children believe. The idea that we are to have childlike faith is an incorrect inference based on several passages of Scripture. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15; Luke 18:15-17 NIV).
These passages don’t tell us what receiving the kingdom of God like a little child means so it is wrongly assumed to be referring to the faith of a child. In Matthew 18:2-4 Jesus spells out what He means. “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Our goal as believers is not childlike faith. Instead it is to grow to be “mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:4).
Puritans used to speak of “following hard after God” and “setting our faces like a flint toward God.”—Strange-sounding phrases in today’s fast-paced world! But these words need to be remembered, especially in our generation.
“You can prove anything you want to from the Bible!” Have you ever heard someone make that claim? Probably so. For the most part, it is true. If a person really wants to find biblical “justification” for some belief or activity and is willing to use half-verses, to take passages out of context, and to twist the meaning of various terms, then he or she can “prove” just about anything from Scripture.
Have you ever stopped to think about the benefits of having a copy of the Scriptures in your own language? Have you pondered the thought: What if the Bible never existed? In our overabundant, more-than-enough world, such thoughts are foreign…too impossible to imagine.
Without love, knowledge can be a source of pride. Without humility, knowledge can lead us into a judgmental attitude. Without wisdom, knowledge can result in idealism and a perfectionist spirit. Knowledge needs a buffer…something to soften it, to give it perspective, to make it workable and real. Perhaps the very best companion for knowledge is discernment.
Encouraging the disheartened is important for a body of Christians. Enduring tough times is too. And worshipping is equally essential. A church needs all three…but a ministry is incomplete unless there is also the presence of learning. Healthy, vibrant flocks are kept in that condition by a continual emphasis on the discovery of new truth as well as the review of old truths. Such emphases give our faith stability and substance.