What Faith Makes Possible

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

IT IS POSSIBLE FOR US TO PLEASE GOD, BUT ONLY BY FAITH CAN WE DO SO. Enoch’s example illustrates how we can relate to God when we have real faith. Enoch “walked with God” (Genesis 5:24). And his walk with God, based on faith, had remarkable results. “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5).

Enoch pleased God, the text says, by faith. Does this mean that the mere fact of intellectual “belief” pleases God? No, we must have a faith that diligently reaches toward God in a trust that is both hopeful and loving. “For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:7–9). If we make it our aim to be well pleasing to God, we need to understand that this wonderful possibility can be realized only by the obedience that comes from faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Faith is one part of the great triad: faith, hope, and love. And, in fact, the faith that makes pleasing God possible has in it a strong element of both hope and love. All three of these spiritual attributes look to the future through the eyes of trust. Working together, they produce the “work of faith,” the “labor of love,” and the “patience of hope” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Consider that the faith by which we come to God and please Him is not without real hope. While faith gives us a vision of how great our possibilities with God can be, it is hope that fervently desires these possibilities to come true. More than that, hope expects them to come true! And this expectation moves us to emulate God’s character and grow in purity. “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

By faith, we seek to please God because we love Him. It is faith that gives wings to love’s natural desire. Showing us not only that God can be pleased but how we may do so, faith gives true substance to love’s highest wish: the pleasure of our beloved God. “Faith is love taking the form of aspiration” (William Ellery Channing).