God is evident

"....that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them...." Romans 1:19 NASB®

Believing that there is a God does not equate to having faith in God!

by Tom Crawford


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Do you believe in God?  When asked, most people do.  Or at least they believe in some form of divine being or beings.  One ubiquitous characteristic of homo sapiens is that they are religious and have always been so.  Even today, in our age of science and reason, less than 3% of the world’s population considers themselves atheists.  Over my ~30 year career, I have worked with a large group of scientists and engineers, and there are only a few that I think would consider themselves atheist.  I am an educated person and I am not an atheist – I am convinced that God exists!  But despite what one may think, believing that there is a God does not equate to having faith in God.  Consider the following Biblical example.

An important example of a “man of faith” is a man that lived about 4000 years ago.  At least three major world religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – trace their beliefs, at least in part, back to this man.  This man is a guy by the name of Abraham.  The life of this interesting man is written about in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.

Just to give a little bit of background, Abraham (originally named Abram) lived in Ur, a very modern (at the time) city in what we now know to be Iraq.  Abram believed that God had called him to leave Ur and to travel to an unknown land called Canaan, an area now known as Israel and Palestine and possibly some of the surrounding area.  Abram left Ur, and except for an occasional trip to Egypt, he lived as a nomad for the rest of his life in this area.

One night Abram was sitting outside his tent looking up at the stars.  Now, one thing I love to do is to go out under the desert sky or up on a mountain peak while backpacking, and look up at God’s creation – the stars.  (If you live in a big city, you may not have ever had this experience.)  I can imagine Abram doing the same, especially 4000 years ago in an age of zero air and light pollution to clog up his view.  The stars that he saw must have been awe inspiring.  It is in this context that God spoke to Abram:

“Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them … So shall your offspring be.”  Genesis 15:5 (TANAKH by JPS)

And of course, there is no way Abram could have begun to count the stars.  Following what God said to Abram, is the next verse – a very important verse:

“And because he put his trust in the LORD, He reckoned it to his merit.”  Genesis 15:6 (TANAKH by JPS)

or in another Bible translation which I use a lot, it says

“Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”  Genesis 15:6 NASB®

Now this verse is a key verse in the Bible because it illustrates what true faith in God is, and it shows what the results of a true faith in God are!  Two of the writers in the New Testament, Paul the Apostle and James the brother of Jesus, quote this verse (note – the New Testament was written in Greek, and they are probably quoting from their Greek translation of the Old Testament):

“For what does the Scripture say? ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’"  Romans 4:3 NASB® (written by Paul)
“and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.” James 2:23 NASB® (written by James)

So what do we learn from these passages of Scripture?

  • First – Abraham believed God.  Abraham did not just believe that God existed.  He believed what God told him.  He took God at His word!
  • Second – Abraham believed the One True God!  Abraham was not worshipping just any god – and there were plenty of gods to worship in his day.  (It is possible that Abraham’s father worshipped the moon goddess (Leon Wood, p30).)  Abraham trusted the LORD.  Remember from my last blog, I said whenever you see the word LORD in all capitals in the Old Testament, in the Hebrew language (the language in which the Old Testament was originally written) this stands for the proper name of God, YHWH, meaning the I AM or the Self Existent One.  This name among other things speaks of God’s eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent nature – God does not depend on anything or need anything outside of Himself.
  • Third – because Abraham trusted in the LORD, God reckoned (or credited) His righteousness to Abraham’s merit.  This is what Salvation is all about – we are bankrupt before God because of our sin, but God forgives our sin and credits righteousness to our account.  (I will talk about this more sometime in the future.)
  • Fourth – Abraham, because he put his trust in God, had a relationship with God.  According to James, he was called the friend of God.  Faith in God is more than just believing a set of cold hard facts about God.  Truth or facts about God are important, but we can put our faith or trust in God because He is faithful toward us.  Our faith in God grows as our relationship with God grows.  Jesus uses the illustration of a mustard seed to illustrate faith: it starts small, like the seed, and grows very large, like a mustard plant growing from the seed (Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6).

In summary, true faith needs to be in the One True God.  It is not just believing stuff about God, but instead it is taking the True and Faithful God at His word.  True faith starts small, but as we grow in our relationship with God, our faith grows.  God reckons or counts true faith in Him as righteousness to our account.  To have and grow in true faith then, we must begin a relationship with the One True God.  One requirement is that we need to learn the truth about God and what He has revealed about Himself, and what He has done for mankind through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Leon J Wood, A Survey of Israel’s History, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), p 30.

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