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Faith Without Works …

I am interested in the discussion related to Tom Neven’s post, “A Christian in the Truest Sense of the Word.”

I completely agree with Tom about how the word “Christian” has become fairly trite. It is attached to music, magazines, movies — whatever — as long as it is wholesome and family-friendly.

But unfortunately, I know people who profess belief in Christ and His atoning work on the cross, but according to their actions, I just don’t see how these beliefs have affected them. Now, I am in no way saying that I am in a position to say who is a Christian or not. None of us are. Please don’t get me wrong.

What I’m getting at is that I think, according to a biblical definition, we have to accept that faith and actions work together. (Again, I am not saying that works save us. Thankfully for all of us, we are saved by the grace of God.) I do believe that we are saved by grace through faith. I just wonder if we’ve lost some of what the biblical writers meant by faith. I’ve talked about this on the Line before, so I’ll just quote a bit of my previous post, which talked about an article I read about the subject of faith from the Hebrew biblical writers’ perspective:

To us Westerners, “faith” is mainly what you believe. As the article points out:

Once the person has agreed that they believe in Jesus, they are pronounced, “saved.” As a result, salvation is viewed as granted to those who agree with a given theological statement or confession of faith. What one believes is more important than what one does.

The Hebrew perspective sees it differently:

Yeshua [Jesus] does not say “you will know them by their creeds” but rather “you will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16, 20, emphasis mine). When Yeshua speaks of fruit, He is talking about how one lives — one’s actions. In other words, what one does is the fruit of what one truly believes, and therefore deeds not creeds are the true measure of faith.

The article then goes on to point out that confession of truth is crucial, but if our lives do not conform to that confession, then what’s the point?

A Hebrew saw faith as ones actions that flow out of ones beliefs. You know what someone believes by how they act, by what they do, by their desire to follow the commands of their rabbi. This description of faith is quite similar to what we see from Jesus. You will know true followers by their fruits. John talks about obeying God’s commands and loving those around us if we truly love Jesus and want to be His disciples. James talks about faith, not accompanied by action, being dead.

So, someone can probably live a “Christian” life and not be a true believer. But someone can also profess all of the right things, but not have a heart that’s truly devoted to the Lord. Neither one works on its own.

Copyright 2007 Denise Morris Snyder. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Denise Morris Snyder

Denise Morris Snyder is a mom, wife and part-time discipleship pastor at CrossRoads Church in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She previously worked as an editor for Focus on the Family and a writer for David C Cook. She has her Master’s in Old Testament Biblical Studies from Denver Seminary.

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