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Faith, and living faith
- Jacob Ninan
The apostle James uses strong words to warn us that the 'faith' that we think we have may be dead (Jas.2:14-20). If our faith does not work in practice, it is dead. We are 'saved' by faith, and we 'live' by faith. If our faith is actually dead, where is that going to take us?
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household" (Acts.16:31). Can there be a wrong way to 'believe'? Yes, if we only accept the truths about Jesus in our mind, that kind of belief will not save us. In that case our belief in Jesus will be similar to the belief we have in any other historical person. We believe such a person lived in a certain place at a certain time and spoke and did so many things. But that does not change our life or behaviour in any way. James says that in such a case the 'faith' of demons is better than ours! (Jas.2:19). They have had personal experience with Jesus and they tremble in fear before Him. Their faith has at least that much effect!
A living faith in Jesus can come only if we have come to know Him personally. There must come a time in our lives when we recognise ourselves as sinners for whom the only way out is through Jesus. Then we go to Him personally, confess our sins, and receive forgiveness from Him. He comes into our hearts and there starts a relationship that is real and life-changing for us. Then the truths that we have heard about Jesus become relevant for us, and our thoughts, words and deeds begin to take on the character of Jesus.
This kind of faith comes by 'hearing' (Ro.10:17). This hearing is deeper than physical, and goes into our spirit, where it becomes a life-giving power (1Co.15:45). It is 'living.'
The apostle Jude tells us to build ourselves up in the faith (Jude.1:20,21). Our faith can be nurtured and built up by more of this 'hearing' from God. Reading the word of God ourselves, listening to its preaching, hearing or reading about how others have been blessed through their faith, talking to the Lord in prayer and listening to Him, telling others about Jesus, etc., are all necessary for this.
We must not forget that there are other forces acting against our faith. Satan and his demons work night and day to turn us away from God with doubts and fears. There are so many attractions in the world that move our attention away from God. Our own natural tendencies towards ease, laziness, sinful pleasures, etc., push us away from God (1Pe.5:8;1Jn.2:16,17). It is a fact that if we are not consciously building ourselves in the faith, we will be unconsciously drifting away from God.
It is only a living faith that will propel us forward for action. A dead faith will cause us to drift along like floating things in the river. Those who seek God consciously are guaranteed glory, honour, immortality and eternal life. But the others are headed for God's wrath and indignation at the end (Ro.2:7,8). Let us consciously press on in our faith.