Articles & News

The Only Way to Please God

September 28, 2020

by Dr. J. Vernon McGee


The day God saves you, He makes you His child and you are brought into the family of God as a full-grown heir.

That truth may not mean anything to you, but it means everything to me. I left for seminary with an awful inferiority complex. I was not brought up in a Christian home where I saw a Bible or heard a prayer—I knew nothing. When I got to seminary, I compared myself to the other fellows who knew it all. They knew the Bible, could quote verses, and they were very pious too. I didn’t even know the books of the Bible, and it disturbed me. So I began to learn the books of the Bible. 

Dr. McGee wrote the book, Briefing the Bible, with outlines of every book of the Bible because he was determined to help others know every book of God’s Word. Get your copy here.  

Then one day someone set me straight. I was not an inferior Christian but a full-grown son. Anything any mature saint could understand in the Word of God, I could understand because that mature saint needed the Holy Spirit to teach him just as much as I did. That was a tremendous revelation to me and a great comfort in those early days.

You become a child of God only through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the only way: 

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who [do no more nor less than simply] believe in His name. -John 1:11, 12 

God brings us in as full-grown heirs so we can understand spiritual truth. If you don’t understand it, it is your fault because He has made every arrangement for you! To me the greatest tragedy in our churches today is the number of Bible illiterates that fill the pews who are not able to find their way around the Bible in spite of how available it is to them.  

But as it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” -1 Corinthians 2:9 

This verse is often used at funerals with the idea that greater things are ahead. That truth is in the Bible (see 1 Corinthians 13:12)—but this is not what 1 Corinthians 2:9 is saying. God wants us to understand spiritual truths down here because “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Most of our learning comes through the ear-gate (what we hear) and the eye-gate (what we see). That is how we learn today. But if we are going to get divine truth, then we will only get it because of His Spirit teaching it to us through our heart-gate.  

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God …. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. -1 Corinthians 2:10, 14 

As we grow in our faith and knowledge of God’s Word, God gives us an experience with Him.

Many of us tend to play down experience. However, a sadness has come over the saints today. Many need to have the experience of the Spirit of God making real in their lives the fact they are sons of God. In spite of circumstances, they are still a child of God.  

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” -Galatians 4:6 

This word Abba was not translated. The translators (very wisely, I think) did not attempt to put it into English. It is too personal. It means “my daddy,” and you don’t talk that way about God, friend, regardless of how intimate you try to get with Him. He is high and holy. But the Spirit of God can do that. God’s Spirit whispers the Father’s nearness to the child of God.

My friend, in times of heartache, God will make Himself real to you.

When I was told I had cancer, I went to the hospital and lay down in a bed. As a pastor, I’d gone countless times to hospitals to visit my church people. I prayed with them and told them, “God will be with you.” And then I would walk out.

But that day, I had to stay there. I will never forget when a preacher friend came to visit me that first evening. I appreciated his wonderful prayer over me. Then he got up and left. But this time I was not walking out—I had to stay there. So I rolled over with my face to the wall and said, “Lord, I’ve been in this hospital a hundred times, and I’ve told everybody else to trust You. Now I want to know whether that’s real or not.” I want to testify to this, friend: He became real. Multitudes of people have had the same experience.

My friend, He gives the experience of being His child. The Law cannot give that to you, only faith in Christ can give it to you. This message is not milk for a baby Christian; this is meat.

You need to know in this hour that it is only faith in Christ that can save you—faith plus nothing. That’s the equation for salvation.

Learn more in Dr. McGee’s digital booklet,  “The Faith Equation.” Download it here.


My Turn

“Let the facts about God drive your train, and your feelings will follow like a great caboose.” -J. Vernon McGee

  1. We all struggle to keep our walk with God in proper order: Faith in Jesus. Facts from His Word. Feelings about our experience. Very easily, the priority gets reversed. What has your experience been when feelings drive your train? How can you signal yourself to change engines the next time that happens?

    But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. -Hebrews 11:6

  2. Ponder Hebrews 11:6—and if you have five more minutes, read the whole chapter. How are you pleasing God today by what you think about and what you do? Put your confidence in God a little more every day.