Tuesday, April 25, 2017

When You Can't Tell if Your Faith is Alive or Not


The book of James is filled with tough words. "What use is it if a man says he has faith, but he has no works?" (James 2:14) He goes on to say that the kind of faith that does not result in works is not a saving faith, but a dead one.

Ponder that a minute. 

His words are tough to swallow in this post-modern culture of ours. There's a tendency to think that being a disciple of Jesus means we "don't cuss, don't chew, and don't run with boys who do..." 

There's some truth in those words, as being a follower of Christ should cause us to abandon our "old" ways and embrace a new life of purity and humility. 

Ours is not primarily a faith of negatives and don'ts, however. It's a faith of being and doing...

We take up our cross and follow Christ.

We love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

We love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves.

We study to know what God expects of us.

We demonstrate our love for Christ by good works.

Our relationship with Christ should result in discernible change in our lives, a continuing transformation that makes us more like Him. 

if it doesn't, something is wrong. 

Our abiding in Christ should yield an increase in the fruits of the Spirit, more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

If it doesn't, something is wrong.

As James tells us, saving faith should result in actions, or works, that demonstrate the love of Christ to others. 

If it doesn't, something is wrong.

Is this the kind of faith we have, or not?

If our faith results only in participation in group activities inside the walls of the church and attendance at church services, but does not result in outward actions toward the lost or those in need, something is wrong. 

It may not mean that we're lost and without Christ. But it may. 

The Jesus-model for His bride is an outward-facing one. Gather to worship and for teaching. Go out to serve. 

Our works were never intended to be done only INSIDE the church walls, but outside them. 

The Great Commission requires that we GO, not that we stay. We may not "go" far away from home, but we must make a move outside our comfort zone if we expect to serve Christ as He intended.

Let's take a close look at our own faith. Judging only by the evidence of the fruit of change and the outward works we do, is there evidence that our faith is alive or not? 

If not, what changes do we need to make?

There's good news. Ephesians tells us that God has already pre-destined good works for us to do. We don't have to concoct a new scheme of doing. We simply need to obey God's plan.

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10

Let's ask God what good fruit He wants us to exhibit and what good things He has for us to do today, then do them. When we do, we'll show the world the evidence of our risen Savior at work in us.
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