Isn't Believing Enough?
I think a person either believes in God or doesn't. So, if you believe in Christ and are saved, what more do you need to do? Isn't that enough?
When it comes to salvation, a person is either saved or not saved. The Bible tells us that, spiritually, you are either dead or alive depending on whether you've accepted Christ. "We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ" (Ephesians 2:4-5, CEV).
But I don't think measuring the health of your faith ends there. Your belief can be really alive, or kind of in a coma, or even dead. How do you measure it? Two questions come to mind.
1) Are you trying to obey Christ's commands? Most Christians live well for Christ in some areas of their lives, but struggle a lot in other parts. Even the Apostle Paul faced problems trying to do what was right. He said: "No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't. When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway" (Romans 7:19, The Message).
We all struggle and sin. But the important thing is whether we really desire to move closer and closer to God. If we are truly trying to live for God, we will regularly do things like pray, confess and turn away from our sins, read and study God's Word, worship with others, and meet to learn with and from fellow Christians. And we will desire to remove stuff like gossip, jealousy, greed, lust, dishonesty, hatred and anger from our lives.
2) What's the quality of your relationship with Jesus? Are you able to trust him, to exercise faith, to love? This goes beyond just how we act. Knowing Christ exists and being close to him are very different. You may love your mom. But let's say you never talk to each other. Your relationship isn't very healthy. With Jesus, we need to ask ourselves: What is our ability to respond to life with faith, hope and love? When your girlfriend breaks up with you or when a loved one passes away, can you lean on Jesus and expect him to redeem the situation? That's an alive faith. Growth in Christ is not just avoiding sin, but is developing your ability to practice a living faith and confidence in God.
If there is no desire to grow, then we must seriously stop and ask if Christ has really come into our lives. You see, the Christian life isn't just about whether or not we believe in God. It's also about what we do with that belief. James 2:17 says this: "Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless" (The Message).
Marshall, a former pastor, is now editor of Leadership Journal, a magazine for pastors.
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Ignite Your Faith.