Have you ever heard someone say, ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe in so long as you believe in that thing sincerely’? If I had a dollar for every time I heard that I could’ve indefinitely extended my stay in Bermuda. Kidding aside, I think it is vital that every person examine, first, the object of their faith, and then secondly the character of their faith.
In the message I delivered this morning I argued that the value of sincere faith is muted if the object of your faith is not rock solid. I gave a couple of examples in this message, but another that I think of is/was my sincere belief that the Toronto Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup. To knowledgeable hockey fans, such a statement about sincere faith in the Leafs sounds entirely foolish. The sincerity of my faith does not change reality. I can believe as passionately as is humanly possible in something, but if there is a flaw or weakness in the object of my faith, then there is a real sense in which I have believed in vain.
But let’s assume for the moment that the object of your faith is rock solid. Perhaps Jesus Christ is the object of your faith. If He is, then it does matter how you believe in Him. The character of your faith matters immensely. This is because there is a kind of belief that does not save the soul. James reminds us that even demons believe in God (James 2:19). Moreover, I expect that the theology of demons is more orthodox than my own…but it does them no good at all. The faith that saves, the faith that God provides (Ephesians 2:8), engages and transforms our will. True faith works. It is active; it bears fruit. Genuine faith causes us to treasure Jesus above all else.
Faith may be invisible, but the effects of faith should be clearly seen.
I should pause here and admit: this is daunting stuff. I am acutely aware of my shortcomings. I am painfully aware of the gap that exists between what I profess and what I do. Thankfully, my salvation doesn’t depend upon me being ‘good enough’ for God. My salvation depends upon Jesus being good enough. As the hymn well puts it,
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
Faith is the Christian’s ongoing response to what Jesus has already done for us. Its origin is in Christ. Its object is Christ. Its power source is Christ. Its destination is Christ. As such, genuine faith will never ultimately fail. We’ll stumble, to be sure. We’ll find ourselves sometimes weak and thirsty. But true faith, having come from God, will not fail to change us. And as faith changes you and changes me, I pray that together we can change and bless this world, in honour of the One who made our crimson stain white as snow.
Have a listen (or read along) to my message based on James 2:14-19.
I’d love to get your feedback. Tell me how you feed your faith. Tell me what you dream your faith will someday look like. I’m listening.