Ever stay up to watch a late night movie on TV? But when you close your eyes for just a second, you find you missed the movie and are stuck watching the credits? We’ve all done this. We delude ourselves into thinking we’re awake when we’re really asleep.
Or take the near death experience which my brother and I had back in 2005. One day after a particularly unrestful Florida vacation, he was peacefully sleeping to a quiet humming sound, enjoying how relaxing it was.
As his brother, I didn’t much like the fact that he was feeling so blissfully at ease. I wasn’t feeling blissful. So naturally I began yelling at him.
As my brother describes it: There I was having a nice nap when Graham begins yelling at me. My eyes flew open and I’m not in my bed. I’m driving my car! And I’m careening down I- 75 at almost 80 miles an hour!
That day was one we’ll always remember. The car almost flipped over, two other cars spun out of control into a ditch, and a tow truck got hit which then caused the traffic to back up for a mile. We all could of died. But miraculously no one was hurt. And it all happened because someone thought they were awake when they were really asleep.
Your Works Cannot Save You
Anyone who reads the Bible knows that works by themselves won’t save you. The pharisees had plenty of works. And yet Jesus says that the prostitutes and tax collectors were getting into heaven ahead of them! Many atheists also have plenty of good works. So do the Mormons, Buddhists and Iluminati.
So if works won’t cut it, why can’t I just have faith and leave it at that? Why do I need to forgive my brother, love my enemy and give $ or other things to people in need? Why should I confess my sins or seek to please God with my time, treasure and talents? After all, what works were done by the thief on the cross? Didn’t he get to heaven just by believing?
Faith Without Action Means You’re Asleep At The Wheel
Yes. The Bible makes it clear that you’re saved by your belief in Jesus, not by your works. And so the thief who was stuck on a cross had nothing to do but believe in Jesus and be saved.
But the real question is not what the thief believed. Jesus saw into the thief’s heart and knew he believed. And that was enough.
The real question is what you believe. Do you really believe Jesus is who He says He is? Or are you like my brother who deluded himself into thinking he was safe in bed when he was really careening dangerously off the highway? How can you tell what you truly believe?
Real Belief Expresses Itself in Action
So you believe flying is safe but you never set foot on a plane? Or maybe you’re bold enough to get on the plane, but you still don’t trust the pilot when he says to unbuckle your seat belt.
In both cases your belief is demonstrated by your actions. The reason you don’t trust the pilot is because you don’t really believe him. Sure you know there’s a pilot. And you may even know him by name.
But you don’t believe he is who he says he is. You keep your seat belt on because you have no faith in him or the plane. So regardless of what you say, you’re actions show your true beliefs.
If You Believe In Jesus, You Will Do What He Says
The same is true with Jesus. Jesus says I am the way, the truth and the life. He also says that if you love me you will keep my commandments. And that whoever believes in me will do the works that I am doing.
Jesus isn’t subtle about it. We are warned that hearing is not enough. We must put His words into practice. Otherwise we’re like the foolish man who built his house on sinking sand. Everything looked good for awhile. And then his house fell with a mighty crash.
So are you putting what you hear into practice? If not, what does this say about your true beliefs?
Either you don’t believe Jesus is who He says He is. Or you believe as the demons do and simply don’t care. The belief that saves is more than a bare acknowledgement that Jesus is God. The demons also believe in God. And shudder! But it doesn’t save them.
Even those who called out to Jesus and did miracles in His name were not all believers. Jesus Himself says to them: not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of heaven. Those that don’t do the will of the Father in heaven will be told “I never knew you. Depart from me.“
Our Actions Are Obvious Signs Of Our Faith
A light bulb doesn’t shine because someone painted it bright. It shines because of the fiery things going on inside it. The light you see is a result of the powerful heat from within.
Without this fire, the light bulb is dark and dead. And so when we see a dim bulb, we know automatically there’s no fire in it. The outside reflects what’s on the inside.
And so it is with our faith and our works! The greater our belief the brighter we shine. Our actions don’t make us good. But they are a natural outgrowth of our faith. The good works are a manifestation of the light that’s already in us.
Now not everyone is going to have the same degree of good works. It may take time and maturing in your faith. But more and more you should naturally be stepping out in the joy and love of the Lord. And that will at some point always involve concrete action.
So what does it mean when we say we believe, but the light never shows? It could be there’s fruit, only it’s very tiny fruit. Or it could mean there’s no light at all. No real belief He is who He says He is.
Perhaps we only think we believe. And like the airline passenger, we don’t unhook our seat belts because there’s no faith in the pilot.
Our Actions Complete Our Faith
Faith and action work together. And Jesus just loves it when we go forward on the truth of what we believe. For example, Jesus told the ten lepers to show themselves to the priests. He could have healed them on the spot. But instead the healing occurred only after they went forth in obedience. Likewise Naaman was healed only after he did as directed and washed in the Jordan river.
Biblical faith almost always requires action, but action also affects one’s faith. When you take action steps on what you believe, suddenly you believe it more! So faith encourages action. And action increases your faith!
When you take action on what you believe, it becomes much harder to fool yourself. For every day you’re putting your faith to the test.
So How Do I Go Forward In Faith And Action?
Don’t be asleep at the wheel. Seek Jesus for guidance. And then take a step in faith. It can be a laughably small one to everyone else. But take it.
At some point this step has to be an action step. And even if it’s a baby step, the Lord will honor it. As you take it, keep asking Jesus for more courage, more creativity and more faith. And always keep checking back with Him. Your faith and your action mean nothing unless it’s based on a personal relationship with Jesus.