Faith Without Works is Dead

Countless gospel music has been written quoting 2 Corinthians 5:7 and proclaiming that as Christians, we “walk by faith and not by sight.” But if we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit that walking blindly through life with Jesus Christ is not always easy.

Christian faith is built upon the promises of God, rather than our feelings, or things we can see. Great faith is unmoved regardless of how things appear.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:18-22 New International Version (NIV)

We deal with various struggles every day, but our faith in God acts a our guide through our difficult pathways and it leads us to His glory. But simply possess faith in God to deliver us from our problems is not enough. As believers, we also carry the burden of ACTING in the will of God while we await His deliverance. In essence, for our faith to work, we must work our faith.

What is Faith in God?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 King James Version (KJV)

Hebrews 11:1 explains that faith in God is built upon the foundation of hope. We hope that our savior will help us in times of dispair. But merely hoping is just the beginning of the faith spectrum. Not only do we hope but we also must believe in the blessed hope. True faith requires us to be convinced that God will come through for us. Doubt and faith cannot coexist.

Hebrews 11:1 goes on to say that although we hope for things by faith, we cannot see the evidence of that which we hope for. This means that we believe it even though we can’t see it. It makes total sense when you think about it. If we could see the evidence of God fixing our problems, there would be no need to hope for it. We would naturally relax in knowing that we could see the fix on the way.

But by its very nature, faith is blind. We hope for things we cannot see. We trust God when we cannot trace God. In moments when we feel like God is not with us, our faith must be strongest to believe that he will deliver us as he has done before in our lives and for others.

Faith in God is believing in His promises according to the scriptures, trusting in His promises, and depending on His faithfulness to act on our behalf.

Types of Faith

  • Common faith is a mutually shared faith held by all Christians who believe in the gospel (i.e., the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ). Titus 1:4 refers to “common faith” in God that is shared by all Christians, making it possible to have eternal life.
  • Little faith was called out by Jesus himself as a rebuke for anxiety, fear, and a lack of total trust. It is believing without fully committing to trust God completely. Little faith needs improvement. “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30) “But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm, (Matthew 8:26).
  • Wavering faith is unstable and fluctuates between weak and strong depending upon the circumstances. This faith is detrimental because it demonstrates a level of unbelief and can be perceived as insincere. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” (James 1:6-7).
  • Great faith is relentless and unmovable in its belief that God will provide every need according to His riches and glory. This faith is demonstrated in the Bible by people who sought Jesus for healing miracles against all odds. Remember the Gentile woman at the well? Gentiles customarily did not have faith in God, but this woman was different. Her faith was great and caused God to move! “…O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire…” (Matthew 15:21-28).

Examples of Works of Faith

Abel

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” – Hebrews 11:4

Enoch

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. – Hebrews 11:5

Noah

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” – Hebrews 11:7

Abraham

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. – Hebrews 11:8-10

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” – Hebrews 11:17-19

Sara

“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” – Hebrews 11:11

Isaac, Jacob, Esau & Joseph

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.” – Hebrews 11:20-22

Rahab

“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” – Hebrews 11:31

Faith Without Works is Dead

Faith without works is a passive and unresponsive belief that acknowledges the Bible as factual but fails to put faith into action. Sincere faith should compel believers to action based upon God’s promises alone. In essence, if you fail to act, you don’t sincerely trust God. Faith requires action.

17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

James 2:17-18 New International Version (NIV)

The scripture implies that faith is best demonstrated by actions. Behavior is the best evidence of your trust in God, especially during difficult times.

Sometimes God will provide our needs in ways that require our participation in His blessing. For example, if we ask God to help us lose weight, we cannot eat an unhealthy diet and expect God to do the work. But we know that based upon God’s record of blessings if we put our faith into action with healthy eating and exercise, He will grant the desires of our heart because we did not demonstrate passive belief, we put our faith into action!

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