When belief is not faith

Have you spent much time considering the terrifying statement of James in his short letter,

You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

– James 2.19

Our Sunday School proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls people to belief.  If you believe that Jesus is God, that He lived a perfect life, that He died on the cross and rose from the dead, you can be saved.  There is nothing we can do to earn it, there is nothing we can do that would make God love us more or less.  Right?  Partially.  This is only half of the story.

“…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…”

– Rom 10.9

Salvation is not credited to us by believing that Jesus raised from the dead.  Faith is not the historical acknowledgement of that occurrence.  Paul tells us that salvation is credited to us by believing God who raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 4.20-25).  It is confessing Jesus as Lord.  It is the result of believing the promises of God that eternal salvation – the future – was purchased by the blood of Jesus on the cross.  It is looking back briefly and believing historically what happened, and then banking on the promises offered therein.

Faith is future oriented.

Abraham was counted righteous because he trusted the promises of God (Rom 4.3).

Do you bank on the promises of God?  If you do it will transform your life.  If you only believe historically what happened, you are in league with demons.  Demons have solid theology!  They saw Jesus walk the Earth.  They have known the Scripture since the moment it was written.  They have seen the power of God manifested in every miracle noted in Scripture and those not.  They believe.  But they have not confessed Jesus as Lord.  They are not trusting in the promise of forgiveness bought by the death and resurrection of Jesus.  They are not repenting and being transformed from death into life.

Do you trust God?  Does His faithfulness to keep His word mark every decision you make in your life?  Do you even know the promises of God?

Faith . . . honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard since it considers him truthful and trustworthy. There is no other honor equal to the estimate of truthfulness and righteousness with which we honor him whom we trust . . . On the other hand, there is no way in which we can show greater contempt for a man than to regard him as false and wicked and to be suspicious of him, as we do when we do not trust him.

– Martin Luther



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