“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror!” (James 1:19 NLT)
Yesterday, we looked at the word “Belief/Believe,” and talked about how vital it is to have solid, biblically based beliefs as it relates to Jesus.
Faith is the application to my life what I believe in my heart and profess with my mouth. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in California says: “First, you believe. Then you get baptized. And it’s important that you choose a church family and participate in large group worship and small group fellowship.” Faith enables you to formulate disciplines like reading and studying the Bible, praying, giving a portion of your income to your local church and attending corporate worship faithfully.
Pastor Warren continues: “God doesn’t want you to remain a spiritual baby. He wants you to become like Christ. He wants you to grow. But here’s the catch: You can’t do it on your own. Babies don’t just grow up on their own. They need a family of some kind. And you need a spiritual family, just like you needed someone to help you grow up when you were young physically. The Bible says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16 NLT).
Believing is a great first step, it’s just not enough. James writes: “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” (James 2:19-20 NLT)
Think of a house. Belief is the firm, rock solid, foundation upon which faith is built. If I have nothing solid on which to build my house/life, it may look impressive for a while, but when the hard winds of difficulties and troubles come, the house will fall. Jesus said in John 16:33: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows,” but for those who are anchored to the rock of Jesus, their faith will not be overcome.
Perhaps the easiest way to think of it is, “actions speak louder than words.” When it comes to the Christian faith, a person can learn to “talk the talk” in a short time. Think of that as what you believe. We can formulate a system of belief relatively quickly. But it takes a lifetime to learn to “walk the walk;” to put our words into action through the way we love God by loving others. That’s where faith kicks in. How do we do that?
Begin with your family – parents, spouse, children, and extended family; then spread the love to neighbors, co-workers, classmates, friends, acquaintances, anyone with whom you have contact from day to day. But among the most important people in your sphere of influence are those with whom you worship and share your beliefs.
Jesus, in His final hours with His disciples said in John 15:17: “This is My commandment: Love each other.” Belief that isn’t motivated by love is valueless. To say I love Jesus but have no use for the Church is like telling my best friend, “I love you and I want us to be close, I just can’t allow you to bring your kids when whenever we get together.” I realize that probably happens, but the point is, the Church is comprised of the children of God. When Jesus returns, He’s coming for His children, the Church. To believe we can be saved, but not be an active part of God’s family – His corporate/visible Body on earth, His children, is a huge misunderstanding of what the Body of Christ is and how God designed us to function.
Tomorrow we’ll look at how mature faith can’t develop in isolation, without active participation with a thriving fellowship of God’s people.
Blessings, Ed 😊