In an article entitled God Lite, theologian James R. Edwards traces how “The more we obey God, the more real God becomes to us and the greater our love grows. And the more we love God, the more we become like God. It is like a good marriage: People who love their spouses want to please them; and if they do not want to please their spouses, they can hardly talk of loving them. Edwards then shows the way in which obedience is not a penalty levied on faith. It is the strength of faith. The Bible absolutely will not separate faith and obedience, as though obedience were some kind of inheritance tax that God levies on the free gift of salvation. God cannot separate them and still offer salvation. There is something about love that is no longer love apart from obedience. Dietrich Bonhoeffer kept saying this in The Cost of Discipleship: 'Only those who obey can believe, and only those who believe can obey.
All the heroes of faith that we read about in Hebrews 11th chapter not only had faith but demonstrated their belief in God by taking bold steps of faith. They were commended and rewarded for their faith and obedience. Let’s look at Hebrews 11:1-7.
I deliberately said, “Biblical Faith” because people can have faith in any one and any thing, including their dogs but that won’t get them anywhere. It would be helpful to know what biblical faith is not in order to understand what it really is. Loren Cunningham the author of Daring to live on the edge explains, “The faith of the Bible is not wishful thinking, it’s not based on wanting your selfish desires so badly that you somehow get “faith” and get them. Neither is it some concentration of your mental or spiritual powers to get something you want.” It is not a blind leap of faith as Soren Kierkegaard popularized. If you do a blind jump you will fall and break your legs. It is not even “positive thinking, or altering your behavior” as some councilors suggest, though they may be helpful to overcome certain chronic patterns and conditions.
II. WHAT IS BIBLICAL FAITH?
The biblical faith is completely letting ourselves go into the safest and the most powerful hands of God. Let me illustrate, “This morning, said the minister, I'm going to speak on the relationship between fact and faith. It is a fact that you are sitting here in the sanctuary. It is also a fact that I am standing here speaking. But it is faith that makes me believe that you might be listening to what I have to say. A man took his first plane ride, reluctantly. He didn't want to go at all, but was finally persuaded to try it. Fearful, he got in the plane. The pilot took off, circled the field and returned safely. Someone asked the uneasy rider, well, now that wasn't so bad, was it? How did you like it? The man replied, I'll tell you this much. I never did put my full weight down in that thing! Faith means putting our full weight down on God. Faith is not just believing that God exists. It is actually anchoring ourselves to that God. God commends us for this faith.