Summary: Faith is either alive or dead. You know yours is alive if your actions speak as loud as your words.
Is My Faith Real?
(Christian Survivor Series; Living Godly in a Godless World)
A reality check to help our actions be more like our beliefs.
James 2.14-26 February 18, 2001
14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Mirages are an interesting phenomenon. They don’t
only occur in the mind of a thirsty wanderer. The
scientific reasons have to do with a dense layer of hot air rising from ground surface, reflecting the image of distant objects.
The problem with a mirage is that it disappears when you come up close to examine it. It was only a reflection, not the genuine article. There is no fountain of gushing, cool spring water for the thirsty traveler. There is only more heat, frustration and despair.
Just like mirages offer empty hope to a desperate traveler, there is a "faith" that never delivers.
The deception of a mirage-type faith is perhaps the saddest story of all. So close to the real thing (like the traveler seeing the oasis), yet as far as forever from real, genuine satisfaction.
There are many people in this country who will tell you they are “Christian”. In fact a random sampling of Americans reveals something like 55% of adults who claim to be Christian. The problem is that many are of the mirage faith. If 55% of American adults were actually Christians, this country would be a very different place in which to live!
For some, faith is summed up like the animatronic figures at Disney. When you walk up to the “Hall of Presidents” you can meet Lincoln, Washington – all of them. They are so life-like, moving, talking; they stand up and sit down, gesture. They move and talk like real people. It is an amazing, lifelike engineering feat of computers and motors. They look and act quite real. They are not! It is only the appearance of life on the outside. Inside they are quite dead. Only imitations of the real thing.
What makes the difference between mirage faith and real faith? How can you tell if your faith is genuine? James gives us the measuring stick:
GENUINE FAITH REVEALS ITSELF IN DEEDS OF LOVE
There are many good translations of verse 14. Mine would be: "What is the use of declaring your faith to the world if your actions don’t correspond? Is that the kind of faith that saves?"
James contends that true Christianity is seen in the person that is willing to be involved in the things of Christ ON CHRIST’S TERMS!
"Mirage faith", on the other hand, only becomes involved to the degree that is comfortable. I have a friend who declares that the first three principles of selling real estate are location, location, and location (in that order)!
For a genuine faith, the first three principles are involvement, involvement, and involvement - involvement with Christ daily, involvement with His church daily, involvement with His world, sharing His love.
We are converted to Christlikeness according to v.15, 16. Jesus spent His life serving, giving and telling. On a desert hillside Jesus fed thousands with a few sardines and pieces of bread. That was no mirage, it was an act of genuine faith.
He wrapped a towel around his waist and washed 12 sets of filthy feet. That was no mirage, it was an act of faith in the principles of servanthood.