The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Without faith it's impossible to please God


That’s a very interesting suggestion, Dave. I’ve never heard such an interpretation.


Is Heb.11:6 addressing the topic of individual outward superficial actions as being (or not being) pleasing to God. Or the person, his being, being pleasing to God, or not? Faith, or the lack thereof, is a matter of the heart, not outward deeds. In the Scriptures it seems God is more concerned with the state of the human heart than outward actions.

BTW, some versions translate as “well-pleasing” rather than “pleasing”.

“And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him ; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.”


Well a typical evangelical version, i.e., understanding, might go something like this: Unless there is a repentant confession of faith it is impossible to please God, for one must believe in Him and thereby be rewarded with heaven accordingly.

This text of course WASN’T written to or about UNBELIEVERS… it was writer to and was about the covenant community of which this text is jammed right in the middle of examples of persons in the covenant community who expressed and demonstrated the FAITHFULNESS that is well-pleasing to God… who duly rewarded said faithfulness — just He is faithful.


So what do you think davo? Does an unbelieving good Samaritan please God?


I wonder what @Bob_Wilson thinks of the Hebraist’s statement.


I’m sure the man’s actions in the case you brought forth, would please God, qaz. But I think the writer to the Hebrews is talking about the person himself. God is not pleased with an individual’s general life unless he has faith in God to do the good works through him.

The writer wrote:
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. (Heb 11:6)

Unless a person believes that God exists, he will not receive the enabling grace to live a consistently righteous life style. And many people see no purpose in living such a life style unless God rewards them in some way.


The verse defines those of faith pleasing to God as ones who believe that He exists, etc. This implies that unbelievers (e.g. atheists, agnostics) don’t have such a faith or please God. For they don’t believe He exists. So the verse is clearly implying such info about unbelievers (faithless ones), & that they are those who are not of the faith described in the verse.

BTW, just because a person is born into a covenant community (e.g. Israel, the Jews, Hebrews) by natural birth, that doesn’t make him one who has faith in God’s existence.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb.11:6)


Was there such a thing as an unbelieving Samaritan? (Jn 4:20, 25, 28-30) — Samaritans explicitly believed in God.

This modern idea that unbeliever means non-believer aka atheist or agnostic, e.g., Origen’s post above, is totally misguided. To NOT believe “he is” <ἔστιν> estin, simply meant to NOT believe He is present to be accounted to in one’s own faithfulness.

Again… LOOK at the TEXT and the LOGIC of it… what so-called atheist is going to be described as… “he who comes to God” — you DON’T come to that which you say does not exist — the whole logic is idiotic.

No, the whole passage (Heb 11) as I noted previously… speaks TO and OF covenanted people who through their own FAITHFULNESS prove the faithfulness of God. Folk need to stick with the TEXT and stop reading their theology back into it.


My impression is that the epistles were written to folk among the Christian churches, who are being exhorted that faith is important to God. But I don’t think our tradition’s assumption is unreasonable that the value God places here on a trusting allegiance toward Him has relevance for those outside the church as well.

And on how God regards Good Samaritans, I wouldn’t assume that God doesn’t see an expression of “faith” in the reality of God’s goodness in many of the good deeds done by those who don’t believe in our particular Christian dogmas (I sense that the role Jesus’ story places the Samaritan in, convey a strong affirmation of him). But I’m content to let God evaluate each of us and whether we display a genuine definition of faith or not.

The main thing here for me is encouragement to personally trust in God and that genuine reward comes when I am faithful, which I do experience to be the case.


IMO it’s highly improbable there were no atheists or agnostics in ancient cultures, including the Samaritans’, at the time of Jesus c. 30 AD.

The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” (Psa.14:1a)

The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psa.10:4)

It is Heb.11:6 itself that associates unbelief with denying God “exists”, e.g. atheism:

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb.11:6)

That remark demonstrates something amiss in your logic. Of course the atheist is not "going to be described as… “ he who comes to God ” ". Where did i ever make such a claim? In fact just the opposite, as Heb.11:6 explicitly excludes such as being able to do so! That’s the point. Did you also miss the point that the verse says there are two conditions to coming to God, not just the one of believing He exists?

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb.11:6)


It is highly probable there were any number of agnostics in ancient times… they didn’t “deny” God… they simply were “ignorant” thereof, i.e., although being incredibly religious they had no certain knowledge concerning God — hence the Athenians inscription that Paul uses as his starting point for proclaiming Christ, as per… “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Most of the so-called atheists I’ve ever met, when pushed, tend in fact to be agnostics, which is typically demonstrated when they chime up with some objection like… “well if God is so loving then how come… (fill in the complaint)” — thus proving they DO have belief — they just have a distorted belief.

Any genuine atheist just can’t logically defer to God by way of negative argument seeing as “God” for them does not exist, apparently. FACT… the first people reportedly decried as “atheists” were in fact “Christians” — they were pilloried and persecuted for denying the Greco-Roman pantheon, i.e., they rejected “the gods” and were known as atheists.


Those who fail to have faith that “the God…exists…” cannot “please the God” or “come to Him” (Heb.11:6), i.e. the one true God. That includes not only atheists & agnostics but also others who (as far as gods are concerned) only affirm the existence of false demonic &/or man made gods, such as Baal, Ra, Moloch, Zeus, etc. Those “god worshippers” also did not have faith in the existence of “the God”, so could neither come to Him or be well-pleasing to Him (Heb.11:6).

Deuteronomy 4:28
And there you will serve man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.

Psalm 115:4
Their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.

Isaiah 44:10
Who fashions a god or casts an idol which profits him nothing?

Isaiah 44:10-20 Who has formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing…

1 Corinthians 8:4
So about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world, and that there is no God but one.

1 Corinthians 12:2 You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols,

Revelation 9:20
The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the works of their hands. They did not stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.


Yeah ok :grinning:


So far the only interpretation that seems reasonable to me is DaveB’s. @anon12438761 did you reach that interpretation on your own or did you read it somewhere? If the latter, please let me know where, as I’d love to read it!


Qaz - not sure, unfortunately.


Relevant to the OP is the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). Nowhere in that parable is faith mentioned. The sheep are favored because they did good deeds and the goats are not favored because they did not do those same good deeds done by the sheep.

Some have said the sheep likely had faith because they addressed Jesus as Lord. But so did the goats, so addressing Jesus as Lord is not necessarily an indication of faith.

Unless it can be unambiguously established that good deeds imply faith, then I don’t see the parable as saying anything, even indirectly, about faith. And of course, how could such be shown, since atheists are quite capable of doing good deeds? And indeed atheists have done good deeds, some of the same deeds mentioned by Jesus in the parable.


@lancia you raise an interesting point. So what do you make of the verse in Hebrews?


It’s kind of confusing, in the context of the parable of the sheep and the goats.


This brings to mind James’ comments on the relation between faith & deeds/works:

Js.2:17 So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that God is one. Good for you! Even the demons believe that, and shudder!

Compare Matthew’s remark in the previous chapter:

Mt.24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other

For a list of verses in Matthew that speak about faith:

This article compares faith in the 3 synoptic gospels & John’s account:

Yes, & i think earlier in the same gospel Matthew confirms that as truth:

Mt.7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.


This ties in with the SAME reality of Jn 5:29, where those who had DONE good works received the reward of life into the coming new age, i.e., post AD70; whereas those who had DONE bad works received the ruin of condemnation, i.e., death or separation from that coming new age, as per… 2Thess 1:9; Jer 23:39-40; Isa 66:24; Ezek 16:62-63.