The Essence of Biblical Faith: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life

If we are serious about applying biblical truths to how we live, we must consider the way God communicates to His people.

By David Lazarus | | Topics: Athens or Jerusalem
We need more than just head knowledge to truly know God. We must experience Him.
We need more than just head knowledge to truly know God. We must experience Him. Photo: Mila Aviv/Flash90

Most of the people in Bible times were illiterate so they didn’t have written scripture, books or doctrines to teach them about God. They were outdoorsmen, farmers, fishermen, shepherds and soldiers. Earthy and practical with large families who needed solutions to everyday challenges of living off the land, coping with the unpredictable climate, and fighting back their constant enemies. They needed practical solutions.

God showed up for them in deeds. He saved, delivered, sent rain, or drought. He led, fed, fought and talked with them. Not through a philosophy, but in His presence. God communicates through incarnation: “the word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.”

The Jews never developed systematic theologies like we find in Christianity. The idea that the living God could be known, or His ways understood through doctrines or precepts is foreign to the Hebrew’s way of life. To Israel, God was known by His actions; what He does for them in and through history.

The idea that God can be known by special knowledge is a Greek idea known as Gnosticism, a prevalent concept rejected long ago by the early Jewish church. The God of Abraham did not reveal Himself to man through knowledge. He visited with them.

That is why throughout their history the Jewish people put so much emphasis on holidays and storytelling. We retell the acts of God in history at appointed times, Sabbaths and annual festivals throughout the year. We remember what we have come to know about Him personally, practically and experientially. He is “the God who is there” (shammah) Ezekiel says, and He is the One who is now present, guiding, teaching, comforting and admonishing.

The rabbis teach that the history of Israel in scripture is all we need to learn everything we need to know about what is good and what is evil, what God desires and what He despises. Even in their daily prayers the acts of God are told and retold and passed on from generation to generation. The God of the Bible is a God of action. When He does speak it is backed up by actions, not only ideas or philosophies, like Buddhism and other eastern religions.

Most religions teach philosophical concepts about truth, reality and humanity. The Bible is the story of what God does and what He will do. Genesis begins with His acts of creation and goes on to describe what He has done, how we can know Him, and what He will do.

The essence of biblical faith is a demand, not a creed. It is a response to Him who cares about us, which becomes a way of thinking and a way of living. Faith and action. Christianity has often emphasized right thinking, getting the doctrines right, believing in the accepted confessions. But a dogma is something that is believed on with the mind, and that is only one part of what it means to be a person. Religious beliefs are part of the experience of a life of faith.

The danger of faith confessions and dogmas is in their tendency to become a substitute for a living faith. But a system of beliefs cannot replace the actions of the King and His Kingdom over every area of our lives. Just as saying “I believe in the United States of America” does not make someone a citizen, so confessing “I believe in …” does not make someone a Christian. A US citizen is someone who pledges allegiance to the Constitution, which includes its obligations, responsibilities and protections. So too our relationship to God cannot be limited to a confession of belief, but is a commitment to live with Him and under His regular ongoing guidance and protection.

The debate between “faith and works” that became such an important issue in Christianity has never been an issue in Judaism. For Jews and Judaism the question is: What is the right way to live? What am I supposed to do? Life cannot be separated into deeds and beliefs, or thoughts and actions. All a person thinks and does are all part of who he is.

When we grasp that it is through incarnation that God communicates with us, that experiencing Him and His presence with us in our everyday lives, we will not be confused on our way through the maze of religious assumptions and intellectual conjectures. Rather, we will know Him even as we are known.

The world needs more than our personal holiness, our good intentions, or religious institutions. We need Immanuel – God with us.


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6 responses to “The Essence of Biblical Faith: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life”

  1. Robert's World says:

    I agree with the essence of this article. Believers need to experience God and know Him and his Son Yeshua.
    There is available further means of this through hearing his voice.
    If one even looked up how many times God spoke to people through dreams, it would defy current modern logic; and those encounters transformed most of the individuals that received them.
    God said he would pour out His Holy Spirit in the last days (Joel 2/3)::“So it will be afterward,I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh:your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

    One of the most important things I have discovered (and it is thanks to my wife), was learning to hear God’s voice.

  2. Susan says:


    I believe that “Christianity”, for the most part, has missed the mark, precisely because of what you are saying. From Genesis to Revelation, God relates to righteous deeds: While in their midst, Yeshua speaks to the 7 assemblies, relating to their DEEDS.

    • LarryFreeman says:

      I would say that it’s not the “church” has missed the mark. But that the “institutionalised church” has gone off on its own. Like David said the problem stems from the pursuit of theology. Theology can and has led to to a disavowing the faith. I’ve seen it. Churchianity can’t save, it’s powerless and empty.
      Just sayin,

  3. Carl Gove says:

    This has been my testimony, I first experienced God in my life. He showed up in my day-to-day in ways I could not deny and I believed. I knew little if anything of doctrine at the time but I have since learned His truths. But I am thankful that He has never left my experience, my day-to-day. It has never been just head knowledge but head and heart. I don’t know if there can be any other way.

    “9…the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him…” (Phillipians 3)

  4. LarryFreeman says:

    David has just written his magnum opus. This is one of the finest dissertations on what Christianity should be and is not. Theology makes me want to scream “you can’t and don’t put Elohim in a box, don’t even try! ”
    Thank you David, you could write a book on this, so why don’t you?

  5. Esther Wischer says:

    Yes, David! Amen and amen!
    This is the difference between religion and knowing God. As the Apostle Paul said, knowledge puffs up. That is why so many churches are dying, and young people don’t want anything to do with church. They have no idea what it is like to meet Yeshua and be overwhelmed by His love.

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