I fully understand that this is now considered and old movie – a classic, you know, but when the third Indiana Jones movie came out, it did incredibly well at the box office. There was Harrison Ford and Sean Connery and the battle against the Nazis and the search for the elusive holy grail.
I loved that movie.
Then, the fourth one came out with the alien skulls and the nuked refrigerator. . .but I try not to remember that one.
Still, in that third one, “The Last Crusade” there was this scene where Indy was stepping out over an abyss and. . .well, watch this to remember the scene.
There’s much about faith throughout the scriptures. It is a hallmark of who we are as Christians, but to just say “You need to have faith” seems to miss the mark as life moves forward.
In fact, there are even seemingly contradictory teachings on faith in the Bible. Yet, because we know that God does not contradict Himself and his Word, therefore does not, we need to look into this to discern what God is saying.
God is gracious enough to give us a definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
These two words “assurance” and “conviction” seem clear at first, but in truth, there’s much more here than the initial reading gives us. These two words are unusual and difficult to translate into English.
Some of you may remember the old English version of this passage that states “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
That doesn’t help much either.
So, before we get into this, ask yourself “Do you have faith?”
How do you know?
How can prove you have faith?
The evidence of faith is that there is a God in control. He reveals is existence in numerous ways and through his revelation and His Spirit, come assurance for those who believe.
James writes of faith clearly to the church and we are wise to listen. . .
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness" --and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:14-26 (ESV)
James cuts to the quick here and comes hard at the “faith question.”
At first, it seems to contradict Paul’s writings in Ephesians 2
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)
Since we want to live by faith, obedient to God, with the mind of Christ and in the Word and every other Christian phrase and title we can think of, we must reconcile this.
Paul, one of the greatest leaders of the early church, an Apostle, teacher and preacher, wrote these words to a church steeped in Jewish legalism and Old Testament laws like circumcision. Many in the church were adding to the Gospel things that weren’t required for salvation and redemption. Paul was fight legalism and reminded the church then and us today that to add anything to the grace of God in the form of works neuters the grace and pulls the focus on us, not God.
James was battling the flip-side of this coin in the church. One group, Paul’s target, were legalists and working to get saved. The other group, James’ target, were living under the belief that “I prayed a prayer and received Jesus and therefore do not have to do anything now.”
Paul is talking about how to become a Christian.
James is talking about how to live as a Christian.
Our faith leads to action. It’s not bragging. It’s just the natural step of men and women of faith.
Now, what works follow faith?
That’s the journey that is exciting, isn’t it? To give you one answer would be doing harm to the body, because each of us are gifted and wired differently. Yet, even in our uniqueness, our foundation is on the Gospel and therefore, our works are those that esteem, elevate and bring honor to God.
This much we know, faith does not lead to sitting. Faith does not lead to just thinking. Faith does not lead to doing nothing.
Maybe our first action step is saying “Yes” to God and let Him lead. Then, as His church, we live equipped and together impact this world for Him.