It is apparent, from the biblical description of this controversy in God’s family, that there was a breakdown of trust and trustworthiness—even to the point of war in heaven (Rev 12:7-9). That war spilled down to this planet, where we experience continuing misunderstanding and distrust of God. Not that we’ve all become irreligious, but that we’ve allowed ourselves to be deceived by the adversary. Even many who do worship God, worship a false picture of Him—with all the hazards that follow. We tend to become like the kind of God we worship and admire.
The third chapter of Conversations About God explores the meaning and necessity of faith, in the larger setting of the Great Controversy. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul what he needed to do in order to be saved (Acts 16:30-31), Paul did not offer a series of doctrinal lessons, he simply said “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” The difference between belief and faith matters in the English language, but there is no such difference between belief and faith in the Bible. There is only one word for both, and it can be translated “faith,” “belief,” or “trust.” Faith is trust in the way God chose to save us. We’re not saved by faith. Faith does not save us, God saves us. But God can only save those who trust Him.
If anything should happen to any of us tonight, I would hope that we would die God’s trusting friend. Because if we do, we will arise in the next moment of consciousness face to face with God. And we will not be afraid, because we will know the truth about God. We will trust Him, know Him, love Him, and all those other things. We will have been set right. And if He should say to us, “You know, there’s a great deal for you to learn,” we would say in response, “I’d be pleased to listen, because I trust and admire You. I want to be Your friend.”
You see, faith is just a word we use to describe a relationship with God as with a person well known. The better He is known the better this relationship may be. Faith implies an attitude toward God of love, trust, and deepest admiration. It means having enough confidence in God – based on the more than adequate evidence revealed – to be willing to believe what He says, to accept what He offers, and to do what He wishes – without reservation – for the rest of eternity. Anyone who has such faith would be safe to save. This is why faith is the only requirement for heaven, and for salvation.
This long debate regarding faith, works and obedience has troubled saints through the years, but it could be so readily resolved when we realize that the Biblical word for obedience literally means “listening under.” It describes a humble willingness to listen. If we truly love and trust God, we’ll be willing to listen. It wouldn’t make sense for us not to listen to one we love, trust and admire.
What matters most is for us to trust God enough to be willing to listen, to stand humbly in His presence and ask “What must I do to be saved? What must I do to be well? What must I do to be safe?” In the beginning God created the entire universe. He is able and willing to heal all of the damage done by sin. There is no substitute for trust. Anyone who has such faith would be perfectly safe to save.