Faith without works is dead. What does that mean? It means that you cannot have a true, saving faith without repercussions afterwards. Salvation is more than just praying a prayer; it has to have after-effects. Think about a marriage—they make a promise, sign a piece of paper, and go on with their life living the same way, right? NO! Every day when they wake up, they renew their commitment and strive to please their spouse. A relationship with Christ is the same way. You make a commitment to a relationship with Him, and this love for Him should radically change your life daily. I believe very deeply that it is impossible to get into heaven without a transformation in your life, even if you “pray the prayer” and “ask Jesus into your life.”
Now for one of my absolute faaaaaaaavorite topics, faith.
((Lately in church, the pastor has been preaching out of James on the passage about Faith and Works. This happens to be one of my most absolute favorite verses. My friend Brandi also talked about this idea a bit in chapel last week, and I had a fabulous conversation with her before she spoke and amazing conversations with people following her “sermon.” This summer, I faced the difficulty in teaching the idea of faith and works, because it’s a hard thing to teach without sounding legalistic. So I feel like it’s about time for me to write about it!))
So I’ll begin :)
Am I being harsh? Some might think so. Let’s examine the word “faith”, though! The word faith in Greek is pistis. The word in itself means “an active, working faith.” It is used hundreds of time in the Bible, and if you took a look to examine each of these times, usually you will see that in the context of the passage around it there are actions supplementing the faith. I think that some people mistake “faith” and “believing.” James says, “Even the demons believe, and they shudder.” Does believing in God get you to heaven? No. Faith does. What’s the difference between faith and believing? The action put into faith. Faith then, by its definition here, “is an active belief.” If you take away the actions or works from faith, all you get is “belief”, and belief gets you nowhere in eternity. When looking at the two words behind “faith” and believe” in Greek, the difference is the conviction behind “faith”, and the actions put into it and not into “believe”. Faith without works is dead, not only in the fact that it is no longer death, but it doesn’t bring you Eternal Life.
In our modern Christian attempt to draw more people to Christ and show that Christianity is not about legalism, I think that we have produced an apathetic Christianity. Christians are too comfortable in their lives and aren’t doing anything about their beliefs. (Listen to Lecrae’s “Send Me!”) I think this is incredibly sad! When Jesus called his disciples, what did He say? GET UP and FOLLOW ME. He didn’t say, “Just, um, believe that I exist and we’re good!” They believed in Him, but by their actions they gained true faith.
Let me be clear here, you do not obtain salvation through actions. You obtain salvation through faith. Faith is an active, working belief, meaning you believe in it and thus are driven to do something about it. Example: I believe that my bed does not have snakes in it. To have faith in it would mean that I would actually get in the bed. We believe in God, but to have faith in Him would be to follow his commands and to live out his promises.
So how do we have an active, working belief—Faith? First of all, following His commands. We are commanded to Love God with everything we got, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is the summary, to me, of living out faith. James talks about how true religion is helping out the orphans and widows, and if we see anybody in need to help them in a physical and tangible way. I think tithing is a good way to act out your faith in God and His church; it shows that you trust in the church the same way I trust in my snakeless bed. Evangelizing, spreading the Gospel, is an amazing way of spreading your faith by living out God’s commands of making disciples. Discipling a younger believer, getting involved in choir, attending a camp or retreat; these are all good ways of acting out faith. Making war with sin and trying to overcome temptation is necessary. The great thing about living out faith is that there is not “cookie-cutter” way of doing it, which eliminates legalism. Each person has their own special gift; make sure to use it when you live out your faith.
The bottom line is, if you believe in Jesus Christ and call Him your Lord and Savior, that HAS to have an effect on your life…it has HAD to have moved you!
I hope I have done this topic justice. Please read James 2, Hebrews 11, and Romans. And then go do something about what you believe in.