According to Paul, the three greatest elements of life are faith, hope, and love. The first post in our series mentioned how the local church should be the hope of the world, but few see hope in it. We already talked bout the Oxymoron Church’s flawd ideas about love.
Faith is a concept most people are familiar with. We define our religious views as our “faith”, but our faith in God, and have faith when times are difficult. It is the foundation of our salvation, for we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8).
How is it possible for a church to fail in regards to faith? What fate is that church left to, if faith is not alive within its walls? Too many of our churches fall into this category of the Oxymoron Church, and their futures are bleak.
One of Jesus’ regular rebukes for His Disciples was, “O ye of little faith.” There was Jesus, working miracles before their eyes and teaching often. Despite His example and wisdom, they continued to fail in matters of faith.
Were they amazed by what they saw and heard? Of course! Did they believe Jesus’ words? He proved Himself true time and again.
The problem was not belief. The Disciples heard, saw, and believed. What held them back was a lack of faith.
The difference between faith and belief
Faith and belief are not the same. Many believe in God in general, and even in the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth. Not all who believe in Jesus have faith in Jesus. It is faith in Christ that saves us.
When we have faith in Jesus, His every word gives life and hope. His command is our pleasure. We desire to see mountains move and our lives overflow with more of HIm.
Maybe this is why a new believer often has such passion for the Word and the things of God. Their lives have moved from hearing about Jesus, to believing in Him, to putting their trust in Him.
We will look at the New Testament letter of James further down. In Chapter 2, he uses two different words to describe faith and belief. Though they are related, the difference in meaning is important to note.
The original word he used for “belief” is pisteuo. One Greek language translator explains it as what you “think to be true.”
The word for “faith” is pistis, and means “what can be believed” with “a state of certainty”, to “believe to a complete trust”, and “the state of complete dependability”.
A new believer recognizes their heart’s change from thinking Jesus and His work are true, to fully depending upon Jesus for this life and the next.
They hunger and thirst for His righteousness. His word is the light and guide of every step. When His command is difficult to understand our sounds costly, they move forward in faith, trust God kows better than they do.
Full of faith, the possibilities are endless. Eternity is their goal, so this life is lived with abandon. Instead of the aimless wondering or recklessness of life without Jesus, they find direction and purpose with Him.
Belief is good but not enough
The Oxymoron Church has taken a step backward from living by faith to sitting in belief. If you ask them if they believe in Jesus and the Bible they will shout “Amen!” and confess believe all day long.
The evidences of their belief are obvious. They attend every service and ask for even more of them. Everyday conversation is peppered with Scripture quotes and spiritual catchphrases. A silver fish is stuck to the back of their car, and they want everyone to keep Christ in Christmas.
Belief is not a problem for them. They have believed in the same seat, singing the same songs, offering the same prayer requests, for years.
Belief is great if you want to stay put and look to the future. But if you want to move forward and walk in what God has promised, you need faith.
Faith is more than a proclamation of belief. No matter how many verses you can quote about it, how many amens you the give one preaching it, or how many places you have it posted around your church or home, faith is about action.
James tells us, “faith without works is dead.” In his own way, he told believers to do more than agree with and believe the words and commands of God.
He sought to inspire them to action. Don’t just listen, don’t just share it on Facebook or Tweet about it. Do what the Word says. Allow God to direct you to the actions He desires from you.
In high school we had pep rallies before big football or basketball games. Classes were put on hold and the entire school squeezed into the field house to make some noise, have fun, and declare we would win the victory.
After all that excitement, how foolish would it be for our team to get suited up, saunter to the bench, and refuse to play the game? At the rally they talked about how much they believe they can win. Why not do something when it matters?
Moving faith is proof of more
While explaining the necessity of faith that results in works, James uses an example of the difference between faith and belief.
The moving of our faith to action according to the word and call of God is proof we have moved further than those who believe but refuse to obey Him. This is the essential difference between faith and belief.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:17-19 NIV)
As Jesus walked and ministered from town to town, the Gospel record His encounters with demons. They recognized and feared Him.
At His command they released their victims. What would they do afterwards? Seek to destroy another life. At no time has a demon’s belief in God resulted in a career change from an agent of evil to an agent of Heaven.
They believe. When they obey it is not an act of faith but in fear of the power of Almighty God. Their belief does not save them.
This leads me to end where James started. If we are only sitting in belief and not moving in faith, what will be the end result for our lifes? Does it save us? Does it make or prove us to be children of God?
A church proclaiming faith without moving in action is an Oxymoron Church full of empty promises. Those hungry to move in faith will see through the charade and move on.
When a church or individual shifts their life in Christ out faith into belief, they cannot be blessed. It isn’t just difficult, it is impossible. Because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)
Moving faith is more than giving to the needy or lending a helping hand. Those are good works and they should flow out of our Christlike love. But even they are not works of faith.
It’s time to move forward to accomplished what God has called us to. Don’t just believe it is good and wait for it to happen. Take action. Let your faith move you, your mountains, and your world.
Want to add to the conversation? Your comments are welcome below.