But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
A simple enough verse from scripture, but quite profound in its content; for here God shows us two major areas of our existence: how man relates to God, and how God relates to man.
The man that comes to God must first believe that He is. This dictate from scripture means much more than to simply acknowledge the reality of God. James tells us that even the demons have gone this far; also, it even has an effect upon them, making them afraid and to tremble, (James˙2:19).
Those who admit God exists, and yet are not changed by this truth, know nothing of the love of God. The faith that believes "that He is," works in the life of the man a transforming affect.
This was the great turning point in my own life. Mankind has always questioned his existence, the why of existence. As a young boy, I grew disillusioned with life itself, and nearly took my life. Those moments will be with me forever, as I tried to reconcile things in my mind. I reasoned, if God doesn't exist, and if when I die I am dead like a dog, why live at all? What purpose would I fulfill? But if God does exist, and if God is real, then what demands does that place upon me, and upon the way that I should live?
At that point I cried out to God from the depths of my heart, and He answered me. I heard God speak to me. It was no thundering voice, and neither was it any great instruction for life — but it conveyed to me the answer I needed: God is alive, and I must live entirely consecrated to Him.
So then, the man that would come to God will come in this manner. He has grasped the reality of God's existence in a way that has transformed his life, transformed the way that he now lives, and the reasons for which he lives.
The second portion of this verse deals with our understanding of the character of God, in how He desires to relate to us. The man that would come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
God is not pleased if our faith in Him is not in line with His desire to bless and reward us.
There are two areas here, that I would like to touch on briefly. The first is that so many do not expect any good from the hand of God, but only evil. Their concept of God is as a taskmaster who is never pleased with them. God will be pleased with you when you believe that His desires toward you are for good.
The second is this: there are some who say that God is rewarding them when they experience calamity or suffering. They say that God knows what is best in the long run. By experiencing this pain or grief they feel that God is perfecting them, and that they should continually believe that this is from God, and that it is for the best.
This is contrary to all scriptural teaching. Isaiah said, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness," (Isaiah 5:20). There is nothing good in calamity, and it is always seen in the Bible as the "reward of the wicked," (Psalm 91:8).
Again, James tells us to be careful not to err, because "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights..." (James 1:17). The actual Greek word for reward expresses the meaning of "wages for hire."
There are also those who do not feel that we should purpose to receive God's blessings. For instance, they do not feel that we should give in order to receive. They base their statements on a desire to be humble, not knowing that they are exalting their pride in the same breath.
A continual dependance upon God for everything one needs in this life, for sustenance, for clothing, for life itself, is the aim of the Gospel. To take a stand of dependance apart from God is open rebellion; to remain passive, waiting to see what God is going to do, is a lack of responsibility.
We have come to know the character of our Father's heart toward His children. He is pleased when a man has faith that He will reward those that diligently seek Him. Jesus said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom," (Luke 12:32).
We never need fear of false motives, of pride or greed, taking hold of us if we are diligently seeking the Lord. The Gospel has been so designed as to protect man in his pursuit of God. In fact, the only way a man can receive anything from God is by maintaining a right relationship with Him. If a person is seeking things he can be assured of never receiving anything from God.
Giving is the principle that keeps our heart clean from the love of money, and yet at the same time enables us to handle great riches. You cannot remain a consistent giver, and at the same time have the love of money ruling in your life. Now, you may begin in that state; but continually giving will break the power of selfishness over your life.
I have found that most complaints surrounding the teaching of prosperity have been from those that do not want to give. Their money is their God. Those same people that complain our motives are not right, by giving to receive, are the same who do not give in order to keep and maintain.
Jesus taught what we should do, and what we shouldn't do, to receive rewards from God, Matthew 6:1-18. Although quite lengthy to give here, the entire basis of this portion of scripture is plainly written. He said, "Don't do it this way, or you won't get the reward," and "Do it this way, so you will get your reward."
Giving of alms, secret prayer, and fasting are three areas Jesus mentioned which we can use on purpose to seek God, and at the same time receive rewards from God. What are the rewards of giving? Jesus Himself said, "Give, and it shall be given you..." (Luke 6:38). What are the rewards of secret prayer? The answer to the prayer. What are the rewards of the fast? The purpose upon which you entered your fast.
Jesus has given us a determinate way to receive what it is we need from our Father, by seeking our Father; each moment that we draw from Heaven's resources to meet our earthly needs or word-oriented desires, we also draw nearer to our Father.
Faith believes that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.