What is authentic Christian faith? What kind of faith truly pleases God? Is it this nebulous fuzzy new age pluralistic type of faith that is celebrated in our culture of tolerance? While the Bible gives many answers to this question, we find a very emphatic and concise definition in Hebrews 11:6 which states: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Two answers to our question regarding authentic Christian faith emerge from this text.
First of all, authentic Christian faith is a faith placed in the right God. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we must believe that God exists? James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe- and shudder!” It seems that everyone believes in a generic “god” to some degree or another. Muslims believe in Allah as their “god”. Unless you are a hardcore atheist, most Americans believe in “god”—whatever that may mean.
But the original language of this verse gives us great insight into what it means to have faith in the right God. The word for “exists” is literally translated “I AM”. In other words, true faith believes in the “I AM” God. This terminology reminds us of how God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” This is the very personal covenant name of God Himself. It’s not a generic God but the God who has most clearly revealed Himself in His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus gives seven “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John that clearly show that He is the fulfillment and the embodiment of God Himself. Our faith is not just in a generic “god” but in Jesus Christ Himself. If you are not believing in Jesus Christ as the one who said in John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”, then you are only worshipping a “god” of your imagination.
This faith is more than just a fuzzy belief in God—it is a belief in Jesus Christ as God. So what kind of faith truly pleases God? A faith that is placed in none other than Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Any other type of faith out there is first of all not only not pleasing to God but will damn you forever in hell if you don’t place your faith in Christ.
But secondly, it must be faith in the rewarding God. God rewards those who seek Him.The word for “seek” here is a very strong word that means to hunt or search or diligently pursue. We see this beautifully captured in the Psalms. Psalm 105:3-4 says, “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.” Jeremiah also captures this idea in 29:13 which states: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
The beauty of seeking God is that He longs to be found. He will be the Great Reward. Christ Himself will satisfy your deepest needs and in Him you will find your greatest joy. He is the reward. He is the Treasure. Let me give you a promise from Jesus Himself from John 6:37: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
If you seek Jesus with all your heart, you will find Him. You will find Him today as the ultimate champion who can forgive all of your sins and make your life new.
The literal word for “rewards” in this passage is “paymaster”—God is the ultimate rewarder. In other words, it truly pays to seek Christ. Because when you find Him, He is the ultimate Reward. A.W. Tozer has a famous quote in the early pages of his book “The Pursuit of God” that captures this: “To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love.” Here’s the paradox. When we seek God we find Him. And it doesn’t just end there. We still keep seeking Him and we find out more and more about Him. And as we discover more and more about our Savior, our hearts burn with a passion to know Christ deeper and deeper and to continually seek Him.
So what kind of faith truly pleases God? A faith that is placed in the right God—Jesus Christ alone—and a faith placed in the rewarding God. God gave this promise to Abraham and it still rings true for us today: “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)