January 12, 2008

show me your faith (2)

I have heard many people recently, with their warm fuzzy feelings, use phrases like, you know its "...the time to show our faith in Jesus as Lord." They say it so casually and flippantly. It rolls off their tongues or clicks off their fingers as they type it on their blogs or their e-mails. The question I have is this... Do you even know what you are talking about?

James, the brother of Jesus, started his walk on the earth with no faith in Christ. He may have thought that he had faith in God, but as Christ walked this earth, it was put to the test. He didn't believe in God's living word.

After Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected, James became a believer. He became a prominent leader in the church, and wrote the book of James. You will be hard-pressed to find another book that pictures faith the way James does. He says things like this, "What good does it do to say that you have faith if you don't have any deeds? Can that kind of faith even save you?" It is of course a rhetorical question. The obvious answer is NO.

Real faith is an action producing thing. You can't have real faith without deeds.

Consider the words of James a few verses later. "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that --- and shudder!"

I would like to point out that the word "believe" is that same word that is found in John 3:16. It is the greek word pisteuos. It means, adherence to or commitment to.

He goes on to say, "You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?"

I used to get confused about this verse. It seemed almost contradictory to the passages in Romans that talk about how Abraham was considered righteous by his faith, yet here it is talking about how he was considered righteous by his deeds. To understand this, you need to understand that the deeds were deeds of faith. Abraham was doing what God said. That's faith.

We have the same option. God still tells us stuff. We can go to the scriptures and find His words for every area of life.

  • You have kids? Are you bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
  • You have enemies? Are you loving them? Do you know what love means?
  • You have an unrepentant spouse? Are you still following in love? Are you doing what it says in I Cor. 13? Are you bearing all things? Are you believing all things? Are you hoping all things? Are you enduring all things?
  • Are you in a trial? (Who could say "no?") Are you showing joy? Are you exhibiting patience? Or are you just fed up and you are aiming for what you want?
  • You overloaded at work? Are you trusting God that He will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able to handle?
Just like Abraham, God gives us great opportunities to show that real faith.

There are some who, instead of showing genuine faith by doing the deeds of God, will set their sights on what they want and aggressively pursue it. The sad (and appalling) thing is when a person has set their heart on their own selfish desires and in their pursuit will justify their efforts as faith.

"I am doing _____________..." or "I am going for _____________... and I have faith that God will give me what I want."

I hope you can say as James says, "Show me your faith without deeds (of God) and I will show you my faith by what I do."

(All of the James quotes come from James 2:14-26)