The man without God says: “You and I control our own destiny. God expects us to make things happen. Faith may give you peace and the freedom to find meaning for yourself, but remember, faith is a private matter. The important thing is for each person to determine his own purpose in life, hoping in some way to leave a lasting impression on the world…”
But God invites us to ask, seek, and knock. This requires the use of our minds, for He wants to share with us His intimate secrets so that we may relate truth to our everyday living.
1. Understanding requires application
Understanding takes place when we know how to apply truth correctly. Simply knowing a truth or principle without applying it with the hearts is not satisfactory.
“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good life, his deeds performed in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13).
“And the one on whom sees was sown on the good ground, this is the man who hears the Word and understands it; who indeed produces a crop, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:23).
Intelligent faith unites the intellectual evaluation of truth and inward perception of the heart with its application to our lives. We glorify God when our faith results in the mind and heart joining together to produce godly behavior.
2. Understanding requires association.
In some of the richest language of Scripture, Paul emphasizes that the key to understanding is knowing Christ.
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Philippians 3:8).
“…That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” (Philippians 3:10).
Understanding with our hearts and minds how truth applies depends upon our knowing Christ well. As believers, our hope is founded upon the intimacy of our relationship with Christ.
3. Understanding requires examination.
The early church leaders frequently urged believers to evaluate intelligently any doctrine they received. They gave their converts solid criteria for judging doctrine (2 Corinthians 11:4-15; Galatians 1:6-9).
A stimulating challenge to us, as believers, is the example of the Bereans. Pail and Silas preached the gospel to the Bereans, who didn’t just accept this new doctrine blindly. (Acts 17:10-15).
The Bereans were not about to accept something just because missionaries in sandals came along and taught it! The Apostle Paul did not discourage their open-minded search by saying, “Just believe.” Examining the Scriptures to understand how to apply God’s truth to our own lives is the only sure way of establishing a solid foundation for our faith.
II. Intelligent faith provides purpose (Romans 8:28-39).
Faith is the assurance of the heart, resting in the adequacy of the evidence.
Certainty about God’s control comes when I intelligently submit, surrender, rest in, acknowledge and accept His work in my life. This creates a deep conviction that God does have a plan for me to follow. I am a person of destiny!
God, who is in control of the events of every believer’s life, focuses even apparently meaningless events into one meaningful purpose. His plan is to make us like His Son Jesus. He is at work in each experience and circumstance to give us the opportunity to trust intelligently in His control. And while God does not will adverse conditions or circumstances upon us, He is able to use them to achieve the goals of making us more like Christ.
Intelligently understanding the basis of my faith leads to a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for every circumstance I face. He does not want me to accept blindly what comes; rather; He delights in my humble search to know Him and His plan for me. When I acknowledge and submit to His sovereign control, I discover how He uses my present circumstances to create in me the family likeness of His Son. He wishes to use even mundane events as opportunities for me to trust in His control.