Recently in the “blogosphere” I have been engaged in a lot of discussions where people have argued for the ability of man to participate in doing things which are pleasing to God while not actually being submitted in faith to Christ. This is apparently their way of trying to rectify one, why people who do “good things” can be okay even if they aren’t Christians, and second, how people who have never been presented with the Gospel can still be saved. This latter idea is so infectious that it even seems to have stricken “the great evangelist” Billy Graham (there is even more to read in the transcript). However, instead of just taking these “well-meaning” arguments at face value I think we should look at what Scripture says in Hebrews 11.6:
“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.“
The first question must be, “What is ‘faith’ ?” Look to the preceding chapter, Hebrews 10.39. The author,
writing to Christians, says, “But we are . . . of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” This discourse then continues into chapter 11 and so we must conclude that ‘faith’ here is saving faith, namely, faith which believes “God raised [Christ] from the dead” (Romans 10.9), faith which justifies (Romans 3.28), faith through which grace saves us (Ephesians 2.8). Thus, we are being told that without saving faith, and so salvation and a regenerate heart, no man may please God!
So what? Well, this means that those who would argue that people are pleasing God by their good deeds, people like Oprah or Angelina Jolie or whoever, and yet deny Christ or the necessity of believing in him, are wrong. That means that people who claim a person can be saved because they lived a life that was pleasing to god outside of faith are wrong. It is faith, and being raised to a living hope by God (1 Peter 1.3), which puts us in a position to please God and not remain as “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2.3) as we all sure are without Christ.
This is such a prominent error among people but we must stand firm that no man is able to please God apart from being reborn through faith in Christ.