Faith on Man’s Terms

Text: Hebrews 11:6

The Scriptures are clear in describing faith as essential. Yet too many have a conditional faith. Though our faith should be based upon the word of God (Romans 10:17), this is not enough for some. They will not believe unless they see, receive, or otherwise experience something beyond His revealed will. This is nothing new – during the first century there were those who would only have faith on their terms. This lesson examines a few of these examples.

Those Seeking Signs

  • When a royal official came to see Jesus to heal his sick son, Jesus commented on the general state of the people (John 4:46-48) – unless they saw signs they would not believe
  • Jesus did perform signs (Acts 2:22) – but this was not enough for some (1 Corinthians 1:22)
  • Jesus condemned those who sought signs (Matthew 16:1,4) – Why? … they refused to believe the ample evidence that had been provided them

The Crowds Fed by Jesus

  • After feeding 5,000 Jesus gained a large following (John 6:10,14) – initially they were committed to Christ (John 6:15); but Jesus knew their hearts (John 6:26)
  • When Jesus taught them of the importance of His words, they left (John 6:60,63,66)
  • Too many today condition their faith upon temporal blessings – if these are insufficient in their minds, they leave

The Jews in the Temple

  • The Jews in the temple told Jesus to tell them plainly if He was the Christ (John 10:24) – may appear noble, as if they wanted to believe but were trying to be sure they received sufficient evidence
  • The problem was that they had received sufficient evidence (John 10:25) – they did not lack info necessary to develop faith; they simply thought it was insufficient
  • Same problem with people today – the word is insufficient

The Mockers at the Cross

  • They said that if Jesus came down from the cross, they would believe Him (Matthew 27:42) – ironically, these enemies of Christ were helping to fulfill a prophecy about Him (Psalm 22:7-8)
  • They were being unreasonable (and disingenuous) – evidence was there (John 10:25; 5:31-39); the centurion at the cross could see it (Matthew 27:54)
  • Jesus did not come down from the cross, but He was raised from the dead – but because His miracles didn’t fit their narrow criteria, they refused to believe

The Apostles After the Resurrection

  • After the resurrection, the women told the apostles (Luke 24:10) – they thought it was nonsense (Luke 24:11)
  • Their testimony was true, not some cleverly devised tale (2 Peter 1:16) – but it was not what the apostles expected to hear, so they were skeptical
  • Faith comes by the word (Romans 10:17) – we must believe it, whether it lines up with what we already believe or have been taught (Romans 3:4)

Doubting Thomas

  • When Jesus met with His apostles after the resurrection, Thomas was absent (John 20:19-24) – when they told Thomas, he refused to believe (John 20:25); eyewitness testimony was not enough
  • Many have the same attitude today toward the Bible – truth is determined by testimony (ex: history, courts); but for many, this is not enough in religion
  • But there were many witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:5-8) – those who believe will be blessed (John 20:28-29); the record in Scripture is designed to cause others to have faith (John 20:30-31)


  • We must not have a conditional faith – otherwise we will always find an excuse to be unfaithful
  • Our faith must be based upon God’s word (Romans 10:17) – then we must continually put our faith into practice (James 1:22; 2:24)

Read the article: Faith on Man’s Terms

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