"Faith in Action"
Some of us have participated in great faith-building programs, workshops, and lectureships. Some of us have participated in great community outreach programs. But what is the link between our inner spirituality and outward actions?
Faith In Action
A. I love retreats. I love workshops that have dynamic speakers or teachers who bring out point of Bible text that just amaze me. I love the joy of singing with people who want to sing and let their praise be heard. I love to have those spiritual mountain top experiences and I am sure you do also. They energize you, excite you, and edify you. They get your spiritual juices flowing again and revitalize you.
B. For the next few weeks I am a new person. I am more passionate and more in tune spiritually. I want to share every story from those times and encourage everyone to attend such workshops, encampments, rallies or seminars. I tell people they have to experience what I have experienced. But how do you hold on to that zeal and passion? How do you become all that you were at that moment? What happens when you come down from the mountain?
C. How do you keep mountain top experiences living inside you? What is the connection between our inner desire and our outer action? Why do I have a difficult time keeping the joy of the Lord as my focus?
D. Let me give you two quotes to ponder. “We are what we repeated do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle. The second is: “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” ~ Carl Jung.
E. Living a life that evokes questions about God is not simply an action, it lifestyle. An act of kindness for others is great, but one time actions that make you feel good won’t last long. They are great mountaintop experiences, but God desires your inside and your outside match. Faith can be described as a dead faith, a devilish faith, but what God seeks is a dynamic faith.
I. Dead Faith
A. Read James 2:14-17. This first part is James putting a person’s faith on trial. James examines the person who claims to have faith, but sees that faith as nothing more than words. Kind words, empathetic words, good Christian words, but they are words that are dead, just like their faith. James pushes us to have a faith that is living, but when we simply talk, our faith is as dead as our actions. Faith plus nothing equals nothing.
B. People with this kind of “faith” know all the right vocabulary to fit in at church — they can pray eloquently, they might know the teachings of the church, they might even be able to quote the Scriptures, BUT their WALK does not measure up to their TALK, and their WORKS don’t measure up to their WORDS.
C. Examine your life, your character, your faith in action on an ongoing basis. What is really important to you? Jesus taught that what we treasure is where we find our heart. Don’t give lip service to God. He knows your heart.
II. Devilish Faith
A. Maybe to shock the people, James talks about the faith of demons and asks if that type of faith is a saving faith. Read vs 18-19.
B. There are many people in the world who will say there is a God and that he is the creator of heaven and earth. They believe in God, in the Holy Spirit, in the human incarnation of Jesus as the Christ. They believe that Jesus went to the cross for the sin of mankind. But let me ask you – is there any demon that would disagree with what I just said?
C. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord, thy God, is One.” What a great statement of faith. But to simply believe that great statement puts you on par with the demons. To believe in God but not let that faith influence my life and conduct is not real. Like the dead faith of words only, a devilish faith admits a truth and has emotion with it, but still no action. So what is a faith that saves? It is a faith that is changes my words into action, and my heart into real belief.
III. Dynamic Faith
A. I want a type of that that would make me God’s friend. I want a faith that walks with God, according to God, and lives. A dynamic faith will touch the intellect, the emotions, and the will. Listen to me: “Faith is not determined by what we say; it is demonstrated by what we do.” Understand the difference. Abraham was not saved because he was willing to offer his son on an altar. Rahab was not saved simply because hid spies. These two total opposites were saved because their belief in an unseen God was so great that they had to demonstrate that faith in obedience.
B. How did Abraham become God’s friend? James says it happened, by taking that great strength of belief and putting it into action. Read verse 22.
C. I want to be God’s friend. I want a relationship with God that is so close that God calls me his friend. Jesus did that with his disciples on that night he was going to be betrayed. Why were they his friends? Because relationship with Jesus was not about forced actions. Jesus said, “I longer call you servants, but friends.” (John 15:15) Do you know what he says to them right after that? He calls them to “go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15:16) “Fruit” is action, but not forced, but one that flows from love.
A. Don’t just have a theology that knows God is real, live that reality by doing the very things you profess and see God flowing through you to others. Faith is not something you believe, it is something you live. It is the fruit of belief.
B. I love the mountain top experiences. I love the seminars, workshops, sings, revivals and retreats. But they are there to encourage my daily walk, not my occasional walk. You are what you do every day. Live by faith every day. Do you want to live a life that draws people to Jesus? That only happens when your faith is a real faith. Lean upon Jesus; learn from Jesus; live like Jesus. If we can encourage that type of faith in action, then come as we stand and sing.